Three letter acronyms, the Bluebook, and Indigo Book. Abbreviations and more.

(1200 words, mostly cut and paste tables)

Lawyers are verbose yet hate making things easy to read. They will use Latin when English will do just as well. They will abbreviate words in non-standard ways, they will make use of lingo and terms of art at every chance. Often, it feels like they want to make their work as opaque as possible.

Like every code, there is a codebook which explains how to encode and decode their secret messages. The official codebook of the lawyer creed is The Bluebook® A Uniform System of Citation®. Every official abbreviation is in this “book”.

If you are interested in using the Blue Book reference, prices tart a $39/year for personal use.

The Indigo Book is An Open and Compatible Implementation of A Uniform System of CitationThe Indigo Book

They are not authorized by nor in any way affiliated with the Blue Book people.

I have been told that I am starting to use too many abbreviations and that is making my articles more difficult to understand.

So you get some parts of the Indigo Book.

T9. Required Abbreviations for Court Names

Table 9 describes what abbreviations are used when citing to a particular court. As an example, “D.” refers to a Federal District Court while “Dist. Ct.” refers to a State District Court.

Court Name Abbreviation
Administrative Court Admin. Ct.
Admiralty [Court, Division] Adm.
Aldermen’s Court Alder. Ct.
Appeals Court App. Ct.
Appellate Court App. Ct.
Appellate Department App. Dep’t
Appellate Division App. Div.
Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals ASBCA
Bankruptcy Appellate Panel B.A.P.
Bankruptcy [Court, Judge] Bankr.
Board of Contract Appeals B.C.A.
Board of Immigration Appeals B.I.A.
Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences B.P.A.I.
Board of Tax Appeals B.T.A.
Borough Court <Name> Bor. Ct.
Central District C.D.
Chancery [Court, Division] Ch.
Children’s Court Child. Ct.
Circuit Court (old federal) C.C.
Circuit Court (state) Cir. Ct.
Circuit Court of Appeals (federal) Cir.
Circuit Court of Appeals (state) Cir. Ct. App.
City Court <Name> City Ct.
Civil Appeals Civ. App.
Civil Court of Record Civ. Ct. Rec.
Civil District Court Civ. Dist. Ct.
Claims Court Cl. Ct.
Commerce Court Comm. Ct.
Commission Comm’n
Common Pleas C.P. <when appropriate, name county or similar subdivision>
Commonwealth Court Commw. Ct.
Conciliation Court Concil. Ct.
County Court <Name> Cty. Ct.
County Judge’s Court Cty. J. Ct.
Court Ct.
Court of Appeal (English) C.A.
Court of Appeals (federal) Cir.
Court of Appeal[s] (state) Ct. App.
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces C.A.A.F.
Court of Civil Appeals Civ. App.
Court of Claims Ct. Cl.
Court of Common Pleas Ct. Com. Pl.
Court of Criminal Appeals Crim. App.
Court of Customs and Patent Appeals C.C.P.A.
Court of Customs Appeals Ct. Cust. App.
Court of Errors Ct. Err.
Court of Errors and Appeals Ct. Err. & App.
Court of Federal Claims Fed. Cl.
Court of [General, Special] Sessions Ct. <Gen. or Spec.> Sess.
Court of International Trade Ct. Int’l Trade
Court of Military Appeals C.M.A.
Court of Military Review C.M.R.
Court of Special Appeals Ct. Spec. App.
Court of Veterans Appeals Ct. Vet. App.
Criminal Appeals Crim. App.
Criminal District Court Crim. Dist. Ct.
Customs Court Cust. Ct.
District Court (federal) D.
District Court (state) Dist. Ct.
District Court of Appeal[s] Dist. Ct. App.
Division Div.
Domestic Relations Court Dom. Rel. Ct.
Eastern District E.D.
Emergency Court of Appeals Emer. Ct. App.
Equity [Court, Division] Eq.
Family Court Fam. Ct.
High Court High Ct.
Judicial District Jud. Dist.
Judicial Division Jud. Div.
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation J.P.M.L.
Justice of the Peace’s Court J.P. Ct.
Juvenile Court Juv. Ct.
Land Court Land Ct.
Law Court Law Ct.
Law Division Law Div.
Magistrate Division Magis. Div.
Magistrate’s Court Magis. Ct.
Middle District M.D.
Municipal Court <Name> Mun. Ct.
Northern District N.D.
Orphans’ Court Orphans’ Ct.
Parish Court <Name> Parish Ct.
Police Justice’s Court Police J. Ct.
Prerogative Court Prerog. Ct.
Probate Court Prob. Ct.
Public Utilities Commission P.U.C.
Real Estate Commission Real Est. Comm’n
Recorder’s Court Rec’s Ct.
Southern District S.D.
Special Court Regional Rail Reorganization Act Reg’l Rail Reorg. Ct.
Superior Court Super. Ct.
Supreme Court (federal) U.S.
Supreme Court (other) Sup. Ct.
Supreme Court, Appellate Division App. Div.
Supreme Court, Appellate Term App. Term
Supreme Court of Errors Sup. Ct. Err.
Supreme Judicial Court Sup. Jud. Ct.
Surrogate’s Court Sur. Ct.
Tax Appeal Court Tax App. Ct.
Tax Court T.C.
Teen Court Teen Ct.
Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals Temp. Emer. Ct. App.
Territor[ial, y] Terr.
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board T.T.A.B.
Traffic Court Traffic Ct.
Tribal Court <Name> Tribal Ct.
Tribunal Trib.
Water Court Water Ct.
Western District W.D.
Workmen’s Compensation Division Workmen’s Comp. Div.
Youth Court Youth Ct.

T12.1. U.S. States, Cities and Territories

Place Abbreviation
Alabama Ala.
Alaska Alaska
Arizona Ariz.
Arkansas Ark.
California Cal.
Colorado Colo.
Connecticut Conn.
Delaware Del.
Florida Fla.
Georgia Ga.
Hawaii Haw.
Idaho Idaho
Illinois Ill.
Indiana Ind.
Iowa Iowa
Kansas Kan.
Kentucky Ky.
Louisiana La.
Maine Me.
Maryland Md.
Massachusetts Mass.
Michigan Mich.
Minnesota Minn.
Mississippi Miss.
Missouri Mo.
Montana Mont.
Nebraska Neb.
Nevada Nev.
New Hampshire N.H.
New Jersey N.J.
New Mexico N.M.
New York N.Y.
North Carolina N.C.
North Dakota N.D.
Ohio Ohio
Oklahoma Okla.
Oregon Or.
Pennsylvania Pa.
Rhode Island R.I.
South Carolina S.C.
South Dakota S.D.
Tennessee Tenn.
Texas Tex.
Utah Utah
Vermont Vt.
Virginia Va.
Washington Wash.
West Virginia W. Va.
Wisconsin Wis.
Wyoming Wyo.
Baltimore Balt.
Boston Bos.
Chicago Chi.
Dallas Dall.
District of Columbia D.C.
Houston Hous.
Los Angeles L.A.
New York N.Y.C.
Philadelphia Phila.
Phoenix Phx.
San Francisco S.F.
American Samoa Am. Sam.
Guam Guam
Northern Mariana Islands N. Mar. I.
Puerto Rico P.R.
Virgin Islands V.I.

An example:

Using the Federal Northern District Court of Texas the required abbreviation would be “N.D. Tex.” and I’m not sure about the space after “D.”. Somewhere in the Indigo Book, it would tell me.

R7.2 Ordinal Abbreviations in Citations

Rule 7.2 tells us how to abbreviate numbers. Which is why it is the 5th Cir. or Fifth Circuit but not 5th Circuit.

Ordinal abbreviations are used for the court/year parenthetical in a case citation, the numerical designation of a Congress, a publication’s addition number, and other contexts. See Rule R11 generally and Table T1 for the United States Courts of Appeals (i.e. the various federal circuit courts). In citations and in textual references, ordinal abbreviations do not use superscripts. In citations, abbreviations for “second” and “third” use ordinal style references 2d and 3d, respectively. Extrapolate to larger ordinal numbers ending in second or third, such as “twenty third” becoming “23d” in a citation.

  • Examples:
  • 1st Dist.
  • 2d Cir.
  • 2d ed.
  • 3d Dist.
  • 4th Cir.
  • Incorrect:
  • 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd
  • 4th Cir.
  • 5th Dist.

Ordinals are also used in federal case citations:

  • F. Supp. 2d
  • F.3d
  • F.4th

Do not abbreviate the ordinal in a citation to the Restatement either in textual sentences or citations:

  • Restatement (Second) of Torts (Am. L. Inst. 1977)
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By awa

4 thoughts on “TLA, BB, and Indigo Book”
  1. A TLA maybe a Three Letter Acronym, but
    An ETLA is an Extended Three Letter (4 Letter) Acronym, and
    A METLA is a Maximally Extended Three Letter (5 Letter) Acronym, and
    A SMETLA is Super Maximally Extended Three Letter (6 Letter) Acronym.

    (Courtesy of the folks at GE Nuclear Energy)

  2. Let me introduce you to a 19 letter acronym, TFCIGTBYTDWADIFDSSE == This Florida Cracker Is Going To Beat You To Death With A Dictionary If You Don’t Start Speaking English (Courtesy of the True Florida Man, The Florida Cracker)😁

  3. Some of that is left over from English common law practices, which are generally left over from the Romans and Normans.
    However, valid point. Anyone who when through law school, even paralegals, can do the mental translation and use the common terms instead of the “traditional” terms. I do not think the message will be diminished.

  4. I was going to make a crack about TLAs but I was beaten to it.

    Its kind of like practicing another language kind of fun and thanks for the free resource.

    Your point about lawyer speak is sound and is very much similar to insider speak in academia publishing where it is not written for the average person to understand and written to give the author as much wiggle room to defend as possible.

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