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3 Quick Tips

If you don’t know how to cite something and the Bluebook doesn’t seem to provide an answer (which it doesn’t always do) a good resource is using Westlaw or Lexis’ journal database. Search the journal databases for the item you are having trouble citing to and see how someone else cited it. While this is not fool-proof, after all the Bluebook changes over the years, this is a good way to get started, and perhaps the examples provided will make those in the Bluebook make more sense.

As a law student I recall being told that once I found a “golden case,” a case very nearly right on point, that other relevant cases would flow from that one. When looking for books, rather than cases, the library’s catalog can help find other books on your topic. When your catalog search has yielded a gem; a book that is right on point, don’t stop. Go ahead and click on the item’s title which will take you to a screen that provides additional information, including a heading of “Subject Hdng” which stands for Subject Heading. Click one of the subjects which are covered by this book, and you be taken to a screen indicating other items that share this subject heading. By using the subject heading feature you can save yourself the time and effort when looking for similar items.

There is one song that all law librarians sing, the title is “Use Secondary Sources,” and the chorus is, “they make your life easier.” I am here to join the chorus and let you know that librarians are not the only ones singing this tune. I recently met with a group of attorneys, not associates, real partners, who echoed the refrain. Secondary sources were written by people who know what they are doing, who have done it a million times before, and are bestowing their knowledge on you. Don't try to re-invent the wheel, its easier to use one that has already been invented.

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