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Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2015)
by Peter W. Martin

This work first appeared in 1993. It was most recently revised in the fall of 2015 following a thorough review of the actual citation practices of judges and lawyers, the relevant rules of appellate practice of federal and state courts, and the latest edition of The Bluebook, released earlier in the year. As has been true of all editions released since 2010, it is indexed to both the The Bluebook and the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation. However, it also documents the many respects in which contemporary legal writing, very often following guidelines set out in court rules, diverges from the citation formats specified by those academic texts.

The content of this guide is also available in three different e-book formats: 1) a pdf version that can be printed out in whole or part and also used with hyperlink navigation on an iPad or other tablet, indeed, on any computer; 2) a version designed specifically for use on the full range of Kindles as well as other ereaders or apps using the Mobi format; and 3) a version in ePub format for ereaders or apps that work with it. To access any of them, click here. (Over 50,000 copies of the 2014 edition were downloaded.)

Since the guide is online, its further revision is not tied to a rigid publication cycle. Any user seeing a need for clarification, correction, or other improvement is encouraged to "speak up." 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 other kinds can sent by email addressed to (Please include "Citation" in the subject line.) Many of the features and some of the coverage of this reference are the direct result of past user questions and advice.

A complementary series of video tutorials offers a quick start introduction to citation of the major categories of legal sources. They may also be useful for review. Currently, the following are available:

  1. Citing Judicial Opinions ... in Brief (8.5 minutes)
  2. Citing Constitutional and Statutory Provisions ... in Brief (14 minutes)
  3. Citing Agency Material ... in Brief (12 minutes)

Finally, for those with an interest in current issues of citation practice, policy, and instruction, there is a companion blog, "Citing Legally," at: