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.
Keep in mind:
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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:
(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:
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 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.)
(Bluebook Rule 15)
Special Bluebook Tip:
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
Step 3: Confirm whether the edition cited by the author is the latest edition of the work.
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.
This is what the top of the first page of the PDF copy of a case from the Supreme Court Reporter looks like:
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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