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Bluebooking and Legal Citation

Rules for California Statutes

  • B12.1.2- basic format for state statutes in court documents.
  • R12- detailed format for statutes in academic writing.
  • T1.3-California- specific format for California statutes



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 California Statutes

Basic Format

For West's version of the codes, use the format Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1 (West 2015). For Lexis' version of the codes use the format Cal. Fam. Code § 1 (Deering 2016).

Formatting Tips

  • In court documents, everything is in normal type.
  • In academic writing, Cal. <Subject> Code is in small caps and everything else is in normal type. To make small caps in Word or other Microsoft products, highlight the text and press Ctrl+Shift+K on a PC or Command+Shift+K on a Mac.
  • 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.)
  • For California statutes, the Bluebook allows citations to Deering's California Codes Annotated (available in print and on Lexis) or West's Annotated California Codes (available in print and on Westlaw). The title, section, and text of the statute are almost always identical no matter which version you use but, to find the correct year, you will need to set aside time to consult either Deering's or West in print. (See Finding the Year below.)

Finding the Subject and Section for California Statutes

Copy the subject and section shown at the top of the screen on Lexis or Westlaw. (See Screencap tabs.)

Note that Lexis and Westlaw almost always abbreviate the subject differently than the Bluebook does. The PDF below provides the Bluebook abbreviations:

Finding the Year for California Statutes in Print

Students often struggle to find the year of the California statutes on Lexis or Westlaw. This is because R18.2 requires you to cite to the print or an exact copy of the print. Neither Lexis or Westlaw provide an exact copy of their print statutes online, so you will need to access the print statutes on the second floor, across from the double doors. (See Location of California Print Statutes tab.)

To find the year, locate the volume that includes your statute and then use (in order of preference) the year on the spine, then the year on the title page, then the copyright year (R12.3.2.) Print California statutes are kept up-to-date by supplements- softcover pamphlets inserted in the back of each volume ("pocket parts") or placed next to the volume identifying any changes to a statute after the volume was printed. (See Photos of Checking the Date in Print tab.) Always check for any amendments to your statute in the supplement. Format the year as shown in R12.3.2, B12.1.2, and R3.1(c):

  • If your statute is found only in the hardcover volume, use the year from the hardcover volume: (Deering 2006)
  • If your statute is found only in the supplement, use the year from the supplement with "Supp." in front of it: (Deering Supp. 2008)
  • If your statute is found in the hardcover volume and amended in the supplement, combine the two dates with &: (Deering 2006 & Supp. 2008)

If you are citing more than one statute, you must check the date for each statute. The date will vary depend on which volume the statute is in and when it was last amended.

Check the Date of the Main Volume Where the Statute Is Found 

Locate the main volume where the statute is found and check for the text of your statute. If you can't find the text of your statute in the main volume, it's likely in the supplement only (see next step.)

If you do find the text of your statute, check for (in order), a date on the spine, then a date on the title page, and then a copyright date. Here, there is no year on the spine or title page, so use the copyright year- 2013.

Check For A Supplement in the Back of the Book or Next to the Book

Here, the supplement is inserted in the back of the book and is dated 2017.

Check If Your Statute Is Amended or Added In the Supplement

Here, the supplement jumps directly from § 2128 to § 2301, indicating that § 2250 has not been amended. Accordingly, the date for this section is the date of the main volume, 2013:

Cal. Fish & Game Code § 2250 (West 2013)

For § 2120, West has added annotations (notes suggesting related cases, secondary sources, and other materials) about the statute but the text of the statute itself has not been amended. Accordingly, the date for this section is also 2013:

Cal. Fish & Game Code § 2120 (West 2013)

In contrast, the text of § 2301 has been amended, so it is cited as:

Cal. Fish & Game Code § 2301 (West 2013 & Supp. 2017)

Finally, the text of § 2128 is completely new and is not found in the main volume, so it is cited as: 

Cal. Fish & Game Code § 2128 (Supp. 2017)

Finding the Year for California Statutes on Lexis and Westlaw

Some professors allow students to cite to Lexis or Westlaw. If your professor allows this, 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 version of the codes, use the format Cal. Gov’t Code § 1 (West, Westlaw through Ch. 9 of 2017 Reg. Sess.) For Lexis's online version of the codes, use the format Cal. Fam. Code § 1 (Deering, LEXIS through Ch. 9 of 2017 Reg. Sess.)


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 statutes included in the database. For example, if Westlaw says it is current through Ch. 9 of the 2017 Reg. Sess., that means Westlaw has been updated to include all statutes passed by the California legislature up to and including the ​9th statute passed during the 2017 regular session.