Citation signal

Citation signal

Introductory signals are used in legal citations to present authorities and show how the authorities relate to propositions in textual statements. A legal writer uses an introductory signal to tell readers how her citation to legal authority supports, or does not support, her written proposition. Introductory signals organize the writer's citations into a hierarchy of strength and importance so that the reader can quickly determine the relative weight of the citation. For example, the introductory signal "See" tells the reader that the cited authority either (a) supports the stated proposition implicitly, or (b) contains dicta that support the proposition. "But see," on the other hand, tells the reader that the cited authority either (a) contradicts the stated proposition implicitly, or (b) contains dicta that contradict the stated proposition.

Introductory signals have different meanings in different U.S. citation style systems. The three most prominent citation manuals are The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation[1] and the ALWD Citation Manual[2] and The Maroonbook.[3] Some state-specific style manuals also provide guidance on legal citation. The Bluebook citation system is both the most comprehensive and most widely used system by courts, law firms, and law reviews. Here are examples, with explanations, of the introductory signals used in legal writing under the Bluebook system:


Signals that indicate support

  • [no signal]
When writers use no signal, this tells readers that the cited authority directly states the proposition, is the source of the cited quotation, or identifies an authority referred to in the text.
Example: We have consistently applied that presumption to language in the ADEA that was "derived in haec verba from Title VII." Lorillard v. Pons, 434 U.S. 575, 584, 55 L. Ed. 2d 40, 98 S. Ct. 866 (1978).
Example: The court points out that "the proper role of the trial and appellate courts in the federal system in reviewing the size of jury verdicts is a matter of federal law." Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities, 518 U.S. 415 (1996).
Example: Bilida was prosecuted in state court for the misdemeanor offense of possessing the raccoon without a permit. R.I. Gen. Laws 20-1-16 (1998).
Example: The IDEA was enacted “to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education.” 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A).
Example: In Idaho, ephedrine was listed as a Schedule II substance in the Uniform Controlled Substances Act in 1988. I.C. § 37-2707(g)(1)(b).
Example: It must be remembered that "the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen's vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise." Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555, 12 L. Ed. 2d 506, 84 S. Ct. 1362 (1964).
Example: The manner, method and time of such extinguishment raise political, not justiciable, issues." United States v. Santa Fe Pacific R. Co., 314 U.S. 339, 347.
Example: A criminal defendant is entitled to jury instructions that accurately state the law, permit him to argue his theory of the case, and are supported by the evidence. State v. Staley, 123 Wash.2d 794, 803, 872 P.2d 502 (1994)
Example: The Corrective Action included a directive requiring Staub to report to Mulally or Korenchuk “ ‘when [he] ha[d] no patients and [the angio] cases [we]re complete[d].’ ” Id., at 653.
Example: Whether or not the court properly instructed the jury to consider Mr. Coristine's reasonable belief of Ms. Fjelstad's capacity to consent is a question of law that we will review de novo. State v. Pirtle, 127 Wash.2d 628, 656, 904 P.2d 245 (1995).
Example: The right to counsel plays a crucial role in the adversarial system embodied in the Sixth Amendment, since access to counsel's skill and knowledge is necessary to accord defendants the “ample opportunity to meet the case of the prosecution” to which they are entitled. Adams v. United States ex rel. McCann, 317 U.S. 269 (1942).
  • E.g.
This signal, an abbreviation of the latin phrase "exempli gratia," means "for example." It tells the reader that what the writer is citing directly supports the proposition but there are other authorities which also support the proposition, but their citation may not be as useful or necessary. This introductory signal may be used in combination with other signals, preceded by an italicized comma. Note: the comma after e.g., is not italicized when attached to another signal (whether supportive or not), but is italicized when e.g. appears alone.
Example: Parties challenging state abortion laws have sharply disputed in some courts the contention that a purpose of these laws, when enacted, was to protect prenatal life.

See, e.g., Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800 (D.C.Conn.1972), appeal docketed, No. 72-56.

Example: The Code, as long interpreted, vests this Court with sole authority to review state court judgments. E.g., Feldman v. [citation omitted], 460 U.S. (first page), 476, 75 L. Ed. 2d 206, 103 S. Ct. 1303 (insert year); Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Locomotive Engineers, 398 U.S. 281, 286, 26 L. Ed. 2d 234, 90 S. Ct. 1739 (1970); Rooker v. [citation omitted], 263 U.S., [first page], 416, 68 L. Ed. 362, 44 S. Ct. 149 (insert year).
Example: Unfortunately, hiring undocumented laborers is a widespread industry practice. E.g., Transamerica Ins. Co. v. Bellefonte Ins. Co., 548 F. Supp. 1329, 1331 (E.D. Pa. 1982).
Example: Other circuits have made that leap. See, e.g., Arnold, 421 F.3d at 870 & n.1 (Callahan, J., dissenting)
Example: The placebo effect is well established. See, e.g., Anne Harrington, The Placebo Effect: An Interdisciplinary Exploration (1999).
Example: In other cases, we did not articulate any standard at all, granting reimbursement automatically after determining that the school district failed to provide a free appropriate public education and that the student was placed in an appropriate private school. See, e.g., Capistrano, 59 F.3d at 896-97; Union Sch. Dist. v. Smith, 15 F.3d 1519, 1527 (9th Cir.1994).
Example: Nevertheless, the due process clause protects "property" interests; and while the notion of property interest has been stretched quite far in certain contexts, e.g., Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), it depends importantly on what interests are recognized under state law.
Example: Moreover, to the extent that exhausted and unexhausted claims are interrelated, the general rule among the Courts of Appeals is to dismiss mixed habeas petitions for exhaustion of all such claims. See, e.g., Triplett v. Wyrick, 549 F.2d 57 (CA8 1977); Miller v. Hall, 536 F.2d 967 (CA1 1976); Hewett v. North Carolina, 415 F.2d 1316 (CA4 1969).
Example: Unlike the Confrontation Clause, those provisions are of no use to the defendant when the witness is unavailable or simply refuses to appear. See, e.g., Davis, 547 U.S., at 820, 126 S.Ct. 2266.
Example: The Court has considered Sixth Amendment claims based on actual or constructive denial of the assistance of counsel altogether, as well as claims based on state interference with the ability of counsel to render effective assistance to the accused. E.g., United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 104 S.Ct. 2039, 80 L.Ed.2d 657.

  • Accord
"Accord" is used when two or more sources state or support the proposition, but the text quotes or refers to only one; the other sources are then introduced by "accord." In other words, accord means “I just cited something that supports my proposition, and now here’s another thing that supports it too.” Legal writers often use accord to show that the law of one jurisdiction is in accord with that of another jurisdiction.
Example: “[N]ervousness alone does not justify extended detention and questioning about matters not related to the stop.” United States v. Chavez-Valenzuela, 268 F.3d 719,725 (9th Cir. 2001); accord United States v. Beck, 140 F.3d 1129, 1139 (8th Cir. 1998); United States v. Wood, 106 F.3d 942, 248 (10th Cir. 1997); United States v. Tapia, 912 F.2d 1367, 1370 (11th Cir. 1990).
Example: Rather, our inquiry is limited to “whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” (Emphasis in original.) Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979); accord People v. Cox, 195 Ill.2d 378, 387 (2001).
Example: ...the term 'Fifth Amendment' in the context of our time is commonly regarded as being synonymous with the privilege against self-incrimination." Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155, 163, 75 S. Ct. 668, 99 L. Ed. 964 (1955); accord In re Johnny V., 85 Cal. App. 3d 120, 149 Cal.Rptr. 180, 184, 188 (Cal. Ct. App. 1978) (holding that the statement "I'll take the fifth" was an assertion of the Fifth Amendment privilege).
Example: This Court has repeatedly held that "the pendency of an action in the state court is no bar to proceedings concerning the same matter in the Federal court having jurisdiction." McClellan v. Carland, 217 U.S. 268, 282, 54 L. Ed. 762, 30 S. Ct. 501 (1910); accord Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 928, 45 L. Ed. 2d 648, 95 S. Ct. 2561 (1975); Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 398 U.S., at 295, 26 L. Ed. 2d 234, 90 S. Ct. 1739.
Example: The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." Art.I, 8, cl. 8; accord Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151, 156 (1975).
Example: It is well settled that illegally-obtained statements are admissible for the purpose of impeachment. See United States v. Havens, 446 U.S. 620, 626-27, 100 S.Ct. 1912, 64 L.Ed.2d 559 (1980) (holding that illegally obtained evidence, which is inadmissible on the government's direct case as substantive evidence of guilt, is nevertheless admissible for purposes of impeachment); accord State v. Greve, 67 Wash. App. 166, 834 P.2d 656 (1992) (holding that the state constitution does not prohibit the use of suppressed evidence for impeachment because its introduction discourages a defendant from perjuring himself directly, thus furthering the goal of preserving the dignity of the judicial process), review denied, 121 Wash.2d 1005, 848 P.2d 1263 (1993).
Example: This objective will only be satisfied if the court can, from the application and accompanying documentation itself, pass on all aspects contained therein.8 Accord, Chicago Lutheran Hospital, supra at 735 (“In all fee requests, the fee application is inevitably the starting point for analysis. It is the crucial document in any fee matter.”).
Example: accord, Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S., at 514, 122 S.Ct. 992; National Organization for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 256, 114 S.Ct. 798, 127 L.Ed.2d 99 (1994); H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249-250, 109 S.Ct. 2893, 106 L.Ed.2d 195 (1989); Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S.Ct. 2229, 81 L.Ed.2d 59 (1984).
Example: The following authorities held, prior to Crawford, that the Confrontation Clause does not require confrontation of certificates stating that instruments were in good working order at the time of a test: State v. Ing, 53 Haw. 466, 467-473, 497 P.2d 575, 577-579 (1972) (certificate that police car's speedometer was in working order), accord, State v. Ofa, 9 Haw.App. 130, 135-139, 828 P.2d 813, 817-818 (1992) ( per curiam) (certificate that breathalyzer was in working order).
  • See
“See” indicates that the cited authority clearly supports, but not directly states the proposition given. Used instead of [no signal], to indicate that the proposition follows from the cited authority. There is an inferential step between the authority cited and the proposition it supports.
"See" may also be used to refer to a cited authority that contains dicta in support of the proposition being made.
Example: At this time, the AEDPA 1-year statute of limitations had run. See Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-182, 150 L. Ed. 2d 251, 121 S. Ct. 2120 (2001) (holding that the statute of limitations is not tolled during the pendency of a federal petition).
Example: Similar questions have arisen under the federal endangered Species Act. See, e.g., United States v. Winnie, 97 F.3d 975 (7th Cir. 1996).
Example: Before 1997, the IDEA was silent on the subject of private school reimbursement, but courts had granted such reimbursement as “appropriate” relief under principles of equity pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C ). See Burlington, 471 U.S. at 370, 105 S.Ct. 1996 (“[W]e are confident that by empowering the court to grant ‘appropriate’ relief Congress meant to include retroactive reimbursement to parents as an available remedy in a proper case.”); 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C ) (“In any action brought under this paragraph, the court ... shall grant such relief as the court determines is appropriate.”).
Example: Although this standard requires us to give considerable deference to the state courts, AEDPA deference is not a rubber stamp. See Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 240, 265, 125 S. Ct. 2317, 162 L. Ed. 2d 196 (2005) (refusing to accept a state court's "dismissive and strained interpretation" of the prisoner's evidence on habeas review and noting that "[d]eference does not by definition preclude relief").
Example: Relying upon NAACP, we concluded that the South Carolina Supreme Court's interpretation of a state penal statute had impermissibly broadened the scope of that statute beyond what a fair reading provided, in violation of due process. See 378 U.S. at 361-362.
Example: The determination of “new value” is “a mixed question of law and fact.” See In re Spada, 903 F.2d 971, 975 (3d Cir.1990).
Example: The soil, to which the crown originally claimed title, being no longer occupied by its ancient inhabitants, was parcelled out according to the will of the sovereign power, and taken possession of by persons who claimed immediately from the crown, or mediately, through its grantees or deputies." Pp. 590-591. See Buttz v. Northern Pacific R. Co., 119 U.S. 55, 66; Martin v. Waddell, 16 Pet. 367, 409; Clark v. Smith, 13 Pet. 195, 201.
Example: The Supreme Court appears to suggest the more stringent reasonable-doubt standard may apply when the inference is the “sole and sufficient basis for a finding of guilt”. Ulster, 442 U.S. at 167, 99 S.Ct. at 2230. Division Two of the Court of Appeals has so held. See State v. Delmarter, 68 Wash. App. 770, 784-85, 845 P.2d 1340 (1993).
Example: There is no inconsistency between Mr. Coristine's defense theories and therefore no prejudice attends the affirmative defense. See State v. Jones, 99 Wash.2d 735, 748, 664 P.2d 1216 (1983).
Example: The right to counsel plays a crucial role in the adversarial system embodied in the Sixth Amendment, since access to counsel's skill and knowledge is necessary to accord defendants the “ample opportunity to meet the case of the prosecution” to which they are entitled. Adams v. United States ex rel. McCann, 317 U.S. 269(1942); see Powell v. Alabama, supra, 287 U.S. at 68-69, 53 S.Ct. 63-64.
  • See also
This indicates that the cited authority constitutes additional material that supports the proposition. The cited authority supports the proposition with which the citation is associated, but less directly than that indicated by "see" or "accord." "See also" may be used to introduce a case that supports the stated proposition, but is somehow distinguishable from previously cited cases. "See also" is sometimes used to refer readers to authorities that support a proposition when other authorities that support the proposition have already been cited or discussed. The use of a parenthetical explanation of the sources relevance following a citation introduced by "see also" is also encouraged.
Example: "... omitting the same mental element in a similar weapons possession statute, such as RCW 9.41.040, strongly indicates that the omission was purposeful and that strict liability was intended. See generally State v. Alvarez, 74 Wash. App. 250, 260, 872 P.2d 1123 (1994) (omission of "course of conduct" language in criminal counterpart to civil antiharassment act indicated "Legislature consciously chose to criminalize a single act rather than a course of conduct.") aff'd, 128 Wash.2d 1, 904 P.2d 754 (1995); see also State v. Roberts, 117 Wash.2d 576, 586, 817 P.2d 855 (1991) (use of certain statutory language in one instance, and different language in another, evinces different legislative intent) (citing cases)." Source: State v. Anderson, 141 Wash.2d 357, 5 P.3d 1247, 1253 (2000).
Example: See also Martin v. Wilks, 490 U.S. 755, 784 n.21, 104 L. Ed. 2d 835, 109 S. Ct. 2180 (1989) (Stevens, J., dissenting) (it would be anomalous to allow courts to sit in review of judgments entered by courts of equal, or greater, authority (citing Rooker and Feldman)).
Example: See also Eolas Technologies Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 399 F.3d 1325, 1339 (C.A.Fed.2005) (“[S]oftware code ... drives the functional nucleus of the finished computer product.” (quoting Imagexpo, L.L.C. v. Microsoft Corp., 299 F.Supp.2d 550, 553 (E.D.Va.2003))).
Example: In Ash, the disabled student attended private school beginning in 1983, but his parents did not provide meaningful notice to the school district until 1989. Ash v. Lake Oswego Sch. Dist. No. 7J, 766 F.Supp. 852, 853-55, 864 (D.Or.1991); see also Ash, 980 F.2d at 586 (incorporating the district court's account of the facts).
Example: The Supreme Court of Florida has said that the legislature intended the State's electors to "participate fully in the federal electoral process," as provided in 3 U.S.C. 5. 779 So. 2d at 270 (slip op. at 27); see also Palm Beach Canvassing Bd. v. Harris, 772 So. 2d 1273, 2000 WL 1725434, (Fla. 2000).
Example: Bankruptcy court held debtor entitled to entire $7,500 exemption as representing compensation for bodily injury or loss of future earning capacity. See also, In re McCollam, 612 So.2d 572, 574 (Fla.1993).
Example: Whether an inference meets this standard must be determined on a case-by-case basis in light of the particular evidence presented to the jury in each case. See Ulster, 442 U.S. at 162-63, 165, 99 S.Ct. at 2227-28, 2229; Francis, 471 U.S. at 314-15, 105 S.Ct. at 1971. See also Schwendeman v. Wallenstein, 971 F.2d 313, 316 (9th Cir.1992); Crowley v. Winans, 920 F.2d 454, 456 (7th Cir.1990)
Example: A defendant is entitled to a diminished capacity instruction when he produces expert testimony establishing that he suffered from a mental disorder, and the evidence “logically and reasonably connects the defendant's alleged mental condition with the ... inability to possess the required level of culpability to commit the crime charged.” State v. Griffin, 100 Wn.2d 417, 418–19, 670 P.2d 265 (1983); see also Cienfuegos, 144 Wn.2d at 227; State v. Ellis, 136 Wn.2d 498, 521, 963 P.2d 843 (1998).
Example: The Court indirectly recognized as much when it stated in McMann v. Richardson, supra, 397 U.S., at 770, 771, 90 S.Ct., at 1448, 1449, that a guilty plea cannot be attacked as based on inadequate legal advice unless counsel was not “a reasonably competent attorney” and the advice was not “within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases.” See also Cuyler v. Sullivan, supra, 446 U.S., at 344, 100 S.Ct., at 1716.

This signals (for the Latin confer, meaning "compare") that the cited authority states a proposition different from the main proposition but sufficiently analogous to lend support. Writers use this signal when the cited authority doesn’t exactly support what they just said, but it’s close enough to lend support. An explanatory parenthetical is strongly recommended, otherwise the citation's relevance may not be clear to the reader.
Example: It is precisely this kind of conjecture and hair-splitting that the Supreme Court wanted to avoid when it fashioned the bright-line rule in Miranda. Cf. Davis, 512 U.S. at 461 (noting that, where the suspect asks for counsel, the benefit of the bright-line rule is the "clarity and ease of application" that "can be applied by officers in the real world without unduly hampering the gathering of information" by forcing them "to make difficult judgment calls" with a "threat of suppression if they guess wrong").
Example: It would be destructive of time and energy for all concerned were we to rule otherwise. Cf. Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 93 S.Ct. 739, 35 L.Ed.2d 201.
Example: When a limited remedy is nonexclusive, it is harder to say the limited remedy failed of its essential purpose because resort to other remedies is available under the contract. Cf. J. White & R. Summers � 12-10 (cases arising under � 2-719(2) question whether exclusive remedy fails of essential purpose).
Example: Cf. Nebbia v. People of State of New York, 291 U.S. 502, 54 S.Ct. 505, 78 L.Ed. 940.
Example: The question of mootness is itself a question of constitutional law. Cf. Linery v. Jafco. Inc., 375 U.S. 301, 304 et seq.; Davis v. Wechasler, 263 U.S. 22, 24; Matter of Rosenbluth v. Finkelstein, 300 N.Y. 402 at 404.
Example: That practice reflects our understanding that the decisions of state courts are definitive pronouncements of the will of the States as sovereigns. Cf. Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 82 L. Ed. 1188, 58 S. Ct. 817 (1938).
Example: Given this option to reinstate the contract on its original terms when a plan is proposed, it may be anomalous to require the payment of interest at a market rate while a case is pending. Cf. In re Hewitt, 16 B.R. 973, 980 (Bkrtcy.D.Alaska 1982).
Example: “Each case must be scrutinized on its particular facts to determine whether a trial error is harmless error or prejudicial error when viewed in the light of the trial record as a whole, not whether each isolated incident viewed by itself constitutes reversible error.” United States v. Grunberger, 431 F.2d 1062, 1069 (CA2 1970). Cf. United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., 310 U.S. 150, 240, 60 S.Ct. 811, 852, 84 L.Ed. 1129
Example: Cf. Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 609, 119 S.Ct. 1692, 143 L.Ed.2d 818 (1999).
Example: The Massachusetts Court of Appeals did not reach that question and we decline to address it in the first instance. Cf. Coy v. Iowa, 487 U.S. 1012, 1021-1022, 108 S.Ct. 2798, 101 L.Ed.2d 857 (1988).
Example: With the exception of Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 100 S.Ct. 1708, 64 L.Ed.2d 333 (1980), however, which involved a claim that counsel's assistance was rendered ineffective by a conflict of interest, the Court has never directly and fully addressed a claim of “actual ineffectiveness” of counsel's assistance in a case going to trial. Cf. United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 102, n. 5, 96 S.Ct. 2392, 2397, n. 5, 49 L.Ed.2d 342 (1976).

Signals that indicate background material

  • See generally
This signal indicates that the cited authority presents helpful background material related to the proposition. Legal scholars generally encourage the use of parenthetical explanations of the source material's relevance following each authority, using 'see generally.' A writer can use this signal with both primary and secondary sources.
Example: See generally Gonzalez v. Whitney & Rainey, 288 S.W. 45, 48 (Tex. 1972).
Example: It is a form of "discrimination" because the complainant is being subjected to differential treatment. See generally Olmstead v. L. C., 527 U.S. 581, 614, 144 L. Ed. 2d 540, 119 S. Ct. 2176 (1999) (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment) (the "normal definition of discrimination" is "differential treatment").
Example: In the aftermath of the Civil War, there was an outpouring of discussion of the Second Amendment in Congress and in public discourse, as people debated whether **2810 and how to secure constitutional rights for newly free slaves. See generally S. Halbrook, Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876 (1998) (hereinafter Halbrook); Brief for Institute for Justice as Amicus Curiae.
Example: See generally Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 245-249, 56 S.Ct. 444, 80 L.Ed. 660 (1936); Schlesinger, supra, at 67-84.
Example: The IEP contains an evaluation of the child's current educational level, a statement of annual goals, a statement of the specific educational services to be provided, a projected timetable of services, and objective evaluative criteria and procedures for determining whether objectives are being achieved. See id. See generally Rowley, 458 U.S. at 181-82, 102 S.Ct. at 3037-38.
Example: Petitioners have raised an equal protection claim (or, alternatively, a due process claim, see generally Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 71 L. Ed. 2d 265, 102 S. Ct. 1148 (1982)), in the charge that unjustifiably disparate standards are applied in different electoral jurisdictions to otherwise identical facts.
Example: see generally W. Keeton, D. Dobbs, R. Keeton, & D. Owen, Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts § 56 (5th ed. 1984) (discussing “special relationships” which may give rise to affirmative duties to act under the common law of tort).
Example: Some statutes impose more requirements, for instance by requiring defense counsel to subpoena the analyst, to show good cause for demanding the analyst's presence, or even to affirm under oath an intent to cross-examine the analyst. See generally Metzger, Cheating the Constitution, 59 Vand. L.Rev. 475, 481-485 (2006).

Signals that indicate contradiction

  • Contra
This signals that the cited authority directly contradicts a given point: opposition. Contra is used where "[no signal]" would be used for support.
Example: Contra Fort Myers Ins. Co. v. Hansen, 588 S.W.2d 282, 283 (Tex. 1972).
Example: "Before Blakely, courts around the country had found that "statutory minimum" was the maximum sentence allowed by law for the crime, rather than the maximum standard range sentence. See, e.g., State v. Gore, 143 Wash.2d 288, 313-14, 21 P.3d 262 (2001), overruled by State v. Hughes, 154 Wash.2d 118, 110 P.3d 192 (2005); contra Blakely, 124 S.Ct. at 2536-37."
Example: Former RCW 26.50.110(1) was not a “virtuosic specimen of legislative drafting,” and there is clearly a reasonable dispute as to what the legislature intended. Bunker, 144 Wash. App. at 413, 183 P.3d 1086; contra Madrid, 145 Wash. App. 106, 192 P.3d 909; Hogan, 145 Wash. App. 210, 192 P.3d 915.
Example: Contra, ante, at 690-691.
Example: "See People v. Hilt, 298 Ill.App.3d 121, 123, 125-26, 698 N.E.2d 233, 232 Ill.Dec. 395 (1998) (empty, torn, knotted piece of baggie, in plain view, gave officer probable cause to search car because baggie was a unique container, officer had previous experience with such containers, and stop occurred in area known for drug transactions). Contra Commonwealth v. Garcia, 34 Mass.App.Ct. 645, 647, 650, 614 N.E.2d 1031 (1993) (plain view observation of empty plastic baggie on rear floor of vehicle did not provide probable cause to search interior)." State v. Neth, 165 Wash.2d at 185.
Example: Because the TIA's language and purpose are comprehensive, arguments based on congressional silence on the question whether the TIA applies to actions that increase moneys a state tax system collects are of no moment. Contra, Winn, 307 F.3d, at 1017-1018 (relying on Dunn v. Carey, 808 F.2d 555, 558 (C.A.7 1986)).
  • But see
Cited authority either contradicts the stated proposition implicitly or contains dicta that contradict the stated proposition. But see is used where "see" would be used for support.
Example: "Specifically, under Roberts, there may have been cases in which courts erroneously determined that testimonial statements were reliable. But see Bockting v. Bayer, 418 F.3d at 1058 (O'Scannlain, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc)."
Example: To be sure, it was an individual right not available to the whole population, given that it was restricted to Protestants, and like all written English rights it was held only against the Crown, not Parliament. See Schwoerer, To Hold and Bear Arms: The English Perspective, in Bogus 207, 218; but see 3 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 1858 (1833)
Example: But see 418 F.3d, at 1058 (O'Scannlain, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc) (observing that it is unlikely that this occurred “in anything but the exceptional case”).
Example: "The Sixth Circuit correctly analyzed each charge as a separate offense for jeopardy purposes and held jeopardy terminated for intentional murder even though “jeopardy on the wanton murder charge may have continued after the trial and successful appeal.” Id. at 458. But see United States ex rel. Jackson v. Follette, 462 F.2d 1041 (2d Cir.1972) (allowing retrial on alternate means of committing a crime where the defendant defended against both means)." State v. Wright, 203 P.3d at 1042, Wash.,2009.
Example: The government's suggested approach assumes the validity of their conclusion even before the process of deduction has begun. But see Montana Power Co. v. Edwards, 531 F. Supp. 8 (D. Or. 1981) (adopting the approach attacked in this paragraph)…”
Example: The Federal Courts of Appeals have reached the same conclusion in applying the federal hearsay rule. United States v. Garnett, 122 F.3d 1016, 1018-1019 (C.A.11 1997) (per curium); United States v. Gilbert, 774 F.2d 962, 965 (C.A.9 1985) (per curiam); United States v. Ware, 247 F.2d 698, 699-700 (C.A.7 1957); but see United States v. Oates, 560 F.2d 45, 82 (C.A.2 1977).
  • But cf.
Cited authority contradicts the stated proposition by analogy. The use of a parenthetical explanation of the source's relevance is strongly recommended.
Example: But cf. 481 U.S., at 25-26, 95 L. Ed. 2d 1, 107 S. Ct. 1519 (Marshall, J., concurring in judgment) (Rooker-Feldman would apply because Texaco's claims necessarily called for review of the merits of its state appeal).
Example: But cf. 995 F.2d, at 1137 (observing that “[i]n the ordinary tort claim arising when a government driver negligently runs into another car, jury trial is precisely what is lost to a plaintiff when the government is substituted for the employee”).
Example: "...courts have discretion to hear at sentencing from any person who might provide useful information, including victims of financial crimes. But cf. United States v. Fortier, 242 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir.2001), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 979, 122 S.Ct. 409, 151 L.Ed.2d 310 (2001)(finding “an absence of authority” on the issue of whether counsel for victims can participate in a sentencing hearing, and raising “misgivings” about the practice where the government had agreed not to argue for the very issues the victims' counsel did), overruled by statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3771(d)(1) (giving crime victims and their “lawful representative” the power to assert rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at sentencing)." (excerpt from United States v. Degenhardt, 405 F.Supp.2d 1341, 1343 (D. Utah 2005))
Example: Implicit in their choice is the distinction between preferential and nonpreferential establishments, which the weight of evidence suggests the Framers appreciated. See, e.g., Laycock, “Nonpreferential” Aid 902–906; Levy 91–119. But cf. T. Curry, The First Freedoms 208–222 (1986).
"But" should be omitted from "but see" and "but cf." whenever one of these signals follows another negative signal:
Example: Contra Blake v. Kiline, 612 F.2d 718, 723-24 (3d Cir. 1979); see CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT, LAW OF FEDERAL COURTS 48 (4th ed. 1983).
Example: We caution, however, that our analysis might have been different if Lanciloti had shown that anyone had been excluded from jury service by the way the boundaries had been drawn (for example, to save the cost of reimbursing mileage) or if he had been tried, over objection, before a jury drawn from a district other than where the crime was alleged to have been committed, or if the clear legislative purpose had not been to create a broader and more representative jury pool. But cf. Laws Of 2005, ch. 199, § 1.

Signals that indicate a useful comparison

  • Compare _____ with _______'
This signal is best used to compare two or more authorities that reach different outcomes as to a stated proposition. Because the relevance of the comparison may not be readily apparent to the reader, The Bluebook strongly recommends adding a parenthetical explanation after each authority. Either "compare" or "with" may be followed by more than one source, using "and" between each of them. In legal practice, the writer italicizes “compare,” “with,” and “and.” Compare must be used with "with", with the "with" preceded by a comma. If "and" is used, the "and" must also be preceded by a comma.
Example: To characterize the first element as a "distortion," however, requires the concurrence to second-guess the way in which the state court resolved a plain conflict in the language of different statutes. Compare Fla. Stat. 102.166 (2001) (foreseeing manual recounts during the protest period), with 102.111 (setting what is arguably too short a deadline for manual recounts to be conducted); compare 102.112(1) (stating that the Secretary "may" ignore late returns), with 102.111(1) (stating that the Secretary "shall" ignore late returns).
Example: One could say that imposing a servitude on Lucas's land is necessary in order to prevent his use of it from "harming" South Carolina's ecological resources; or, instead, in order to achieve the "benefits" of an ecological preserve. Compare, e.g., Claridege v. N.H. Wetlands Bd., 485 A.2d 287, 292 (N.H. 1984) (owner may, without compensation, be barred from filling wetlands because landfilling would deprive adjacent coastal habitats and marine fisheries of ecological support), with, e.g., Bartlett v. Zoning Comm'n of Old Lyme, 282 A.2d 907, 910 (Conn. 1971) (owner barred from filling tidal marshland must be compensated, despite municipality's "laudable" goal of "preserv[ing] marshlands from encroachment or destruction").
Example: Compare Guaranty Trust Co. v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 105-107, 65 S.Ct. 1464, 1467-1469, 89 L.Ed. 2079 (1945). **2007 with Holmberg v. Armbrecht, 327 U.S. 392, 395, 66 S.Ct. 582, 584, 90 L.Ed. 743 (1946).
Example: A fifth State, Mississippi, excuses the prosecution from producing the analyst who conducted the test, so long as it produces someone. Compare Barnette v. State, 481 So.2d 788, 792 (Miss.1985) (cited by the Court), with McGowen v. State, 859 So.2d 320, 339-340 (Miss.2003) (the Sixth Amendment does not require confrontation with the particular analyst who conducted the test).

Using signals as verbs

In footnotes, signals may function as verbs in textual sentences. This allows material that would otherwise be included in a parenthetical explanation to be more cohesively integrated. When used in this manner, signals should not be italicized.

For Example:
See Christina L. Anderson, Comment, Double Jeopardy: The Modern Dilemma for Juvenile Justice, 152 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1181, 1204-07 (2004) (discussing four main types of restorative justice programs).
See Christina L. Anderson, Comment, Double Jeopardy: The Modern Dilemma for Juvenile Justice, 152 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1181, 1204-07 (2004), for a discussion of restorative justice as a reasonable replacement for retributive sanctions.

"Cf." becomes "compare" and "e.g." becomes "for example" when these signals are used as verbs.

Signal formatting

  • Capitalizing Signals
The first letter of a signal should be capitalized when it begins a citation sentence. However, if the signal is within a citation clause or appears within a citation sentence, it should not be capitalized.
  • Signal Placement and Typeface
One space should separate an introductory signal from the rest of the citation, with no punctuation in between.
Example: See American Trucking Associations v. United States EPA, 195 F.3d 4 (D.C. Cir. 1999).
Do not italicize a signal if it is being used as a verb.
Example: For a discussion of the Environmental Protection Agency's failure to interpret a statute to provide intelligible principles, see American Trucking Associations v. United States EPA, 195 F.3d 4 (D.C. Cir. 1999).

Order of signals

(See The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation [1]) When one or more signals are used, the signals should appear in the following order:

A. Introductory signals
     1.[no signal]
     2. E.g.,
     3. Accord
     4. See
     5. See also
     6. Cf.
B. Signals that indicate a useful comparison
     7. Compare...[and]...with...and...
C. Signals that indicate contradiction
     8. Contra
     9. But see
     10. But cf.
D. Signal that indicates background material
     11. See generally

When multiple signals are used, the signals must be consistent with the proper order of authorities. Also, signals of the same basic type - supportive, comparative, contradictory, or background - are strung together within a single citation sentence and separated by semicolons. Signals of different types should be grouped in different citation sentences. For example:

"See Mass. Bd. of Ret. v. Murgia, 427 U.S. 307 (1976) (per curiam); cf. Palmer v. Ticcione, 433 F.Supp. 653 (E.D.N.Y 1977) (upholding a mandatory retirement age for kindergarten teachers). But see Gault v. Garrison, 569 F.2d 993 (7th Cir. 1977) (holding that a classification of public school teachers based on age violated equal protection absent a showing of justifiable and rational state purpose). See generally Comment, O’Neill v. Baine: Application of Middle-Level Scrutiny to Old-Age Classifications, 127 U. Pa. L. Rev. 798 (1979) (advocating a new constitutional approach to old-age classifications)."

When "e.g." is combined with another signal, the placement of the combined signal is determined by the non-e.g. signal. For example, the combined signal "see, e.g." should be placed where the "see" signal would normally fall.

However, within a citation clause citation strings can contain different types of signals. These signals are separated by semicolons.

Order of authorities within each signal

(See The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation [2])

Authorities within each signal are separated by semicolons.

If one authority is considerably more helpful or authoritative than the others cited within a signal, it should precede others. Except in this situation, cite authorities in the order in which they are listed below:

(a) Constitutions and other foundational documents. Cite in the following order: 1. federal 2. state (alphabetically by state) 3. foreign (alphabetically by jurisdiction) 4. foundational documents of the United Nations, the League of Nations, and the European Union (in that order). Constitutions of the same jurisdiction are cited in reverse chronological order.

(b) Statutes. Cite statutes in the following order, according to the jurisdictional hierarchy below: federal, state, foreign, and international.

1. Federal: (i) statutes in U.S.C., U.S.C.A., or U.S.C.S.; (ii) other statutes currently in force, by reverse chronological order of enactment; (iii) rules of evidence and procedure; (iv) repealed statutes, by reverse chronological order of enactment.

2. State (alphabetically by state): (i) statutes in the current codification (by order in the codification); (ii) statutes currently in force but not in the current codification (by order in the codification); (iii) rules of evidence and procedure; (iv) repealed statutes (by reverse chronological order of enactment).

3. Foreign (alphabetically by jurisdiction): (i) codes or statutes in the current codification (by order in the codification); (ii) statutes currently in force but not in the current codification (by reverse chronological order of enactment; (iii) repealed statutes (by reverse chronological order of enactment.

(c) Treaties and other international agreements (other than the foundational documents of the UN, League of Nations, and the EU): cite in reverse chronological order

(d) Cases. Arrange within a signal according to the courts that issued the cited opinions; cases decided by the same court are arranged in reverse chronological order (for this purpose all U.S. circuit courts of appeals are treated as one court, and all federal district courts are treated as one court).

Cite cases in the following order, according to the jurisdictional hierarchy below: federal, state, foreign, and international.

1. Federal: (i) Supreme Court (ii) court of appeals, Emergency Court of Appeals, and Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals (iii) Court of Claims, Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, and bankruptcy appeals panels (iv) district courts, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and Court of International Trade (v) district bankruptcy courts and Railroad Reorganization Court (vi) Court of Federal Claims, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and Tax Court (vii) administrative agencies (alphabetically by agency).

2. State: (i) courts (alphabetically by state and then by rank within each state; (ii) agencies (alphabetically by state and then alphabetically by agency within each state).

3. Foreign: (i) courts (alphabetically by jurisdiction and then by rank within each jurisdiction); (ii) agencies (alphabetically by jurisdiction and then alphabetically by agency within each jurisdiction.

4. International: (i) International Court of Justice, Permanent Court of International Justice; (ii) other international tribunals and arbitral panels (alphabetically by name).

(e) Legislative materials: cite in the following order: bills and resolutions, committee hearings, reports, documents,and committee prints, floor debates. Cite in reverse chronological order.

(f) Administrative and executive materials: cite in the following order: federal(Executive Orders, current Treasury Regulations, other regulations in force, proposed rules not in force, repealed materials), state (alphabetically by state), foreign (alphabetically by jurisdiction).

(g) Resolutions, decisions, and regulations of intergovernmental organizations: cite in the following order: UN and League of Nations (General Assembly, then Security Council, then other organs in alphabetical order), other organizations (alphabetically by name of organization).

(h) Records, briefs, and petitions: cited in that order.

(i) Secondary materials: cite in the following order: uniform codes, model codes, and restatements (in reverse chronological order by category), books and pamphlets, works in journals, books reviews not written by students, student-written law review materials, annotations, magazine and newspaper articles, working papers, unpublished materials not forthcoming, electronic sources, including Internet sources. For all secondary sources except codes and restatements, cite alphabetically by last name of author; if none, by first word of title).

(j) Cross-references to the author's own material in text or footnotes

For example:

See Arnold v. Runnels, 421 F.3d 859, 866 n. 8 (9th Cir.2005); United States v. Soliz, 129 F.3d 499, 504 n. 3 (1997), overruled on other grounds by United States v. Johnson, 256 F.3d 895 (9th Cir.2001) (en banc) (per curiam); Evans v. Demosthenes, 98 F.3d 1174, 1176 (9th Cir.1996).

Parenthetical information

Use parentheticals, as need, to explain the relevance of a particular authority to the proposition given in the text. Parenthetical information is recommended when the relevance if a cited authority might not otherwise be clear to the reader. Explanatory information takes the form of a present participle phrase, a quoted sentence, or a short statement that is appropriate in context

  • Phrases not quoting the authority. Explanatory parenthetical phrases not directly quoting the authority usually begin with a present participle and should never begin with a capital letter:
See generally John copeland Nagle & J.B. Ruhl, The Law of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management 227-45 (2002) (detailing the ESA's prohibition on the possession of protected species).
Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312, 318 (1988) (recognizing public-issue signs to be classic examples of free speech).
See generally Akhil Reed Amar, Reports of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated: A Reply, 138 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1651 (1990) (arguing that the author and the two-tier theory of federal jurisdiction are still viable).
See, e.g., Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. Hardin, 138 U.S.App.D.C. 391, 395, 428 F.2d 1093, 1097 (interest in health affected by decision of Secretary of Agriculture refusing to suspend registration of certain pesticides containing DDT).
See Verizon Md. Inc., 535 U.S. 635, 644 n.3, 152 L. Ed. 2d 871, 122 S. Ct. 1753 ("The Rooker-Feldman doctrine merely recognizes that 28 U.S.C. §1331 [28 USCS §1331] is a grant of original jurisdiction, and does not authorize district courts to exercise appellate jurisdiction over state-court judgments, which Congress has reserved to this Court, see §1257(a).").
When a complete participial phrase is unnecessary in context, a shorter parenthetical may be substituted:

Such standards have been adopted to address a variety of environmental problems. See, e.g., H.B. Jacobini, The New International Sanitary Regulations, 46 Am. J. INT'L L. 727, 727-28(1952) (health-related water quality); Robert L. Meyer, Travaux Preparatoires for the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, 2 EARTH L.J. 45, 45-81 (1976( (conservation of protected areas).

  • Phrases quoting the authority. If the parenthetical quotes one or more full sentences, then the parenthetical should begin with a capital letter and end with punctuation. Example:
See Committee Note to Interim Rule 8001(f) ("Given the short time limit to file the petition with the circuit clerk, subdivision (f)(1) provides that entry of a certification on the docket does not occur until an effective appeal is taken under Rule 8003(a) or (b).").
Punctuation and Spacing: Insert one space before the opening parenthesis of the explanatory parenthetical. Note that if the parenthetical does not contain a complete sentence, the writer should not place final punctuation, such as a period, inside the parenthetical. Additionally, in legal writing it is permissible to nest several levels of parenthetical material, and it is also permissible for parentheses pointing the same way to "kiss." However, never have two parentheses pointing in different ways abut each other; always use a space between them.
Place a parenthetical that must be included as part of a citation before an explanatory parenthetical. Example:
Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(1) (emphasis added) (also indicating that "[a] party may instruct a deponent not to answer... when necessary to preserve a privilege").
Shorter parenthetical phrases may be used if a complete participial phrase is unnecessary given the context of the citation. Example:
The Florida Supreme court recently declared that “where the seller of a home knows facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer.” Johnson v. Davis, 480 So. 2d 625, 629 (Fla. 1985) (defective roof in three-year old home).
The rule in this state continues to be that professional bailees may not limit their liability for negligence; in every instance where a disclaimer of liability has been invalidated, a professional bailee was involved. See Althoff v. System Garages, Inc., supra at 864 (preprinted form used by a garageman); Ramsden v. Grimshaw, 23 Wn.2d 864, 866, 162 P.2d 901 (1945) (preprinted form used by a garageman).
  • How do I determine whether my argument needs a parenthetical?

1. If your source directly quotes or supports your argument (meaning you either used no signal or "see" in front of your citation) then you probably do not need a parenthetical. 2. Do you have multiple arguments or points occurring in that portion of the text? If yes, then parentheticals may clarify how those sources individually contribute to the argument. 3. Are you citing to a broad or dense source? If yes, then a parenthetical that points to the correct and specific information might be helpful.

  • Order Within a Citation

If the case you are citing has some subsequent history or other related authority that needs to be included, it should come after your parenthetical. Example:

Anderson v. Terhune, 467 F.3d 1208 (9th Cir.2006) (claiming that a police officer's continued questioning violated due process rights), reh'g en banc granted, 486 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir.2007).
  • Be careful of...

1. Vague or broad parentheticals that do not add any additional value - the reader would not know anything more or less if it was not there. For example, "addresses tort reform."

Internal cross-references

Portions of text, footnotes, and groups of authorities within the piece may be cited using supra or infra. Use supra to refer back to material that has already appeared within the piece. Use infra to refer to material that appears later in the piece. "Note" and "Part" are used to refer to footnotes and parts (when parts are specifically designed) within the same piece; "p." and "pp." are used to refer to other pages within the same piece. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et al. eds., 18th ed. 2005).

However, avoid heavy usage of infra, supra, op. cit, loc. cit,, and similar abbreviations that refer to citations that appear elsewhere in the writing. These forms burden readers by forcing them to hunt for the full citation elsewhere in the work. Generally, these abbreviations should be used sparingly and only (1) to avoid repeating a lengthy footnote and/or, (2) to cross-reference a nearby footnote.

A list of internal cross-reference forms.

  • See supra text accompanying notes 201-02
  • See supra notes 11-12, 45-46 and accompanying text.
  • See cases cited supra note 12.
  • But see supra Part V.A-C.
  • See infra pp. 11–12
  • See infra p. 98 and note 123


Supra (Bluebook Rules 3.5 & 4.2 )

  • Supra is used as an internal cross-reference to guide the reader between parts of a document, whether text or footnotes. (Rule 3.5)
  • You may combine supra with note, part, p., or pp. to refer to footnotes, parts, or pages within the same piece.
  • Use supra when the authority has already been cited in full, and add the short form for that authority. (Rule 4.2)
  • Supra may be used alone with the short form, when referring to authority within the same footnote when id. would not be appropriate.
  • May combine supra with signals.
  • Do not use pp. as part of the short form for any authority.
  • Do not use supra with cases, statutes, constitutions, legislative materials other than hearings, restatements, model codes, or regulations UNLESS the name of the authority is extremely long.
  • Supra references (lower numbers before higher numbers);

Example: GINSBURG, supra note 43, at 1485 (citing Gershwin Publ'g Corp. v. Columbia Artists Mgmt., 443 F.2d 1159, 1162 (2d Cir. 1971)).

  • Use supra with “note” to indicate a footnote within the same piece (internal cross-reference).
  • Notice that you need a comma after the supra clause.
  • You may combine supra with a signal and other text.
  • The signal would be italicized but the text explaining where to look is in ordinary type.


Infra (Bluebook Rule 3.5)

  • Use Infra to refer to discussion or footnote content after the current footnote or text.
  • Always combine Infra with note, part, p., or pp. to refer to footnotes, parts, or pages within the same piece.
  • May combine Infra with signals
  • Do not use Infra for citations to authority.
  • Infra references (lower numbers before higher numbers);

Example: Nevertheless, the cases holding that the server's behavior constitutes "distribution" seem justifiable. See infra note 76 and accompanying text.

  • Infra usually follows a signal.
  • The signal and infra are italicized, but the rest of the text is not.
  • Infra may also follow text after a signal, as appropriate.
  • Anything other than infra or the signal would appear in ordinary type.

Compare ALWD 10 (3d) and Bluebook 3.5 (18th)

The rules are very similar, but under the Bluebook, spell out “note” or “Part”:

  • BB: Infra note 45 and accompanying text.
  • ALWD: Infra n. 45 and accompanying text.

See also

  • Legal citation signal


  1. ^ "The Bluebook". Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  2. ^ "Index of /cm". 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  3. ^ "Style Sheet". Retrieved 2011-01-19. 


External links

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