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Guide for Law Journal Students

Finding Sources

For a sourcing-and-citing (S&C) assignment, you are responsible for finding copies of all sources cited in the footnotes of an article to check the support for the assertions made by the author. You will need to retrieve an official copy of every source cited in your assigned footnote range for the S&C assignment.

Authoritative, official versions of many sources can be found through electronic databases. Downloading the PDF copies of these sources is often much more efficient than obtaining the print copies of the sources.

This section provides tips for how to find the most frequently cited type of sources, but does not cover every type of source you may encounter in the article.

Cases (Rule 10)

Always refer to Table 1 (T1) in The Bluebook to determine the preferred reporter for cases. The preferred reporter should be cited whenever a case is published in it. For more information about reporters, please refer to the research guide about Court Reporters.

The Gallagher Law Library has an extensive print collection of reporters, but fortunately you will usually be able to find scanned, electronic copies of cases from these reporters through either HeinOnline or Westlaw.

This section outlines where you can find official PDF copies of cases that are identical to what you would find in the print bound volume. These PDF copies of the cases should be used to verify the support in the citations. Electronic copies of the cases available through Google Scholar, Ravel Law, Lexis, or other websites where the case is presented in full-text format with star pagination are not the official PDF copies of the cases.

United States Supreme Court Cases:

The preferred reporter for United States Supreme Court cases is the United States Reports (U.S.). However, the bound volumes of the United States Reports are not published as quickly as the bound volumes of the Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.), which means that cases from the past few years are often available in the Supreme Court Reporter, but not yet available in the United States Reports. Generally, only in those circumstances is it appropriate to cite to the Supreme Court Reporter. Always check to see if the case has been published in the United States Reports first when you encounter a citation to a U.S. Supreme Court case.

United States Reports: Copies of cases from the United States Reports can be found on HeinOnline. Click on either the PDF icon or download icon to download and save a PDF copy of the case.

Supreme Court Reporter: Copies of cases from the Supreme Court Reporter can be found on Westlaw. For cases from the Supreme Court Reporter, make sure to click the "Original Image" icon to obtain a PDF copy of the case that is identical to how it looks in the bound volume of the reporter instead of downloading an electronic copy of the case with star pagination. In the example below, you can see that this case has not yet been published in the United States Reports because there is no citation to the official reporter (U.S.) provided for it. Thus, for this case, it is appropriate to cite to the Supreme Court Reporter.

This is what the top of the first page of the PDF copy of a case from the Supreme Court Reporter looks like:

U.S. Courts of Appeal:

Bluebook T1 indicates that the preferred reporter for U.S. Courts of Appeal cases is the Federal Reporter (F., F.2d, or F.3d). Cases that are not published in the Federal Reporter may be published in the Federal Appendix.

The Federal Reporter and Federal Appendix are published by West Publishing. Copies of the cases as they appear in the bound volumes are available to download in PDF on Westlaw. Make sure to click the "Original Image" icon to obtain a PDF copy of the case that is identical to how it looks in the bound volume of the reporter rather than downloading an electronic copy of the case with star pagination.

Federal District Courts:

Bluebook T1 indicates that the preferred reporter for federal district court cases published after 1932 is the Federal Supplement (F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d, F. Supp. 3d). For cases published prior to 1932, cite to the Federal Reporter or Federal Cases.

The Federal Supplement series is published by West Publishing. Copies of the cases as they appear in the bound volumes are available to download in PDF on Westlaw. Make sure to click the "Original Image" icon to obtain a PDF copy of the case that is identical to how it looks in the bound volume of the reporter rather than downloading an electronic copy of the case with star pagination.

Washington State Court Cases:

Bluebook T1 indicates that the preferred reporter for Washington Supreme Court cases and Washington Court of Appeals cases is the Pacific Reporter (P., P.2d, P.3d for Supreme Court and P.2d or P.3d for Court of Appeals). If the case is not published in the Pacific Reporter, you should next refer to the Washington Reports followed by the Washington Territory Reports for Washington Supreme Court cases and to the Washington Appellate Reports for Washington Court of Appeals cases.

The Pacific Reporter is published by West Publishing. Copies of the cases as they appear in the bound volumes are available to download in PDF on Westlaw. Make sure to click the "Original Image" icon to obtain a PDF copy of the case that is identical to how it looks in the bound volume of the reporter rather than downloading an electronic copy of the case with star pagination.

Other State Court Cases:

To determine the preferred reporter for court cases from another state, you should refer to Bluebook T1 and check under the particular state's name. If the case is published in the preferred reporter, make sure the article cites to that reporter for the case. The official versions of most (but not all) of these cases are available to download in PDF on Westlaw. Make sure to click the "Original Image" icon to obtain a PDF copy of the case that is identical to how it looks in the bound volume of the reporter rather than downloading an electronic copy of the case with star pagination.

Statutes (Rule 12)

Federal Statutes:

The U.S. Code, which is published every six years, contains federal laws currently in force. The most recent edition of the United States Code is 2012, but supplements are released annually. The official, authenticated version of the U.S. Code is available electronically in PDF here:

Citations to the U.S.C.A. or U.S.C.S. are referring to the United States Code Annotated (West) or the United States Code Service (Lexis), which are commercial publications. Bluebook Rule 12.1 provides examples of how to cite to the current official code (U.S.C.) as well as how to cite to a current unofficial code.

For more information about finding and locating federal statutes, please see the following research guide:

State Statutes:

Bluebook T1 indicates the preferred statutory compilations for each state. In Washington, for instance, you should cite to the Revised Code of Washington as the official code. West's Revised Code of Washington Annotated and the Annotated Revised Code of Washington (LexisNexis) are unofficial annotated codes.

Legislative Materials or Administrative & Executive Materials (Rules 13 & 14)

For recent government documents, visit FDsys (soon to be replaced by govinfo), where you can find official, authenticated electronic copies of congressional reports, hearings, and debates, as well as the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and Federal Register.

For historical (pre-1990s) government documents, visit HeinOnline for agency materials (Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register, and agency decisions) and congressional debates and visit ProQuest Congressional Publications for congressional reports and hearings.

Books (Rule 15)

UW Library Catalog:

The University of Washington is a member of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a consortium of various libraries in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Our library catalog shows items available at the Gallagher Law Library, at UW Libraries, and at UW Libraries + Summit.

If an item is not available within the UW library system, you can request it from another Summit library through our catalog and generally will receive it within 3-5 days.

If you click on the "see Summit availability" link in the catalog record, you can see the availability of the item at other institutions within the consortium:

If a book is not available either within the UW library system or at any Summit libraries, you will need to request it via interlibrary loan. Please see the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Requests section of this guide for guidance on how to submit an interlibrary loan request.

Editions:

Bluebook Rule 15.4 states, "Always cite the latest edition of a work that supports the point under discussion, unless an earlier edition would be particularly relevant or authoritative." Authors frequently cite whatever edition their libraries have in their collections, which are frequently not the newest editions. To verify whether a newer edition of a book is available and should be cited instead, you should consult WorldCat:

Step 1: Conduct a search for the book.

Step 2: Click on "View all editions and formats."

Step 3: Confirm whether the edition cited by the author is the latest edition of the work. In this example, if the author cited to the fifth edition (2009) in his or her article, WorldCat indicates that a sixth edition published in 2013 is available and should likely be cited instead.

Periodical Materials (Rule 16)

Law Journal Articles:

The HeinOnline Law Journal Library contains over 2,200 law and law-related periodicals dating back to the first issue for each title. The database allows you to download PDF scanned copies of the articles.

Other Periodicals:

The University of Washington subscribes to various databases that contain non-law periodicals, such as Academic Search Complete and JSTOR. Many of these databases allow you to download PDF scanned copies of articles. The easiest way to find out whether a journal title is available through one of these electronic databases is to search for the title of the journal in our library catalog:

Click on the purple "Online Access" button to see what databases the journal title is available in and select an appropriate database that covers the date of the issue where the cited article appears:

Although you will find copies of articles from most periodicals in one of these electronic databases, certain periodicals are only available in print format rather than through electronic databases.

The Internet (Rule 18)

The twentieth edition of The Bluebook contains various revisions to Rule 18. One major revision is that all citations to electronic resources are now treated as direct citations. You should save a copy of content from an Internet source by either saving it to PDF or by taking a screenshot.

Archiving URLs: The Bluebook strongly encourages archiving URLs with archival tools such as Perma.cc (see Bluebook Rule 18.2.1(d)). This is important to ensure that future readers will be able to access the content cited in an Internet source as it appeared on the date that the Perma link was created, even if the webpage is subsequently modified or taken down. For assistance in generating Perma links, please see the Perma.cc section of this guide.

Foreign Jurisdictions (Table 2)

When you encounter citations to cases, constitutions, codes, and other sources from non-U.S. countries, you may have no idea where to begin to track down the source. You should always refer to Bluebook T2, which provides helpful guidance for each country, including links to authoritative versions of sources online.

The Gallagher Law Library offers numerous research guides to assist you with conducting research about foreign and international law and citing to foreign and international law. To view a compilation of all of these research guides, please click on the link below: