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Researching Texas Law: Constitution & Statutes

This guide lists assists users in researching Texas statutes and case law.


This guide will give you a basic introduction to finding and using the Texas Constitution and statutes. For more detailed help, please see the other research guides in the "Researching Texas Law" series or contact a reference librarian for help.

Words to Know

Annotation: Extra information provided along with the text of a law. This information is not part of the law itself, but is meant to aid the user in finding additional material to help interpret the law. Annotations may include legislative history, case notes, or law review citations.

Index: A comprehensive list of all references to a given topic within a larger body of work. Using an index can lead the reader directly to every place where that topic is mentioned.

Statute, Statutory: Another word for "law". The Texas laws are also referred to as the Texas statutes.

Statutory Recodification: This term is used when large numbers of statutes are republished and updated, reorganized, and/or amended in a nonsubstantive way. Moving the Texas laws from a general code to a topical code is an example of recodification.

Statutory Recompilation: This term is used when statutes are republished in a slightly different form, perhaps with some reorganization, but no new information is added. Printing a new, renumbered version of the Texas statutes is an example of recompilation.

Statutory Revision: This term is used when statutes are republished with more substantial changes than can be encompassed by the terms "recodification" or "recompilation". Completely rewriting a Texas code, complete with new laws and substantive changes to existing laws, is an example of revision.

Substantive vs. Nonsubstantive: When discussing changes to laws, a "substantive" change is one that affects how the law is interpreted or applied. In contrast, a "nonsubstantive" change may alter the wording, phrasing or organization of a law, but does not make any changes to its actual meaning.

Topical Code: A topical code is a subset of a larger body of law and contains all of the law on a particular topic. For example, the Texas Family Code contains all of Texas' laws relating to family and domestic issues, including children, marriage, and divorce. Contrast this to a general code, which is simply organized alphabetically by topic and does not divide laws into specific subjects.