Order Of Signals Law and Legal Definition
Introductory signals are used in legal citations to present authorities and show how the authorities relate to propositions in textual statements. A legal writer uses an introductory signal to tell readers how her citation to legal authority supports, or does not support, her written proposition. Introductory signals organize the writer's citations into a hierarchy of strength and importance so that the reader can quickly determine the relative weight of the citation. For example, the introductory signal "See" tells the reader that the cited authority either (a) supports the stated proposition implicitly, or (b) contains dicta that support the proposition. "But see," on the other hand, tells the reader that the cited authority either (a) contradicts the stated proposition implicitly, or (b) contains dicta that contradict the stated proposition.
Introductory signals have different meanings in different U.S. citation style systems. The three most prominent citation manuals are The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and the ALWD Citation Manual and The Maroonbook . Some state-specific style manuals also provide guidance on legal citation. The Bluebook citation system is both the most comprehensive and most widely used system by courts, law firms, and law reviews.:In formal legal writing, citation sentences should be arranged based on the signals that introduce them, in the following order of precedence: 1. No signal 2. E.g., 3. Accord 4. See 5. See also 6. Cf. 7. Compare with 8. Contra 9. But see 10. But cf. 11. See generally
All sources falling under the same signal should be put in a single citation sentence and separated by semicolons. Thus, each signal should appear only once in a given citation - at the start of its own citation sentence.