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Statutes Research Guide: Federal Codes

Comparing laws on the same subject across many jurisdictions

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Getting the US Code online

Getting "Official" U.S. Codes for law review

Getting the US Code in print

Boley Law Library has the current and complete historical collection of the official U.S. Code, as well as West's U.S. Code Annotated and LexisNexis' U.S. Code Service, and their historical counterparts: Mason's U.S.Code, U.S. Compiled Statutes Annotated, and Federal Code Annotated.

These codes are located in the library's federal law section.

Federal Codes

There are three editions of the United States Code: 

  1. The United States Code (U.S.C.)

  2. United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) (Westlaw)

  3. United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) (Lexis)

The U.S.C. is the official code of the United States, and is published (in print) every six years with annual cumulative supplements.  The U.S.C. is divided into fifty-one major topics called titles.

The Government Printing Office (GPO) print version of the U.S. Code remains the final authoritative version.  This code is also available online at FDsys. Note that HeinOnline has digital copies of the historical U.S.C. starting in 1926, and earlier.

The U.S.C. contains only the text of the statute.  For research, it is advisable to use an annotated code, such as the U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. 

Annotated codes contain the language of the statute and make reference to other helpful primary and secondary sources.  They provide citations (and links) to cases applying the statute.  They cross-reference other relevant statutes, regulations and legislative documents; and link to practice guides, treatises and law review articles that discuss the statute. 

To the left are links to sources for the U.S. Code.  You can search by citation, index, or popular name in Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg Law.  If you don't have a citation, follow the steps in Finding Codes.

Sample Citation [Bluebook 12 and T1]

7 U.S.C. § 1b (2006)

Historical Versions of the U.S. Code

When your research involves a prior version of a U.S. Code, check these sources (linked on the left side of this page):

  • WestlawEdge 1990 - present.  From the current code section, click on History tab, then select Versions. To locate a repealed section or to search the earlier version by keyword, begin at the WestlawEdge homepage, select Statutes & Court Rules, then Historical Statutes (right side), then click on United States Code Annotated.
  • Lexis 1992 - present.  From the current code section, click on "Archived code versions" on the right side of the page. Select the year.
  • FDsys 1994 - present. Free.  HTML or PDF versions of the bound volumes of the U.S. Code provided by the Government Printing Office.
  • HeinOnline's U.S. Code Library 1926 - present. PDF versions of the bound volumes of the U.S. Code. Also includes pre-U.S. Code compilations of federal laws.

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