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Legal Citation

There are some noteworthy online resources for free legal citation information. The first is the Introduction to Basic Legal Citation part of Cornell’s Legal Information Institute. According to the summary page, “it was most recently revised in May 2007 to reflect changes appearing in the third edition of the ALWD Citation Manual, published in 2006. It is also keyed to the most recent edition of The Bluebook, published in 2005.”

This legal citation guide contains a Table of Contents for quick topical searching and supports keyword searching. A nice feature is the “How to Cite” section. Selecting an item (e.g. judicial opinion, electronic resource, etc.) takes the researcher to a summary page with specific citing examples. Many of the headings contain a “BB” or “ALWD” hyperlink. Each takes the user to a cross-reference table that lists the corresponding Bluebook or ALWD rule.

The second tool is from the American Association of Law Libraries Citation Formats Committee. They produce the Universal Citation Guide. With the increase in public domain sites and electronic resources, the goal of the committee (and the guide) is to develop universal citation formats. Wisconsin was a leader in this area, adopting the public domain format in 2000. The Universal Citation Guide offers rules to “assist researchers in crafting accurate, unambiguous citations that enable readers to identify and locate cited legal authority in any format.” This resource is easy to use and includes primary and secondary sources.

For additional information, check out the “Blue Tips” from the Harvard Bluebook. These tips offer guidance in various areas including structure, punctuation, signals, and many others. The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) also includes citation resources on their website.

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