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Journal Staff Research Guide

A guide to help law journal staff members with the process of writing and editing law journal articles.


What is a Source & Cite?

The 2L staff members on a law journal are typically responsible for reviewing and editing the citations in the articles that the journal is publishing. This task is often called a source and cite assignment, though your journal may use a different term. When doing a source and cite, your job is to:

(1) Confirm that every cited source supports the author's statements.

(2) Make sure all citations are correctly formatted according to The Bluebook.

Why do we do this?

This is an incredibly important job. You are responsible for ensuring that every article your journal publishes is accurate and properly formatted according to the standards of the legal profession.The credibility and reputation of your journal depends on staff members completing their source and cite assignments thoroughly and accurately.

How to do a Source & Cite

A source and cite assignment typically requires four steps:

  1. Locate copies of all sources cited in your assigned range of pages and footnotes. (Some sources may be tricky to track down, so don't procrastinate on this step!)
  2. Confirm that each source supports the sentence it is cited for (this requires you to read the relevant sections of the article and the cited sources).
  3. Confirm all quotes in the article match the source material exactly.
  4. Make sure each citation is formatted according to the rules of The Bluebook.

This section of the guide will focus on step 1—how to locate copies of the most common types of sources cited in law journal articles.

Finding sources

Print Sources

The Bluebook requires citing to print sources or a pdf that is an exact copy of the print source. See Rule 18.2.

If you know where to look for the print or pdf version of the most common types of sources, you can locate those quickly before moving on to the sources that are less common.

How to find print/pdf for common types of sources

Table listing starting points for common types of sources and their related Bluebook Rules. All information summarized in the table is repeated in the text below.


Bluebook Rule 15

Sample citation: Lawrence J. MacDonnell & Teresa A. Rice, Instream Flow Protection in the West (1993).

Starting point: Search the SU Library catalog.

  • First try the "Lemieux and Law Libraries" search filter to see if the book is available in a library on campus.
  • If not, use the "SU + Summit Libraries" filter to see if you can borrow the book from a neighboring library in the Summit alliance.

If not available from an SU or Summit library, submit an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request. See the section below on Borrowing from the library for more details.


Bluebook Rule 16

Sample citation: Jennie L. Bricker & David E. Filippi, Endangered Species Act Enforcement and Western Water Law, 30 Env’t L. 735 (2000).

Starting point: Use the HeinOnline: Law Journal Library to find pdf versions of law journal articles that are exact copies of the print versions.

Note that journal articles available on Westlaw and Lexis are not exact copies of the print versions and should not be used for source and cite assignments (per The Bluebook rules).


Bluebook Rule 16.6

Sample citation: Kate Prengaman, Drought Forces Farmers with Junior Water Rights to Get Creative, Yakima Herald-Republic (Sept. 20, 2015).

Rule 16.6(f) provides that "online newspapers may be used in place of print newspapers." However, many online news articles are behind paywalls. Use these resources to access full text versions of news articles:

  • Lexis News: includes national and international news sources, as well as local news sources for all 50 states.
  • Westlaw News: similar coverage to Lexis, includes some news sources that Lexis does not (such as the Puget Sound Business Journal)
  • Check the News databases available from the SU main campus library for access to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, and more.

Case law

Bluebook Rule 10.3.1 & Table T1

Sample citation: Hubbard v. Ecology, 936 P.2d 27 (Wash. Ct. App. 1997).

Starting point: Westlaw Cases database

  • Look up the case on Westlaw and look for the "original image" pdf icon in the top left corner of the screen. Click that link to download a pdf version of the case as it was printed in a regional reporter.
  • Note that Table T1 shows which reporter you should cite to for each jurisdiction. For example, T1 says to cite to the Pacific Reporter version for Washington Court of Appeals opinions.

If no original pdf is available on Westlaw, search the SU Library catalog using the "Law Library" filter to locate a print copy of the reporter the case was published in (ex: for the sample citation above you would search the library catalog for "Pacific Reporter") or ask a librarian for help.

Bluebook Rule 10.3.1 states that you may cite to "a widely used computer database" such as Westlaw or Lexis if the opinion cannot be found in an official or unofficial reporter or as a public domain citation.


Bluebook Rule 12.3 & Table T1

Federal statutes

Sample citation: 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (2012).

Starting points: The United States Code is the official code for federal statutes. You can access pdf versions of the print code using the HeinOnline: U.S. Code database.

State statutes

Sample citation: Wash. Rev. Code § 90.03.247 (2018).

Starting points:

  1. Check Bluebook Table T1 to find the name of the official statutory code. For example, for Washington State statutes T1 says to cite to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) if possible.
  2. Then check the state legislature's website for pdf versions of statutes printed in the official code. For example, the Washington State Legislature has created an online archive with pdf versions of the print RCW from 1973 to 2022.

Note that Westlaw and Lexis typically have annotated, unofficial versions of state statutes. For example, Westlaw has the West's Revised Code of Washington Annotated version for Washington statutes, but it does not have the official Revised Code of Washington version.

The Bluebook provides that "citing the official state codes is preferred, but not required." Rule 12.3. So do your best to track down the official code, but don't worry too much if a print or pdf version is not readily available.

Ask for Help!

These tips provide starting points for common types of sources, but they don't provide all the answers. If you aren't sure where to start, or just can't find a particular source, don't hesitate to ask a librarian for help!

Borrowing from the library

Law Library & Lemieux Library

Use the SU library catalog to determine whether the source you need is available from the Law Library or the Lemieux Library (the SU main campus library). Use the "Lemieux and Law Libraries" search filter to restrict your search to materials available on campus. If you need help locating a resource, ask a librarian for help.


Summit is the shared library catalog of an alliance of colleges and universities in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. To borrow sources through Summit:

  • Sign in to the SU library catalog using your SU unsername and password
  • Search for the source (book, article, etc.)
  • Once you have found the record for your source, click on the link for Request From Summit (6-8 days)
  • Fill out the request form, note which law journal the request is for in the Comment section, and click Send Request.

The requested source will be checked out to you and delivered to the Law Library within 6 to 8 business days.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

The Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service allows you to borrow materials from other libraries outside the Summit alliance. Once you have determined that the source you need is not available from the SU libraries or via Summit, you may complete an ILL request form in your name:

Most requests can be filled within a week or two if available locally. It may take longer if the source is coming from a library outside the Pacific Northwest.

Avoid replacement fees

The Law Library Circulation staff is very friendly and wants to help you manage your borrowed materials and avoid fees! Please contact Circulation before an item is overdue. Stop by the circulation desk and ask for Kaitlyn Yang, Circulation/Resource Sharing Manager, or email

Overdue items will eventually roll over to Lost status in our system, at which point a $90 replacement fee will be assessed. This fee will be waived when the item is returned.

Checking your sources

After locating and gathering all of your sources, it is time to check each source and citation in the article that you are editing. When checking citations and sources, keep the following tips in mind:

Does the cited source support the author's statements? Is the source authoritative?

Confirm that the source is current (ex: Shepardize or Keycite case law and and statutes to confirm they have not been overruled or repealed).

Check the accuracy of every part of the citation, including the author, title, publication year, page numbers, pinpoint citations, etc.

Is a short citation form (include id. or supra) needed?

Are the supra and infra cross-references linked? Do they cite to the correct footnotes?

Confirm that introductory signals are used correctly and appear in the proper order (see Bluebook Rule 1.2).

For more information on Bluebook rules, see the next section of this guide on Formatting Citations.