How to Write a Bibliography in Bluebook

Each of the scholarly disciplines has designed a system for documentation used to cite sources when writing papers, articles, speeches or websites. Law students, lawyers, judges and legal professionals use the Bluebook as their system of citation when compiling bibliographies for their writing. The goal of a citation is to ensure that another lawyer reading the document can retrieve the information used to construct the opinion or argument. The Bluebook describes the specific format used for citations, i.e. conventions for punctuation, grammar and presentation. This article will describe the Bluebook guidelines for citing a book according to Peter W. Martin, professor of Law at Cornell University. (See Reference 1)

Write the volume number in numeric form if the source is a multi-volume work.

Write the full name of the author as it appears in the publication followed by a comma. If there is more than one author, it is permissible to name the first author and then write et al, followed by a comma. Do not included titles such as PhD.

Write the title of the book in italics or underline it. Capitalize the first word of the title and all other words except articles, conjunctions and prepositions.

Indicate the section, paragraph or page number where the reader can find the information that was used.

Close the citation by indicating the edition and year the book was published inside of parentheses. Finish the citation with a period. For example, a complete citation for a book might look like this: 4 Calvin S. Worth et al, Limitation of Actions § 7.3 (3rd ed. 1987).


Consult Peter Martin's online book for examples of other citations.


Some universities host online programs that assist with the Bluebook citation style. Refworks and Zotero are both Bluebook compliant online services.

Since there are numerous potential sources, legal writers must consult the Bluebook for the specific guidelines for each type of source used.

Cite this Article