The Bluebook
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Bluebook Online Help

  1. Creating an Account
  2. Subscription Basics
  3. Using Bluebook Content Online
  4. Notes
  5. Groups
  6. Supplementary Content


1. Creating an Account

1.1 Redeeming Subscription Keys

Bluebook subscription keys are provided by purchasing organizations to the individual members or employees who use them to subscribe to The Bluebook Online without incurring individual charges. Single Bluebook subscription keys are also bought by individuals in bookstores. Each key is unique, and has five sections (thus: xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx).

A key is redeemed for a new subscription by entering it on the site’s front page or purchase page. Look for “Redeem Your Bluebook Key.” A keys is redeemed for subscription renewal by first logging in, then entering it on the site’s front page or purchase page.

The value of a subscription key is equal to the cost of a first-year subscription. If a key is used to renew a subscription, the full value of the key is used to extend to subscription at the renewal rate. For example, if the first-year subscription rate is $32 and the renewal rate is $15, applying a key will extend a subscription for approximately twenty-five months.

1.2 Purchasing

All purchases except subscription renewals begin with choosing any of the purchasing links on the site’s public front page (renewals begin with logging into the account whose subscription is to be renewed). Each purchase link leads to the purchase page, where printed books, online subscriptions, or subscription keys (for distribution to individual users within an organization) are available. Subscriptions are for one or several years; multiple-year subscriptions and subscription renewals are discounted.

Once items are selected, the “Add to Cart” button advances to the shopping cart, where quantities and shipping options (if applicable) may be adjusted and reviewed. The “Checkout” button advances the purchase to entry of payment and shipping information. Once entered, the “Continue” button leads to review and placement of the order. A confirmation is provided on screen and to the email entered.

If an online subscription has been purchased, the process leads to creation of the online account, which is described in the next section of this help.

1.3 Creating a New Subscription

Entry of a Bluebook key or purchase of a subscription leads to “Account Setup.” You must provide your preferred first and last name (which appear to other users within a group only if you choose to join that group), enter your email (which you use to sign in to The Bluebook Online), and provide a password. You must also select a security question and provide the answer which will be needed to reset your password if it is lost. Finally, you may choose to receive certain emails from the Editors of The Bluebook. (Your email is never shared with, disclosed or sold to others.) Submit this page and your account is created, confirmed by a welcome screen from which you may jump to any part of your Bluebook Online subscription.

1.4 Renewing Subscriptions

To renew a subscription, first log in, then purchase one or many additional years of The Bluebook Online. The annual rate for renewal is less than 50% the cost of the first year’s subscription. One month before your subscription expires, a reminder will appear on your subscriber’s homepage. You can extend your subscription then, or at any time, but choosing the renewal link in your account settings, or simply using the purchase links at the top of every page. You may renew for up to five years at a time.

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2. Subscription Basics

A video introduction to subscription basics is available on the tour page, or by using the direct links below:

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2.1 Login and Logout

To log in, enter your email address and password on the front page of the site. If you use the same computer for access, you can set the site to remember your email address for convenience. An account may be used to access the site from only one browser at a time. Each user must have an individual account with which to log in. If you attempt to log on simultaneously on separate computers, your account will lock for a period on both computers.

To log out, choose the “Logout” option on the top of all pages of The Bluebook Online. The system also automatically logs out accounts after a period of inactivity.

2.2 Account Settings

The “My Account” link leads to the My Account page. This page allows you to view and edit your account settings and preferences, and extend your subscription. Help for these features are in this section. This page also allows you to back up or transfer your personal notes, and manage groups; help for these features are in later sections.

The “Account Settings Summary” allows you to view and edit your personal information: name, email address, password and security question, telephone number, and email communication preferences. Your email address and password can be edited directly from the “My Account” page. (Remember that your email address functions as your login name.) Other information can be edited by choosing the “Edit Account Settings” link, making changes, then clicking “Update.”

The “Bluebook Preferences” section allows you to change how your Bluebook Online Subscription treats your notes and the Bluepages.

When viewing pages of Bluebook content together with notes (bookmarks and annotations), you can choose the default combination of notes: your own, one particular group, or all notes to which you have access. That is done by making your choice here. You can also change the default color applied to your own notes by clicking “Your Personal Notes’ Color” and choosing a color.

You can also choose how searches treat the Bluepages. By default, search results from the Bluepages are combined with results from other parts of the Bluebook. However, if you are a practitioner or law review editor, you may want to force Bluepages content to the top or bottom of all of your searches. If so, you may make that choice here. Search is described in more detail in a later help section.

The My Account page also shows when your subscription expires; you can extend your subscription at any time.

 2.3 Subscribers’ Homepage

A video introduction to the subscribers' homepage is available on the tour page, or by using the direct links below:

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The Subscribers’ Homepage is what you first see when logging on to The Bluebook Online using your account, and where you return when clicking “The Bluebook” icon at the top left of any page if logged on. It combines your recent annotations and bookmarks with a trail of your recently visited pages and our most recent tips on using the Bluebook.

Your most recent Bookmarks and Annotations appear. Full lists of both are available in your “My Account” page, and are more fully described in their help descriptions below. The “Recently Visited” feature is based on browser cookies, and will not function if your browser disables cookies. The list of recently visited pages may be cleared by clicking the option to clear at the bottom of the list. Blue Tips are fully described in their section of this help. Only the most recent tips are displayed on your subscribers homepage, but you may reach all tips by choosing the link at the bottom of the list.

If you have been invited to a group, or your subscription is about to expire, you will see an alert on your subscriber’s homepage. It is not possible to rearrange the content on the subscribers’ homepage.

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3. Using Bluebook Content Online

3.1 Structure of The Bluebook

Since The Bluebook Online’s core content is The Bluebook itself, an understanding of The Bluebook’s structure is essential to understanding the structure of the site. Learning The Bluebook’s structure is easier if you look at the Table of Contents and Introduction.

The Bluebook contains Rules, which are general instructions telling how to cite sources in legal writing, and Tables, which compile specific information related to particular items that are cited. For example, the general format for citing a case is in a Rule, but the abbreviations used to shorten a case name are in a Table. The main rules and tables cover much of the wide range of sources cited in legal scholarship.

The Bluepages precede the main Rules and Tables, and are focused on the narrower range of material commonly cited in court documents. The Bluepages are not a mere simplification or summary of the main Rules and Tables, but rather a focused treatment of the citations common to briefs, motions, and other court documents. Some information, such as how to cite a deposition or lower court record, or where to find the court rules for citation of any American jurisdiction, are only found in the Bluepages’ own Rules and Tables. Nevertheless, one common and appropriate use of the Bluepages is as an introduction to learning the full Bluebook.

Each of the twenty-one main Rules is a structured set of instructions treating a broad category of citation, rather than a single “rule” in the ordinary sense. The Rules are grouped: generally, earlier Rules (those with lower numbers) provide the building blocks for later rules.

The first nine rules are general rules of citation and style. Rule One (abbreviated R1) treats the structure and use of citations, including introductory signals such as see. Rule Two treats typefaces for law reviews. Rule Three gives general rules for citing to subdivisions within a source. Rule Four provides the general forms for short citations. Rule Five handles quotations. Rule Six sets standards for abbreviations, numerals, and symbols. Rule Seven and Eight treat italicization and capitalization, respectively. Rule Nine treats the titles of court officials and court terminology.

The next five rules, R10–14, deal with citation of official (governmental) American legal sources. Rules Ten through Fourteen deal with, respectively, cases, constitutions, statutes, legislative materials, and administrative and executive materials.

Rules Fifteen through Nineteen deal with five classes of secondary material: books and other nonperiodic materials, periodicals, unpublished and forthcoming sources, electronic and other non-print sources, and services, respectively.

The last two rules treat non-U.S. sources. Rule Twenty treats foreign material, and Rule Twenty-One treats international materials. Each gives general instructions that are heavily supplemented by specific guidance in the Tables.

Rules vary in length, and generally contain a complex substructure of subrules. R10.7.2 for example, treats changes in case name upon appeal. It is part of the overall R10.7, covering prior and subsequent history of cases, the overall subject of R10.

The content of a particular sub-rule is generally an imperative sentence, giving the basic instruction for correct citation, followed by examples of correct and incorrect application (these appear in sans-serif font), followed by notes of special variations, common pitfalls, exceptions, and cross-references.

The Tables, complement the general rules by giving information specific to particular entities. For example, R10 gives the rules for citing cases, but T1.3 gives the correct abbreviations and reporters for citing to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Tables and Rules must generally be used together, and The Bluebook Online makes it easy to open both at once using a tabbed browser (use one tab for Rules, and the other for Tables).

Like the Rules, the Tables are grouped. The first five tables give specific instructions for handling material from particular sources. Table One treats United States jurisdictions, state, federal, territorial, and Native American. Table Two covers many commonly referenced foreign jurisdictions (nations not specifically treated in T2 are cited according to the general instructions in R20). Table Three covers Intergovernmental Organizations, notably the UN. Table Four deals with treaty sources, and Table Five covers Arbitral Reporters.

The remaining eleven tables are lists of abbreviations used when referenced by the Rules. Tables Six through Sixteen treat, respectively, case names, court names, explanatory phrases, legislative documents, geographical terms, judges and officials, months, periodicals, publishing terms, services, and subdivisions. (Abbreviations for court documents are contained in Bluepages Table One, or BT1, and jurisdiction-specific citation and style rules are cross referenced in BT2.)

Beginning users of The Bluebook often make mistakes by beginning with the most specific instruction related to the source they are citing, and neglecting the more general rules. Earlier rules often treat elements of correct citation that are not repeated in later rules. For example, when giving the citation for a quoting from book using R15, it is generally necessary to reference R1, R3, and R5, as well as the abbreviations in T.16.

The Bluebook Online has the same structure as The Bluebook in printed form. The navigation help below describes the ease with which Bluebook content can be accessed online, but understanding the underlying structure of the material will do much to make sense of the navigation.

 

3.2 Getting Around The Bluebook Online

A video introduction to the navigating The Bluebook Online is available in the second section of the tour page, or by using the direct links below:

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There are many ways to navigate The Bluebook Online. The multiplicity of possible ways to navigate should not, however, leave the impression that the navigation is complex. Most users will want to find their one or two favorite ways of navigating and ignore the others.

The top of each page contains direct links to all parts of the site. The large words on the top left of every page – “The Bluebook” – are a link back to your subscriber’s homepage. The uppermost row of links, next to your name, link to settings and purchasing. The next row of links focuses on secondary content: the Blue Tips and Updates (described in a later section of help), the introduction, a series of video tours, and this help file. The remaining row of links, highlighted in blue and nearest the content of each page, provides direct access to major content items: the citation quick references, full table of contents, Bluepages, Rules, Tables, the full index (described in a later section of help), and your bookmarks (including bookmarks from any groups you belong to). Search is always available at the top right of any page, and is described in a later section of help.

On the left side of most subscriber pages, including the subscribers’ homepage, is an expandable outline of The Bluebook. It works similarly to a file tree, and is in the same order as the Bluebook content it describes. Any part next to a plus-sign, , may be expanded by clicking the blue box; any part next to a minus-sign, , may be collapsed by clicking the box. Jump to any content by clicking on the words describing it. The full content is longer than a page in length, and you may have to page-down to find later information. To remove the outline from your view of a page in order to see more content, click the right edge of the outline (it has a small arrow pointing left, ). To restore the outline once hidden, click the small tab on the left edge of the screen (it will have a small arrow pointing right, ).

Bluebook content has a predictable web-address format. If you want to jump directly to a rule by URL, use www.legalbluebook.com/ followed by the Rule or Table number, placing hyphens between each part of the Rule or Table number. For example, to link directly to Rule 10.2.2, use this URL: www.legalbluebook.com/R-10-2-2.

Immediately above the heading of any content page is a Show Previous and Show Next function that allow you to “flip through” the content pages, much as if you were leafing through the printed Bluebook: 

3.3 Content

Each content page contains the same information found in the printed Bluebook. At the head of each page there is a cross-reference to the printed page number on which the displayed section begins.

Bluebook content consists of instructions and examples. Examples are distinguished by presentation in a sans-serif font. Where tables exist, you may hover over a row with your mouse and a grey bar will appear to help you read across the row more easily.

Content pages may be displayed with or without accompanying notes. If the “Show Notes” checkbox is cleared, the bare content will display more quickly. Such text only pages may help faster simultaneous access to pages in a classroom setting.

Within limits, lines of content will shrink or expand to accommodate various browser-window widths. However, a wider window will generally produce more satisfactory content pages.

Where content refers to other content in a cross-reference, the blue link may be followed to the associated content. If you have a tabbed browser, you may find it convenient to open The Bluebook Online in multiple tabs, so that you may have several pages at the ready.

3.4 Search

A video introduction to search is available in the third section of the tour page, or by using the direct links below:

High Resolution Format     Medium Resolution Format 

The key advantage to using The Bluebook Online is search – a much faster and more effective way to locate Bluebook content. Simple search works in a way familiar to anyone who has used a web search program such as Google. Simple search is available at the top right of any page. But powerful advanced searching and results filtering is also available.

Searches span your own individual and group content as well as the Bluebook and other content created by us. If a search finds results in your annotations and bookmarks, those are listed before results from our content. Search results have the searched term highlighted, and are combined on a single page. Click anywhere on a search row to jump to the search result.

One search setting is on the “My Accounts” page: it is possible to push results from the Bluepages to the top or bottom of every search. (By default Bluepages content is treated like all other Bluebook content and ordered by relevance to your search.)

Other options may be set for particular searches. Whether your search was simple or advanced, the results, which are ranked by relevance, may be filtered to isolate results from a given section of The Bluebook. This is done by selecting any of the options at the top of the search results page (You may view results within Rules, Tables, Bluepages Rules, Bluepages Tables, Notes (individual and group), or General content of the site other than those parts already listed. The default is to display results from all sections of the site.

The advanced search page permits finely tuned searches, and also provides the syntax for making advanced searches from the default search box at the top of every page.

The top section of the advanced search page allows searches for individual words and phrases, alternate words, as well as exclusion of results containing a given word. The symbols for specifying the same kinds of searches in the simple search box are also listed. The top section of the advanced search page also allows you to exclude results based on word variants (by default, a search for “child” returns results containing the word “children”).

The lower section of the advanced search page allows restriction of searches to various parts of the Bluebook content. By default all sections are selected and all sections are searched. Next to each option is the abbreviation allowing similar restrictions to be applied from the simple search box.

Advanced Search allows you to search for pages:

  • with all of the words you type in
  • with the exact phrase you type in
  • with at least one of the words you type in
  • without the words you type in

Using Operators

  • Advanced Search functions can also be implemented by using “operators” in any search box on The Bluebook Online
  • searches for pages with exact phrase are done by placing quotation marks around your search terms
    • E.g., "omit words"
  • searches for pages with at least one of the words are done by placing the word OR between search terms
    • E.g., omit OR words
  • searches for pages without the words you type in are done by placing a minus sign before the search terms you would like to exclude
    • E.g., -omit -words
  • searches for pages with all of the words you type in do not require an operator

Combining Advanced Search functions

  • Advanced Search functions can be combined by using multiple fields in the Advanced Search form or by placing individual queries in parenthesis joined by AND
    • E.g., the query: ("omit words") AND (-parenthetical) will search for pages containing the exact phrase omit words that do not contain the word parenthetical

Relevant Related Search Terms

Including Relevant Related Search Terms
  • By default, Advanced Search searches for words related to the words you type in
    • E.g., A search for omit will also search for the word omission
  • Selecting the option to "Search Relevant Words" will include related search terms in your results
Excluding Relevant Related Search Terms
  • Selecting the option to "Use Strict Search Rules" will exclude related search terms from your results
    • E.g., A search for omit will only search for the word omit and will not include terms such as omission.
  • Searches for an exact phrase do not search for related terms
  • Placing quotation marks around your search terms will search for the exact phrase and not include related terms
  • Searches for pages without the words you type in will only exclude the words you type in, and will not exclude related words

Sections and Types of Content

Section Search Form
  • Search results may be limited to specific Bluebook sections or types of content by selecting from the options in the "Find specific sections or types of content in your search" form
  • If none or all of the sections are selected all sections will be searched
Section Search Operators
  • Search results may also be limited by using section or type operators
  • Operators are used by typing the corresponding letter or letter combination from the Section Form followed by a colon
    • E.g., r:omit will search for the word omit only within the rules
  • Multiple sections may be searched by inserting a comma between the desired sections, following the last selection with a colon
    • E.g., r,brex:omit will search for the word omit within the rules and bluepages rules examples
  • Section Search operators can be combined with Advanced Search operators for even more control over your search
    • E.g., r,brex:("omit articles") AND (-parenthetical) will search for pages containing the exact phrase omit articles that do not contain the word parenthetical within the rules and bluepages rules examples sections
  • See below for a complete listing of section search operators

Section Operator Notes
Core Bluebook pages "core" Includes "All Core content" and "All core examples"
All core content "cc" Includes rules, tables, bluepages rules, and bluepages tables
Rules "r"
Tables "t"
Bluepages Rules "br"
Bluepages Tables "bt"
All core examples "cex" Includes rules examples, tables examples, bluepages tables examples, and bluepages rules examples
Rules Examples "rex"
Tables Examples "tex"
Bluepages Tables Examples "btex"
Bluepages Rules Examples "brex"  
User Generated Notes "notes" Includes annotations and bookmarks
Annotations "a"
Bookmarks "b"  
General "general" Includes updates, blue tips, site content, and help
Updates "u"
Blue Tips "bti"
Site Content "s"
Help "h"

 

3.5 Table of Contents

The full Bluebook Table of Contents, hyperlinked to related sections and otherwise identical to the printed Table of Contents, is available from the top navigation link. In addition to providing another way to navigate The Bluebook Online, it is an excellent way to see the structure of The Bluebook as a whole.

3.6 Index

The full Bluebook Index, hyperlinked to related sections and otherwise identical to the printed Index, is available from the top navigation link. The index is a powerful tool for finding Bluebook content when a search is not producing satisfactory results.

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4. Notes

A video introduction to online notes, both annotations and bookmarks, is available in the fourth section of the tour page, or by using the direct links below:

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A well-used printed copy of The Bluebook usually has marginal annotations written in, and often bookmarks and sticky notes to ease finding a page. The Bluebook Online makes creation of these kinds of notes easy. Once created, these notes can be searched along with other Bluebook content, and even transferred to a new account. There are two kinds of Notes: Bookmarks and Annotations. Bookmarks are flags meant to lead directly to a point in The Bluebook. Annotations are anything you prefer to write out – the equivalent of margin notes. Both kinds of notes – annotations and bookmarks – can be created for your own use, or as part of a group for sharing. The process is much the same. Groups are treated separately in a help section below.

Notes can be displayed or suppressed by checking or unchecking the “Show Notes” box at the top of any content page. Your choice will carry from page to page until changed. If you show notes, you can show all notes or only one set of notes (yours or any one group) by selecting your choice from the drop-down box listing your options.

To edit notes, you must have a single set of notes (yours or any one group) selected, so that any notes you create will be associated with that one set. So, to edit notes, first make sure that your notes or a group is selected, then check “Edit Notes.” The page will reload. Hover with your mouse over any section of text. You will see two buttons to the left of the text, one to create an annotation, the other to create a bookmark. Click either when you are hovering over the section for which you wish to create a note.

When you are not creating notes, it is best to have the “Edit Notes” box unchecked, so that the page will load more quickly.

4.1 Bookmarks

Bookmarks appear as small flags to the right of the bookmarked material: . Bookmark names are searchable, and appear as a dropdown list from the “Bookmarks” item on the blue row of links at the top of every page. Bookmarks can be organized by folders.

To create a bookmark, make sure that “Edit Notes” is turned on, as described in the section above. The bookmark will be associated with the set of notes selected in the drop down box immediately underneath the “Edit Notes” option. Find the section of the content page you want to bookmark. Choose the second button to the left of that content: . A box will appear that allows a short description for the bookmark (if you need more space, consider creating an annotation instead), and to choose a bookmark folder in which to place the bookmark if you wish. Save the bookmark, or cancel if you wish.

To edit or delete an existing bookmark, turn on “Edit Notes.” Choose the delete icon next to the bookmark to delete it: .  Choose the edit icon to edit it: . Save your changes to retain them.

4.2 Annotations

Annotations appear as blocks of text, surrounded by a thin outline of color in line with the content to which they relate. Annotations can be many lines long, and can be formatted.

Creating an Annotation is similar to creating a bookmark. To create an Annotation, make sure that “Edit Notes” is turned on, as described in the section above. The annotation will be associated with the set of notes selected in the drop down box immediately underneath the “Edit Notes” option. Find the section of the content page you want to annotate. Choose the first button to the left of that content: . A box will appear that allows you to set the heading or title for the annotation, together with any reasonable amount of content. Save the annotation, or cancel if you wish. Annotations do not have folders, as do bookmarks.

To edit or delete an existing annotation, turn on “Edit Notes.” Choose the delete icon next to the annotation to delete it: .  Choose the edit icon to edit it: . Save your changes to retain them.

4.3 Backing Up Notes

Both individual and group notes can be backed up to an offline comma delimited file for record keeping, transfer of notes to old accounts, or as insurance against inadvertently fouled notes. Individual notes are backed up and restored using the links on the “My Account” page. Group notes are backed up using the same links on the group’s settings page.

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5. Groups

A video introduction to groups is available in the sixth section of the tour page, or by using the direct links below:

High Resolution Format     Medium Resolution Format 

Groups allow the sharing of notes – annotations and bookmarks – among multiple subscribers. Teachers of legal citation, paralegal departments, law reviews, and other citation groups will find this feature highly useful and fairly simple.

To create a group, go to “My Accounts” and choose the option to “Create a New Group.” You will be prompted to give the group a name, and, optionally, a description. Choose “Update” to update your new group with this information.

Choosing “Update” leads to the new group’s settings page. From here, all aspects of the group can be managed. You can edit the group details just entered, leave the group, or delete the group, using the links at the top.

You can also select the color to associate with the group in your own content pages. This color setting is unique to you – other users can choose other colors to associate with the same group. Colors make it simple to tell whether a bookmark or annotation is your own or associated with a group to which you belong.

Membership is also set from this page. Choose “Invite New Members” to invite other existing subscribers into your group. On the “Add Group Members” page, you can invite members to be Owners (who can do anything to a group, including deleting the group and adding new members), Editors (who can view, add, and edit Notes, but not manage the group), and Readers (who can view Notes, but not edit them). You can add multiple members to the same role: separate each email address onto a new line with a hard return. Each of the email addresses you add must be associated with an existing account for any of the invitations to be created. Choose “Add” to create the invitations. The members you have added will be displayed at the bottom of the page as “Pending Users.”

From the group’s settings page you can also view, print, or adjust the existing membership. Choose “Edit Current User Roles” to delete or adjust the rights of existing group members. At least one member must be an owner, so it is impossible to adjust the last owner’s role.

When you are invited to a group, an alert appears on your subscriber’s homepage. You can accept or decline an invitation. It is not possible to send emails to or from a group of members associated with a group.

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6. Supplementary Content

A video introduction to supplementary content, both Blue Tips and updates, is available in the fifth section of the tour page, or by using the direct links below:

High Resolution Format     Medium Resolution Format 

6.1 Blue Tips

For years, the Editors of The Bluebook have provided guidance to Bluebook users who email questions. The best of these authoritative tips are now collected as Blue Tips on the website. These tips can be browsed and searched, and are organized both by topic and date. If a tip is associated with a section of The Bluebook, it can be reached by choosing the “View Related Tips” option at the bottom of the content page. If you have a question, it can be sent to us using the link at the top of the Blue Tips page. We do not guarantee answers to every question.

Finally, if you would like to be sent new tips as they are created, you can subscribe to the Blue Tips email by editing your account settings.

6.2 Updates

Occasionally clarifications must be made to Bluebook content. These are included in each new printing of the printed Bluebook, and are used to update The Bluebook Online. We now provide clear descriptions of these updates on the updates section of the website. As new printings become available, we also provide update sheets for easy updating of older printings.

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