Sunday, April 1, 2012

Even More Citation Guidance

The legal world has been abuzz since the announcement today by the editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation that they are publishing a supplement to their ubiquitous citation guide.

The Bluebook has developed over its 19 editions from a slender pamphlet in 1926 (the PDF is just 28 pages) to the spiral-bound, cross-referenced behemoth beloved used by thousands of students today. But never before has it included a supplement. Since the base volume has no pocket to hold a pocket part, this one will be slipped into a special envelope to be affixed to the back cover.

Of course the big news is not the fact of a supplement, but the reason for it and what it does. Said Margaret Pease, Executive editor of the Harvard Law Review and leader of the four-journal team that publishes the Bluebook, "We realized that more and more significant legal commentary is being published on the Web, and the existing citation rules didn't take full advantage of the typographical versatility made possible by the medium." Since blogs and e-journals are enlivened by splashes of color, the supplementary citation rules use it to designate types of authority. For example, newspaper articles are to be cited in orange:

Adam Liptak, Recession Creates Opportunity for Alternative Law Firm Structures, N.Y. Times, Jan. 15, 2009, at A4.

However, tabloid newspapers are cited in orange with a yellow highlight: Eve Jenkins, Proof of Space Aliens in White House, Nat'l Enquirer, Sept. 17, 2011, at 1.

Law review pieces are not created equal, so the new rules allow you to show the seniority of the author: inexperienced, student authors in green, untenured faculty in brown, and tenured faculty and Article III judges in regal purple:
  • Jordan Lee, Note, An Earnest and Thorough Exploration of a Recent Case, 52 Wash. L. Rev. 125 (1980)
  • Jordan Lee, Critical Tensions in the Mailbox Rule: Toward a New Paradigm, 62 Wash. L. Rev. 51 (1990)
  • Jordan Lee, Contract Law and Theory: My Thoughts, 72 Wash. L. Rev. 1 (2000)
Political leanings of judges may be indicated by red and blue:
  • (Scalia, J.)
  • (Ginsburg, J.)
Since many readers do not immediately perceive the subtleties of introductory signals, the Bluebook now allows authors to indicate the weight they attach to authority typographically as well as with signals, e.g.:
  • See Adams v. Woodbury, 121 F.3d 999 (2d Cir. 2009)
  • But see Richards v. Keith, 142 F.3d 209 (10th Cir. 2010)
All in all, this supplement shows great promise for communicating the value of authority.

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