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Bluebook 101: Introductory Signals

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Bluebook 101:
Introductory Signals
R. 1
(for briefs and memoranda, see R. B4)
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
If signals baffle you,
you aren’t alone.
The rules on signals are “a
virtually cryptographic code.”1
1.
FREDERICK WIENER, BRIEFING AND
ARGUING FEDERAL APPEALS 223
(1961)
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
The rules on signals “more than all
the others combined, have
contributed to the Blue Book’s
notoriety.”2 They “are back in all their
glorious inscrutability.”3
2.
Peter Lushing, Book Review, 67 COLUM.
L. REV. 599, 601 (1967) (reviewing A
UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION (1967)).
3. Id.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
What is an introductory signal?
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It’s a concise way of alerting the reader to
what you think you’re doing with the
citation that follows.
For instance,
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E.g. is a quick way to say: “I’m citing one or
two sources but there are a bunch I could
cite.”
Contra is a quick way to say: “I know that this
source is on the other side of what I just said.”
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
[No signal]
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No signal at all means: what I’m citing clearly
supports or identifies what I just said.
Use no signal when citing
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something that directly supports the text
the source of a quotation
something referred to in the text
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
E.g.,
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E.g. (L. exempli gratia) means “for example.”
What you’re citing supports what you said, but
there are other authorities too.
Can be combined with other signals (“But see,
e.g., …”)
Note: the comma after E.g. is not italicized.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Example
Washington law restricts teenagers from
many activities.4
4.
E.g., WASH. REV. CODE В§ 26.04.010(1)
(2006) (limiting marriage to people 18 and
older); WASH. REV. CODE В§ 70.155.080
(2006) (limiting purchase of tobacco).
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Accord
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Accord means “I just cited something that
supports my proposition, and now here’s
another thing that supports it too.”
You can also use Accord when you want
to cite another jurisdiction.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Example
Many people perceive that rich people don’t pay
their share of taxes. As Peter De Vries quipped,
“The Rich aren’t like us -- they pay less taxes.”5
5. Mark
Shields, Editorial, Anger About Privilege,
WASH. POST, July 30, 1989 (quoting De Vries).
Accord id. (quoting Leona Helmsley: “Only the
little people pay taxes.”)
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
See
means you’re citing
something that clearly supports
what you just said.
 It’s just a hair less direct than
[No signal].
пЃ® See
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Example
The Human Rights Committee was
created by the Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights.6
6.
See THOMAS BUERGENTHAL, DINAH SHELTON &
DAVID P. STEWART, INTERNATIONAL HUMAN
RIGHTS IN A NUTSHELL 49 (3d ed. 2002).
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Signals as verbs: Example
See WILLIAM L. DWYER, IPSE DIXIT: HOW THE
WORLD LOOKS TO A FEDERAL JUDGE (2007).
For an insightful and charming collection of
speeches by a UW alumnus, see WILLIAM
L. DWYER, IPSE DIXIT: HOW THE WORLD LOOKS
TO A FEDERAL JUDGE (2007).
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
See also
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Use see also when you have already cited
something that directly supports you and
you want to add more.
A parenthetical explaining the source’s
relevance is encouraged.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Example
If children let others into their home while
their parents are gone, crazy things can
happen.7
7.
See DR. SEUSS, THE CAT IN THE HAT (1957).
See also RISKY BUSINESS (Geffen Film Co.
1983) (teenager bringing others into home
while parents away).
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Cf.
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Cf. is the abbreviation for “confer,” Latin
for “compare.”
Use when cited authority doesn’t exactly
support what you just said, but it’s close
enough to lend support.
An explanatory parenthetical is strongly
recommended.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Example
The wolf eats people.8
8.
See JACOB GRIMM & WILHELM GRIMM, Little
Red Riding Hood, in GRIMMS’ FAIRY TALES
100 (1812). Cf. THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
(United Artists 1933) (blowing down
houses, presumably with intent to eat
pigs).
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Compare … with …
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This signal is what it sounds like -- you’re
comparing one case (or article or statute)
with another.
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To help the reader figure out why you’re
comparing this and that, include
parentheticals.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Negative Signals
If the source supports the
proposition, use:
If it doesn’t, use:
[no signal]
Contra
See
But see
Cf.
But cf.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
See generally
пЃ® Use
for background material.
пЃ® Parentheticals
are encouraged.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Order of Signals
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Multiple signals in one footnote:
[no signal], e.g., accord, see, see also, cf.,
compare … with, contra, but see, but cf.,
see generally.
Start with the strongest, most direct
support, then negative, then general.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
Order within each signal
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If one authority is “considerably more
helpful or authoritative,” lead with it.
Otherwise, read the lists in R. 1.4.
This rule is long, but it only comes up with
string cites. It’s just a way to bring order to
long, messy footnotes.
Gallagher Law Library, Jan. 2010
http://lib.law.washington.edu
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