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Legal and Ethical Aspects of Healthcare - MGMT 353 Resource Guide: Legal Citation Guide

Legal Citation Guide

Sites with Help on Citation Formatting Using The Bluebook

The Bluebook is considered by many to be the official style manual for legal citation in the United States. This reference title is large, can be difficult to interpret, and much of the material is beyond the scope of this class. The following links to online guides will assist you in correctly citing legal resources for your required assignments.

A copy of the Bluebook is in the Ready Reference collection at Stafford Library for use in the library only.

If you are having difficulty determining the proper citation format, it may be helpful to search recent editions of these law reviews to see how they did it:  Columbia Law ReviewHarvard Law ReviewUniversity of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Yale Law Journal.  The editors of these publications compile The Bluebook.

Source Information in Legal Citations

Legal citation is rather unique. In brief, the part of a legal citation that indicates where something is published typically includes the following elements:

Volume or Title number
(usually abbreviated). This may be followed by a series designation.
First page or section number Note: the symbol § means section.

970 P.2d 98 refers to volume 970 of the Pacific Reporter, Second Series page 98

29 U.S.C. § 1001 refers to Title 29 of the United States Code, section 1001

Cal. Civ. Code § 4100 refers to section 4100 of the California Civil Code

3 CCR § 432 refers to Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations section 432 

Parallel Citations

Opinions of certain courts are often published in more than one court reporter. Parallel citations are citations to the same case in different reporters.

For example, opinions of the US Supreme Court can be found in three different court reporters:

  • United States Reports (U.S.), published by the US government, this is the official reporter
  • Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.), an unofficial reporter published by West Publishing
  • United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer's Edition (L.Ed.), another unofficial reporter published by Lexis Publishing

So if your citation looked like this:

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873

The official citation is from United States Reports (347 U.S. 483), and the parallel (unofficial) citations are from the Supreme Court Reporter (74 S. Ct. 686) and United States Supreme Court Reports (98 L. Ed. 873).


I thank M. Sara Lowe of the Claremont Colleges Library for permission to use information from her "Legal Citation" guide on this page.