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Georgetown Law Library

Statutes Research Guide

This research guide introduces basic concepts of statutory research, and provides introductory information on how to locate the statutes of U.S. federal and state jurisdictions.


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Federal Statutes

Federal laws are issued by Congress in slip law form immediately after they become law, and are made available on the web, Lexis, and Westlaw immediately after they are passed by Congress.

After the slip laws are issued, the laws of each session of Congress are printed together in volumes called "session laws." The official version of the federal session laws is called the United States Statutes at Large. Another version of the session laws is a series called the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.)

Finally, federal statutes are officially "codified" (meaning they are compiled and arranged by subject) in the United States Code (U.S.C.). The U.S. Code also comes in two annotated versions called the United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.), and the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.). The unofficial versions come out much more quickly than the official versions, and contain notes, references and certain other features which are designed to make them easier to use. The U.S.C.S. is available exclusively on Lexis and the U.S.C.A. is available exclusively on Westlaw. However, in scholarly and court documents, you must cite to the official version, provided it has the current text of the statute. Refer to your Bluebook for further citation information.

Citations & Sources: Federal

Publication Title Call Number of Print Digital Access for Georgetown Law
United States Code (U.S.C.) (official code) KF62 2012 .A2 Reading Room, Area 3 on map HeinOnline, Bloomberg Law, Westlaw (unannotated), Office of the Law Revision Counsel (including Popular Name Tool), GovInfo
United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) (unofficial code) KF62 1927 .A3 Reading Room, Area  4 on map Westlaw (including Index and Popular Name Table)
United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) (unofficial code) KF62 1972 .U5 Reading Room, Area 5 on map Lexis (including Index and Popular Name Table)
United States Statutes at Large (Stat.) (official session laws) KF50 .U5 Reading Room, Area 8 on map Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law, ProQuest Congressional, HeinOnline, LLMC Digital, GovInfo
United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.) (unofficial session laws) KF48 .U54 Reading Room, Area 7 on map Westlaw
Public Law (Pub. L.), GovInfo
Also printed in the United States Statutes at Large (Stat.)
Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the Congress (Cong. Rec.) KF35 .A26 Micro Media 1st Fl, Micro Row B, Cabinets 16-19 (1873-2003); KF35 .A26 Mezzanine (1873-2012) Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law, ProQuest Congressional, HeinOnline, LLMC Digital,, GovInfo