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Basic Legal Citations

Overview

Federal statutes begin their life as a session law with a public law number. After the session law has been passed by both chambers and signed by the President, it becomes a statute. The passed session laws are published in chronological order in the Statutes at Large. After the laws have been codified, they are published in the United States Code (USC). For statutory citation rules, see Bluebook Rule 12.

Statutory Citation

Here is an example of a statutory citation broken down by its parts:

3 U.S.C. § 88

3 = the title number of the code

U.S.C. = the name of the publication (in this case, the United States Code)

§ 88 = the section of the statute

Published Compilations of Codes

Abbreviation Title Publisher
U.S.C. United States Code (Official) U.S. Government Printing Office
U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated West Group
U.S.C.S. United States Code Service LexisNexis Publishing

Session Laws

Here is an example of an official session law citation:

 Health Professions Education Extension Amendments of 1992, Pub. L. No. 102-408, 106 Stat. 1992.

 Explanation: Pub. L. No. 102-408

             102 refers to the 102nd session of the U.S. Congress

             408 is the number assigned to the law

 Explanation: 106 Stat. 1992

             106 is the volume number

             Stat. refers to the Statutes at Large publication

             1992 is the page number on which the statute begins