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Statutory Research Basics: Federal

United States Code

The United States Code (USC)

  • The Office of Law Revision Counsel
    • Searchable through natural language/terms & connectors or by browsing Table of Contents or Popular Name Table. No index is provided. Free access.
    • Up to date. You can choose an older version by clicking the Change link next to "Browse the United States Code" at the top.
    • A notification will pop up saying "Pending Updates" if the section has been affected by enactments after the currency date
    • Provides Classification Tables. These are guides to where recently enacted Public Laws will eventually be incorporated into the Code.
    • You can also download entire titles of the U.S. Code in a variety of formats here.
  • U.S. G.P.O (FDsys)
    • Links to all available sections of the Code. Available in PDF and Text formats. 
    • Up to date (currently 2019.) You can also view the Code as it was for each publication year previous, back to the 1994 edition.
    • Free access.
  • Bloomberg Law
    • In the search bar type "U.S. Code" then select the "current USC" option from the drop down menu.
    • Searchable through natural language/terms & connectors or by browsing Table of Contents, Popular Name Table, or Appendix.
  • HeinOnline
    • Links to all available sections of the Code. Available in PDF format. 
    • Available up to 2018 edition. You can also view the Code as it was for each publication year previous, back to the 1925-1926 edition.
    • Includes index and popular names table.
    • Subscription access only. 

US Slip Laws

US Slip (Public) Laws

  • U.S. G.P.O (GovInfo) 
    • Links to digital authenticated U.S. Public Laws. Available in PDF and Text formats. 
    • Up to date; previously enacted Public Laws available back to the 104th Congress (1995).
    • Free access.
  • Congress.gov
    • Up to date; previously enacted Public Laws available back to the 82nd Congress (1951-1952).
    • Searchable by bill type, subject, chamber, committee, sponsers, and party, as well as by citation.
    • Free access.
  • ProQuest Serial Set
    • Searching by number, you can locate a statute by Bill No., Public Law No., Statute at Large No., or by U.S. Code citation.
    • This resource also provides a portal to previously compiled legislative histories dating back to 1969 statutes.
    • Congress in Context provides historical profiles to help understand the context of specific legislation.
  • Bloomberg/Lexis/Westlaw
    • Subscription access only.

US Statutes at Large

U.S. Statutes at Large

  • U.S. G.P.O (GovInfo):
    • Links to digital authenticated U.S. Public Laws. Available in PDF, Text, and other formats.
    • Current to Volume 127 (2013 - the 113th Congress, 1st Session); available back to Volume 65 (1951 - the 82nd Congress, 1st Session).
    • Free access.

  • ProQuest Serial Set
    • You can search by number, you can locate a statute by Bill No., Public Law No., Statute at Large No., or by U.S. Code citation.
    • This resource also provides a portal to previously compiled legislative histories dating back to 1969 statutes.
    • Congress in Context provides historical profiles to help understand the context of specific legislation.
    • Subscription access only.  
  • Bloomberg/Lexis/Westlaw/HeinOnline (1789-2013)
    • Subscription access only. 

Using Lexis and Westlaw

Using Lexis and Westlaw

You can find the United States Code as well as annotations on both Lexis and Westlaw. Each can be searched via popular term,  via the table of contents or the search bar, or by the index. 

  • Westlaw
    • To find the United States Code, click the Federal Materials tab beneath the search bar. Then click United States Statutes Code Annotated. This will take you to the table of contents where you can select a section by title number or use the search bar at the top of the page. When clicking through the sections you will see the same keycite flags you will see on cases, as well as look through history and citing references. Additional information is contained in the annotations.
    • You can also find the index by clicking on the link in the column on the right or by typing in USCA Index in the search bar on the homepage then clicking the link from the dropdown menu titled United States Code Annotated Index.
  • Lexis
    • To find the United States Code, click the tab titled Federal beneath the search bar. Then click USCS- United States Code Service. This will take you to the table of contents where you can select a section by title number, click on the plus sign for additional chapters, or use the search bar at the top of the page. When clicking through the sections you will see the same Shepard's indicators that you will see on cases. You can also "Shepardize" the document to find history, citing sources, or related cases. Additional information is contained in the annotations.
    • You can also find the index by clicking on the link in the column on the right or by typing in USCA Index in the search bar on the homepage then clicking the link from the dropdown menu titled USCS - United States Code Service - Titles 1 through 54 - Index.

Popular Names

Searching by Popular Name

You know the name. It's the way everyone refers to the statute. The Civil Rights Act. Obamacare. The Americans with Disabilities Act. How do you find it in the code? That's easy - use the tables available on Lexis and Westlaw to search by a federal law's popular name:

Lexis: USCS Table of Acts by Popular Names

Westlaw: USCA Popular Name Table

Additional Resources

Additional Sources

Need some additional information? Having difficulty finding a particular statute. These guide gives in depth information on every part of the federal law research process. Additionally it includes links to electronic resources and tips for your research.