Case Law Research Guide

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

Contents

Key to Icons

  • Georgetown only
  • On Westlaw
  • On Lexis
  • On Bloomberg
  • PDF
  • More Info (hover)
  • Preeminent Treatise
  • Study Aid

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- )

*No longer updated in the Law Library. For digital formats of these publications, please see Online Resources for Cases

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

*No longer updated in the Law Library. For digital formats of these publications, see Online Resources for Cases

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.