Many times when searching for cases, you will have the citation. Although there are several different styles of legal citations, most, if not all, follow similar conventions when citing a case.
Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 582 (1994)
Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. is the title of the case. In a trial court, the plaintiff is listed first, but appellate courts may order parties differently.
U.S. identifies the case reporter where the case can be found. Here U.S. refers to the United States Reports, which contains United States Supreme Court cases. Some common abbreviations are listed below.
510 is the volume of the reporter.
569 is the first page of the case in the reporter.
582 is the specific page to which the citation is made (this is not always listed).
1994 identifies the year of the case.
Common Case Abbreviations
A., A.2d - Atlantic Reporter, 1st and 2nd series. Selected cases from CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, NH, NJ, PA, RI, and VT.
F., F.2d, F.3d - Federal Reporter, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd series. Cases from United States Courts of Appeal
F.Supp., F.Supp.2d - Federal Supplement, 1st and 2nd series. Selected cases from United States District Courts.
L.Ed., L.Ed.2d - United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition, 1st and 2nd series. United States Supreme Court Cases.
N.E., N.E.2d. - North Eastern Reporter, 1st and 2nd series. Selected cases from IL, IN, MA, NY, and OH.
N.W., N.W.2d - North Western Reporter, 1st and 2nd series. Selected cases from IA, MI, MN, NE, ND, SD, and WI.
P., P.2d - Pacific Reporter, 1st and 2nd series. Selected cases from AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MT, NV, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA, and WY.
S. S.2d, So., So.2d - Southern Reporter, 1st and 2nd series. Selected cases from AL, FL, LA, and MS.
S.Ct. - Supreme Court Reporter. United States Supreme Court cases.
S.E., S.E.2d - South Eastern Reporter, 1st and 2nd series. Selected cases from GA, NC, SC, VA, and WV.
S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d - South Western Reporter, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd series. Selected cases from AK, KY, MO, TN, and TX.
U.S. - United States Reports. United States Supreme Court cases.
Citations to Statutes and Regulations
Many times when searching for statutes or regulations, you will have the citation. Although there are several different styles of legal citations, most, if not all, follow similar conventions when citing a statute or regulation.
17 U.S.C. § 107 (2015).
U.S.C. is the abbreviation telling you what law is being cited. In this instance, it is the United States Code
17 tells you that it is Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
§is the symbol for "section."
107after the section symbol lets you know it's section 107.
2015 signifies the year of the code, since statutes may change over time.
State citations may appear differently depending on how the state codifies its laws. Here is an example from Arizona:
Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 15-506
Ariz. Rev. Stat. tells you that it is from the Arizona Revised Statutes.
§is the symbol for "section."
15-506 signifies the citation is from Title 15, Chapter 5, Section 506 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
Common Statute and Regulation Abbreviations
C.F.R. - Code of Federal Regulations. Federal regulations.
Cong. Rec. - Congressional Record. - The official record of the proceedings of the United States Congress.
Fed. Reg. - Federal Register. The official journal of the United States government, containing agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices.
U.S.C. - United States Code. Codified statutes of the United States.
U.S.C.A. - United States Code Annotated. Product of West Publishing. Annotated version of the U.S. Code.
U.S.C.S. - United States Code Service.Product of Lexis. Annotated version of the U.S. Code.
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