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Bluebook 101

Basic information for getting started with The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

Video: Major Bluebook 21st Edition Updates

Bluebook 21st Edition: Major Changes

Major updates to the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation in the new 21st edition, which was released in the summer of 2020. (7:43)

Differences between the 20th and 21st Editions

The new 21st edition of The Bluebook was published in 2020. Below is a list of all of the major changes.

21st Edition
1.4 No longer requires a prescribed order of authorities within each signal, instead requires authorities to be organized in a logical manner.
10.6.2 New section addressing how to cite SCOTUS in chambers opinions.
12.3.2 Citing to the U.S. Code no longer requires a year
15.1(b) More than two authors for a non-periodical resource--use all author names when particularly relevant, otherwise use the first author's name followed by et al. Use the first author and et al. for short form citations.
18.2.2(c) Date and time for updated online sources--use the date and time when the piece was updated, rather than when it was originally posted.
18.2.2(d) Use short URLs when possible but only if the URL makes it clear what the source is, e.g., wapo.st, but not bit.ly
18.6-18.7 Gives guidance for how to create a pinpoint citation to video and audio recordings.
18.8 New rule giving guidance for citing photographs and illustrations.
20/T2 Removes foreign jurisdictions citation guidance from T2 in the back of the Bluebook to T2 online on the Bluebook's website.
T13/T6 Removes the separation in previous editions between T6 (abbreviations in institutional author and case names) and T13 (abbreviations in periodical titles). See below chart for a list of the new abbreviations.

Word​

Old Abbreviation​

New Abbreviation​

Artificial Intelligence​

NONE​

A.I​.

Comparative​

Comp.​

Compar.​

Employ[er,ment]​

Emp'[r,t] T6​

Emp.​

Employ[ee, ment]​

Emp.T13​

Emp.​

Environment[al]​

Envt'l​

Env't​

Laboratory​

NONE​

Lab'y​

Nationality​

Nat'lity​

Nat'y​

Profession[al]​

Prof'l (T6), Prof.(T13)​

Pro.​

Psycholog[ical, ist, y]​

Psychol. ​

Psych.​

Refin[ing, ement]​

Ref.​

Refin.​

Research​

Res.​

Rsch.​

Reserv[ation, e]​

Res.​

Rsrv.​

Sociolog[ical, y]​

Soc.​

Socio.​

Change in 2021 Printing: Citing Slavery

A law review article discussed the many current cases citing slavery cases as good law. Justin Simard, Citing Slavery, 72 Stan. L. Rev. 79 (2020), journal link. See Simard's Citing Slavery Project, which has a database listing slavery cases and how they have been cited. In response to the author's suggestion, the Bluebook editors added rule requiring a parenthetical when an enslaved person was a party or the case involved slavery. The change was made after the first (2020) printing of the Bluebook, so it is only in the online edition and printings 2021 and later. From the editors' Noteworthy Changes to the 2021 Printing:

Rule 10.7.1(d) now covers slave cases. For cases involving an enslaved person as a party, use the parenthetical “(enslaved party).” For cases involving an enslaved person as the subject of a property or other legal dispute but named as a party to the suit, use the parenthetical “(enslaved person at issue).” For other cases involving enslaved persons, use an adequately-descriptive parenthetical.

  • Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857) (enslaved party), superseded by constitutional amendment, U.S. Const. amend. XIV.

  • Wall v. Wall, 30 Miss. 91 (1855) (enslaved person at issue).