There are a number of citation tools available for online legal researchers but none of them are particularly good at handling the U.S. citation format known as “The Bluebook”, a fond name for the blue cover of The Uniform System of Citation. Two Web browser extensions, one for Mozilla Firefox and one for Google Chrome, offer a step forward and it may be that support for the Bluebook will be more common for legal researchers.
CiteGenie for Firefox
CiteGenie is in open beta and will enable users of the Mozilla Firefox Web browser to save citations found in Westlaw and LexisNexis as properly formed Bluebook citations. One thing I particularly like about the site – which is helpful to any legal researcher, regardless of whether they use Firefox or not – is that it highlights some specific differences in how Lexisnexis and Westlaw present information. This can be useful if you are using one of those databases and see discrepancies. It’s interesting to see a developer having to work around these quirks in what should be relatively uniform content.
Bluebook citation support for Westlaw is terrific but it is embedded in their new service, WestlawNext. Researchers will be able to use the Copy with Reference function to automatically save a citation from within the service in proper Bluebook format.
CiteStack for Chrome
The other recent addition to the Bluebook world is Citestack. It is an extension for Google Chrome users and is a simple add-on to use. Like Citegenie, you can download and install it for free. Unlike Citegenie, this is just a trial and you will need to buy the extension for US$69. It seems to me that Citestack will need to rethink its scope in order to be successful. Since it only supports the Bluebook citation of case law from within Google Scholar, it has extremely limited utility to a lawyer who may rely on other, better sources of information. Since most bar associations offer free case law access through more authoritative resources like Fastcase, the Google limitation is a big one particularly when an extension like Citegenie is available to Bluebook not only case law but also legislation and secondary materials. Citestack’s long term success, especially since it is charging a fee which is relatively uncommon for add-ons, will depend on whether it can do more in the future. [Update: I shouldn’t give you the impression that Citestack is just a Bluebook tool. It can help you to organize any research you do on Google Scholar.]
What About Zotero?
Zotero is the longest lived citation tool for Firefox users (and is not being developed for Chrome or Internet Explorer, so don’t get your hopes up). The word is that Zotero is also adding Bluebook support. This free add-on already allows you to organize your information into folders, store it locally or synchronize it to Zotero’s servers. Bluebook support will be a great addition to an already terrific add-on.