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Court Reporters

Court opinions are published in sets called reporters. Digests are tools that help researchers locate cases on specific legal topics or issues.


Cases are printed in reporters in rough chronological order. In the past, legal researchers used tools called digests to identify cases by topic. Now, most researchers search for cases using online sources such as Lexis Advance and WestlawNext. See the Gallagher page on Access to Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance & WestlawNext for information on who is eligible to use these services under the Law Library's subscriptions.

Digests are organized alphabetically by topics, established by West Publishing Co. and detailed in its Analysis of American Law. Reference Area (KF144.W4).

Each Topic begins with a scope note (Subjects Included and Subjects Excluded and Covered by Other Topics), then an outline of the Topic (Analysis). Abstracts of points of law are then arranged in order by Key Number.

Each digest has a Descriptive Word Index and a Table of Cases. Most also have Defendant-Plaintiff Tables (earlier regional and decennial digests do not).

For more information, see The Topic and Key Number System (PowerPoint slideshow).

The Law Library has retained its collection of printed digests, even though they are no longer kept up-to-date.

Digests Available at the Gallagher Law Library

The digests in this table are listed from most comprehensive to most specific.


Title (Coverage)

Call Number


 U.S. & state courts (all cases in the National Reporter System)

 Decennial Digest
(multiple series, 1897 - 2013)

 KF140 - KF141

 Reference Area
 Classified Stacks (1897-1906)

 U.S. courts, including:
* Supreme Court
* Courts of Appeal
* District Courts
* Bankruptcy Courts
* Court of Claims
* Military courts

 Federal Practice Digest, 5th (2013)

 KF127 .W485

 Reference Area

 Federal Practice Digest, 4th (1975 - 2013)

 KF127 .W484

 Reference Area

 Federal Practice Digest, 3d (1975 - 89)

 KF127 .W483

 Reference Area

 Federal Practice Digest, 2d  (1961 - 75)

 KF127 .W48

 L2 Compact Stacks

 Modern Federal Practice Digest (1939 - 60)

 KF127 .M6

 L2 Compact Stacks

 Federal Digest (1754 - 1938)

 KF127 .F4

 Reference Area

 U.S. Supreme Court

 United States Supreme Court  Digest (1754 - date)

 KF101.1 .W4

 Reference Area

 State appellate court cases from the Pacific Reporter *

 Pacific Digest (1884 - 2013) (5 series)

 KF135 .P21

 Reference Area

 U.S. Bankruptcy courts

 West's Bankruptcy Digest (1980 - 2009)

 KF1515.3 .W47 

 Reference Area

 Washington State

 West's Washington Digest, 2d (1854 - date)

 KFW57 .W47 1988

 Reference Area

* Note: The Law Library does not have digests for other regional reporters. Use the Decennial Digests (current through 2013) for states not included in the Pacific Reporter and Pacific Digest (current through 2013).