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Journal Subciting Guide: How to identify a resource

Searching the catalogs and requesting items from other libraries

The Bluebook

The Bluebook is your friend in this process. 

  • Tables T1 and T2 (now online!) contain examples of every federal, state, and international citation you might need. Later tables contain common abbreviations for sources.
  • White pages rules help you decipher specific citations. Rules 1-9 deal with formatting and Rules 10-21 deal with specific source types.
  • There is an online, searchable Bluebook available by subscription. The Quick Style guide is free to view, as well as Table T2.


If you need help translating text or footnotes that aren't in English, the Research Center can help!  There are online tools you can use, like Google Translate, or you can ask one of the Law Librarians, who can field requests for translation from many languages. We have connected Journal editors to students, faculty, and librarians who are fluent in a number of different languages to help with editing and translating citations.

First step

The basic goal in subciting an article is to identify the resource referenced by a citation and obtain a copy of that resource to check against the citation and assertion for accuracy. There are a few basic categories that these resources fall in:

Books Journals Online Government & Primary Sources
Legal treatises, casebooks, most secondary sources Law review articles Websites, PDFs, charts Statutes, Case Law, Administrative Rules
Search catalog for Author &/or Title Find Journal subscription first, then locate article title Visit the website first, try Wayback Machine if URL has moved Use official government source (state or federal website) then commercial database (Westlaw/Lexis) as last resort

Identifying a Citation

If you see: It is likely a... And you can find it by...
JOHN DOE, GENERAL TITLE (1978).  Book (if in caps or small caps) searching the author's name and book title in our catalog
Name v. Name; In re Name Case identifying the reporter in the citation
Author Name, Long Italicized Title Often With Random: Colons Between Phrases, ## Gib. Er. Ish. Abbrev. for J. #### (1942). Journal Locating an online subscription to the Journal by deciphering the abbrieviated Journal Title (or, if all else fails, locating a copy of the Journal in print)
U.S. Constit. art. I, § 9, cl. 2 Constitution Going to the official source for the state or federal government (see the back of Bluebook T1)
42 U.S.C. § 1983; Fla. Stat. § 417.836 Statutes

The word "act" or the § symbol are good indicators that a citation is a statute or other primary legal source. Go to the official source for the state or federal government (see the back of Bluebook T1).

If you see "C.F.R." or "Fed. Reg." you'll need to look for administrative materials.

Author Name, Italicised Headline,,


Author Name, Italicised Headline, News Paper Name, May 7, 2008, at A14.

Newspaper/periodical/magazine If there is a url provided, check there first. Otherwise check the title of the Newspaper or Magazine in our Journal 
Cong. Rec. / S.J. Res./ S./H.R./etc. Congressional Record and legislative history of federal bills Legislative history materials for federal sources are often available through


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