Incoming first-year law students dread many aspects of what lies ahead: the cold calls, the challenging course load, and the general stress that is associated with starting a new phase in one’s life. Most students, however, do not expect that the Bluebook—the citation system used ubiquitously throughout the legal landscape—will inflict “more pain” on them “than any other publication in legal history.” This pain might be a shock to many who are accustomed to the simpler systems utilized in other academic fields. A citation itself is, after all, merely a reference; it is “neither scholarship nor analysis.” Preferably, a system of citations needs to be simple and functional so as to not distract the reader from paying attention to the author’s reasoning. The Bluebook’s “complexity and insularity” made it anathema to many lawyers and stirred up significant criticism. This Comment will explore the current rationales for the Bluebook’s eminence, followed by a discussion of the Bluebook’s many shortcomings. Finally, it will propose a pragmatic alternative to the Bluebook that will satisfy the need for a useful system of citation without any of the tangential headaches.

Citation Note

This Comment was originally cited as Volume 2 of the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform Online. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of MJLR Online have been renumbered 45, 46, and 47 respectively. These updated Volume numbers correspond to their companion print Volumes. Additionally, the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform Online was renamed Caveat in 2015.