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Formatting Briefs and Research Papers

Sarajean Petite  /  Tuesday, June 25, 2019  /  Categories: Other News  /  Rate this article:
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After one writes the text of one’s research paper or brief, one needs to put it in an appropriate word processing format.

The librarians, with the help of Jeannette Mazur, have created two formatting guides to help students with this formatting piece.

  • Brief Formatting. This Libguide, by Megan Allen, is for those writing court documents, such as briefs and memoranda.

  • SJD Thesis Formatting. This Libguide, by SaraJean Petite, is for those writing research papers (e.g., dissertations, theses, and notes). The Bluebook calls this style of writing “Law Review” because many people publish their research in law journals.
Here are some of the formatting differences one will encounter when formatting these two types of writing:
  • Fonts: The Bluebook rules for law review articles require “Large and Small Caps” font for titles of books and periodicals, and for authors of books. The rules do not require Large and Small Caps font for court documents, so authors generally do not use it in briefs and memoranda. (See Rules B2 (for court documents) and Rule R2 (for law review articles).)

  • Footnotes vs. Parentheticals: Law review articles use footnotes; briefs often put the source citations in parenthesis in the body of the text.

  • Parallel Citations: When citing cases in a court document, local rules often require parallel citations to the official reporter and a regional reporter.  When writing for a law review, one only needs a citation to the official source. (Hint: It is usually not the West reporter.)

  • Table of Authorities vs. Bibliographies:  A table of authority (“TOA”) includes every case and secondary source cited in a court document.  The purpose is so the court and opposing counsel know on which authority the argument rests.  A bibliography includes sources cited in a law review article. It generally does not include case law, and it may include sources that the author thought were worth reading, but did not cite.
Some people like to have their theses and dissertations commercially bound.  The HF Group binds the theses the library has in its collection.  The company offers a thesis-binding service, called “thesis on demand,” to individuals.  Please see the  SJD Thesis Formatting libguide for more information about this service.

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