Most of the changes in the twentieth edition concern sources and issues that rarely figure in the writing of lawyers and judges, e.g., the citing of social media, opinion pieces in newspapers, or comments to proposed regulations. And the bulk of its expansion (9.6% growth over the prior edition) occurred in the table specifying how to cite foreign sources (T2). By contrast, the edition shaved off seventeen pages by dropping the prior table of abbreviations for the most frequently cited English language periodicals. It has been replaced by multiple tables (institutions, common words, geographical terms) and a set of principles on how to construct a journal abbreviation from them.
The centrality of digital sources to contemporary legal research prompted a number of changes. No longer need some parallel citations to online resources be preceded by the phrase "available at". Citation to online editions of newspapers are acceptable, and citations to the major online law dictionaries need not specify a page number but simply state the term or phrase defined. Notwithstanding these incremental shifts, The Bluebook's approach to when and how to specify the use of an electronic source remains inconsistent. (See The Bluebook's Inconsistency about When to Identify an Electronic Source, Citing Legally, http://citeblog.access-to-law.com/?p=404.) Continuing references to the "title page" of periodicals and treatises, which fewer and fewer researchers consult in a form that has one, betray the distance between the law review editors responsible for The Bluebook and the realities of twenty-first century law practice.
In an unfortunate concession to the interests of the entities sponsoring creation and publication of restatements, uniform codes, and model laws, the new edition would require that citations to such works identify the source. (See Bluebook (20th ed.) and Restatements, Model Codes, etc., Citing Legally, http://citeblog.access-to-law.com/?p=461.)
The nineteenth edition made even fewer significant changes than its immediate predecessor. The "Bluepages," the sole title now given the introductory material introduced in the eighteenth, and accompanying tables expanded from forty-three pages to fifty-one. Expansion and elaboration occurred throughout, most notably in the concluding set of tables (which comprise over half the volume). They grew by nearly forty percent. The bulk of that growth was concentrated in T2's coverage of foreign jurisdictions, from the Argentine Republic to the Republic of Zambia.
Finally acknowledging that the Internet has for many types of legal material supplanted print distribution, The Bluebook now sanctions citation to electronic documents obtained from reliable online sources "as if they were the original print," permitting the omission of URL information in such cases.
The Bluebook's eighteenth edition made few changes of substance. The book's format was revised; numerous rules were clarified; the treatment of foreign and international materials was expanded; and the tables were both added to and extended. The Bluebook continues to deal predominantly with the citation needs and norms of law journal writing. However, the material previously relegated to nineteen pages of "practitioner notes" has, in this latest edition, been expanded into a first section entitled "An Introduction to Basic Legal Citation" (this work's title since its release in 1993). That section is accompanied by a new set of tables furnishing references to local (jurisdiction-specific) citation rules and style guides, information that has been included in the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation from the start.
The Bluebook's coverage of Internet-based material was significantly expanded and rationalized. While the seventeenth edition divided Internet citations into three categories, the eighteenth reduced the number to two ? direct citations of material accessible only online and parallel citations furnished to facilitate access to material distributed in print, but not widely available in that form.
The introductory signal rule changes made by the sixteenth edition were reversed in the seventeenth. Rule 1.2 now provides as it did prior to 1996. "E.g." is back as a separate signal and "contra" is restored.
Rule 10.2.2 no longer spares the first or only word of a party name from abbreviation if it is in the table of abbreviated words (T.6). In addition, that table has been expanded.
Rule 10.3.3 acknowledges the spreading phenomenon of court adopted vendor- and medium-neutral citation systems, requires the use of such a system where the jurisdiction has adopted one. 10.3.1(b) requires the addition of a parallel citation to a regional reporter even though the rule establishing a vendor, medium-neutral citation system may not.
Previously the Bluebook insisted on use of "et al." rather than a full listing of author names when a book had more than two authors. The revised Rule 15.1.1 loosens up to permit a full list when "the names of the authors are relevant."
Electronic and other nonprint resources (commercial online systems, public and commercial internet sites, CD-ROM, Microform and more) have been broken out of Rule 17 (which now deals only with unpublished and forthcoming sources) and placed in a new Rule 18. (The former Rules 18, 19, and 20 have been renumbered accordingly.)