Guidance on using Introduction to Basic Legal Citation

Help with Citation Issues Beyond the Scope of This Work

This page offers no "help" on how to cite types of documents not covered in Basic Legal Citation. Being an introductory work, not a comprehensive reference, this resource has a limited scope and assumes that users confronting specialized citation issues will have to pursue them into the pages of The Bluebook, the ALWD Citation Manual, or a guide or manual dealing with the citation practices of their particular jurisdiction. The cross reference tables in sections 7-300 (Bluebook) and 7-400 (ALWD), incorporated by links throughout this work, are designed to facilitate such out references. Wherever you see [BB|ALWD] at the end of a section heading you can obtain direct pointers to more detailed material in The Bluebook (by clicking on BB) or ALWD Citation Manual (ALWD).

Navigating Through Basic Legal Citation

This introduction is designed to serve as a tutorial on how to cite the most widely cited forms of legal material. It has an introductory unit followed immediately by a unit on "how to cite" the types of documents that comprise the bulk of the citations in briefs and legal memoranda. Following either the abbreviated table of contents in the left navigation frame or the full table of contents available from the front page, one can proceed through this material in sequence. The third unit, organized around illustrative examples, is intended to be used either for review and reinforcement of the prior "how to" sections or as an alternative approach to them. The prime examples for each type are linked back to the relevant "how to" principles.

The following sections on abbreviations and omissions, on typeface (italics and underlining), and on how citations fit into the larger project of legal writing all support the beginning units. They are accessible independently and also, where appriopriate, via links from the earlier sections. Finally, there are a series of cross reference tables tying this introduction to the two major legal citation reference works (see supra) and to state specific citation rules and practices.

The work is also designed to be used by those confronting a specific basic citation issue. For such purposes the table of contents provides one path to the relevant material. There are two others to which the navigation bar at the top and bottom of each page provide ready access: the index and key word search. The index is alphabetically arrayed and more detailed than the table of contents. The search utility allows an even more specific inquiry, one seeking for example the abbreviation for a specific word (e.g., institute) or where illustrative citations a particular state, Ohio, say, are located. The searchable index does not include all the words in all the myriad citations contained in this work, but only key words. The search instructions point out that words placed next to one another in the search window are treated as a phrase. If you want to do an "and" search, you must place a plus sign between the words with no intervening space (e.g., electronic+journal).

An abbreviated table of contents remains in the left navigation frame except during a search when the frame is taken over by search instructions. And when a search is complete table of contents can be return to that window by clicking on the link labeled "close search window." If you want to remove a particular page from the left frame the navigation bar makes that possible. Indeed, if you want to work without that left frame regularly, all you need do is open the full table of contents from the home page, click on its "close left frame" link on the navigtion bar, and then bookmark the table of contents.

Comments on Basic Legal Citation

Feedback on this online reference would be most welcome. What doesn't work, isn't clear, is missing, appears to be in error? Has a change occurred in one of the fifty states that should be reported? Comments of these and any other kinds should be addressed to peter-martin@lawschool.cornell.edu with the word "Citation" appearing in the subject line. Many of the features and some of the coverage of this fall 2010 edition are the direct result of past user questions and advice.