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Bluebooking and Legal Citation

Rules for U.S. Statutes

  • B12- basic format for statutes in court documents.
  • R12- detailed format for statutes in academic writing.
  • R12.9- special rules for specific types of statutes, including the Internal Revenue Code, Rules of Evidence and Procedure, sentencing guidelines, and uniform and model rules.
  • T1.1- Federal Judicial and Legislative Materials- formats for the U.S. code are shown at the very end



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

Basic Bluebook Format for Federal Statutes

Basic Format

1 U.S.C. § 1 (2012)

Formatting Tips

  • U.S.C. is in all capitals. Everything else is in normal type.
  • To make the § symbol in Word, select Insert > Symbol, then select §. Click Insert to add the symbol or Shortcut Key to create an easy to remember keyboard shortcut, like Alt S. (See Screencap tab.)

Screenshot of Microsoft word

Finding the Title and Section for the U.S.C.

The title and section of the U.S.C. are shown at the top of the screen on Lexis and Westlaw and at the top of the page and the beginning of the statute in print and the exact copy of the print found on HeinOnline. (See Screencap tabs.)

If you copy the citation from Lexis or Westlaw, be sure to delete the A. in U.S.C.A. or S. in U.S.C.S. to leave U.S.C. Why is there an A. in the citation on Westlaw and an S. in the citation on Lexis? This is because there are three versions of the federal statutes:

  • The official United States Code (U.S.C.), published by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO).
  • The unofficial United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.), published by West.
  • The unofficial United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.), published by Lexis.

Bluebook R12.3 requires you to cite the official U.S.C. but the title, section, and text of the statute are almost always identical for all three versions. 

Screenshot of Lexis

Screenshot of Westlaw

Print publication

Finding the Date for the U.S.C.

Citing the Print U.S.C.A. or U.S.C.S.

The official U.S.C. is published more slowly than the unofficial U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. and statutes passed in the last year or two may not yet be in the U.S.C., even in a supplement. In this situation, R12.2.1(a) tells you to cite the U.S.C.S. or U.S.C.A. as shown in Table T1.1.


Citing the U.S.C.A. on Westlaw or U.S.C.S. on Lexis

Some professors allow students to cite to Lexis or Westlaw. If your professor allows this, copy the citation shown at the top of the screen, including the A. in U.S.C.A. on Westlaw and S. in U.S.C.S. on Lexis. For the year, use the currency of the database as provided by the database itself. (See Screencap tabs.). Format as shown in R12.5(a):

For Westlaw's online U.S.C.A., use the format 1 U.S.C.A. § 1 (Westlaw through Pub. L. No. 115-34). For Lexis' online U.S.C.S., use the format 1 U.S.C.S. § 1 (LEXIS through Pub. L. No. 115-34).

If you are citing more than one statute, you can use the same date for all statutes. The date does not refer to the last time the statute was amended but, rather, to the most recent public law included in the database. A "public law" is an individual statute as it is passed by Congress. For example, if Lexis says it is current through Pub. L. No. 115-34, that means Lexis has been updated to include all statutes passed by Congress up to and including the ​34th statute passed by the 115th Congress.