"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Friday, May 21, 2010

The (New) Bluebook Is Coming! The (New) Bluebook Is Coming!

It's that time again. Every five years (give or take), a new edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is published. On June 1st, the 19th edition of The Bluebook will officially be released (although the 19th edition can be accessed electronically right now at www.legalbluebook.com). There is one change, however, that is generating quite a bit of buzz, and it's a doozy!! The new edition explicitly addresses, in Rule 18.7.3, that most-important question that has been on everyone's lips for the last several years: How to cite to a podcast!

Really? Out of all the deficiencies with The Bluebook, all the ambiguities that should've been addressed editions ago, the most pressing matter worthy of the editors' attentions is citing to podcasts?!

I don't know which is worse: That the editors took the time to create a specific rule for podcasts, or that that is the only change that people seem interested in!

Granted, most of the other changes are just remodeling: There has been some slight reorganization and consequent renumbering. For example, many of the primary law rules now have sub-rules dealing with how to cite to them in electronic media, whereas almost all of the electronic citation rules were limited to Rule 18 (and its sub-rules) in the 18th edition. Now, if you need to determine how to cite to a legislative document available electronically, instead of checking two Rules (Rules 13 and 18 in the 18th edition), you may only need to check one Rule (Rule 13 in the 19th edition).

However, it appears that there has been some "reorganization" that I fear will create confusion: Several types of documents that had been blessed with their own sub-rules in previous editions, such as federal taxation materials, securities-related documents, presidential documents, and patents, have been relegated to the ever-more cumbersome tables in the back of The Bluebook. There was a reason why special attention was paid to these types of documents in the past, but evidently, podcasts are more important and harder to cite than Treasury Regulations, presidential documents, or anything associated with patent law! For now, all the commentators have been excited about learning how to cite to podcasts, but come the beginning of the new law school year this fall, I won't be surprised to hear these same people complaining about The Bluebook's tables.

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