The Bluebook–Twentieth Edition

The new edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (20th ed. 2015) was published earlier this month, and copies are now available at the Georgetown Law Library!  I know everyone is eager to get their hands on a copy and really, really wants to know — what’s new in this edition?

Well, the twentieth edition is about fifty pages longer than its predecessor and now comprises a full five hundred and sixty pages of torment guidance, so to paraphrase Judge Richard Posner, I haven’t read the entire thing.  However, let’s take a look at some of the changes…

Harry-Potter-Reading-Books-GIF-1433747465

The preface to the new edition lists many of the significant changes, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Bluepages (“practitioner” writing section) have been expanded to parallel the rules in the Whitepages (“academic” writing section).  Now, there is a basic Bluepages rule for every Whitepages rule, except for B17 and Rule 17, which are “Court and Litigation Documents” and “Unpublished and Forthcoming Sources,” respectively.
  • Rule 18 includes many changes to citing online sources and should be read carefully before citing materials under the new edition. An important addition that will help preserve information is Rule 18.2.1(d), which encourages the use of Internet archiving tools like perma.cc. and provides guidance on how to include a permanent URL in a citation.  On a related note, The Georgetown Law Library has long supported the preservation of online information with its participation in The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group and perma.cc.
  • Another amendment to Rule 18 worth noting is that there is no longer a distinction between direct and parallel citations to online sources. All citations are treated as direct, which means not writing “available at” before a URL if a source is available in print and online.
  • Table 13, which used to list abbreviated titles for most U.S. law journals, is now “a more general guide for abbreviating periodicals” and lists abbreviations for common institutional names in Table 13.1 (e.g., Georgetown = “Geo.”) and other common words in Table 13.2 (e.g., Journal = “J.”). To format the proper abbreviation for a journal title, consult T13.1, T13.2, and Table 10 (geographical terms).
  • This edition includes new guidance on foreign and international materials. For example, Rule 21 now has a rule for citing International Monetary Fund materials and Table 2 (citation to foreign materials) has been updated and expanded.

For more detailed information on the new edition, see the useful compilations of changes published by the Warren E. Burger Library at the William Mitchell College of Law and the Pace Law Library.

Need help with The Bluebook and legal citation?  Visit the reference desk and the librarians will be happy to assist you.  Additionally, the Georgetown Law Library has a Bluebook Guide that will be updated later this summer to reflect changes in the twentieth edition.

Image Credit:  MTV/Warner Bros.

Share or Save: