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Bluebooking and Legal Citation: California Style Manual (CSM) Basics

Warning!

 

Caution sign with hand on orange background.

Caution by kaneiderdaniel/ CC BY SA 3.0

Do not rely solely on this page to Bluebook.

Please keep in mind:

  1. Your professor or court system may have special rules.
  2. Rules or situations may have changed since this page was last updated.
  3. We may be wrong! 

Double check with your professor, outside guides, and the Bluebook rules themselves.

If you notice a mistake, please contact caitlin.hunter@lls.edu.

Moving From the Bluebook to the California Style Manual

Learning the California Style Manual for the first time?

The good news is that it's generally easier and less fussy than the Bluebook. For example:

  • CSM does not have strict rules about approved sources- Lexis, Westlaw, and government websites are all usually fine.
  • CSM generally requires less information than the Bluebook. Struggled to find the correct date for a statute? CSM doesn't require you to include one.
  • CSM provides specific rules and examples for California materials such as Witkin, Rutter, and CEB.
  • CSM is free on the Sixth District Appellate Program's website.

Don't throw away your Bluebook just yet, however- CSM sometimes refers you to the Bluebook for additional rules.

Additionally, there are a few rules that may take a little getting used to:

  • CSM places the date parenthetical for cases, books, and law review articles after the case name or book or article title, instead of at the end of the citation.
  • For California state cases, CSM requires you to cite the official reporters (Cal., Cal.App., Cal.App.Supp.), whereas the Bluebook requires you to cite West's National Reporter System (P. and Cal. Rptr.). 
  • For California statutes, CSM skips the Cal.,  often uses different abbreviations for the subjects, and requires you to use subd. or subds. to identify subdivisions. 
  • For books and law review articles, CSM uses only the author's last name, rather than their full name.
  • CSM generally omits spaces in court abbreviations and reporters. (F.Supp.2d, not F. Supp. 2d. and C.D.Cal. not C.D. Cal.) Similarly, when citing law review articles, L. Rev. becomes L.Rev.
  • CSM inserts a comma before § in California statutes and regulations and when citing encyclopedias and treatises divided into subjects. For example,  Gov. Code, § 1, Cal. Code Regs., § 1, and Crimes Against the Person, § 512. In contrast, no comma is needed for federal statutes and regulations, formatted as 1 U.S.C. § 1 and 1 C.F.R. § 1.

For example:

Bluebook: Cal. Gov't Code § 1(b) 

becomes 

CSM: Gov. Code, § 1, subd. (b)

Bluebook: People v. Foranyic, 74 Cal. Rptr. 2d 804, 805 (Ct. App. 1998)

becomes 

CSM: People v. Foranyic (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 186, 188