Taking a Look at the Dreaded Bluebook: Part Two

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

For part two of our look at some of the more commonly ignored or misinterpreted rules found in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, I want to address Internet citations. Perhaps more than any other type of citation, Internet citations seem to give attorneys trouble. Part of this is because the general rule dealing with Internet citations (Rule 18) was revised considerably between the eighteenth and nineteenth edition. Another factor is that the Oregon Appellate Courts Style Manual provides little guidance on the topic. With these things in mind, here are four rules to remember:

  1. Parallel Citations (Rule 18.2.3)

    The phrase “available at” should not be used to introduce all Internet citations. Rather, the phrase should be used only to introduce a parallel citation to an Internet source. A parallel citation to an Internet source is appropriate when the identical source is available in a printed medium, but a parallel citation to the Internet source will significantly improve access.

  2. Omitting the Institutional Author (Rule 18.2.2(a))

    The name of the author, when available, should generally be included in an Internet citation. However, when the author is an institutional author, the name of the institutional author should be omitted if domain ownership is clear from the website’s main title. Let’s look at the following citation: Or Dep’t of Fish and Wildlife, Hunter Reporting, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/licenses_regs/ (last visited Dec. 19, 2014). In this example, the domain ownership (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) is clear from the website’s main title (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) and thus the name of the institutional author should be omitted. Therefore, the citation becomes: Hunter Reporting, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/licenses_regs/ (last visited Dec. 19, 2014).

  3. Abbreviations (Rule 18.2.2(a), Rule 18.2.2(b)(i), Rule 15.1(d))

    In the previous example, the institutional author was abbreviated as “Or Dep’t of Fish and Wildlife,” yet the website’s main title remained “Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.” This is because the name of an institutional author should be abbreviated using tables T6 and T10, whereas main page titles should be abbreviated using table T13.

  4. Date (Rule 18.2.2(c))

    According to a 2002 study of federal appellate opinions, 84.6 percent of Internet citations in cases from 1997 were inaccessible in 2002; moreover, 34 percent of citations in cases from 2001 were already inaccessible by 2002. Because of this, and because websites are frequently being modified, it is important for an attorney to provide the date in an Internet citation. The date should be included after the main page title if the website contains a clear date associated with the cited material. If the website does not contain such a date, the date the website was last visited should be placed in a parenthetical after the URL. For example: Forest Land Protection Program, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, www.oregon.gov/LCD/pages/forlandprot.aspx#Forest_Land_Protection (last visited Dec. 19, 2014).

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