March 13, 2007
Bluebook Pet Peeves
Posted by Christine Hurt

Dan Solove asks today what our Bluebook pet peeves are and mentions his top two:  unnecessary parentheticals and unnecessary citations to statements of common knowledge and nonexistence of authority.  These are definitely widely-held pet peeves.  I wouldn't pin these sins on the Bluebook, however, as the Bluebook only recommends parentheticals for commonly used signals and doesn't speak to the question of when to cite at all.

I do however, have a new Bluebook pet peeve that is particular to the 18th edition.  (I've more thoroughly covered the 18th edition in my paper "The Bluebook at Eighteen:  Reflecting and Ratifying Current Trends in Legal Scholarship.")  The 18th edition contains a revised rule 18.2.4, which provides guidance and examples on citing to blog entries, among other things.  If I were to conjure up a citation for a blog post, I would be concerned with (1) the author; (2) the title of the post; (3) the title of the blog; (4) the URL and (5) the date.  I would conjure up a citation that was similar to a journal, magazine or newspaper article, with the author's name, then title of post, then title of blog, then location (URL), then date.  However, this is not what the 18th edition does.

According to Rule 18.2.4, if the blog is a solo author blog, then you do not include the author's name.  So, if I want to cite to a post by my colleague Larry Solum on Legal Theory Blog, the cite will not contain his name.  In addition, the citation will not contain the title of the post although almost all blog posts have titles, and the titles have very interesting information in them.  However, the citation will include the time of the day of the posting, although that information will be irrelevant for almost all blog posts.  The format is thus:

Legal Theory Blog, URL (Month Day, Year, Hour:Minutes CST).

As I say in my article, any Bluebook historian will tell you that the rules that have changed most often are the rules regarding author's names. From last names and first initials only to last name, first name and middle initial to "the author's full name as it appears on the publicaton," iterative changes to how we provide credit reflect the fact that credit is as important to legal scholars as to the Dustin Hoffman character in Wag the Dog. So, I recommend to all law review editors out there who are no doubt using this rule regularly to exercise their discretion to adopt a more enlightened citation format for blog postings!

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