This Guide is not a substitute for learning how to use the Bluebook. However, it is an aid. Included in this Guide are the exercises, sample memos, and lists that focus on citation, according to the Bluebook, that are distributed to first year Creighton law students in Legal Research & Writing I and II. The one major exception is the Interactive Citation Workstation exercises which are available on Lexis Advance. Students are required to do Exercises 2-5 and get a minimal number of the questions correct.
Before embarking on a study of the Bluebook rules, it is important to understand the purpose behind the rules. The purpose is twofold:
(1) to indicate to the reader that you are relying upon authority, and
(2) to provide a quick way for the reader to locate the authority you relied upon.
For example if you state a rule of law, the reader will want to know where you found that rule of law. Did it come from a case, and if so, which one? Did it come from a statute, and if so, which one? Or did you simply pull it out of thin air? If you do not provide a citation, the reader will assume the latter - that you pulled it out of thin air. Of course this is the last thing you want your reader to assume, since law is based on authority, not wishful thinking.
The abbreviations and conventions mandated by The Bluebook are intended to help the reader quickly locate the authority. There are literally millions of different sources that a legal writer can refer to including cases, statutes, treatises, and legal articles. Pity the poor lawyer or judge trying to find an authority cited in a document if every writer adopted his or her own citation method. The Bluebook is designed to provide a system of citation so that everyone's citations are similar (note that The Bluebook's subtitle refers to a "uniform system" of citation). While The Bluebook may seem confusing at first, just keep in mind the confusion that would result if there was no "uniform system."
Source: Linda Barris, Understanding and Mastering the Bluebook 3 (2007).
The cases and statutes cited in our illustrations may or may not be real cases or statutes. Some of the citations are made up for illustration purposes.
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