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Cite-Checking Research Guide


This guide identifies some research sources and methods that are particularly useful when you are checking citations. It is not designed to be a comprehensive guide to research or legal research; nor does it attempt to cover all types of publications that may be cited in the articles you are cite-checking. Rather, the focus is on the types of sources that are most commonly cited in U.S. legal and law-related journals and some of the best resources we have available at USC to find these items. The guide is divided into several parts, with each part focusing on one or more types of publications. For each publication you need to locate, always try to first determine what kind of item it is (book, article, case, statute, regulation, legislative history document, etc.). This will help you choose the right finding tool and the correct search terms to use.

Using Exact Copies

In recent years, more and more sources have been made available online in PDF. The new edition of The Bluebook permits citing to PDF versions of sources that are exact copies of the print versions (see Rule 18.2.1(a)(iii)). At USC, you have access to a wide variety of electronic resources that provide documents in PDF; many of these resources are discussed in this guide.

Reference Materials

The library has some reference books that are particularly useful for cite checkers. They are located in the library's Ready Reference section, located behind the library's Service Counter. You can request these books at the Service Counter.

For help understanding The Bluebook, you may wish to consult:

  • Prince's Dictionary of Legal Citations: A Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students (9th ed., 2017) [call number KF245.B45 2017 (Ready Reference)]

Also, if you have a legal abbreviation or acronym and want to know what it stands for this source may be helpful:

  • Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations: A Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students (6th ed., 2009) [call number: KF246.B46 2009]

Borrowing Materials from Other Libraries

In the course of your work, you are likely going to come across sources that are not available to you on the USC campus (either in print or electronically). If that's the case, you can either request the items through interlibrary loan (ILL) or try to find them at other local libraries (if you or your editor feels that ILL is not going to be quick enough for you). This guide does discuss ways to determine if an item you need is located at other local libraries. However, we always advise that before making the trip to an off-campus library, you call to verify its hours and public access policies. You may also be able to verify over the phone that the items you need are actually on the shelf.

Please note that the UCLA Law Library does not allow non-UCLA law students to use its library. They will, however, copy pages for our students on a case-by-case basis if they have an item that is not available anywhere else locally. Therefore, if there is an item you need and it is only available locally at the UCLA Law Library, please contact Brian Raphael, Assistant Director of the Law Library for Public Services ( and a request for the copies will be submitted. Please make sure, however, that you have checked the appropriate catalogs before you ask us to submit such a request. (For law titles, you should check the catalogs for the LA Law Library, Loyola Law Library, and Southwestern Law Library). The next section of this guide discusses how to access library catalogs.