March 13, 2007
Do You "Bluebook" Your Submissions?
Posted by Gordon Smith

Bluebook is both a noun and a verb. Bluebooking is something that law review staffs do to law review articles. Having attended the University of Chicago shortly after the creation of the "Maroon Book," my bluebooking skills are impaired. This relieves me of the burden of having Bluebook pet peeves, but the footnotes of my articles always require some tweaking. Does this negatively affect placement?

I don't know the answer to that, but plenty of professors think that pristine footnotes are worth placement points. My view is that less-than-pristine footnotes serve as a sorting device. I want to avoid law review editors who make publication decisions based on the quality of the bluebooking. I want editors who focus on substance.

At least that's what I tell myself to feel better about my footnotes.

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ยป And While I'm At It... from Legal Profession Blog ...
"...I like Bluebooking. Maybe it's the pure anality of it, like mowing the lawn with a rearbagger (ye ..." [more] (Tracked on March 13, 2007 @ 12:23)
Comments (5)

1. Posted by Eric Goldman on March 13, 2007 @ 12:29 | Permalink

I use research assistants to check/correct the bluebooking before I circulate. Eric.

2. Posted by tRJ on March 13, 2007 @ 15:06 | Permalink

As a former articles editor, the quality of the footnotes never made a huge impact on whether an article was accepted. All but the most flagrant errors would typically go unnoticed, as it was the article itself that mattered. After all, if an article was perfect, what on Earth would all the 2Ls do?

3. Posted by Billy Bud on March 13, 2007 @ 17:15 | Permalink

I'm a newly appointed editor on a major law review. From my perspective, the fact that a piece violates technical bluebooking rules has no bearing on how much I like it or whether I want the committee to pick it up. But if the author includes only a minimal amount of footnotes, I begin to question whether the author has put enough time into the piece, whether they've done a sufficiently thorough check of the existing literature to ensure that the work is novel, and whether they might be a pain to work with during the editing process. Most insufficiently footnoted pieces tend to get rejected for one of these reasons. But if an piece has enough footnotes that it looks well-researched and novel, then it wouldn't matter to me (theoretically) whether the author followed blue-booking rules, a different format of citation rules, or their own idiosyncratic method of citation. (I say theoretically because most well-written submissions tend to follow the blue book at least roughly and because I think solid blue-booking still might make a piece look marginally more polished.)

4. Posted by Billy Budd on March 13, 2007 @ 17:19 | Permalink

Of course, the danger of including a good amount of footnotes is that if your work really isn't novel, it makes it really easy for me to figure that out. :)

5. Posted by Gordon Smith on March 13, 2007 @ 17:42 | Permalink

My initial post was inspired by a hallway discussion with some colleagues, and that discussion reminded me of various other conversations that I have had over the years. Law review placement isn't a black box, but it entails enough mystery that law professors adopt funny rituals. For example, in that same hallway conversation this morning, I was told that a former colleague swore that March 14 was the ideal submission date. Huh?

Anyway, almost all of my experiences with law reviews have been positive, and tRJ and Billy reinforce my image of articles editors at top law reviews as sensible and serious.

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