Source pulling and cite checking assignments require you to find copies of all sources cited in the footnotes of an article and to check the support for the assertions made by the author. You will need to retrieve an official copy of every source cited in your assigned footnote range.
Authoritative, official versions of many sources can be found through electronic databases. Downloading the PDF copies of these sources is often much more efficient than obtaining the print copies of the sources.
This section 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, then please feel free to stop by the Reference Desk, email the Reference Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (650) 725-0800. The Virtual Reference Office hours are posted on the RCLL homepage.
Source Pulling Process for Finding Books, Journals, and Newspapers (during COVID):
Source Pulling Process for Finding Cases:
Citations in footnotes conform to the white pages of The Bluebook. To identify unknown abbreviations, use Tables 1-13 or one of the resources listed below.
Examples of Unpacking Citations
Always refer to Table 1 (T1) in The Bluebook to determine the preferred reporter for cases. The preferred reporter should be cited whenever a case is published in it. You will usually–but not always–be able to find scanned, electronic copies of cases from these reporters through either HeinOnline or Westlaw. We may also have the reporter in print (search in SearchWorks for its title or refer to this list). If you can't find a PDF and we don't have the print reporter, just request the case through interlibrary loan.
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. These PDF copies of the cases should be used to verify the support in the citations. Electronic copies of the 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.
United States Supreme Court Cases:
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.), which means that cases from the past few years are often available in the Supreme Court Reporter, but not yet available in the United States Reports. As of September 2020, the United States Reports includes cases through mid-2015. 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.
United States Reports: Copies of cases from the United States Reports can be found in the HeinOnline U.S. Supreme Court Library. Click on either the PDF icon or download icon (on the far left of the row of icons above the document viewer) to download and save a PDF copy of the 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:
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. Thus, you will need to submit 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.
U.S. Supreme Court Briefs
The Making of Modern Law U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs database contains briefs for the period of 1832-1978. The Robert Crown Law Library owns briefs between 1979-1995 on microform. The ABA Preview Briefs website contains more recent briefs from 2004-2016, and the Supreme Court's website contains briefs filed in November 2017 or later. SCOTUSblog includes briefs from 2007-present. Other briefs outside of 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.
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.
Bluebook T1 indicates the preferred statutory compilations for each state. For example, The Bluebook advises you to cite to either the subject-matter code in West's Annotated California Codes or in Deering's California Codes, Annotated (LexisNexis).
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.
To find a book that is cited in an article, you should first check SearchWorks, the catalog for Stanford University Libraries (including the Law Library) to see if it is available at a campus library. Please refer to the Source Pulling - Library Policies and Procedures section of this guide for information about checking out books to student journal accounts and placing books on cite-checking shelves.
If the book is not owned by Stanford University Libraries, you will have to submit an Interlibrary Loan request. 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: Stanford University Libraries offers a variety of books in e-book format 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":
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
Step 3: Confirm whether the edition cited by the author is the latest edition of the work.
Older Books in the Public Domain: For older books that are in the public domain (published prior to 1923 and out of copyright), then a scanned version of the book may be freely available in a digital repository:
It is worth checking these sources prior to requesting them through interlibrary loan.
The HeinOnline Law Journal Library contains over 2,200 law and law-related periodicals dating back to the first issue for each title. The database allows you to download PDF scanned copies of the articles.
Stanford University Libraries subscribes to various databases that contain non-law periodicals, such as Academic Search Complete and JSTOR. Many of these databases allow you to download PDF scanned copies of articles. The easiest way to find out whether a journal title is available through one of these electronic databases is to search for the title of the journal in SearchWorks.
Although you will find copies of articles from most periodicals in one of these electronic databases, certain periodicals are only available in print format rather than through electronic databases.
For quick links to our subscriptions to major newspapers, see our Newspapers research guide.
The twentieth edition of The Bluebook contains various revisions to Rule 18. One major revision is that all citations to electronic resources are now 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.
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