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Source Pulling and Cite Checking for Journal Members

Overview

Source Pulling

Source pulling requires you to find copies of all sources cited in the footnotes of an article. There are two vital elements to source pulling: 1) locating the correct source, and 2) locating a "format-preserving" version of the source.

  1. Finding the correct source means finding the precise source the author used - for example the sixth edition of the book instead of the eighth edition, or the online version of a news post instead of the article by the same title that was printed in the newspaper a day later.
  2. Finding the format-preserving version means finding the authoritative presentation of the source; for example, the PDF of an opinion from a reporter instead of printing out the html version from Westlaw, or downloading a PDF of a law journal article from HeinOnline instead of screenshotting the version on a website. Authoritative, official versions of many sources can be found online, and through electronic databases; downloading the PDF copies of these sources is often much more efficient than obtaining the print copies of the sources. For info on reporters/cases/opinions, see the List of Reporters.

Keep in mind:

  • When pulling sources, keep in mind that sources cited in your footnote range may appear in other ranges as well - sometimes it is helpful to communicate with other journal members to locate sources when you have this kind of overlap.
  • Some sources such as websites or PDFs may need to be preserved in Perma; for more information visit our Perma.cc guide

The section below 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. If you find that you are having trouble locating a source please feel free to email the reference librarians at reference@law.stanford.edu or stop by our Virtual Reference Office; the hours are posted on the RCLL homepage. And of course, check out the Welcome to Library Services document, the Source Pulling training slides, and the Cheat Sheet!

At a Glance - Articles, Books, Journals, Newspapers, Reports, etc. 

Check out the Cheat Sheet for regularly updated details. The steps below are general guidelines. 

  1. Identify the title of the publication.
  2. Search for the publication title in SearchWorks. (Or for the article title in Articles+)
    1. Is it available online? Use the links in SearchWorks to access it and download a format-preserving PDF. If there's no format-preserving PDF available...
    2. Is it available in print? Check out the item under your journal account, scan what you need, and place the checked out item on the Journal Shelves (first floor, at the Borrowing Services Desk). Make sure you add a flag with the author name! Supplies available on the cart near the shelves. 
    3. Is it not available at Stanford in any format (including if it's currently checked out)? Request an Interlibrary Loan (ILL).  

At a Glance - Cases/Opinions/Orders/Reporters

Please see the List of Reporters for information on locating reporters, etc. Also check out the Cheat Sheet for regularly updated details, as it applies to reporters as well. The steps below are general guidelines. 

  1. Identify the jurisdiction.
  2. Identify the preferred reporter in Bluebook, Table 1. 
  3. Check to see if a PDF of the preferred reporter is available online. (see the List of Reporters for leads)
    1. Supreme Court cases, U.S. Reports preferred, find at HeinOnline, govinfo.gov, ...; if unavailable in U.S. Reports, the next option is Supreme Court Reporter on Westlaw
    2. Federal appellate or district court cases, Federal Reporter and Federal Supplement preferred, check Westlaw for PDFs
    3. State cases, regional reporter often preferred, check Westlaw for PDFs
  4. If the material is not available online, check SearchWorks for the print reporter. If unavailable at a Stanford University library, check with your journal leadership before requesting an ILL and confirm whether another source would be suitable (slip opinion, other reporter, etc.)
  5. If you have questions about locating the material, please email reference@law.stanford.edu

Articles - Journals/Law Reviews (Bluebook Rule 16)

Articles published in law journals, law reviews, or other academic journals are often available as PDFs online or from a database.

When searching for an article, first search the article title in the catalog Articles+. If the article does not appear in the results list, try searching the catalog Searchworks for the journal title. 

Useful databases include:

  • HeinOnline Law Journal Library. Law-specific; PDF downloadable; includes over 3,000 law and law-related periodicals dating back to the first issue for each title.
  • Index to Legal Periodicals and Books. Includes an index of US and international materials from the 1980's on, with some full text coverage.
  • JSTOR. Multi-disciplinary database with millions of academic books and journals, many available in PDF. 
  • RCLL Databases list. A comprehensive list of database subscriptions available through the Robert Crown Law Library, with some quick links to databases available through other SU libraries. 

You can also try the SU databases list, or the SU ejournals search which lets you locate ejournals or ebooks by title, part of title, or subject. 

(Bluebook Rule 16)

Articles - News/Magazines (Bluebook Rule 16)

Articles published in newspapers or magazines are sometimes available as PDFs (online or from a database) but are sometimes only available in html online, or in print in the library.

When searching for an article, first search the article title in the catalog Articles+. If the article does not appear in the results list, try searching the catalog Searchworks for the periodical title (ex. Wall Street Journal, Wired, etc.). 

Useful links include:

  • Major U.S. Newspapers. A research guide created by the law library specifically for SLS students.  
  • Newspapers and News Sources. A research guide from the SU libraries for all students. 
  • Legal Databases. Try a ctrl/cmd+F search for news; there are a variety of special topic databases that include news (ex. energy, prison, economics, etc.)
  • Bloomberg Law, Fastcase, Law360 (through your Lexis account), Lexis, and Westlaw. All include some news coverage, generally law-related. 

You can also try the SU databases list, or the SU ejournals search which lets you locate ejournals or ebooks by title, part of title, or subject. 

Keep in mind:

Articles in news publications or magazines are often available as PDFs online or from a database. Keep in mind that articles often appear on a news website, and then again in the print newspaper; these two articles may be exactly the same, slightly differently, have different titles, be published on different days, or differ in a variety of other ways. Make sure you're sourcing the correct version that the author actually used. 

Also, it helps to have the exact date (mm/dd/yyyy) of a news or magazine article. While law journals are often consecutively paginated (where the page numbers continue on from the last issue), most news and magazines start over with a page one for each issue - so your citation will look different than a journal article.

(Bluebook Rule 16)

Books (Bluebook Rule 15)

Books may be available in print or online as a format-preserving PDF or as a born-digital ebook. Make sure you locate the same edition and format the author used - even if that means they used an online treatise through a legal database. 

To find a book cited in an article, first check the Stanford library catalog, SearchWorks. Try searching the title to start. For updated policies on obtaining books from the SLS library, other SU libraries, or libraries at other universities, please see the Cheat Sheet and/or the Source Pulling - Library Policies and Procedures section of this guide. (You'll also find info there about checking out books to journal accounts and placing books on cite-checking shelves.) 

  • Books in print. If a book is available at another campus library other than the Law Library, you must retrieve the book from that library yourself. Please see the map of campus libraries. If the book is checked out to someone else, please submit an Interlibrary Loan request, or email circulation@law.stanford.edu (check the journal shelves or journal account to see if someone else from your journal has already checked it out). If the book is not owned by Stanford, you will have to submit an Interlibrary Loan request. (Again, check to see if another journal member already requested it.) Because interlibrary loan items are sent to our library by other libraries around the country, it may take up to a few weeks for the item to arrive.  
  • E-Books. SU libraries have many e-books available through Ebook Central and other vendors. E-books can be accessed directly through the link in SearchWorks and are usually, but not always, page-preserving replicates of the print version of the book. If a book is available in e-book format, you can access it through the link on the left-hand side of the page under "Available Online":

        Screenshot of Searchworks showing e-book link location

 

        Screenshot of an e-book accessed through Ebook Central

  • E-Books (Older Books in the Public Domain). Many older books in the public domain (published prior to 1923 and out of copyright), are available for free online through a digital repositories. It is worth checking these sources prior to requesting them through interlibrary loan!

(Bluebook Rule 15)

Special Bluebook Tip:

  • 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," under the title's information on the search results page

Screenshot of a search result in WorldCat, showing the link to view all editions under the item description

Step 3: Confirm whether the edition cited by the author is the latest edition of the work.

     Screenshot of Worldcat showing all editions of a book, with the edition date indicated in the "Date/Edition" column

Cases (Bluebook Rule 10)

Please see the List of Reporters for information on locating PDFs of cases. Also check out the Cheat Sheet for regularly updated details, as it applies to reporters as well. For cases: 

  1. First, identify the existing reporter abbreviation. (Use Bluebook Table 1, or Prince's Bieber).
  2. Then confirm the jurisdiction and court.
  3. Check Table 1 in the Bluebook to identify the preferred reporter; if it is the same as the citation, retrieve the source. If it is different than the citation you may need to pull the preferred reporter and convert the citation; check with your journal's style guide for instruction. 
  4. Look to see if a PDF of the correct reporter is available online. (see the List of Reporters for leads)
    • U.S. Supreme Court cases = U.S. Reports preferred (abbreviated U.S.). Find at CAPsupremecourt.govLOC/govinfo.govHeinOnline U.S. Supreme Court Library, etc. If the U.S. Reports version is unavailable, the next option is Supreme Court Reporter; locate the case in Westlaw then look above and to the left of the case name for a PDF icon followed by the words "original image." 
    • Federal appellate cases = Federal Reporter and Federal Appendix preferred (abbreviated F. and F. App'x). Try CAP, or locate in Westlaw and look above and to the left of the case name for a PDF icon followed by the words "original image." 
    • Federal district court cases = Federal Supplement preferred (abbreviated F.Supp.). Try CAP, or locate in Westlaw and look above and to the left of the case name for a PDF icon followed by the words "original image." 
    • State cases = vary, but regional reporter often preferred (abbreviated P., A. N.E., etc.). Try CAP, or check Lexis or Westlaw for PDFs, or the state court websites. 
  5. If the reporter is not available online, check SearchWorks for the print reporter. If unavailable at a SU library check with your journal leadership before requesting an ILL and confirm whether another source would be suitable (slip opinion, other reporter, etc.)
  6. If you have questions about locating the material, please email reference@law.stanford.edu

See below for more details on different reporters. And keep in mind:

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. Electronic copies of 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. Please see the List of Reporters for more info. 

United States Supreme Court Cases:

U.S. Reports. Per Table 1 of the Bluebook, 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.) - the unofficial reporter published by the same company which owns Westlaw. That means cases from the past few years are often available in the Supreme Court Reporter, but not in the United States Reports (though the unpaginated slip versions of the opinion are available through supremecourt.gov). As of January 2022, the United States Reports includes cases through mid-2016. It is only appropriate to cite to the Supreme Court Reporter if the case cited does not appear in the United States Reports, so 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.

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" link in the upper left of the case's page 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.

Screenshot of Westlaw showing the location of the link to download a PDF of a case in 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:

First page of a case in the Supreme Court Reporter

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 printed 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.

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 many of these cases, particularly those published in a regional reporter, 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. 

Note: West's California Reporter is not available in PDF on Westlaw, and the Robert Crown Law Library does not have the set in hard copy format. Please discuss with journal leadership whether there is a suitable alternative before submitting an ILL request for these cases. 

Historical State and Federal Cases:

Very old state cases, such as a case published in the Iowa Reports in 1968 or a case published in the Michigan Reports in 1869, may be available on LLMC Digital. The easiest way to find a case is by clicking on "Browse Collections" and navigating to the desired reporter. 

Regulations (Bluebook Rule 14)

Federal Regulations

Federal Regulations are found in two publications. Regulations (also called rules) are published first in the Federal Register (FR or Fed. Reg.) as a proposed rule, then again as a final rule. This printing contains additional background and summary information as well as the text of the rule. The Federal Register is published every federal working day, and the page numbers quickly climb into the thousands - if you see a page number that appears to be 51,356, it is probably not a typo. A final rule is then reprinted in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), which is published annually, and contains the text of in-force federal regulations. 

  • CFR. Generally, if a regulation is printed in the CFR, cite to that source. You can locate PDFs of the CFR at govinfo.gov or HeinOnline. Keep in mind that ecfr.gov is an unofficial version. You will need the volume number and the part or section number. 
  • Federal Register. If the citation purposefully refers to a proposed or final rule in the Federal Register you can locate PDFs at federalregister.gov (back to 1994), on govinfo.gov (back to the first volume), or on HeinOnline (back to the first volume). You will need the date and either the page number or rule name. 

State Regulations

The process of publishing state regulations is similar to federal regulations - they are printed first in a chronological publication, then printed again by subject in an in-force publication (usually annually). See T1 in the Bluebook for the name of the administrative registers (the chronological publications) and the administrative compilations (the subject codified publications) for each state.

As an example, California regulations are published first in the California Regulatory Notice Register (commonly called the Z Register), and the final rules are printed again in the California Code of Regulations. You may use these online versions as your source for California materials; if you prefer you can also see the print versions in the library, though there is a lag between updates on the websites and updates in the print versions due to the time required to ship the physical pages. For other states, check the state website for information on accessing official publications. 

(Bluebook Rule 14)

Statutes (Bluebook 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 2018, but supplements are released annually.

Using the title number and section, locate PDFs of the current U.S. Code from one of the following databases. If appropriate for context, pull any related Supplements as well. 

  • Govinfo.gov. Contains authenticated, official versions of the U.S. Code from 1994 to present. 
  • HeinOnline - U.S. Code. Includes coverage dating back to inception, 1925-1926. 

Keep in mind:

You may encounter other types of citations to federal statutes, for example a citation to the slip law, or to the session law as published in the Statutes at Large (Stat.). While the U.S. Code citations include a title number and section, citations to the Stat. include a volume number and a page number.

HeinOnline - U.S. Statutes at Large. Contains all volumes of the Statutes at Large, starting with Volume 1 in 1789. 

State Statutes

Check T1 in the Bluebook for the preferred statutory compilations for each state. For example, the entry for California advises citing to either the subject-matter code in West's Annotated California Codes or in Deering's California Codes, Annotated (LexisNexis). The official version of the California Code is available online, and the annotated versions are available as html in the Westlaw and Lexis databases (see Bluebook Rule 12.5) or in print in the library for West's

Historical Statutes

If trying to locate an historical code or session law, see the options below for PDFs. Non-format preserving versions are available going back a few decades on Lexis and Westlaw under Historical codes.

  • HeinOnline Session Laws Library. Contains the session laws of all fifty U.S. states (dating back to inception), as well as Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and the D.C. Register. 
  • HeinOnline State Statutes: A Historical Archive. Contains superseded state statutes (codes) for all fifty states, with coverage going back until 1717. 
  • LLMC Digital. An extensive collection of state materials, comprising the largest collection of government documents in microform, currently being made available for online access. 

Websites/Online Only Sources (Bluebook Rule 18)

The twenty-first edition of The Bluebook contains various revisions to Rule 18. Note that all citations to electronic resources are 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 or the Perma.cc guide for journal members

(Bluebook Rule 18)

Other

Briefs, Court Filings, and Transcripts (Bluebook Rule 10)

U.S. Supreme Court Briefs

These briefs are available in a variety of places, primarily dependent on the date.

Briefs outside these date ranges will likely need to be obtained via interlibrary loan. 

Court Filings and Transcripts

Please see our Docket Research guide for information on how to obtain PDF copies of court filings from Bloomberg Law, Lexis CourtLink, and Westlaw. 

For court filings in federal cases, Bloomberg Law (BLAW) should have the same information as PACER, which provides access to federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy court information via a centralized service. State court coverage varies among the three aforementioned databases.

(Bluebook Rule 10)

Legislative Materials and Administrative/Executive Materials (Bluebook Rule 13 and Rule 14)

For recent government documents, visit govinfo.gov, 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 for congressional reports and hearings.

(Bluebook Rules 13 & 14)