Your first step is to decipher any abbreviations in a citation. This will allow you to identify the type of document and the applicable foreign country or international body. The tables in The Bluebook may assist you with deciphering some abbreviations, but it is frequently easier to start with a source such as Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations, which allows you to type in an abbreviation to see its meaning, or Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations, which is organized alphabetically by abbreviation.
The following example demonstrates how to use Prince's Bieber Dictionary on Legal Abbreviations or Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations to identify the meaning of an abbreviation.
Citation: Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, May 21, 1997, 36 I.L.M. 700.
Option #1: Use Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations by finding the abbreviation in the alphabetical list in this book:
Option #2: Use Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations by conducting a search for the abbreviation:
Both of these sources indicate that I.L.M. is an abbreviation for International Legal Materials (a publication that reprints primary law material). Please note that this abbreviation can also be found in Bluebook T4.3 (Unofficial Treaty Source), but it is frequently more efficient to use a resource that lists abbreviations alphabetically or that allows you to conduct a search for an abbreviation instead of skimming through the tables in The Bluebook.
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