Helpful Hints on Deciphering Legal Citations

Compiled by Shaun Esposito, Head of Public Services, with editorial assistance of Jacquelyn Kasper, Reference and Government Documents Librarian, January 2000


Most citations to cases and journal articles follow a standard format listing the volume number, then the abbreviated name of the publication, then the page number, and finally the date.  For example the citation for an Arizona case, Kotterman v. Killian, might be 197 Ariz. 273, 972 P. 2d 606 (1999).  This case would be found in Volume 197 of the Arizona Reports on page 273 OR in Volume 972 of the Pacific Reporter, Second Series on page 606.  These two citations are known as parallel citations and the same language is found in both publications.

Citations to statutes are generally by Section number alone (as with Arizona statutes) or by title and section number (as with the U.S. Code).  For example, ARS §13-3905 refers to Section 13-3905 of the Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated.  The spine of each volume shows the section numbers included in that volume.  For a federal statute, a number (the title number) appears before the publication abbreviation.  42 USC § 405 means that the statute appears in section 405 of title 42 of the United States Code.

Citations to legal encyclopedias are by volume, topical subject and section number.  Topics are arranged alphabetically.  For example, 5 CJS Courts § 230 indicates that the relevant material will be in section 230 of CJs volume 5 under the Courts topic.  Each volume generally contains more than one topical subject.  See the table below for the meaning of commonly used citations and their location in the library.

Please feel free to consult one of the librarians if you are having difficulty using any of the resources in the library.

ABBREVIATION PUBLICATION LOCATION
A., A.2d Atlantic Reporter, Atlantic Reporter Second Series Main Fl., Regional Reporters
A.A.C. Arizona Administrative Code Reserve, KFA 2435 A23 1974
A.A.R. Arizona Administrative Register Reserve, KFA 2436 A75
ALR, ALR2d, ALR3d, ALR4th, ALR5th, ALR Fed American Law Reports (annotations), First through Fifth series and Federal series Main Fl, End of Regional Reporters
Am. Jur. 2d American Jurisprudence 2d Series Main Floor, Reference
Ariz Arizona Reports Main Fl, Arizona Collection
Ariz. Adv. Rpts Arizona Advance Reports Reserve
Ariz. App. Arizona Appeals Reports
(to 1976)
Main Fl, Arizona Collection
A.R.S. Arizona Revised Statutes
Annotated
Main Fl, Arizona Collection
B.R. Bankruptcy Reporter (West) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations Main Fl., Fed. Section
Cl. Ct. Claims Court Reporter (West) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
CJS Corpus Juris Secundum Main Floor, Reference
CT CL U.S. Court of Claims Reports Lower Level, Govt. Docs JU3.9:
F., F.2d, F.3d Federal Reporter, Federal Reporter Second Series, & Federal Reporter Third Series (federal appellate courts) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
Fed. CL Federal Claims (West) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
F.R. Federal Register Main Fl., Fed. Section
F.R.D. Federal Rules Decisions Main Floor, Federal Reporters
F. Supp. Federal Supplement (lowest level of federal courts) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
Ind. L. Rep. Indian Law Reporter Main Fl., KF 8203.4 I64
L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d Lawyers Edition, Lawyers Edition Second (U.S. Supreme Court) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
M.J. Military Justice Reporter (West) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
N.E., N.E.2d Northeastern Reporter, Northeastern Reporter Second Series Main Fl., Regional Reporters
N.W., N.W.2d Northwestern Reporter, Northwestern Reporter Second Series Main Fl., Regional Reporters
P., P.2d, P.3d Pacific Reporter, Pacific Reporter Second Series, Pacific Reporter Third Series (includes Arizona) Main Fl., Regional Reporters
S. Ct. Supreme Court Reporter Main Floor, Federal Reporters
S.E., S.E.2d Southeastern Reporter, Southeastern Reporter Second Series Main Fl., Regional Reporters
So., So.2d Southern Reporter, Southern Reporter Second Series Main Fl., Regional Reporters
S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d Southwestern Reporter, Southwestern Reporter Second Series, Southwestern Reporter Third Series Main Fl., Regional Reporters
U.S. United States Reports (the "official" version put out by the U.S. Government--generally lags far behind in publication) Main Floor, Federal Reporters
U.S.C. United States Code (the "official" version published by the U.S. Government) Main Fl., Fed. Section
U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated (annotated version of code published by private publisher--retains same numbering as USC) Main Fl., Fed. Section
U.S.C.S. United States Code Service (annotated version of code published by private publisher--retains same numbering as USC). Main Fl., Fed. Section
Vet. App. Veterans Appeals Reporter (West) Main Floor, Federal Reporters

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