Comprehensiveness rating: 5 read less
This book is comprehensive in relation to its objective, which is not comprehensiveness in terms of a citation reference work but rather in providing a tutorial on citing on the most widely referenced types of U.S. legal material. That objective is fully achieved and the text provides a valuable resource to anyone engaged in legal writing, especially in that it considers both local norms as well as changes in citation practice that have been required with so many legal sources shifting from print to digital. It should be noted that its focus is the forms of citation used in professional practice, rather than in law journals, so it will be more helpful to writers seeking assistance with the former than the latter.
Accuracy rating: 5
No errors of fact or any pattern of bias in presentation were evident to this reviewer.
Relevance/Longevity rating: 5
The content of this book is currently up-to-date, although the subject matter is one that does require frequent updates. However, given that updated editions have been issued frequently, including as recently as 2010, 2011, and 2012, so one can reasonably anticipate that will continue. Additionally, it features a companion “wiki” that allows
users to ask questions, offer comments and elaboration, etc.
Clarity rating: 5
The text is presented in prose that most readers should find lucid and accessible, especially the type of readers who are most likely to use this book -- law students and legal practitioners. However, in this reviewer’s assessment, even lay readers who might be seeking assistance in writing legal petitions, etc. It would be impossible to write a how-to book on legal citation without utilizing a considerable degree of jargon/technical terminology, but this one quite effectively provides sufficient context. That probably derives at least in part from its origins as a response to a group of law students in the early 1990s who were seeking assistance in learning citation.
Consistency rating: 5
This book does maintain consistency in terminology and framework, even though it is dealing with a topic in which inconsistency of that sort is a hazard.
Modularity rating: 4
This is a text that can without question be divided into smaller reading sections, which could be assigned in any way preferred by an instructor. Enhancing that modularity is the extensive hyperlinking throughout the book, including the table of contents, so that readers can quite easily move back and forth through the book, quickly focusing and refocusing on almost any series of related points that might prove most useful to the individual user.
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5
This reviewer found the text to be organized in a manner that provided for a quite coherent structure and natural flow. The introductory unit helps the reader understand the basic reasons that such highly specialized forms of citation are utilized, and then moves into one “how to cite” unit that is followed by a related unit that can provide review on the preceding unit or alternative approaches to citation problems as necessary. As noted before, in a book like this, in which readers will more often be seeking specific assistance rather than a narrative reading experience, the hyperlinking throughout also enhances the organizational flow.
Interface rating: 5
This reviewer encountered no significant or even minor interface issues. The text does not feature images or charts as they are usually thought of, but it does provide frequent examples offset in boxes that are free of distortion and quite helpful.
Grammatical Errors rating: 5
No grammatical errors were evident to this reviewer.
Cultural Relevance rating: 3
This book does not use examples that are either inclusive or exclusive of any races, ethnicities, or backgrounds. But that is because it focuses strictly on providing guidance for making the references necessary in legal writing to statutes, regulations, secondary literature, journal articles, etc. -- the technical language of legal citation. All its examples are examples of how to format such references.
Even though this book is a reference work on a not particularly entertaining topic, this reviewer enjoyed reading it and expects to find occasions to utilize it both for citation assistance and contextual guidance.