Law Journal Abandons Bluebook

In what many may consider a smart move, The Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice has said goodbye to The Bluebook.

The BGLJ outlined three main reasons for its decision:

First, the Bluebook presents an enormous and unnecessary barrier to publication in law journals for scholars from other disciplines, young scholars, legal practitioners, and others without access to students and clerks to Bluebook their work. The 20th Edition of the Bluebook is 560 pages long, a Russian doll of rules within rules. It strictly regulates when to use small-caps, when to italicize commas, and how to abbreviate the proper names of over 1000 law journals. Conforming citations to the Bluebook is an immense undertaking, even for attorneys who have presumably been trained to use it. For the non-attorney, reading the hundreds of pages of legal rules and then applying them is daunting. To the extent that the Bluebook citation style privileges the publication of work created by authors of a particular, narrow background or those with access to more resources, adherence to that style is inconsistent with the mandate of the Journal.

Second, conforming to Bluebook citation style requires an investment of editorial time and effort which is wildly disproportionate to the utility of the style.

Thirdly, the Bluebook citation system is inaccessible to the unfamiliar reader.

Uniformity of style is an admirable goal and one for which the Journal will continue to strive. However, we believe that uniformity is not the only goal of citation, and is in fact only a minor one. The most important goal for a system of legal citation is to allow a reader to trace an author’s intellectual process. Clear, accessible, simple, and consistent citations serve this goal. The Journal will be using a seven-page citation guide, borrowing heavily from the system Judge Posner describes in his article and retaining useful elements of the Bluebook.

As a Faculty Services & Scholarly Communications Librarian who often gets requests from faculty to spend vast amounts of time "Bluebooking" articles - I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree. Additionally, I've seen numerous instances when law journal editors use draconian measures to ensure that cite checkers italicize a period, for example. This is an unnecessary abuse of power (only half-jokingly stated).

The overall concern with citation should be to provide the relevant information necessary to allow the reader to access the cited sources.


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