The latest issue of the Yale Law Journal contains a supremely sane and caustic attack by Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on the tendency of the Blue Book (Uniform System of Citation) to proliferate increasing thickets of rules and increasingly trivial sub-rules.
In an earlier essay, Goodbye to the Bluebook, 53 University of Chicago Law Review 1343 (1986), Judge Posner suggested four principles to guide the design of such a system:
“to spare the writer or editor from having to think about citation form,”
“to economize on space and the reader’s time,”
“to provide information to the reader,” and
“to minimize distraction.
Perhaps the most useful part of the article is its reproduction at pages 854 to 857 of a cogent and effective 885 word memo to his law clerks, originally written by Professor Scott Hemphill (when he clerked for Posner), which presents a simple practical set of principles and a cheat sheet of examples.
And here are links to the original 1926 first edition of the Uniform System of Citation in 26 pages (with large font) – contrast that with the current 511 bloated 19th Edition. And to Ronald Standler’s Legal Research and Citation Style in USA, which I was unaware of until Judge Posner pointed it out.
And a grateful hat-tip to my partner Subrata Bhattacharjee