Thu Aug 21 2014   
 

Helpful Hints on Deciphering Legal Citations

Compiled by Shaun Esposito
Head of Public Services & Assistant Adjunct Professor of Legal Research
Editorial Assistance by Jacquelyn Kasper
Reference & Government Documents Librarian
Updated by Cynthia Condit, Library Fellow

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 Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
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 Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
Am. Jur. 2d American Jurisprudence 2d Series Main Floor, Reference
Ariz. Arizona Reports Main Floor, Arizona Collection; Ground Floor, Low Shelving
Ariz. Adv. Rpts Arizona Advance Reports Main Floor, Arizona Collection; Reserve; Ground Floor, Low Shelving
Ariz. App. Arizona Appeals Reports
(to 1976)
Main Floor, Arizona Collection; Ground Floor, Low Shelving
A.R.S. Arizona Revised Statutes
Annotated
Main Floor, Arizona Collection; Reserve; Ground Floor, Low Shelving
B.R. Bankruptcy Reporter (West) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations Main Floor, West Wall Shelving
Cl. Ct. Claims Court Reporter (West) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
C.J.S. Corpus Juris Secundum Main Floor, Reference
CT. CL. U.S. Court of Claims Reports Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises, Govt. Docs JU3.9:
F., F.2d, F.3d Federal Reporter, Federal Reporter Second Series, & Federal Reporter Third Series (federal appellate courts) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
Fed. CL Federal Claims (West) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
F.R. Federal Register Main Floor, West Wall Shelves
F.R.D. Federal Rules Decisions Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
F. Supp. Federal Supplement (lowest level of federal courts) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
Ind. L. Rep. Indian Law Reporter Ground Floor, Treatises, KF 8203.4 .I64
L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d Lawyers Edition, Lawyers Edition Second (U.S. Supreme Court) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
M.J. Military Justice Reporter (West) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
N.E., N.E.2d Northeastern Reporter, Northeastern Reporter Second Series Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
N.W., N.W.2d Northwestern Reporter, Northwestern Reporter Second Series Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
P., P.2d, P.3d Pacific Reporter, Pacific Reporter Second Series, Pacific Reporter Third Series (includes Arizona) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
S. Ct. Supreme Court Reporter Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
S.E., S.E.2d Southeastern Reporter, Southeastern Reporter Second Series Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
So., So.2d Southern Reporter, Southern Reporter Second Series Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d Southwestern Reporter, Southwestern Reporter Second Series, Southwestern Reporter Third Series Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
U.S. United States Reports (the "official" version put out by the U.S. Government--generally lags far behind in publication) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
U.S.C. United States Code (the "official" version published by the U.S. Government) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises
U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated (annotated version of code published by private publisher--retains same numbering as USC) Main Floor, South Wall Shelves; Ground Floor, Low Shelving
U.S.C.S. United States Code Service (annotated version of code published by private publisher--retains same numbering as USC). Ground Floor, Low Shelving
Vet. App. Veterans Appeals Reporter (West) Ground Floor, Compact Shelves Behind Treatises

 

Page Updated: 17 July 2009