Saturday, April 30, 2016

Which Citation Form: Bluebook or Westlaw?

With the advent of the Indigo Book, a new citation manual tracking the Bluebook (here), my thoughts turn to a brief Greenbag 2013 article by Ross Davies. He points out that with most research being performed electronically, lawyers, publishers, and maybe academics will prefer Westlaw’s citation form over the Bluebook’s. Here is the abstract:

As The Bluebook says of itself, “For generations . . . legal professionals have relied on the Bluebook’s unique system of citation. In a diverse and rapidly changing legal profession, the Bluebook continues to provide a systematic method by which members of the profession communicate important information about the sources and authorities upon which they rely in their work.” Generally speaking, this is true and probably always will be, so long as the Bluebook keeps pace with that changing profession. One big change is the technical side of online research services: Westlaw and its competitors cannot afford to conform to the Bluebook’s system when it conflicts with the requirements of their databases for, among other things, unique and recognizable abbreviations of the names of publications. And given a choice between following Bluebook form and following Westlaw form, readers and publishers are likely to follow Westlaw because that is where readers are doing more of their reading and publishers’ products are getting read. The microcosmic experiences of the Green Bag and the Journal of Law may be a sign of things to come, or even of something that has already arrived.

You can read more here.


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