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Cite-Checking & Library Research

Suggestions for law students conducting cite-checks


Citation to articles, documents, press releases, reports, statements, and other material found on the Internet is now common. While reading an online article, the reader can follow a footnote citation directly to the Internet source that supports the proposition.

Great when it works; frustrating when it doesn't. A 2002 Law Library Journal article found that after four years, less than a third of Internet citations in law review articles were still accurate. Mary Rumsey, Runaway Train: Problems of Permanence, Accessibility, and Stability in the Use of Web Sources in Law Review Citations, 94 L. Libr. J. 27 (2002).

Bluebook Rules

Rule 18, "The Internet, Electronic Media, and Other Nonprint Resources," addresses how to cite sources on the Internet. Rule 18.2 states:

The Bluebook requires the use and citation of traditional printed sources when available, unless there is a digital copy of the source available that is authenticated, official, or an exact copy of the printed source . . . .

The Rule specifies how Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) should appear, the use of signals "available at" and "at," date of the material, pinpoint citations, and preservation of information. Included are examples of citations to cases, statutes, legislative material, administrative material, books, articles, and email.

The 20th edition of the The Bluebook (2015) includes a format for citing to sources that archive web pages, including the Internet Archive and