When looking for a statute or regulation, many times you will be able to start with its citation. If you have this information, you can typically find the full text of the section by entering the citation into an appropriate resource. If you do not have a citation, but know the subject which you'd like to search, use a tool or database that supports full-text searching. The more detail you use, the more likely you will find a result on point (if one exists); less detail will provide more, but possibly irrelevant, results. Perform a number of searches using different combinations of terms, and synonyms for terms, to ensure the best results.
Statutes and regulation are often organized in titles and chapters by subject. Browsing or searching the tables of contents may allow you to quickly find areas of interest. Likewise, many compilations of statutes and regulations contain indexes which contain more detail than the tables of contents. When looking at a specific section, be sure to browse related sections around it to understand the context of the law, and identify and relevant exceptions and definitions.
When you have found a statute or regulation that seems relevant, always check to see if it is still good law. Many subscription resources, such as Hein Online, have an online tool to check for you. Laws and regulations are often amended or changed, and interpretations in case law may affect their effects.
Annotated statutes contain cross-references to related statutes, regulations, and court opinions. If you are using a tool that does not have annotations, using the case citation in a search engine will provide cases that have cited to the statute or regulation. Use different forms of the citation or Boolean connectors to account for differences in citation formatting.
From the Government Printing Office, GovInfo provides full-text searching of the US Code, Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, and the Congressional Record. It also included federal court opinions back to 2004.
Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service.