Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Case Law Research Guide

This guide details how to read a case citation and sets out the print and online sources for finding cases.

Reporters

The sets of books which publish cases are called reporters, and each one has a designated abbreviation. Reporters may be grouped into four kinds:

  1. Federal reporters (report federal cases)
  2. Regional reporters (report cases from a group of states)
  3. State reporters (report cases from a specific state)
  4. Subject reporters (report cases from various jurisdictions which deal a certain area of law, e.g., environment or patents)

Federal Reporters

Abbreviation Reporter Name & Contents
U.S. United States Reports 
Supreme Court opinions (official)
S. Ct.

Supreme Court Reporter 
Supreme Court opinions (West)

L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d

Lawyers' Edition, 1st and 2d series
Supreme Court opinions (LexisNexis)

F., F.2d, F.3d Federal Reporter, 1st, 2d, and 3d series
1st: Federal district and appellate court opinions (to 1925)
2nd: Federal appellate court opinions (1925-1993)
3rd: Federal appellate court opinions (1993 - )
F. Supp.,F. Supp. 2d Federal Supplement, 1st and 2d series
1st: Federal district court opinions (1931-1998)
2d: Federal district court opinions (1998 - )
F. App. Federal Appendix 
Federal appellate court opinions (not reported in F.3d) (2001- )

 

For a list of sources for federal case law, with links to our catalog record for a publication's print edition and access to the publication's digital formats, please see our guide to U.S. Primary Sources.

Regional Reporters

Abbreviation Reporter Name & Contents
A., A.2d, A.3d Atlantic Reporter, 1st, 2d, 3d series
Opinions from CT, DC, DE, ME, MD, NH, NJ, PA, RI, VT
N.E., N.E.2d North Eastern Reporter, 1st and 2d series
Opinions from IL, IN, MA, NY, OH
NW., N.W.2d North Western Reporter, 1st and 2d series
Opinions from IA, MI, MN, NE, ND, SD, WI
P., P.2d, P.3d Pacific Reporter, 1st, 2d, and 3d series
Opinions from AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MT, NV, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA, WY
S.E., S.E.2d South Eastern Reporter, 1st and 2d series
Opinions from GA, NC, SC, VA, WV
S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d South Western Reporter, 1st, 2d, and 3d series
Opinions from AR, KY, MO, TN, TX
S., S.2d Southern Reporter, 1st and 2d series
Opinions from AL, FL, LA, MS

The Law Library no longer updates regional reporters in print. Digital formats of these publications are available on Westlaw.

State Reporters

Generally, a state reporter's abbreviation will include the state's abbreviation (i.e., "Va." is the abbreviation for Virginia Reports, "Md. App." stands for Maryland Appellate Reports.) Not all states have their own reporters, in which case you must use the regional reporters. See Table 1 of the Bluebook for further details. For help, see our Bluebook Guide or contact the Reference Desk.

Subject Reporters

For a list of sources for topical reporters that include specific types of case law, with links to our catalog record for a publication's print edition and access to the publication's digital formats, please see our guide to Special Courts & Topical Case Sources.