For nineteen years The Bluebook has decreed that when the word “Advertising” appears in a case name it should be abbreviated as “Adver.” The pairing of word and abbreviation first appeared in the sixteenth edition. The codification at once captured the then prevailing professional practice and encouraged use of that abbreviation over the two common alternatives. Those were: 1) to include the word in full or 2) to abbreviate it to coincide with the British informal term, rendering it “Advert.”
Inexplicably, the latest edition of The Bluebook has added a terminal “t”, embracing an approach it rejected in 1996. Henceforward, all who follow its mandate must cite:
- City of Columbia v. Omni Outdoor Adver., Inc., 499 U.S. 365 (1991)
- City of Columbia v. Omni Outdoor Advert., Inc., 499 U.S. 365 (1991)
Why make the change? Successive editions of The Bluebook have regularly added new “mandatory” abbreviations. The T6 list of the sixteenth edition had 120 entries. In the nineteenth there were 144, including an entry for “County” (to be abbreviated “Cnty.”). This latest edition is the first, in my memory, to substitute new abbreviations for established ones. In addition to supplanting “Adver.” with “Advert.” it has replaced “Cnty.” with “Cty.” Neither change addresses a source of potential confusion. Neither is driven by professional citation practice.
A failure to proofread? Implausible. The most likely explanation lies in the increasingly proprietary claims of The Bluebook enterprise. Faced with a better teaching book, the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation, and with data sources and software packages that purport to deliver citations that conform to its rules its editors made a number of arbitrary changes. “Copy if you dare,” they seem to be saying. For those operating within the universe of law journal publication such arbitrary changes may be hard to resist. With lawyers and judges, they’ll largely be ignored.