How to Cite a Complaint According to Bluebook

Bluebook is a citation style guide used for legal citations. The Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review compile The Bluebook together. Most law schools and law firms use The Bluebook. To cite a complaint, you need to understand what it is. A complaint falls under the category of a court filing. The citation will therefore follow the rules of a court filing but include a clarification that you are referencing a complaint.

Find the information needed: the name of the case, the place and year of the ruling, the federal supplement number and the complaint number.

Know your abbreviations. Abbreviate the court name and location. For example, if you are referencing a complaint from the State Department of New York, the abbreviation would be “S.D.N.Y.” The other abbreviation to know is “F.Supp.,” which stands for “Federal Supplement."

Cite the complaint in order as complaint, case name, federal supplement, court, date and filing number. For example: Complaint at 39, Peter v. Paul, 287 F. Supp. 78 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (No. 98-2389).

Cite this Article