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Guide to Legal Abbreviations and Citations

Citations and Abbreviations for Statutes and Regulations

The best place to look up a statute or regulation is usually in a code. Codes are organized by subject and are updated on a fairly regular basis. Each code has its own organizational structure, which determines how you cite a particular code provision.

Federal statutory and regulatory codes are divided into titles. Each code title is numbered and covers a broad area of law (e.g., title 11 of the federal statutory code covers bankruptcy law). Titles are further divided into code sections, which are also numbered. Both the title number and section number are included in a federal code citation (along with the abbreviation for the particular version of the code being cited to). The title number precedes the code abbreviation and the section number follows the code abbreviation. The § symbol is always placed before the actual section number.

For example, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 is a citation to section 1001 of title 29 of the official version of the federal statutory code (called the United States Code). The citation 42 C.F.R. § 59.1 refers to section 59.1 of title 42 of the official version of the federal regulatory code (called the Code of Federal Regulations).

California regulatory code sections are cited in the same way as federal code citations. California statutory code sections are cited a little differently however, since the California statutory code compilation is really a series of individual codes instead of one code divided into different titles. Therefore, California statutory code citations merely include an abbreviation for the specific code followed by the number of the section being cited to (e.g., Cal. Civ. Code § 4100 is a citation to section 4100 of the California Civil Code).

Below are standard abbreviations for the major federal and California statutory and regulatory sources. For additional information on these sources, consult the USC Law Library guides Finding Federal Statutes, Regulations, and Related Cases and Finding California Statutes, Regulations, and Related Cases. Information on citing to statutory and regulatory materials can also be found in the citation manuals listed at the beginning of this guide.

AbbreviationName of Source
Pub. L.or P.L. Public Law
Stat. Statutes at Large
U.S.C. United States Code (official version of the federal statutory code)
U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated (published by West)
U.S.C.S. United States Code Service (published by LexisNexis)
C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations
Cal. Code Regs. or C.C.R. California Code of Regulations