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Legal Citation

Tips and tricks for starting out with the Bluebook, ALWD, or other legal citation guide.

Citing from Electronic Resources

Rule 18 of the Bluebook requires the use and citation of traditional printed sources when available, unless there is a digital copy of the source available that is authenticated, official, or an exact copy of the printed source.  Generally, the Bluebook encourages authors to find and use the hardcopy of the sources; however, if the researchers cannot find the hard copies of the materials they should use the most current internet materials. 

Generally, the Bluebook establishes three general formats for structuring a citation. These three general formats are:

  1. citations to the hard-copy print material,
  2. citations that combine the print citation with the electronic citation using “available at,” and
  3. citations directly to the electronic version.

Under Rule 18.2 – Internet Citations, authors should cite directly to an internet source when a source does not exist in a traditionally printed form or commercial database. If the internet source is identical to the print source, authors may include a parallel cite to the internet source preceded by "available at." Authors should cover the following elements: 

  1. Typeface the title or party name as you would for a normal citation. Do not underline the URL. If there is no printed comparison, treat the source as unpublished and follow Rule 17. Rule 18.2.3(b).
  2. If an author is unclear, a title alone may be used. Rule 18.2.3(c).
  3. Only pinpoint cite if a page number appears in the document itself, e.g. PDFs. Rule 18.2.3(d).
  4. Indicate a year if the date clearly refers to the material cited, otherwise use the "last visited" date in parentheses. Rule 18.2.3(e).
  5. Include a link, DOI link, or link to an archived copy in brackets after the original URL. Rule 18.2.1(d).

Example: Faith Karimini, What Jeff Sessions Said about Russia Ties during Confirmation Hearings (last updated, March 3, 2017), available at [].