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Bluebook Citation: Federal Statutes

Bluebook Quick Reference

B12 (p. 18):  Bluepages rule for federal statutes.

Rule 12 (p. 120):  Rules for statute citation.

Rule 3.2 (p. 72):  Subdivision rules for pages, footnotes, endnotes, and graphical material.

Rule 3.4 (p. 76):  Subdivision rules for appended materials.

Rule 6.1 (p. 87):  Abbreviation rules.

Rule 6.2 (p. 88):  Rules regarding numerals and symbols.

T1.1 (p. 233):  Table of federal abbreviations.

Federal Statute Citation Checklist

Handy reference for citing federal statutes:

  • If you are using the popular name of a statute, place this first in the citation.
  • Put the title number before the name of the code.
  • Properly abbreviate the name of code and place after the title--make sure to close up all spaces between adjacent single capitals in the name of the code.
  • Insert a section symbol ( § ) and section number for a single statute.
  • Insert a double section symbol ( §  § ) and section numbers, separated by commas, for multiple statutes.
  • Put the year of publication in parentheses at the end of the citation.  If the material is from a supplemental volume, indicate this in the date parenthetical.

The Basics

  • Federal statutes and the United States Constitution are published in as an official compilation known as the United States Code.  There are 51 subject areas, each found under a "title."  Within each title and individual statute is given a section number.  Additionally, these statutes are published unofficially in sets called the United States Code Annotated (published by West) and the United States Code Service (published by Lexis).  For more information about how these statutes are published, please refer to the Library of Congress' "How are Laws are Made" site.
  • Citing a federal statutes must include the following elements:
    1. The title.
    2. The correctly abbreviated name of the set.
    3. The statute section number.
    4. The year of publication.
  • A correctly cited statute will have the following structure:

Title U.S.C. § Section (Date).

  • NOTE:  The text of B12 implies that the official name of the statute be included before the title in a citation.  For example, The Administrative Procedure Act of 2006 would have the following citation:

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 555 (2006).

  • Additionally, if you are citing more than one section, use a double section number (§§), with each of the sections separated by commas.
  • If the cited material is found in a supplement, cite the main title and include the abbreviation "Supp." and the year the supplement was published in the parenthetical.


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