Bluebook law review/ backreferences- HELP

I've just switched from endnote to zotero and I'm absolutely new to it. I love it but I can't find a way to get authomatic backreferences with bb.
I'm reading other forum discussions and they simply say "install the BB-19 and you'll have it". I just downloaded the newest version of bb ( but nothing changes. Can someone help me please? Thanks a lot
  • If you visit the Zotero style repository and search for "bluebook" you should find the 19th edition.

    I'm not sure how much support is available for the Bluebook styles in the Zotero repository. (In case you're interested, there is a development project here that is maintained by yours truly, but still needs a bit of work.)
  • The one which says "incomplete"? But it's older than the other 2...
  • Yes, that's the one.
  • the update dates for the two other ones are from a boilerplate formatting update on the repository - the actual styles are much older.

    So yes, use the one that says incomplete, but if you really want to do serious law citations you should follow fbennett's link to his citationstylist project.
  • Hi Frank

    Delighted you are doing this. To clarify: I did not see a BB style to download on the CitationStylist blog. Do I understand that we are to use the 19ed (incomplete) from the Zotero website, but use CitationStylist for documentation and discussion?

  • The "Wisconsin Court Style" is the same -- if you'll follow the link, you'll see that a style of with a familiar title is required by Wisconsin statute law. The full name of the guide is a trademark, and we wouldn't want to foster risk of confusion. The book with the blue cover is not the same as the installable Zotero style. They are different things, and not to be confused with one another. Separate names and everything.

    Now that I've done my best to make that clear, you can install WCS and see what cite forms it produces.
  • Great. will do!

    (1) Just a thought. Perhaps you could call it "American court style" with an explanatory note. Otherwise you might be unnecesarily limiting your audience

    (2) I vaguely recall that there are differences between the law review style and the court style. When there is conflict which way do you go -- From previous discussions I expect most of your users are academics like me

  • edited July 12, 2012
    Good suggestion for the name. That was a hasty change made quite some time ago.

    There will be many variants for local use. The aim at the moment is to get something out there that serves well enough to attract users willing to provide feedback. I'm not really concerned about following every intricate detail specified in the official BB; if the style suits user requirements, that's all that matters.

    The US legal community has gotten itself locked into an obsessive relationship with the BB because there are no APIs or embedded metadata standards for legal documents and archives -- the only way to identify cited cases in most documents is through elaborate pattern-matching, which depends on rigid consistency in citation formats. When APIs etc eventually emerge, the community will be able to relax a bit.
  • edited July 12, 2012

    Thank you for your persistence in the face of such obstacles. I read the details in your other posts. What revolting conduct. Have you thought about contacting Larry Lessig about this? I expect he'd be very sympathetic; could certainly generate some awful publicity for these spoiled children; and could if so chose give credibility to a new open source citation style

  • edited July 12, 2012
    I have, actually, and he has been very supportive. Although I was pretty annoyed (to say the least), with distance in time I can see that the issue there is likely to blow over. Our focus now is on making positive progress. I'm working on a book on MLZ as a tool for legal/multilingual writing, with a target release date at the end of August or so. We'll see how it does when it comes out.
  • edited July 12, 2012
    And now that I have used it a bit, even more thanks.

    (1) Biggest remaining wish list item: Including the court name in cites. Is this hard to do?

    (2) The v. in the first occurance of a case names is always capitalized, which I do not think is standard though perhaps in Wisconsin . . .(lower case in supra)

    (3) When I have short title for a case the always uses it even for the first cite. My hope was to use in as a short form in supras only
  • It sounds like you may not be specifying the jurisdiction. There are examples here:

    Court names will work best with the Abbreviations Plugin installed. I don't have lists up yet, but there will be some starter data in place by the time the book comes out.
  • I am specifying the jurisdiction in the Court field. Perhaps I am doing it wrong? I've tried both abbreviations (N.D.Cal) and spelling it out. The cases I've used are all federal, don;t see an example of int he proofsheets though I wouldn't think it would be any harder.
  • Perhaps I haven't installed everything I need. I just added the Wisconsin style and now the Abbreviations add-in. Do I need MLZ client?
  • Frank

    Still can't make it work. From the proof sheet it appears that the style uses several Extra fields. I only have one in my Zotero interface and putting things in it doesn't seem to show up in the cite. I've gone through the citation stylist site but am at a dead end. Help most appreciated

  • yes, you do need MLZ for this to work and you can put multiple strings in the extra field as long as each is enclosed in curly brackets.
  • @Isis: What adamsmith said. :) The styles rely on some small but significant changes in the way the citation processor is invoked. The necessary adjustments are provided by MLZ. That's not a permanent situation; we're pioneers in this, and once we've show that things are running nicely, the prospects for adoption by official Zotero should be good.

    (I can't speak for Zotero, but a rearrangement of fields and item types is in the offing for the next major Zotero version, and adjustments for legal support should fit right into that.)
  • Thanks, getting there but not quite. I have a plain vanilla F.Supp opinion, for which I don't see a proofsheet. Tried to model on several, slip op seemed the closest. I put


    in Extras, then District Court in Court name, came out

    Tuli v. Brigham & Women’s Hospital, 592 F. Supp. 2d 208 (District Court us;federal;ma 2009).

    All variations I tried were more or less the same problem.

    From your other comments can I assume that I should not spend too much time rearranging my DB for the current style, since the fields will be different in the next Zotero release.

  • So the cite is coming out correctly, but with an incorrect form for "District Court" (which should be suppressed) and "us;federal;ma" (which should be "D. Ma."? If so, that's just because the Abbreviations Plugin data has not yet been filled out. Welcome to development. :)
  • I tried copying the example for the Slip Op proofsheet and the same thing happened.

    Do I understand that there is nothing for me to do to fix this now?

    On another matter: do you have a suggestion for how to handle subsequent case history? I know this is the single hardest part of reducing legal citation to DB format. I seem to recall that this was what made the regular Zotero team throw up their hands (not that I blame them). Right now I just keep the info in extras and plug it into the suffix field by hand.

    And again, many many thanks for doing this.
  • Do you have the Abbreviations Plugin installed (also from You'll need that, plus some abbreviations data, to get those transforms working.

    I'll take a look at this soon -- the processor and styles have only been run in the typesetter/testbed so far, and I don't yet have off-the-shelf abbreviations data in place for distribution. I do have a bundle of abbreviation data on file, though, scanned and OCR'd from a paper copy of the 18th edition quite some time ago.

    It might take a couple of weeks for me to get to that. Thanks for your patience.
  • About subsequent history, there is no magic for those yet; they need to be crafted by hand, using the affix fields on each cite. They could be handled by using data from the Related tab, but that is quite a long way off. What we do handle automatically at present is parallel citations.
  • I have the abbreviations plug in installed already, so I will look forward to your next instructions on the data. Is there any way to add a few by hand myself? My needs are pretty simple.

    Also, for some initial cites, possibly just US Supreme Court, the v. in the case name is capitalized:

    Faragher V. Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998).
  • For anything that comes out with a capital V in the case name, the processor somehow missed the jurisdiction value. There is probably just a syntax error in the brace-enclosed value (for the US SCt, it should be "{:jurisdiction:us}").

    Thinking about jurisdictions generally ...

    MLZ uses a key system derived from the proposed urn:lex standard to flag the jurisdiction. The syntax has been used in various ways, even within individual projects (the LII has these examples). We'll need to define how these identifiers work in the US court system (federal and state), and provide a means of applying them consistently.

    Probably the thing to do is to add a separate Jurisdiction field to the UI, which allows either pull-down or typed-in content. It's pretty clear that this is going to be too awkward for users (including me) unless that's done.

    The (temporary) problem is that the fields shown in the UI normally map directly to the internal object that Zotero uses for processing -- and if an object contains an unexpected field, it will break sync.

    So (thinking out loud here) I think the thing to do will be to add a right-click item on the Extra field that can be used to manipulate the brace-enclosed supplementary entries. That will reduce the amount of typing needed to craft an entry, reduce the potential for typographical errors in the data, and provide a bit of UI where we can start experimenting with input methods to make things like these (eventually very large) jurisdiction lists manageable for users.

    Just some thoughts there for now, but I'll try to work out something to play with in the next week or two.
  • edited July 14, 2012
    Hahaha. The first thing we need to solve this is a comprehensive list of courts in the US, at the Federal and (hopefully) state level. "Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation" provides insanely complete lists of law review titles and their abbreviations, but nothing similar for court names.

    Table T.7 of my paper copy of the 18th edition only provides generic abbreviations of court-name type things that would apply across jurisdictions.

    Table T.1 (US Jurisdictions), where examples of Federal District Court reporters are given at p. 195, incidentally gives "D. Mass.", "S.D.N.Y." and "E.D. Va." as examples of abbreviated District Court names. I can't seem to find a lookup list containing those names anywhere in the volume.

    If the user is meant to derive the court name from its full form always, that is broken in computing terms. There need to be urn:lex keys for these things, and they need to map directly to abbreviated forms.

    I may be missing something, but it looks like "Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation" isn't going to provide this information. Do you know where I can find a list of (at least) Federal courts to work from? The format doesn't matter, so long as the list is cast as electronic text of some sort, in a single file.
  • edited July 14, 2012
    I can't seem to find a simple list of Federal court names anywhere. The best source appears to be the Court Locator page. It uses some sort of indecipherable Flash thing as a front-end, but the actual lists behind it are keyed to US postal codes, so we can just infer them and call each state in turn to rip the content. Individual state lists are paged (of course) and the page position is driven by POST, not GET (of course), so it will be a little cumbersome to code, but we can get the necessary data.

    Given the number of glossy brochures and dancing icons that the government serves to the Internet, one would think that basic information like this would be available in a simple form as a matter of course. Maybe I'm just missing something, but even if not we'll be able to cope -- thanks to the US Postal Service.
  • The Court Locator facility offered by the courts themselves appears to be a nightmare zone of obfuscation.

    Transactions on the page are sessioned, and from the json data embedded in various cookies, it appears that page requests are driven by a single variable "f". Here is a sample of changes in its value when navigating from pages 1-2, 2-3, 3-2, and back to 2-3:


    What those values are being derived from, I have no idea.

    I'm going to let this rest for awhile, in the hope that someone can point me at a simple list somewhere.
  • edited July 15, 2012
    It's actually very important to get a list of court names in place before the book goes out. I've spent some time experimenting with various headless browser bundles that claim the ability to handle pages driven by Javascript in one way or another. The most likely candidate at the moment seems to be phantom.js. Other priorities call today, but I'll keep hammering on the Court Locator door until the darned thing opens for us.

    (That page seems a good example of infrastructure driven by the private sector need to strictly control and limit user access to content. It would be nice to see government dissemination projects impose the opposite requirement on contractors. It is ridiculous that simply navigating a sequence of flat pages should be this difficult.)
  • edited July 15, 2012
    Alternatively, we may just scrape the list from the US Code, which is served without dancing icons, .NET session keys, elaborate encoding schemes or allergy-inducing flavinoids by the good folks at the Cornell LII. Info starts at Title 28, Section 81, and proceeds one state at a time until Title 28, Section 131.
  • edited July 15, 2012
    @fbennett, are you looking for a list of district courts? Those seem relatively easily accessible via by just searching by "Court Type".
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