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Circuit Riders: Annotated Codes

Basic Legal Research Training

Annotated Codes

Annotated versions of the U.S. Code are technically unofficial, but add resources after the text of each statute to help researchers determine the relevance of a particular statute and assist with further research on the topic addressed by that statute.

Annotated codes are also updated more frequently than the official print U.S.Code. See Updating the U.S. Code.

Annotations to individual statutes include historical and statutory notes, references to related federal regulations, recommended secondary sources, and headnotes (with citations) from cases interpreting the statute.



Annotations in U.S.C.A. & U.S.C.S.

For example, if you use an annotated code to research a specific code section in the Consumer Product Safety Act, you will likely find the text of the statute as well as references to relevant federal regulations, cases, and secondary sources. 

Code of Federal Regulations
Both the print U.S.C.A. and the U.S.C.S. provide references to relevant sections of the Code of Federal Regulations in their annotations. This can be very helpful for the Consumer Product Safety Act, which created the Consumer Product Safety Commission to implement and enforce regulations the administer the Act.

Case Law
After suggested secondary sources and research references, both the print U.S.C.A. 
and U.S.C.S. provide summaries and citations to cases interpreting the statute. Both provide a numbered topical outline or table of contents for statutes with multiple summaries of court decisions. Case citations in the U.S.C.A. are followed by references to West Topic and Key Numbers. 

Secondary Sources

Both annotated codes provide extensive references to secondary sources that cite individual statutes. Both the U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. include citations to law review articlesALR annotationsencyclopedias, treatises, and practice aids. However, the specific resources included in each may vary greatly, particularly with regard to suggested treatises and practice aids. Therefore, you may wish to check both annotated codes if you have access to them. 


The Coleman Karesh Law Library maintains a print copy of both the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.), published by West/ThomsonReuteres, and the United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.), published by LexisNexis.

These annotated versions of the United States Code (U.S.C) are available online by subscription through Westlaw (U.S.C.A.) and LexisNexis (U.S.C.S.). See Researching Federal Statutes Using Electronic Databases.

The U.S. Constitution & Federal Court Rules

The two annotated versions of the U.S. Code, U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S., also include the annotated U.S. Constitution and annotated federal court rules. Each set includes multiple volumes of:

  • the annotated U.S. Constitution;
  • Federal Rules of Evidence;
  • Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure;
  • Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and
  • local rules for the U.S. Supreme Court, individual federal circuit (appellate) courts, federal district (trial courts), and specialized courts including the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. Tax Court, and U.S. Court of International Trade.