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LRAW Research Spring 2023

Finding Federal Statutes by Citation, Popular Name & Table of Contents

Citation

To retrieve a federal statute by citation in Westlaw or Lexis, type the citation into the search box at the top of the page and then click the search icon. 

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Popular Name Table

If you know the name of an act, you can use the Popular Name Table to find a federal statute.

 

Westlaw  

In Westlaw, select Federal Materials, then United States Code Annotated (USCA), then choose the link for the Popular Name Table - USCA on the right under Tools & Resources. 

The Acts are listed alphabetically. For example, to find the Consumer Product Safety Act, select C.  Then scroll down or do a Control or Command-F search for that popular name. 

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Once you select a popular name, Westlaw takes you to the page that lists each section of the act and provides a link to where that section was codified in the United States Code.
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Lexis

To search by Popular Name in Lexis, begin typing “USCS Popular…” into the search box at the top of the home page and select the link to the "Popular Names Table" when it appears as a choice in the Sources drop-down that appears beneath the search bar. You can then browse for the name of the act alphabetically using control or command-F to move down the list. You can also search the entire Popular Names Table using the search box at the top of the page.

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Once you select a popular name, Lexis takes you to a page that lists the original Act and its amendments with links to its location in the United States Code.

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Table of Contents

Examples of how to access the Table of Contents are shown below; Westlaw is featured on the left, and Lexis on the right.

To view other sections within the Consumer Product Safety Act, click on the Table of Contents button.

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Reviewing the table of contents helps you place a statute in context. For example, section 2052 is a definitions statute, which can help you understand the terms used in related statutes;  you may also choose to explore other sections of the Act, such as section 2053 that created the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

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You can view surrounding code sections using the previous and next arrows, to the right of the Table of Contents button in Westlaw, or the Previous and Next links, to the left and right at the top of the page in Lexis.

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Finding Federal Statutes by Subject

Index Searching

To access the index to the United States Code Annotated in Westlaw, select Federal Materials, United States Code Annotated (USCA), and then Index - USCA on the right under Tools & Resources. In Lexis, from the home page, type USCS in the search box to access its Index when it appears as a choice in the Sources drop-down menu.

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You can search the index in two ways.  

First, you can browse for search terms alphabetically. For example, to find refrigerator safety statutes, select the letter R and scroll down or use a Control or Command-F search for the term Refrigerators. Click on the term "Refrigerators" to see a list of index terms and corresponding code sections. Choose the statute next to the most relevant term, for example, "Safety." 

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Second, you may search the index. Enter one or more search terms, like "refrigerator," in the search box at the top of the page and hit enter to retrieve a list of index entries:

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Keyword Searching

To conduct a keyword search for federal statutes in Westlaw, select Federal Materials and then United States Code Annotated (USCA). In Lexis, select the Federal tab under "Explore" and then USCS - United States Code Service. You can then search the entire U.S. Code or a specific title. 

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Both Westlaw and Lexis provide an Advanced search option that can help you formulate a keyword search. In Westlaw or Lexis, select the Advanced link located near the search icon.

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The Advanced search page helps you construct Boolean searches by inserting connectors and expanders when you enter search terms in the search boxes provided. 

For example, if you type "refrigerator safety" in the "All of these terms box," Westlaw inserts the words with the "And" connector in the search box for you.

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In Lexis, if you type "refrigerator safety" in the "All of these terms box," and then choose "Add," Lexis inserts the words with the "And" connector in the search box for you.  

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You can also use the Document Segments or Fields boxes to limit your search to a specific part of a statute. 

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