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Bluebooking and Legal Citation

CSM Rules for Cases



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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 CSM Format for Cases

Basic Format

Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc. (C.D.Cal. 1998) 28 F.Supp.2d 1120, 1126

Formatting Tips

  • The case name is italicized.
  • Everything else is in normal type.

Finding the Citation Information for a Case

The fastest way to collect all of the citation information for a case is to highlight the specific text you would like to cite and use the database's copy with citation feature. By default, the copy with citation feature is set to Bluebook style, so be sure to reset it to California style for a citation in rough CSM format. (See Video tab.)  

The citation will not be perfect, so always check the citation for errors, especially in the reporter and court parenthetical. The databases err on the side of giving you more information rather than less and commonly provide multiple reporters and a court parenthetical even when it's not necessary. Additionally, the databases often incorrectly space the reporter and court parenthetical. (See the boxes below on Citing the Preferred Reporter and Including the Court Parenthetical.)

If you prefer to generate the citation on your own, you can find most of the citation information you need at the top of the screen on Lexis and Westlaw. (See Screencap tabs.) You will also need to identify the pin for the specific page you are citing. (See the box on Finding the Pin under Bluebooking Cases.)

Abbreviating the Case Name

Use the "running head"- the short title shown at the top of each page in print or the top of the screen online (CSM § 1:1). (See Screencap tabs.)

If a running head is not available or if it is still too long, you can make your own short title as long as you provide enough information to clearly identify the case. For help, consult CSM § 1:1[C] and the Table of Frequently Used Abbreviations

Citing the Preferred Reporter

Cases are published by "reporters": large multivolume sets of books that publish cases by date. Usually, each court's cases are published in one or more competing reporters. The entry for each court system identifies the preferred reporter (CSM §§ 1:13-1:15, 1:28, 1:32, 1:33, & 1:34.) The major preferred reporters are:

  • For federal cases: U.S., F., and F.Supp.
  • For California state cases: Cal., Cal.App., and Cal.App.Supp.
  • For other state cases: P., A., N.E., N.W., S.E., So., S.W., and N.Y.S.

The preferred reporters are generally the same as for the Bluebook, except that the Bluebook requires you to cite West's National Reporters (P. or Cal. Rptr.) for California courts, while the CSM requires you to cite Lexis' official reporters (Cal., Cal.App., or Cal.App.Supp.)

Do not use spaces within any part of the reporter citation (e.g. F.Supp.2d, not F. Supp. 2d; Cal.App.4th not Cal. App. 4th.) The only exception is when citing later series of Cal.App.Supp., which are cited as Cal.App.2d Supp., Cal.App.3d Supp.,  and Cal.App.4th Supp., with a space between the series and Supp.

Including the Court Parenthetical

Provide a court parenthetical only if the court is not indicated by the reporter. This means no court parenthetical is necessary for the U.S. Supreme Court (CSM § 1:32) or California state courts (CSM §§ 1:13-1:15.) However, you must use court parentheticals for lower federal courts (CSM §§ 1:33 [A] & 1:34 [A]) and other state courts, unless you provide a parallel citation to an official reporter that clearly identifies the court (CSM § 1:29.)

Do not include spaces in the court parenthetical except for federal circuits (e.g. 9th Cir.) and after the name of any of the five states CSM § 1:30[A] tells you not to abbreviate (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Ohio, and Utah.)

For example:

California v. Romero (1983) 463 U.S. 992 (U.S. publishes only U.S. Supreme Court cases. No court is needed.)

People v. Marshall (1997) 15 Cal.4th 1 (The official Cal. reporter publishes only California Supreme Court cases. No court is needed.)

People v. White (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 638 (The official Cal.App. reporter publishes only California Court of Appeals cases. No court is needed.)

People v. Foretich (1970) 14 Cal.App.3d Supp. 6, 10 (The official Cal.App.Supp. reporter publishes only cases from the California Superior Court's Appellate Department. No court is needed.)

Scott v. Ross (9th Cir. 1998) 151 F.3d 1247 (F. publishes federal Court of Appeals cases from across the country and some older district court cases. Use 9th Cir. to indicate that this case was decided by the Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal.)

Jackson v. East Bay Hosp. (N.D.Cal. 1997) 980 F.Supp. 1341 (F.Supp. publishes federal district court cases from across the country. Use N.D. Cal. to indicate that this case was decided by the Northern District of California.)

State v. Stouffer (Ohio Ct.App. 1971) 276 N.E.2d 651
Jaynes v. State (Ind.Ct.App. 1982) 437 N.E.2d 137
Roberts v. Automobile Club of Michigan (1984) 138 Mich.App. 488 [360 N.W.2d 224] (The unofficial N.E. and N.W. reporters publish cases from multiple state courts at multiple court levels, so indicate the state and court level that decided the case. However, the official Michigan Appeals Reports publishes only Michigan Court of Appeals cases, so no court parenthetical is needed when it is included as a parallel citation.)

Indicating the court allows you to see at a glance if a case is mandatory (such as a case from the U.S. Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, California Supreme Court, or any California Court of Appeal) or persuasive (such as a federal Court of Appeal case from another circuit or a trial court case.)