Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Methods of Finding Cases: Using Citators

Tables of Authorities

Often in case law research we are focused on citing references, cases that have come after our case that have cited our case.  Another tool for finding cases, however, is the Table of Authorities, which helps us to more easily find the cited cases, those cases that came before our case and to which our case cites.  All three databases have a Table of Authorities.

In Lexis Advance:

Table of Authorities tab within the Shepard's report, follows the Citing Law Reviews, Treatises, etc. tab - you can sort by court or analysis and narrow by analysis, court, or by searching for new terms within the results

In Westlaw:

Table of Authorities tab at the top of the case, next to the Citing References tab - you can sort by depth of analysis, quote, or alphabetically by title

In Bloomberg Law:

Table of Authorities comes at the end of the BCite tab - you can sort by case, date, court, or analysis, filter by treatment, and choose whether to Show Details


Related Guides

What are citators?

A citator is a tool that will provide you a list of everything that has ever cited your document.  These are called citing references.  This will generally include not only all cases and statutes that have cited your document, but also every legal secondary source, court documents, and regulations.

Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law each have their own citator.  In West, it is called KeyCite, and will be found under the Citing References tab at the top of your document.  In Lexis, it is called Shepard's, and will be found by clicking the Shepardize button or clicking the "Get Shepard's Report" link in the box titled About this Document.  In Bloomberg Law, it is called BCite, and will be found by clicking the BCite tab at the top of your document or by looking at the BCite Analysis to the right. 

Lexis Advance: Shepard's

From your case, click the Shepardize button toward the top of the screen; you can also click the treatment symbol next to the case name to get to the citator report.

  • Check your view.  Lexis divides the report into Appellate History, Citing Decisions, Citing Law Reviews, Treatises, and other Secondary Sources, and Table of Authorities.  These options are across the top of the Shepard's tab.
  • Click on Citing Decisions - this will list all cases that have cited your case.
  • On the right side of the screen, you can sort your results by court (highest to lowest), analysis (red to blue), discussion (highest to lowest), or date (newest to oldest). 
  • On the left side of the screen, you can narrow your results by type of analysis (positive, neutral, negative), by court, by depth of discussion (analyzed, discussed, mentioned, cited), by headnote, by date, or by searching within results for new keywords

A Note on Headnotes:

When looking at the headnotes in your case, you will see a link that says "Shepardize - Narrow by this Headnote" - click this link to be taken to a narrow view of the Shepard's report, viewing cases only and narrowed to just those cases that fall under that headnote.

Understanding Treatment Symbols:

In Shepard's, Lexis has two kinds of treatment symbols: the colored squares indicate how the citing decisions treat your case (positively, negatively, neutrally) and the multi-shape indicators (such as the green diamond with a plus sign, the red stop sign, etc.) tell you the status of that individual case (good law, questioned, overturned, etc.). 

To understand the meaning behind the Lexis treatment symbols, click the Legend link at the top of the list of citing decisions.  You can also hover over a symbol to see a general description of its meaning.

Westlaw: KeyCite

From your case, click the Citing References tab at the top.  This lists all legal materials that cite your case (called citing references).

  • The default View in Westlaw is All Results (cases, statutes, secondary sources, etc.).  Change the View on the left by clicking on Cases.
  • Narrow results by searching within for more keywords or narrowing by jurisdiction, date, depth of treatment, headnote topic, treatment status (positive or negative treatment of your case), or reported status (reported v. unreported cases)
    • Depth of Treatment - did the citing reference analyze your case or just mention it in passing?
    • Headnote Topic - narrow your list of citing cases by headnote; click Specify to narrow even further by sub-topic

A Note on Headnotes:

From the headnotes in your case, you will see a link the says "# Case(s) that Cite this Headnote" - by clicking on this link, you are taken to a narrowed list of results under the Citing References tab - the results will be restricted to cases and restricted by headnote.  This is essentially a shortcut for narrowing the citator report in Westlaw.

Understanding Treatment Indicators in Westlaw:

Westlaw uses colored flags to indicate the status of a case.  (Ex: A yellow flag indicates some negative history, and a red flag indicates that the case is no longer good law for at least one point of law in the case.)  Unlike Lexis, Westlaw does not have a separate set of treatment symbols to indicate the positive or negative treatment that a citing reference gives your case.  What you might see, though, are green quotation marks, which indicates that the citing reference quoted your case. 

If you click on a flag, you will be taken to that case's Negative Treatment tab, which will show you where the negative treatment occurred.  This could be in the history of the case, such as a case that is overturned, or it could be a negative citing reference.  The Negative Treatment tab will list both negative history of the case (if any) and any citing references that have negatively treated your case.

For more information about West's treatment indicators, click on KeyCite at the top of the document, or go to the bottom of the screen and click Help > Documentation > Using KeyCite > Viewing KeyCite Information for a Case

Bloomberg Law: BCite

From your case, click the BCite tab at the top.  You can also see a snapshot view of the BCite report in the right-hand column.

  • In the BCite report, you are first given the Direct History of the case, followed by the Citation Analysis, and finally a Table of Authorities.
  • The Citation Analysis lists all cases that have cited your case.
  • You can sort by date (newest to oldest), court (highest to lowest), or analysis (positive to negative)
  • You can also filter results by type of treatment (positive, negative, distinguished, etc.)
  • Your initial view is just a list of cases and their level of analysis.  If you click the Show Details link at the top-right of the Citation Analysis box, you will see snippets from the citing decisions where your case is cited.
  • Ecosearch - if you want to narrow your list of cases by keyword, click the EcoSearch tab (next to the BCite tab).  You will have the option to Include All Cases, just Cited Cases (those cases that your case cites), or just Citing Cases (those cases that cite your case).

A Note on Headnotes:

Bloomberg Law doesn't have any.  Unlike West and Lexis, Bloomberg Law does not, at this time, have a headnote system for finding similar cases.  Instead, you should use a combination of the BCite report and Ecosearch to find other cases to expand your research.

Understanding Treatment Indicators in Bloomberg Law:

Bloomberg Law has its own set of multi-colored squares to describe the status of cases and their treatment by citing decisions.  As in both West and Lexis, hovering over a treatment indicator will show you a brief description of its meaning. 

For a better description of the meaning behind these symbols, click the "Description of BCite Indicators" link at the bottom of the BCite Analysis column, to the right of the case opinion and also on the right in the BCite tab.