Order of authorities

In formal legal writing, the sources that follow each signal should be arranged according to their order of importance.  The standard order below conforms to Bluebook Rule 1.4. 

First, group sources by the signal that will introduce them.  Give each group of sources its own citation sentence.  Next, arrange citation sentences according to the proper signal order.  Finally, arrange sources within each citation sentence as presented here.

Note that if a source is considerably more helpful or authoritative, it may be presented first after a signal regardless of the standard order.  If choosing to depart from the standard order, a parenthetical should be added that indicates why the source is unusually important (this will hopefully prevent suspicions of an editing mistake).

 

Standard Order of Sources After Each Signal

1.  Constitutions, in the following order -

    a)  U.S. Federal Constitution

    b)  U.S. state constitutions, alphabetically by state

    c)  Foreign, alphabetically by jurisdiction

    d)  Foundational documents of the United Nations, League of Nations, and European Union (in that order)

    *  Constitutions from the same jurisdiction?  Cite most recent first and continue towards earliest.

2.  Statutes, in the following order -

    a)  Federal

         1)  statutes in U.S.C., U.S.C.A., or U.S.C.S. (by U.S.C. title number, from lowest to highest)

         2)  statutes currently in force but not in one of the codes above (cite most recently enacted first and continue towards
              earliest).

         3)  rules of evidence and procedure

         4)  repealed statutes (cite most recently enacted first and continue towards earliest)

    b)  State (alphabetically by state)

         5)  statutes in current codification (by codification order)

         6)  statutes currently in force but not in current codification (cite most recently enacted first and continue towards
              earliest).

         7)  rules of evidence and procedure

         8)  repealed statutes (cite most recently enacted first and continue towards earliest)

    c)  Foreign (alphabetically by jurisdiction)

         9)  codes or statutes in current codification (by order in codification)

         10) statutes currently in force but not in codes or current codification (cite most recently enacted first and continue
              towards earliest).

         11) repealed statutes (cite most recently enacted first and continue towards earliest)

3.  Treaties and other international agreements -

     Cite most recently enacted first and continue towards earliest, except foundational documents of the United Nations,
     League of Nations, and European Union.

     *  See 1(d) above for the foundational documents excluded here.

4.  Cases, in the following order -

    a)  Federal

         1)  U.S. Supreme Court

         2)  Courts of appeals, Emergency Court of Appeals, and Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals

         3)  Court of Claims, Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, and bankruptcy appellate panels

         4)  District courts, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and Court of International Trade (previously, Customs Court)

         5)  District bankruptcy courts, and Railroad Reorganization Court

         6)  Court of Federal Claims (previously, trial division of Court of Claims), Court of Appeals for the Armed
              Forces (previously, Court of Military Appeals), and Tax Court (previously, Board of Tax Appeals)

         7)  administrative agencies (alphabetically by agency)

    b)  State

         8)  courts (alphabetically by state; then by rank within each state)

         9)  agencies (alphabetically by state; then alphabetically by agency within each state)

    c)  Foreign

         10) courts (alphabetically by jurisdiction; then by rank within each jurisdiction)

         11) agencies (alphabetically by jurisdiction; then alphabetically by agency with each jurisdiction)

    d)  International

         12) International Court of Justice, and Permanent Court of International Justice.

         13) Other international tribunals and arbitral panels (alphabetically by name)

    *  Arrange by courts issuing opinions; prior and subsequent history is irrelevant.

    **  Multiple cases from the same court?  Cite most recent decision first and continue towards oldest.

    ***  For rule above, all U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and federal district courts are treated as one court

5.  Legislative materials, in the following order -

    a)  Bills and resolutions

    b)  Committee hearings

    c)  Reports, documents, and committee prints

    d)  Floor debates

    *  Multiple sources of one type?  Cite the most recent first and continue towards oldest.

6.  Administrative and executive materials, in the following order -

    a)  Federal

         1.  Executive Orders

         2.  Current Treasury Regulations, and proposed Treasury Regulations.

         3.  All other regulations currently in force (by C.F.R. title number, from lowest to highest)

         4.  Proposed rules not yet in force (by C.F.R. number as above, if available.  If not, by date of proposal, with most
              recent first).

         5.  All repealed materials (by date of enactment, with most recent first).

    b)  State

         6.  All state materials alphabetically by state.  Within each state, materials currently in force before those repealed. 
              Within those categories, cite most recently enacted and continue towards earliest.

    c)  Foreign

         7.  All foreign materials alphabetically by jurisdiction.  Within each jurisdiction, materials currently in force before those
              repealed.  Within those categories, cite most recently enacted and continue towards earliest.

7.  Intergovernmental organizations' resolutions, decisions, and regulations, in the following order -

    a)  United Nations and League of Nations.  Within those organizations, by issuing body: General Assembly, then Security
         Council, then all other bodies in alphabetical order.  Within each body, cite most recent source first and continue towards
         oldest.

    b)  Other organizations (alphabetically by name)

8.  Records, briefs, and petitions -

     Arrange documents in the order listed.  Within each type of document, arrange by the court where filed; use the order of
     courts given in Section 4 ("Cases") above.

9.  Secondary materials, in the following order -

    a)  Uniform codes, model codes, and restatements (in that order, and with most recent of each type first, continuing
         towards oldest)

        

   b)  Books, pamphlets, and shorter works in a collection of works by a single author (alphabetically by author's last name; if
         not available, by first word of title)

          

    c)  Journal work not written by students, including forthcoming works and shorter works in a collection of works by multiple
         authors (alphabetically by author's last name)

    d)  Book reviews not written by students (alphabetically by reviewer's last name)

    e)  Student-written material from law reviews and journals, including book reviews (alphabetically by author's last name; if
         not available, by first word of title; if no title either, by the periodical's name as abbreviated in citation)

    f)  Annotations (most recent first and continuing towards oldest)

    g)  Magazine and newspaper articles (alphabetically by author's last name; if not available, by first word of title)

    h)  Working papers (alphabetically by author's last name; if not available, by first word of title)

    i)   Unpublished materials that are not forthcoming (alphabetically by author's last name; if not available, by first word of
         title)

        

    j)  Electronic sources, including material from the Internet (alphabetically by author's last name; if not available, by first
        word of title)

    *  Whenever alphabetizing, use only the last name of the first author listed; if not available, proceed immediately to title.

10.  Cross-references to author's own material

      If author of the work being edited refers to own material in text or footnotes, this citation will take lowest precedence after
      any given signal.

 

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