Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

UIUC Bluebook LibGuide

What about states?

State statute citation follows similar principles to federal statute citation, but may look very different.  

Check out the state's entry in T1.3 to determine the right way to cite the statute.

What year?

The Bluebook requires you to provide the year your source was published.  This can be a little tricky to find, especially if you access the statute through Lexis or Westlaw.

If you are citing to the official United States Code, you should know that it is only published every six years.  To figure out what year the last official version was published, visit the Office of Law Revision Counsel's website

If you are citing to the USCS, you can find what date the online database is current through by clicking the "i" icon next to the name of the source and looking for information under "coverage."

Similarly, if you are citing to the USCA , scroll down to the very bottom of the page to see a message like "Current through P.L. 112-3 approved 2-25-11"

In reality, you will usually be able to list the current year in your citations to Lexis and Westlaw.  Just pay special attention in January and February.

Additional help with the bluebook

Statute citation: R12

The statute citation rules in the Whitepages are contained in R12 starting on page 111 of your Bluebook. 

Follow the step by step instructions below to create a citation to a federal statute as contained in the official code.  To learn more about how laws are published, see this description from the Library of Congress

Full Citation: R12.3

Example: 42 U.S.C. §1983 (2006).

created from this:

Title 42. The Public Health and Welfare
Chapter 21. Civil Rights
Subchapter I. Generally
§ 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights

A full citation has three elements:

  1. Title number - R12.3.1(b)
  2. Name of the code - R12.3
    1. U.S. Code citation places the title number before the name of the code: (title number) U.S.C. § (section number).  You will notice that you leave out the chapter and subchapter numbers.
    2. The United States Code is the official publication mandated by the Bluebook, U.S. is the official abbreviation - T1
    3. You can't tell with the U.S. Code, but the typeface is small capitals -R12.3
  3. a parenthetical indicating the year the source was published - R12.3.2
    1. If possible, cite statutes currently in force to the official code or its supplement - R 12.2.1(a)

The Whitepages tell you to give the statute's name only if the statute is commonly cited that way or if that information would be helpful.  Think of famous federal statutes like the Family Medical Leave Act. 

USCA and USCS

In legal research, you learned that annotated codes are a very helpful research tool.  Indeed, it is very rewarding to use an annotated code...until it comes time to cite it.

According to the Bluebook, you really should cite to the official U.S. Code, published every six years and available for free online in its official version in a couple of places: FDSys, Office of Law Revision Counsel.

What if you're going to skip that and cite to the annotated code anyway?

Give the correct abbreviation for the code and include the name of the publisher in the parenthetical with the year.- R12.3.1(d)

ex. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West 2012).

The same rule applies to unofficial state codes.  Look at T1 for more information on what's official and unofficial in your state.

Short form citation: R12.10

When can you use a short form?  You can use a short form that clearly identifies the statute so long as that statute is already cited in either the same footnote or any of the preceding five footnotes.  Remember, Id. counts for this rule. 

R12.10 provides a helpful table for short forms in law journals. In general, you can use three forms:

  1. Full citation form minus the year. ex. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
  2. Section number. ex. § 1983. or Id. at § 1983.
  3. Id. (be sure to read the complete rules on Id. at R4.1)