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Bluebook Citation: Secondary Sources

Bluebook Quick Reference

B15 (p. 22):  Bluepages Sources and Authorities: Books and other nonperiodical materials

Rule 17 (p. 172):  Citation rule for unpublished sources.

B16 (p. 23):  Bluepages Sources and Authorities:  Journal, magazine and newspaper articles

Rule 15 (p. 149):  Citation rule for books, reports, and nonperiodical materials.

T6 (p. 496):  Table of abbreviations for case names and institutional authors in citations.

Rule 16 (p. 159):  Citation rule for periodical materials.

T13 (p. 510):  Table of abbreviations for journal titles.

Tutorial

The Basics

Secondary sources include books, articles, encyclopedias and other non-primary sources.  Each different kind of secondary source has a slightly different set of rules for citation, which will be enumerated below.

Books

Rule 15 in the Bluebook explains how to properly cite a book.  The basic format will include:

  • Full name of the author(s)
  • Book title (underlined or italicized)
  • Pinpoint page number (if needed)
  • Publication information (if applicable)
  • Year of publication

[Example:  John Doe, My Book 93 (2nd ed, 2012).]

Author NOTE:  

-Give the name of the author just as it appears, not surname first, as is common in other citation formats.

-If there are two authors, inlcude both names, joined by an ampersand.

-If there are multiple authors, put the first listed author followed by "et al."

-If no author is given and only an editor is provided, leave the author portion of the citation blank and include the editor in the publication information section of the citation.

Publication NOTE:  

-If the book has multiple editions, be sure to include the edition number you are using.

Remember to pay attention to comma placement!


Collections

Citing a collection (of articles, essays, etc.) is also covered by Rule 15 of the Bluebook.  The basic citation format will include:

  • Full name of the author(s)
  • Title of the specific work (underlined or italicized)
  • Title of the collection (underlined or italicized)
  • Page number
  • Publication information (if applicable)
  • Year of publication

NOTE:

-Rule 15.8 gives instructions for citing some specific works, including The Bible, The Federalist, William Shakespeare's plays, etc.


Periodicals

Refer to Rule 16 when citing a journal or law review.  The basic elements of a periodical citation include:

  • Full name of the author(s)
  • Title of the article (underline or italicize)
  • Volume number
  • Name of the periodical, properly abbreviated (see T13)
  • Page number
  • Year of publication

NOTE:

-Some periodicals will not have a volume number.  These are known non-consecutive paginated periodicals.  For these, omit the volume number part of the citation and inlcude the full publication date in the parenthetical.  Newspapers should be cited as non-consecutive paginated periodicals, giving the month, day, and year of the newspaper source.


Legal Encyclopedias

The basic elements when citing an encyclopedia are:

  • Volume number
  • Encyclopedia name, properly abbreviated
  • Title of the article/entry (underlined or italicized)
  • Section symbol (§)
  • Section number
  • Year of publication

Legal Dictionaries

The basic elements when citing a legal dictionary include:

  • Dictionary Name
  • Pinpoint page number
  • Edition number
  • Year of publication

Nonprint Sources

The Bluebook rules for nonprint sources are outline in Rule 17.  These include things like interviews, letters, emails, or unpublished works.  The Bluebook contains sections that detail how to properly reference these varied sources.

Secondary Sources Reference

This table can be used for quick reference when determining how to cite a secondary source.

Source

BB Rule(s)

Citation Elements

Example

Book

B15

Rule 15

Full author(s) name(s)

Title

Page

Publication information

Year

John Doe, My Book 93 (2nd ed, 2012).

Periodical

B16

Rule 16

T13

Full author(s) name(s)

Title

Volume

Periodical title (abbr.)

First page

Pinpoint page

Year

John Doe, Journal Article, 12 My L. Rev. 234, 244 (2012).

Newspaper

B16.1.4

Rule 16.6

Full author(s) name(s)

Title

Newspaper title (abbr.)

Full date

Page

John Doe, I Wrote In a Newspaper!, N.Y. Times, Oct. 1, 2012, at B9.

American Law Reports (ALR)

Rule 16.7.6

Full author(s) name(s)

Annotation

Title

Volume

A.L.R.

Series

First page

Pinpoint page

Year

 

John Doe, Annotation,Talking about Law, 15 A.L.R.4th 109, 115 (2000).

American Jurisprudence 2d

B15.1

Rule 15.8

Volume

Am. Jur. 2d

Section title

§ section number

Year

9 Am. Jur. 2d Bankruptcy § 49 (2006).

Corpus Juris Secundum

B15.1

Rule 15.8

Volume

C.J.S.

Section title

§ section number

Year

88 C.J.S. Trial § 153 (2001).

Black’s Law Dictionary

B15.1

Rule 15.8

Black’s Law Dictionary

Publication information

Year

Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009).