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UC Berkeley School of Law Library UC Berkeley School of Law Library BerkeleyLaw Library

JD Writing Requirement: Organization

This guide provides students with resources and information that support them in completing the Berkeley Law writing requirement.

Develop a Plan

The key to staying organized while completing the writing requirement is developing a plan. There are several tools available to assist  with citation management; however, it is important to also create a research log for tracking conceptual source information--particularly in the preliminary investigation stage. This process will look different from student to student, depending on individual preferences. We have enumerated some of the tools and provided a "best practice" example of what a research log might look like. We recommend planning your research organization by "stage," which might look like this:

Stage 1 - Source Collection: Building a Research Log

Stage 2 - Refining Sources and Identifying Pincites: Citation Management Tools

Stage 3 - Writing the Paper: Citation Linking

Step 1 - Source Collection: Building a Research Log

A helpful tip in organizing your own research is to think about what might be required downstream for a publishing entity or for peer review: 1) copies of or links to sources used, 2) an overview of what the source has been used to support or inform, and 3) any relevant pincites.

For your own purposes, you might also want to create a mapping mechanism: how did you find the source? Was it referenced by another source that you plan to use? The source mapping mechanism can help to orient yourself and your central thesis within the broader scholarly conversation about the topic. 

1) Best practice for source collection:

a) Find a permalink to the source (if online)

b) Download or scan the portion that you plan to use for specific citations (if / when applicable) 

c) Manage the source collection via citation management tools, or using a spreadsheet and Google Drive


2) Here is an example of a research log specific to case law:

3) Here is an example of a research log for any source type:

Step 2 - Citation Management Tools

The University of California Berkeley Library has a comprehensive library guide to help you choose between the various citation management tools. In addition, there are individual guides to EndNote, Refworks, Zotero, and Mendeley. All citation management programs let you:

  • Add citations from legal databases such as ILP, HeinOnline, LegalTrac, LawCat, etc.
  • Organize your citations into folders or groups
  • Add PDF files of articles to the references
  • Format citations in Microsoft Word (and other document programs) to create bibliographies

Explore the tools below to find what works best for you: 

Step 3 - Linking Citations

Linking footnotes is called "targeting," and we highly recommend that you proactively target your sources. Targeting allows you to move large or small chunks of text throughout the paper without losing the cross-referencing in the footnotes. For example, if there is a footnote reading “supra note 32” and you move the text accompanying footnote 32 to a different part of the paper, targeting will automatically change linked footnote, e.g., “supra note 24." Taking a little bit of time to target footnotes on the front end is incredibly important; updating footnotes manually is both time-consuming and complex.

Follow the video tutorial below for step-by-step guidance on how to target in MS Word.