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Legal Research Basics: Methods of Finding Statutes: Method 2: Using the Features of a Print Code

Guide to Statutory Research for LRW Students

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In Westlaw

First, navigate to the code you wish to search:

  • In the Browse box, click on Statutes & Court Rules > [Federal] United States Code Annotated or [State] select a state

Now you can search the code using the Table of Contents, the Index, or the Popular Name Table.

Table of Contents

This will pull up the table of contents for the code of your choice.  You can scroll through the list to browse the table of contents or you can search the code.  You'll notice that the search bar at the top now has a new tab just for searching your selected jurisdiction's statutes and court rules.  You can also use the Advanced Search, to the right of the orange search button, to search specific elements of the code, such as annotations, statutory text, or by citation.


The index to the code can be found on the right side of the screen, under Tools & Resources.  Like the Table of Contents, you can browse the index terms alphabetically, or search the index using the search bar at the top of the screen.  Note: Indexes are created using controlled vocabularies, meaning that a term you used in a keyword search will not necessarily be listed as an index entry.  For example, you might run a keyword search in the index for 'car' but the index entry might use the term 'automobile'.  So even when you search the index, it is searching for your term as an index entry; if the editors of the code didn't list your term as an index term, you will return 0 hits.  Bottom line: If you're having trouble with the index, try some synonyms of your keyword.

Popular Name Table

The popular name table can also be found on the right side of the screen under Tools & Resources.  A popular name table lists statutes by their popular name and then provides their code citation so you can look them up.  For example, if you're looking for the Defense of Marriage Act, but you don't know its citation, you could look it up in the popular name table.  However, not all statutes have popular names, and the popular name table in Westlaw is not searchable, so it is really only useful in the situation where you only know a statute by its popular name and you need to find its citation.

In Lexis Advance

First, navigate to the code you wish to search:

  • Select Browse > Sources > By Category > Statutes and Legislation 
  • Locate your jurisdiction in the box on the left 
  • Find your jurisdiction's code (ex: Alaska statutes) in the remaining list, and click the link to view the Table of Contents.

Table of Contents - You can browse the table of contents or search the code using the small search box just above the table of contents.

Index - not available in Lexis Advance

Popular Name Table - not available in Lexis Advance

In Bloomberg Law

First, navigate to the code you'd like to search (there are several ways to do this in Bloomberg Law, represented at each bullet point):

  • Under Getting Started > choose State Law or Federal Law, depending on your jurisdiction
  • Search & Browse > Legislative > in the blue box, find the jurisdiction you wish to search, and click the Browse TOC button next to that jurisdiction's code.
  • Legislative & Regulatory > (a) Search Legislative - takes you to the same search box as the Search & Browse option, above, or (b) State Legislative Materials - takes you to a map of the U.S.; click your state and you're presented with the option to search or browse your state's code.

Table of Contents - You can browse the table of contents, expanding any title using the +.  You can also search by keyword at the top of the table of contents.

Index - not an available feature in Bloomberg law

Popular Name Table - Bloomberg Law does not offer the popular name table for states' codes, but it does have the popular name table for the United States Code.  It is listed at the bottom of the U.S. Code's table of contents.