The Maroonbook: 15 Rules That Simplify Legal Citation - Custom Scholars

The Maroonbook: 15 Rules That Simplify Legal Citation

The Maroonbook is literally maroon and it offers an alternative mode of citing legal writings. The University Of Chicago Manual Of Legal Citation (or the “Maroonbook”) is the official citation guide of The University of Chicago Law Review and has been used by other journals.

In the beginning, the Maroonbook was meant to address issues of simplicity in legal citation. The legal sphere found that the available citation styles were unable to accommodate the growing number of electronic/online sources while also remaining simple and uncomplicated.

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Therefore, two decades ago parties in the legal studies at the University of Chicago came together to develop a guideline that they would adopt. Many believed that the problem lied in attempting to create a cover-all citation guide.

The Maroonbook takes a different approach to legal citation. It offers a simple, malleable framework for citation, which authors and editors can tailor to suit their purposes:

First: Sufficiency – The citation should give the reader enough information to locate the cited material without further assistance.

Second: Clarity – The citation should be comprehensible to the reader, using plain English, following a well-recognized form whenever possible, and avoiding the use of confusing words.

Third: Consistency – Citations should be consistent within a piece, though they need not be uniform across all legal materials.

Fourth: Simplicity – Citations should contain only as much information as is necessary to meet the goals of sufficiency, clarity, and consistency.

The Maroonbook Rules of Legal Citation

  1. All material should appear in roman type except in a few instances. Roman text is plain text—no

    The Maroonbook favors roman numerals. Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

    underlining, italicization, bolding, special capitalization, or unusual positioning.

  2. Periods and apostrophes should be omitted from abbreviations in text and citations. However, a person’s initials should have periods immediately after but no spaces in between two initials.
  3. You should not use an abbreviation that a reader would need to look up in a book of abbreviations. Furthermore, you should not use an abbreviation when shortening the name of the source makes the reference ambiguous.
  4. Indicate the exact location of the supporting statements within the authority, using the page number. Include a pointer even if the cited material is on the first page of the cited authority. This is unless the citation refers to the general or whole source.
  5. Cite the author’s or editors’ full name as given on the first page or the title page of the source cited. In subsequent references, give only the last name. When the author is an institution whose name can be abbreviated, provide the full name on first citation, and thereafter abbreviate when that source is cited again. If a different, later source has the same institutional author, spell the name out again the first time that source is cited.
  6. When referring to an edited collection of works by different authors, place the editor’s name in the author’s position, followed by a comma and “ed”.
  7. Separate two authors’ names with “and” rather than an ampersand (&). When there are three authors, use an oxford comma with “and”. If there are more than three authors, list the first author, followed by a comma and “et al”.
  8. When citing an authority for the first time, give the full citation. Thereafter, make reference to the same authority using “id” only if the authority is the only one cited in the immediately preceding sentence or footnote. “Id” cannot be used even if additional authority is merely cited in a parenthetical, in subsequent history, or in a quoting or citing clause.
  9. Always include the codification in the citation. For federal statutes, the codification appears in the official United States Code (USC), and the original act appears in the United States Statutes at Large The maroonbook rules(Stat).
  10. Internet sources should be cited with caution and only if a paper source is not available.
  11. It is acceptable to omit author, title, or other citation elements if they are unavailable. Omit the author when it would simply restate the publisher.
  12. Set off quotations of fifty or more words as a left-indented block quotation. Do not indent on the right. Do not enclose indented block quotations in quotation marks. Enclose quoted material within a block quotation in double quotation marks.
  13. When a single noun is made possessive, always use an “apostrophe-s,” even if the noun ends in an “s”. With a plural noun, add only an apostrophe to indicate possession.
  14. Primary section headings should be designated by Roman numerals (separated from the title by two spaces), centered, and in either large or small caps.
  15. In subsequent references in text, refer to all U.S. Supreme Court Justices as Justice or Chief Justice plus their last name, like Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Sotomayor. In parentheticals, use “Roberts, C.J.,” “Sotomayor, J.,” or “Breyer & Kagan, J.J.”

Maroonbook Citation of Sources


{Party 1 v. Party 2}, {volume number} {reporter} {1st page}, {pincite} ({court} {year})

{Party 1 v. Party 2}, {volume number} {reporter} {1st page}, {pincite} ({court} {year}).


{U.S. or STATE ABBREV.} CONST. {pmbl. or art. or amend.} {Number of article or amendment}, § {number of section}, cl. {number of clause}.


{(Optional) name of act} ({(on first reference) popular name or popular abbreviation or nickname given by author}), {title or volume number} {codification} {subdivision} ({publisher if an unofficial codification} {year}).

Journal and Newspaper Articles

{Author}, {title}, {volume number} {periodical} {1st page}, {cited page} ({date}).


Maroonbook legal citations. Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

{Author}, {volume number} {title} {cited subdivision and/or page} ({publisher} {edition} {year})

Online Sources

{Author}, {title} *{page} ({publisher}, {date}), archived at {Perma URL}.

Comparing the Maroonbook to the Bluebook

Both style manuals were created for legal citation. While one was created by the Harvard Law Review, the other was created by the University of Chicago Law Review therefore, it is expected that there will be differences. The people at UCLR sought to create something simpler. To begin with, even though they both borrow heavily from the Chicago Manual of Style they were developed with different intentions in mind.

The Bluebook was quite hefty even at the beginning and has grown even bigger over the years as electronic sources entered the scene and referencing needs changed. It has been hypothesized that the creators of the Bluebook aimed to provide a comprehensive style manual which rather than provide clarity and guidance on legal citation, confused everyone. The common joke is that the Bluebook’s index is longer than the whole Maroonbook. In fact, it is that heft that led to the development of the Maroonbook.


While the Maroonbook is shorter and therefore a lot less tedious than the Bluebook, it is still quite complex. Although, there is an index and table of contents that help readers navigate the manual. It can still be a little confusing and frankly, not quite worth the time to peruse. This is where we come in. No need to inundate your day with tedium. Work on the important stuff and leave the boring annoying tasks to us.

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