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Bluebook Rules: Citing Cases


If you are using The Bluebook for a citation guide then it is very likely that you will need to cite a case. This page will give you a basic overview on citing cases using Bluebook format. Rule 10 is the go-to rule for case citation.  You can find Rule 10 in the White Pages on page 95. 

Points to Remember

Take the time to read Rule 10. Although The Bluebook may not be the most exciting reading material, it is crucial that you understand all of the requirements for case citation if you want to work in the legal profession. So at the very least, read Rule 10 (in its entirety) before you dive into citing cases. Rule 10 is only 23 pages - that should be a piece of cake for any law student to read.

Volume Number

Use the volume of the case reporter that you are citing as found on the spine or inside cover of the reporter.

Case Name Abbreviations

What should you abbreviate when citing a case??

  • Common Acronyms (i.e. Y.M.C.A)
  • Everything Listed on T6 - pg. 304
  • States as Listed on T10 (unless the state is the party name) - pg. 312

*There are different abbreviation rules for embedded citations and for citation clauses and sentences

*Be sure to abbreviate and italicize procedural information

Weight of authority and Parentheticals

Rule 10.6.1- "Generally, information regarding the weight of authority (e.g., en banc; in banc; 2-1 decision; mem.; per curiam; Brandeis, J.; unpublished table decision) may be added in a seperate parenthetical phrase following the date of the decision."  This parenthetical phrase should be added after the date at the end of the citation.  Example: Werbsa v. Seiler, 393 F.2d (3d Cir. 1968) (per curiam).

Parentheticals should always be used for citing concurring or dissenting opinions. Example: Parker v. Randolph, 442 U.S. 62, 84 (1979) (Stevens, J., dissenting). 

Prior and Subsequent History

Rule 10.7- Include prior or subsequent history only if it relevant and recent (2 years). Commonly used explanatory phrases- aff'd, aff'g, cert. denied, vacated, etc. 

Oklahoma Public Domain Citation Format

Oklahoma has more specific rules for how to cite to cases. This information can be found in the Bluebook under the Oklahoma entry of T1. These rules are promulgated under Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules 1.200(f), which can be found on the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network (OSCN) website.


Credit to Timothy Gatton and Jennifer Prilliman for materials on page.

Basic Structure of A Case Citation

Party Name v. Party Name, Volume Reporter Page (Court Year) (parenthetical).


  • Name- Rule 10.2
  • Published source(s)- Rule 10.3
  • Court and jurisdiction- Rule 10.4
  • Date of decision- Rule 10.5
  • Prior/Subsequent history- Rule 10.7
  • Parenthetical Information and Explanatory Phrases- Rule 10.6- 10.7.1
  • Special Citation Formas -Rule 10.8 (example: pending & unreported cases; briefs, court filings & transcripts; court administrative orders)
  • Short Forms- Rule 10.9 

Typeface Requirements

Court Documents: Only the party names are underlined or italicized (excluding the comma). Remember every citation sentence must end with a period. Example:

                                       Party Name v. Party Name, Volume Reporter Page (Court Year) (parenthetical).

Law Reviews: Do not underline party names, italicize case names. Do not italicize case name in footnotes. Example: 

                                       Party Name v. Party Name, Volume Reporter Page (Court Year) (parenthetical).

Case Names - Some Guidelines

1. Omit given names

Example: Jane Austen v. James Dean = Austen v. Dean 

2. Only cite the first party on each side 

Example: Jane Austen and Elizabeth Bennett; Sara Steeler and Jake Brown Respondents, v. James Dean and Hank Parker; James Woods and Dalia Roberts = Austen v. Dean 

3. Use the full business name (check for abbreviations & drop second business as designator) 

Examples: Moving Co., Inc. v. Deere d/b/a = Moving Co. v. Deere 

4. Leave out party's job title 

Example: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense = Hamdi v. Rumsfeld 

5. Do Not abbreviate "United States" if that is the party's whole name. 

Example: James Dean v. United States = Dean v. United States 

6. Do not include the state name if it is obvious from the citation 

Example: State of Oklahoma v. Jones, 321 P.2d 123 (Okla. 2003). = State v. Jones, 321 P.2d 123 (Okla. 2003).

Check Court Rules Before Submitting Anything to the Court

If you are submitting a document to a court, always check and follow the local court's citation rules. Sometimes the local rules will require parallel citations. BT 2.2 (on p. 45 of the 20th Edition) contains quick references to state courts but it is always best to check with the local jurisdiction for specific court rules. Some courts do not follow Bluebook citation form, so it is critical that you always check the local rules. These court specific rules can usually be found on the court's website. For example, you can find the requirements of brief and motion submission for Oklahoma County on the County's site.  (Rule 37 pictured below)