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April 09, 2015


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Michael Risch

We have a site license to EndNote and I've never looked back. The key for me is the web sharing functionality, which allows me to share references on multiple computers and with my RAs. It's really great, though I hope I never have to pay for it.

The bluebooking has improved some. The biggest problem is that journal titles are in all caps instead of small caps. This is a minor detail, and easily fixed. The value of having a single database with PDFs of the articles outweighs any shortcomings of the citation style.


I would also recommend Mendeley, which is similar to Zotero but a commercial product (with a perfectly usable free version). It allows user customizable (and share-able) citation formats, and a couple of people have created Bluebook citation formats that as far as I can tell work well.

I do have mixed feelings about the Bluebook. Yes, it's needlessly complex and cryptic (Posner's critique is completely on point), poorly organized, frequently arrogant (for example, ignoring courts' own citing requirements in favor of its own), and obnoxiously prone to providing too much detail over trivia but too little detail (and too few examples) for actually commonly-cited kinds of things. But coming at it from (mostly) an academic field outside law, I do enjoy its tendency towards simplified cites of academic resources, e.g. abandoning the insane requirement of some other reference systems that I put the publisher and the city of publication(?!) for book citations.

The best thing in my opinion would be to just abandon a uniform system altogether. As long as the citations in a long review article are internally consistent, why institute obsessive-compulsive pedantry?


I second the Mendeley rec. I use the free version to store and access references across my devices. The first time I use a reference in a paper, I BB it myself, then make that the first comment so I can cut and paste in future work. Usually I also add in a description so it will come up in later searches. Yes, it seems silly to have to do it manually, but it's only once and then it's right.

Ryan Whalen

I forgot to include Mendeley. It is perhaps the most user friendly of the packages I've experimented with. Also that's good "pro tip" about adding the BB cite to the comments. I must say though, I do appreciate the dynamic updating of my supras & ids that a program like MLZ or Endnote offers.


I think I realised what a towering heap of piffle the blue book is when I found how its rule of EU Commision OJ citations - which was ludicrously complex and ignored the way in which the European Commision itself cites - the easy, compact and short way.

Year [series letter i.e., L, C] number/page.

So yesterday a regulation was published at

2015 OJ L93/35

And a notice about fast tracking a merger at

2015 OJ C114/5


I used Mendeley (free version) on a recent paper. Great organization tool. Only problem I ran into was that I exceeded the free storage size and couldn't synch my entire collection of references. I considered upgrading to the paid version, but unless my school bought a license it was way too expensive for an individual upgrade, in my opinion. I had a number of references to scientific journals and other non-legal sources and I could give the law review editors access to Mendeley library to aid in their spading. They seemed to appreciate that.

Miriam Cherry

I tried Mendeley, and I want to use it, but I just can't get into it. :( I feel like there is a learning curve with these things, and it might make my future writing so much easier, but I just don't have the time to invest in the infrastructure of getting those citations in good shape NOW. So I don't do it and then kick myself later. :(


Mendeley is worth it just for the organization and cross-computer syncing; plus my Mendeley cites are frequently not submission-ready, but I've found it's a lot easier to fix a citation where most of the information is there in some way than to write them completely from scratch.

Michael Risch

Miriam - the startup cost is big, but the longterm payoff is there. A nice way to start is for the next project, assign an RA to find everything they can on a particular topic, and put it in (with an upload of the actual PDF). You'll then have a base for future projects. I now send various SSRN emails and other articles I run across to RAs to add during the year - it's much easier than trying to keep track of them some other way.

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