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This guide was originally created by Caitlin Hunter in 2018 and is regularly updated by the library staff.
For help with substance and with formatting beyond citations, see:
Legal citation aims to create uniform, understandable references to laws that make them easy for readers to look up.
The Bluebook is overwhelmingly the most popular legal citation style and is the main focus of this guide. However, this guide also provides an overview of other citation styles that are important for California law students and lawyers to know, such as the California Style Manual, as well as guides, tutorials, tools, and troubleshooting tips.
For new law students and even experienced attorneys, legal citation is frequently overwhelming and frustrating. At its worst, legal citation can feel confusing, pedantic, and pointless.
At its best, however, legal citation allows writers to clearly and concisely direct their readers to laws and secondary sources that support their argument.
Compare the following citations:
The good-luck-finding-it style:
The long-and-confusing style:
Ultimately, even the editors of the notoriously pedantic Bluebook agree that the purpose of legal citation is to help your readers find the source you want them to read. Keeping that in mind may make Bluebooking less frustrating- and if it doesn't, see our page on getting perspective.