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Something about Bluebooking makes people crazy. I agree, though only up to a point. Law librarians’ lives are made a little easier, though not necessarily more fun, than they would otherwise be when attorneys are not allowed to make up citations, especially abbreviations – trust me on this. I’ve seen them make them up and it isn’t pretty.

On the other hand, I agree with Wayne Schiess when he rants about how people try to, in effect, psychoanalyze, critique, and otherwise grade the writer on the basis of the beauty and Bluebook-correctness of his/her citation form. Bluebooking is not an Olympic Sport, nor is it a Rorschach Test.

But lawyers, and legal academics in particular, are going to continue doing what they do (writing law review articles), continue complaining about how badly they do it (Rodell, from 1936), counting the number of times other lawyers cite to their law review articless (most-cited law review rankings, here and here), and criticizing those studies ( “an uncommonly silly fascination,” quoting Avi Soifer, from Barrett, Paul, “Citoloy, the Study of Footnotes, Sweeps the Law Schools,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 22, 1997, A.1) (The latter is NOT in Bluebook format – make of that what you will. Oh, and your local public library may just have an online database of WSJ articles back to the stone age, i.e. before the Web.)

Disclaimer: When I worked in academic law libraries, I loved teaching an introduction to the Bluebook. Basic Bluebooking has a certain puzzle-making quality about it and I liked seeing students “get it,” which they would often do very quickly. (And then, quite rightfully, get quickly bored.) You could also get creative because there were so many citations that weren’t covered in the Bluebook, and one could go wild, so to speak. In the land of law school and law-journal-dom back in the “old days” one had to find wildness wherever and whenever one could. Now it’s a little different, so maybe there is hope for bluebooking after all.

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