Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Legal

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Use Indigo Book instead of Bluebook[edit]

This page recommends, in the case of U.S. citations, use of the non-free Bluebook citation style guide for articles relating to U.S. legal cases. However, the Indigo Book (formerly Baby Blue) is a free content, public domain fork of text from a version that had lapsed into the public domain due to non-renewal, and is nearly identical to the official version.

In my opinion, as it is an open content project, the Manual of Style should endorse the use of the Indigo Book (and maybe it should be on Wikisource too?) as opposed to a non-free version. Would this be a good idea? ViperSnake151  Talk  21:00, 21 April 2016 (UTC)

@ViperSnake151: I skimmed the PDF version that is linked at Indigo Book, and as far as I can tell, it appears to be the functional equivalent of the Bluebook in many respects (though it looks like the system doesn't use small caps). In principle, I like the idea of utilizing an open-source citation convention, but I also think that articles about U.S. cases should conform to the same citation convention that is used by 99 percent of law reviews in the United States. Also, there are plenty of publicly-accessible Bluebook guides floating around the internet (see, e.g., this and this). For those reasons, I think we should continue to recommend that editors use the Bluebook, but I'd also be okay with adding Indigo Book to the list of recommended citation conventions for U.S. cases as an additional resource. Best, -- Notecardforfree (talk) 15:15, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

Subsections for titles in different countries[edit]

I made subsections for titles in different countries[1], so details can be given for those countries. MBUSHIstory (talk) 23:58, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

Ambigous titles[edit]

I described what I saw being done in stable and good articles when there are ambiguous titles and added it here[2]. MBUSHIstory (talk) 23:58, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

3 dots (ellipsis) in legal citations[edit]

A discussion of this began on my talk page, and I hereby move it to this page:

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ChrisTS: In legal citations using Bluebook style, I think ellipsis is indicated not by three dots close up (...), but rather by three dots with spaces between them. Please correct me on this if I am incorrect. Perhaps the BB has been changed since the 1950s and 1960s on this. But if the BB rule is still the same . . . then you need to insert non breaking spaces (. . .) to keep the ... all together. Thank you. PraeceptorIP (talk) 20:06, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

@PraeceptorIP: The MoS at MOS:ELLIPSIS says that three unspaced periods are recommended. And MOS:QUOTE, under the heading "Typographic conformity", says "A quotation is not a facsimile, and in most cases it is not desirable to duplicate the original formatting. Formatting and other purely typographical elements of quoted text should be adapted to English Wikipedia's conventions ...", so Bluebook style seems not to apply. Chris the speller yack 21:54, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
Chris, there was a WP discussion about legal format once and the conclusion was, first, In the United States use Bluebook format, normally. This is stated in the MOS:Legal (Manual of Style/Legal); second, it was concluded that for legal articles previously written in Bluebook style, that style should be preserved by subsequent editors of that article.
You are referring to a general MOS, not the MOS for legal articles. I do not remember how long ago this discussion occurred, but perhaps others -- such as Notecardforfree or bd2412 -- remember. The Indigo book is suggested by some in lieu of the Bluebook, but they are the same for most purposes, except that Indigo is free.
Cheers. Thank you. PraeceptorIP (talk) 23:08, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
@PraeceptorIP: Neither MOS:LEGAL nor its talk page (WT:Manual_of_Style/Legal) nor its archived discussions (WT:Manual_of_Style/Legal/Archive_1) mention ellipses, so I don't yet see why Wikipedia's style of ellipses should not apply. What article brought this to your attention? And how are we going to help prevent other editors who are not indoctrinated into Bluebook style from messing with ellipses? Perhaps this needs to be resolved on the MOS:LEGAL talk page. Chris the speller yack 05:30, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

Yes. Chris. I think that would be a good idea. Can we transfer this to the Talk page that you mention and request a discussion there? I would just like to find out how properly to use ellipsis in quotations from legal opinions that are contained in WP articles about legal cases, so that I can be informed for the future. PraeceptorIP (talk) 17:24, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

At this point I take no side except to say that if ellipses are generally three unspaced dots, but three spaced dots in legal citations, there will be confusion; not all those who edit law articles are lawyers, and not all are familiar with Bluebook style. OK, ideas and opinions, please. Chris the speller yack 17:30, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

To quote Notecardforfree in an earlier post (above) on this page: "I also think that articles about U.S. cases should conform to the same citation convention that is used by 99 percent of law reviews in the United States. Also, there are plenty of publicly-accessible Bluebook guides floating around the internet (see, e.g., this and this). For those reasons, I think we should continue to recommend that editors use the Bluebook, but I'd also be okay with adding Indigo Book to the list of recommended citation conventions for U.S. cases as an additional resource." PraeceptorIP (talk) 01:48, 13 January 2017 (UTC)
PraeceptorIP and Chris the speller, I think the quotation listed above serves as a nice summary of my thoughts on this matter. Wikipedia allows for a fairly wide degree of stylistic variations across its articles (see, e.g., WP:CITEVAR, WP:ENGVAR, our broad taxonomy of infoboxes). For articles about United States legal cases (and other topics pertaining to United States law), we should follow the conventions that are used in existing legal scholarship. There are dozens of free online guides that explain how to use the Bluebook (see, e.g., this guide from Cornell University, this guide from Suffolk University, and this guide from Georgetown University), so I don't think we need to worry about the Bluebook being inaccessible. In any event, MOS:ELLIPSIS does not prohibit the use of spaces within ellipses, and seems to me that the authors of that section contemplated that there may be some need for variation in Wikipedia articles.
I also have one other general comment, which is not specifically relevant to this discussion about ellipses: Wikipedia relies upon volunteer attorneys, legal scholars, and other legal professionals to maintain quality control in articles about legal topics (the same is true for medical articles, articles about theoretical physics, etc.). At this time, there are only a handful of editors on Wikipedia who have any real form of "expertise" on legal topics. Most legal professionals are extremely busy and have little extra time to learn new citation styles -- my own opinion is that legal professionals would be much more likely to contribute to Wikipedia if they can continue to utilize the citation style that they already know and use on a daily basis (i.e. when drafting legal documents). All the best, -- Notecardforfree (talk) 21:08, 15 January 2017 (UTC)