LAW & CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS
Duke University School of Law
Corner of Science Drive and Towerview Road
Durham, North Carolina 27708-0372
phone (919) 613-7109 (August–May)
fax (919) 613-7231
STYLE CONVENTIONS AND CITATION SHEET FOR AUTHORS
I. THE TEXT OF YOUR ARTICLE
Our priority as editors is to publish your work in your voice. Our edits of your work,
therefore, honor that voice. In addition, our edits honor our readers. Our aim as editors is to balance
the sophistication of the author’s expertise with the breadth of ethos represented by L&CP’s
readership. Our editing is guided, therefore, by the effort to ensure the readability of each issue—to
make every article accessible, as much as possible, to every L&CP reader, regardless of his or her
discipline. What this means for our editorial suggestions is a focus on clarity, conciseness,
cohesiveness, and consistency regarding punctuation and usage conventions. Please keep in mind as
you write (and review our suggested edits) that this is our objective: to extend the reach of your
particular expertise to an audience as broad as our interdisciplinary, and international, readership. A
sampling of stylistic conventions below will give you some sense of what this objective means for
any edits affecting your article’s prose.
Our editing is guided in addition by ascertaining that every assertion in the article is
grounded and that such grounding is properly credited. L&CP, like most other law journals, follow
the Bluebook system of citation, which mandates this, among other things: “In general, you should
provide attribution for all sources—whether legal or factual—outside your own reasoning process.” 1
This galls many an author used to other citation practices; but our editors are law students, and law
students learn the ways of the Bluebook. Please try to remember this when your staff editor asked for
sources or “pincites” that might make you roll your eyes.
Their attributive role aside, we discourage the use of footnotes as a forum for further
discussion. From the standpoint of the sufficiency of the text, the author should assume that the
reader does not read the footnotes. That is, footnotes authenticate sources underlying the article=s
claims and arguments, but the article should be entirely comprehensible on its own, independent of
what lies “below the line.”
As you draft your article, you should be aware of (and, we hope, employ) the L&CP stylistic
and formatting conventions included below. 2 These are the kinds of “above the line” edits we
typically suggest in order to ease the reader=s way, and that you will see the editors signal in
comment balloons in your edited piece.
1. THE BLUEBOOK: A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION (18th ed.)
2. For one source including these conventions, see JOAN AMES MAGAT, THE LAWYER’S EDITING MANUAL (2009).
L&CP Conventions: 1
II. STYLISTIC & FORMATTING CONVENTIONS
A. Formatting: All but very brief essays follow an outline structure (I., A., 1.). Fully
developed articles begin with an introduction (I.) and end with a conclusion (last Roman
numeral). (We do not use abstracts or tables of contents.)
B. Effective Style:
1. Use of First Person, Anthropomorphism, and Passive Voice
First person voice is only rarely appropriate, as when, for example, the author is
differentiating his or her personal feelings about a topic from those of other authors or
recounting personal experiences. Generally, however, use of the first person distances
the reader from the text and makes the point articulated seem personal rather than
ecumenical. The author’s topic, not the author’s person, should be most prominent.
Anthropomorphism: Substituting the article (or a subpart) for the author as the
sentence’s actor is no better, not only because it, like the author’s person, can compete
with the sentence’s true topic, but because the substitution sometimes inappropriately
lends human qualities to the inanimate. For an example, see Undesireably Anthropomorphic,
Passive voice (which is discouraged when the actor’s identity is important to the
sentence) is preferable to active voice with an actor who does not signify. For example,
Undesirable First-Person: In this section I argue that rules-based ethical codes are more
effective than aspirational, principle-based guidelines.
Undesirably Anthropomorphic: This section argues that rules-based ethical codes are
more effective than aspirational, principle-based guidelines. [Authors argue; the
article is the vehicle for the argument.]
Desirably Direct: Rules-based ethical codes are more effective than aspirational,
principle-based guidelines. [Appropriate Passive Voice:] In this section, historical and
contemporaneous examples of each are juxtaposed, demonstrating the reliability of
this argument. [Appropriate First Person:] For contemporaneous examples, we
interviewed 500 accountants from as many firms . . . .
2. Topographical Distractions
Overt forwards and backwards references (such as “as discussed in section II above” or
“to be explained later in detail”) take the reader=s eye off the textual moment, as it were,
and distract rather than inform. Instead, we suggest using a key word or phrase that will
serve as a thread linking backwards or forwards to the idea (rather than to the article=s
topography). This can be accompanied, if necessary, with a footnote referring more
specifically to the earlier or later site.
3. Authorities’ names in text. Unless an authority or the source of a quotation is in
fact the topic of the paragraph (as it might be if the author proceeds to discuss that
person’s work or to take it to task), the source name simply distracts from the
L&CP Conventions: 2
paragraph’s point. This is especially so for readers from other disciplines who might not
be familiar with the name dropped. Alternatively, providing some context to the name so
the unfamiliar reader can appreciate his or her importance or particular expertise is
helpful for all but the universally reknown authorities. Otherwise, let the footnotes do
a. Proximity of subject & verb: A sentence is generally most direct and most
readily comprehended when the subject and verb are close together.
Example: A sentence=s subject should abut its verb.
b. Sentences: context & climax positionsCThe beginning of a sentence typically
orients the reader to the subject (the “context” position); the subject and verb
follow; and the end of the sentence, its “climax” position, delivers its most important
Example: For a sentence to communicate most clearly and effectively [context], its subject
abuts its verb and its most important information is placed last. [climax].
5. Verbosity—words often wasted:
whether or not
the fact that
It is interesting to note that . . . ; It is clear that . . . ; With respect to . . .
with regard to regarding
C. Usage Conventions
1. where, when, in which
a. And when . The best word in stating a circumstance to which a
statement relates is either if or when, the word where being
archaic and legalistic to nonlegal readers. . . .
b. For in which . In formal prose, where should not be used as a
relative pronoun instead of as a locative. . . .
c. Wrongly used in defining. Those who are unfamiliar with the
art of defining terms often use where (or when) to create
maladroit and ambiguous definitions.
Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 928–29.
2. while, although, whereas
L&CP Conventions: 3
When “while” initiates a subordinate clause preceding the main clause, it can be a
miscue: until the entire sentence is read, whether it means “simultaneously” or
“although” or “whereas” is unclear.
Example: While Although such individuals are concerned about overeating,
inordinate attention to their weight can be a symptom of far more serious
3. that, which
Use that (or who or whom) to introduce a restrictive relative clause—one essential to
identifying the subject to which the clause refers.
Example: All the tea that grows in China is not enough to sway me from my
Use which (or who or whom) to introduce a nonrestrictive clauseCone inessential to
complete the subject, but that adds information about it.
All the tea, which grows in China, was dumped into Boston Harbor.
Trial courts Afind@ facts; appellate courts ordinarily do not. Courts at both levels, when
they are not finding facts, may determine, consider, state, conclude, hold, etc.
finding; holding. A court properly makes findings of fact and
holdings or conclusions of law. . . .
In appellate courts, properly, only holdings are affirmed, whereas factual
findings are disturbed only when clearly erroneous, against the great
weight of the evidence, etc., depending on the standard of review. . . .
Nor should the verb find be used when the court rules on a point of law.
Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 358.
5. For “impact” as a verb meaning “affect,” the latter is preferred.
C. Other conventions:
1. Hyphens are used for all compound modifiers (phrasal adjectives) not otherwise
signaled as such (as by quotation marks, capital letters, or foreign words), even
Example: The degree and type of industrial regulation vary in common-law jurisdictions and
those that follow civil-law traditions.
2. Contractions are disfavored. We spell out etc. (et cetera), i.e. (that is), and e.g. (for
L&CP Conventions: 4
3. An en dash is substituted for a slash (solidus) between words signifying a hybrid, e.g.,
private–public law. For and/or, we substitute “or” and append “or both,” if
Authors familiar with law review citation conventions:
The Bluebook (18th ed. 2005) standards will govern your submission to L&CP: all direct
quotations, precise assertions of fact, and the attribution of ideas or arguments to specific
publications or persons must be supported with citations to those sources.
Authors unfamiliar with law review citation conventions:
Authors must provide a source for every assertion of fact made in their articles (excepting
universal truths). A citation states this source. Citations enable the reader to independently
investigate sources, should she wish; but, initially, they enable her to trust the author—to quiet the
skeptical voice in the reader’s mind. To do so requires two types of citations:
A “pinpoint” citation indicates a specific page in a cited source. Pinpoint citations
are required for all direct quotations, as well as to support precise assertions of fact
(for example, specific data or information) and the attribution of ideas or arguments
to specific persons or sources.
Example (pinpoint citation is shaded):
[Text:] At least one other scholar has discussed this precise point.
[Footnote:] See H. Jefferson Powell, ACardozo=s Foot@: The Chancellor=s Conscience and Constructive
Trusts, 56 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 7, 19 (Summer 1993).
A general citation—to a source generally, not to a specific page therein—is
sufficient when the statement the citation supports is also general (for example,
when the source provides background information, discusses the issue broadly, or
involves an issue collateral to the principal purpose of the author=s article).
[Text:] Much has been written on this topic.
[Footnote:] See, e.g., H. Jefferson Powell, ACardozo=s Foot@: The Chancellor=s Conscience and
Constructive Trusts, 56 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 7 (Summer 1993).
The L&CP editors “cite-check” each author’s submission. This process verifies both the
substance and the form of the citation. That is, the editors review each citation to verify that it (1)
provides the intended support for the textual statement and (2) contains the requisite technical
components (for example, at least the case name, reporter, volume number, page number, court, and
year in a full case citation). Given that the editors examine each source referenced in an article,
it is most helpful for authors to submit copies—of only the title pages and any pages
specifically referenced—of any obscure sources or any sources that are unlikely to be readily
L&CP Conventions: 5
available to the editors. Your submitting these copies along with your article will greatly
facilitate the editing process.
Footnotes in L&CP follow the standard style of legal citation described in the Bluebook.
Because Bluebook rules are somewhat arcane, a brief list of examples of common citation forms
follows this paragraph. When in doubt about how to cite a source, include all information
available about the source—for example, the author=s (or, for collections, the editor=s) full
names, the source=s full title, and the date of its publication. The staff editors will then be able
to format the source according to citation convention. If citing to material available only on the
Internet, please include the full website URL.
We follow Bluebook conventions, as well, for cross references. For sources cited in a previous
note, we use a form like Johnson, supra note 12, at 72, (page 72 of the Johnson source, first fully
cited in note 12).
Commonly Used Citation Forms
Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988).
Powell v. Henry, 592 S.W.2d 107 (Ark. 1980).
U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8, cl. 18.
18 U.S.C. § 591 (1994).
Pub. L. No. 94-580, 90 Stat. 2795 (1976).
ROBERT H. BORK, THE TEMPTING OF AMERICA (1990).
Jeremy Rabkin, White House Lawyering: Law, Ethics, and Political Judgments, in GOVERNMENT LAWYERS:
THE FEDERAL LEGAL BUREAUCRACY AND PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS 107 (Cornell W. Clayton ed.,
Consecutively Paginated (for example, most academic journals):
Michael S. Greve, The Private Enforcement of Environmental Law, 65 TUL. L. REV. 339 (1990).
Nonconsecutively Paginated (for example, newspapers):
Kim Murphy, Law’s Use Held out of Control, L.A. TIMES, Apr. 17, 1989, at A1.
Damon Darlin, A Nice, Clean California Industry, FORBES, Aug. 26, 1996, at 46.
Interview with William O. Whisp, Professor, Imaginary University (Aug. 10, 1999).
Max Angst, Sample Citation Forms (Aug. 1999) (unpublished manuscript).
L&CP Conventions: 6
Adarand Constructors v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 227 (1995).
Devins, supra note 12, at 296–301.
Negativland, Tenets of Free Expression, at http://www.negativland.com/riaa/tenets.html.
Other examples of citation form are available can be viewed, of course, in our more recent
issues at http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/lcp.
L&CP Conventions: 7