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Bluebook 101

Basic information for getting started with The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

Washington State Primary Law

We use three parts of the Bluebook to cite Washington State primary law: 1) the rule on how to format the cite to the source (e.g., Rule 10 for cases, Rule 12 for statutes, etc.); 2) Table 1.3's entry for Washington which lists the sources' publications (e.g., Pacific Reporter for cases); 3) abbreviations Table 10.1 for the state name (Wash.), Table 16.1 for document subdivisions (like an article of the constitution, art.), and Tables 6 and 7 for case and court names.

Following is where to look in the Bluebook to cite each type of state primary law, and some examples. The rules cited and examples are for law journal citations; see the Bluebook's Bluepages and Washington State court rules for guidance on citations in court filings:

Washington Constitution -

  • Bluebook: Rule 11 explains how to cite constitutional provisions and Table 16.1 lists abbreviations for amendment (amend.) and article (art.). Table 10.1 tells us to abbreviate Washington "Wash." No need to check Washington publications in Table 1.3 for this one.
  • ExampleWash. Const. art. 1, § 5

Washington Court Opinions -

  • Bluebook: Rule 10 lays out how to cite courts' opinions and Table 1.3 > Washington tells us to cite the state's Supreme Court and Court of Appeals opinions to the Pacific Reporter, gives us the Reporter's abbreviation (P., P.2d, or P.3d, where 2d and 3d indicate the second and third series of Reporter volumes), and reminds us of the court abbreviations ("Wash." for the Supreme Court and "Wash. Ct. App." for the Court of Appeals). As with all case opinions, remember to use Tables 6 and 10 to abbreviate words in case names and see Rule 10.2 for details like when to omit procedural phrases and when not to abbreviate. 
  • Examples:
    • Supreme Court – Henne v. City of Yakima, 341 P.3d 284 (Wash. 2015) (en banc). This decision was decided by the full court, as indicated by the phrase en banc. Rule 10.6.1 says we can but are not required to add information about weight of the opinion’s authority in a parenthetical after the date.
    • Court of Appeals – Blinka v. Wash. State Bar Ass’n, 36 P.3d 1094 (Wash. Ct. App. 2001)

Washington Session Laws -

  • Wait, what are session laws? We usually research statutes in a code, where they are arranged by subject matter. Session laws is a separate, chronological publication of the laws passed by a legislature at a particular legislative session. 
  • Bluebook: Bluebook says in Rule 12.2.1 to cite current statutes to a code. Exceptions when you instead cite to the session laws publication are listed in Rule 12.2.2. See Rule 12.4 for how to format your session laws cite and Table 1.3 > Washington for the session laws publication name and abbreviation (Wash. Sess. Laws).
  • Examples:
    • Life Settlements Act, 2009 Wash. Laws 657. 
    • Act of Apr. 30, 2019, 2019 Wash. Laws 1017. The “date of enactment” mentioned in Bluebook Rule 12.4(a) generally is the date the law was approved by the Governor. It is noted at the end of the session law’s text. 

Washington Statutes -

  • Bluebook: Rule 12 explains citing statutes. Rule 12.3 shows how to cite current statutes to the hard copy official and unofficial code publications, and Table 1.3 > Washington lists the abbreviated names of the publications. Rule 12.5 shows how to cite current statutes to electronic databases like Lexis and Westlaw. 
  • Examples:
    • Rule 12.3 (hard copy) – 
      • Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 27.04.010 (LexisNexis 2017) (2017 is the date on the spine of this volume of the Code)
      • Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 27.04.045 (LexisNexis Supp. 2021) (this provision was amended in 2020, after the Code volume was published and its current text appears in the softcover supplement to the volume)
    • Rule 12.5 (electronic database) – Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 27.04.045 (West, Westlaw Edge through 2021 Sess.) (the date tells how recently Westlaw’s database has been updated and can be found by scrolling to the very end of the statutory provision’s text and by clicking the “currentness” link under the provision’s title)

Washington Regulations -

  • Bluebook: Rule 14 models how to cite federal regulations. Use it together with Table 1.3 > Washington's listing of the state's administrative code publication to cite the State's regulations.
  • ExampleWash. Admin. Code § 24-12-010 (2019)

Secondary Sources

Washington Practice Series -

  • Bluebook: Rule 15 explains how to cite books. Rule 15.9 shows how to add a citation to a database if you are citing to the Practice Series in Westlaw. See rule 6.2(b) on ordinal numbers (details, details!).
  • Examples:
    • Rule 15 (hard copy) –
      • 23 Timothy Butler & Matthew King, Washington Practice, Environmental Law and Practice § 5.73 (2d ed. 2007 & Supp. 2019) (“23” is the volume number of this particular book in the Practice Series, placed before the authors’ names, and the names and title all are in small caps)
    • Rule 15.9 (Westlaw) –
      • 23 Timothy Butler & Matthew King, Washington Practice, Environmental Law and Practice § 5.73 (2d. ed.), Westlaw (database updated Aug. 2021)

American Law Reports (A.L.R.) Annotations -

  • Bluebook: Special Rule 16.7.6 shows how to cite A.L.R. annotations.
  • Example: George L. Blum, Annotation, Liability of Cruise Ship Operator for Injury to or Death of Passengers, 82 A.L.R. 6th 175 (2013)

Restatements -

  • Bluebook: Special Rule 12.9.4 explains how to cite Restatements. The American Law Institute's website has a helpful list of the Restatements. Full text of the Restatements is available in Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, and in print in the Law Library's reference area stacks at call number KF395. 
  • ExampleRestatement (Second) of Contracts § 154 (Am. L. Inst. 1981)

Journal articles -

  • Bluebook: Rule 16.4 governs consecutively paginated journals including law journals (consecutively paginated means the page numbering in issue 2 picks up where issue 1 left off and so on from one issue to the next in a volume published over the course of a year). Check Tables 6, 10, and 13 to abbreviate journal names, and Rule 6.1(a) for details on spacing abbreviations. 
  • Example: Mary D. Fan, Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance, 87 Wash. L. Rev. 93 (2012) 

Blog posts -