Tips for when you don't know how to cite a source.
- Check the table of contents and index for the citation manual you are using or run a search if you have online access to the manual. There may be an applicable rule that you are not aware of.
- You can also run searches to see how other law reviews have cited the item or similar items. HeinOnline's Law Journal Library and Westlaw can be good places to start. When looking at how other journals have cited an item, keep a few things in mind. One, you do not want to repeat another person's mistake. So, after you've seen some examples, always go back to the citation manual you are using and verify that the citation structure follows the pertinent rules or logic. Second, check how multiple sources cited the item. Consider the reliability of the citing source. The Bluebook is compiled by the editors of the Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and The Yale Law Journal, so those might be journals to look at if they offer a relevant citation. Third, remember that citation rules change over time. If a journal cited the item several years ago, make sure that the pertinent citation rule has not changed. (Of course, checking how other sources cite an item does not relieve you from checking that the source supports the relevant proposition for which it's cited and so on.)
Tips for when the Bluebook (or other citation manual you are using) does not appear to cover the item you want to cite. Oftentimes, the Bluebook will have a clear rule applying to an type of material or issue. Other times, it does not. In those cases:
- You may need to look at several rules, interpret the intent of those rules, and apply the logic as best you can to the item you want to cite. Be sure to explain to your senior editors the rules you looked at and how those rules impacted the structure of your citation.
- You may need to analogize your citation to another in the Bluebook. The Bluebook's introduction advises, "[w]hen citing material of a type not explicitly discussed in this book, try to locate an analogous type of authority that is discussed and use that citation form as a model. Always be sure to provide sufficient information to allow the reader to find the cited material quickly and easily." Again, document for your editors the rules you consulted and how those rules impacted the structure of your citation.
- You might also want to consult another citation manual.