Reporters & Digests

Updated Sept. 10, 2014.
Prepared by Mary Whisner

Court opinions are published in sets called reporters. Digests are tools that help researchers locate cases on specific legal topics or issues. West is the publisher of most of the reporters and digests described in this guide.

Note: Most print reporters and digests were cancelled in 2013. The Law Library maintains print subscriptions to the official U.S. Reports and the commercially published Supreme Court Reporter and its companion digest, as well as the official reporters for Washington State appellate cases, Washington Reports and Washington Appellate Reports. Visit the Free Law Online page to locate sources of current court opinions. UW Law students should use Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and/or Westlaw for current cases.

See also the Gallagher Caselaw Research Checklist.


Reporters

Reporters contain the full text of published court opinions. When a court first releases an opinion, it is usually published as a single case in a pamphlet known as a "slip opinion" or "slip decision." Multiple opinions are collected and published in soft-bound pamphlets called "advance sheets." Depending on the publication, advance sheets are issued on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Advance sheets are later replaced by bound volumes, known as "reports" or "reporters." The pagination in the advance sheets and the bound volumes is identical.

Official reports are published under the authority of the legislature and may be printed by a government agency or a commercial publisher. Unofficial reporters are printed by private publishers (such as West) with or without authority from the legislature. The National Reporter System, developed by West, covers both federal and state courts. All West reporters - i.e., all of the following, except U.S., L.Ed., Wash., and Wash. App. - are part of the National Reporter System.

For more information about reporters see:

the The National Reporter System (PowerPoint slideshow)

Using West's National Reporter System (PDF)

or one of the basic legal research guides in the Library (KF240 at Reference Area).


Major Reporters

U.S. (Federal)

This table identifies the major reporters for cases from the U.S. (federal) courts that are available in the Law Library. This list does not include courts that no longer exist and some specialized courts. Note: Only the United States Reports and the Supreme Court Reporter are being updated, that is, the Library continuously receives new volumes.

U.S. Court Title Abbreviation Call Number Volume, Year Location(s)
Supreme Court United States Reports U.S. KF101 .A212

vol. 1, 1754 - date

vol. 1, 1754 - vol. 528, 1998

Reference Area

L2 Reporters Area

Supreme Court Reporter S. Ct. KF101 .A322 vol. 1, 1883 - date Reference Area
United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition L. Ed.
L. Ed. 2d
KF101 .A313 vol. 1, 1790 - vol. 186, 2013 L2 Reporters Area
Courts of Appeal West's Federal Reporter, 3d Series F.3d KF105 .F432 vol. 1, 1988 - vol. 728, 2013 L2 Reporters Area
Federal Reporter, 2d Series F.2d KF105 .F432 vol. 1, 1924 - vol. 830, 1988 L2 Reporters Area
Federal Reporter F. KF105 .F432 vol. 1, 1880 - vol. 300, 1924 L2 Reporters Area
District Courts West's Federal Supplement, 2d Series F. Supp. 2d KF120 .F42 vol. 1, 1988 - vol. 939, 2013 L2 Reporters Area
Federal Supplement F. Supp. KF120 .F42 vol. 1, 1933 - vol. 670, 1988 L2 Reporters Area
Federal Rules Decisions F.R.D. KF 8839 .F4 vol. 1, 1941 - vol. 291, 2013 L2 Compact Stacks
Bankruptcy Courts West's Bankruptcy Reporter B.R. KF1515 .A2 W47 vol. 1 - vol. 402, 2008 Reference Area
Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims West's Veterans Appeals Reporter Vet. App. KF7745 .A518 vol. 1, 1991 - vol. 25, 2012 L2 Compact Stacks
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces West's Military Justice Reporter M.J. KF7605 .A2W4 vol. 1, 1978 - vol. 71, 2013 L2 Compact Stacks
Court of Claims Federal Claims Reporter Fed. Cl. KF125 .C5 C53 vol. 1, 1982 - vol. 112, 2013 L2 Reporters Area
Court of International Trade United States Court of International Trade Reports Ct. Int'l Trade KF6698 .A512 vol. 1, 1980 - date L2 Compact Stacks
Tax Court United States Tax Court Reports T.C. KF6324 .A512 vol. 1, 1943 - date Reference Area

The Law Library does not subscribe to the Federal Appendix, which includes cases from the U.S. Courts of Appeals that are not selected for publication in the

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States

West's National Reporter System

The West National Reporter System organizes state court cases by region of the country. The map indicates the states that are included in each of the regional reporters.

Cases from Washington State appellate courts are found in the Pacific Reporter:

West's Pacific Reporter, 3d P.3d vol. 1, 1988 - vol. 312, 2013 KF135 .P2 P32 
L2 Reporters Area
Pacific Reporter, 2d (1931-88) P.2d vol. 1, 1931 - vol. 743, 1988 KF135 .P2 P32
L2 Reporters Area
Pacific Reporter (1884-1931) P. vol. 1, 1883 - vol. 300, 1931 KF135 .P2 P32
L2 Reporters Area

The other regional reporters, their abbreviations, dates covered, call numbers, and locations are:

Atlantic Reporter A.; A.2d; A.3d 1886 - vol. 75 (3d series), 2013 KF135.A7 A8 L2 Reporters Area
California Reporter Cal. Rptr.; Cal. Rptr. 2d; Cal. Rptr. 3d 1960 - vol. 137 (3d series), 2003 KFC47 .C32 L2 Compact Stacks
New York Supplement N.Y.S.; N.Y.S.2d 1888 - vol. 959 (2d series), 2013 KFN5045 .A33 L2 Compact Stacks
North Eastern Reporter N.E.; N.E.2d 1885 - vol. 993 (2d series), 2013 KF135 .N6 N62 L2 Reporters Area
North Western Reporter N.W.; N.W.2d 1879 - vol. 837 (2d series), 2013 KF135 .N7 N6 L2 Reporters Area
South Eastern Reporter S.E.; S.E.2d 1887 - vol. 750 (2d series), 2013 KF135 .S6 S6 L2 Reporters Area
South Western Reporter S.W.; S.W. 2d; S.W. 3d 1887 - vol. 409 (3d series), 2013 KF135 .S7 S6 L2 Reporters Area
Southern Reporter So.; So.2d; So.3d 1887 - vol. 122 (3d series), 2013 KF135 .S8 S6 L2 Reporters Area

The Law Library also has the official reporters for the Washington appellate courts:

Washington Supreme Court Washington Reports, 2d Wash.; Wash. 2d KFW45 .A22 Reference Area
L2 Compact Stacks
Washington Court of Appeals Washington Appellate Reports Wash. App. KFW48 .A5W3c Reference Area
L2 Compact Stacks

When citing Washington cases to Washington courts, follow the Reporter of Decisions Style Sheet, which uses different abbreviations for Washington court reports:

  • Washington Reports = Wash.
  • Washington Reports, 2d = Wn.2d
  • Washington Appellate Reports = Wn. App.

The Law Library generally has other official state reporters that predate coverage in the regional reporters. Search the catalog by the name of the state and the phrase "law reports." LLMC Digital--a commercial online source to which the Law Library subscribes--contains PDF images of many old state court reports. Follow the link on the Legal Databases & Indexes page.

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Digests

Cases are printed in reporters in rough chronological order. To locate cases by subject or legal issue, use a digest that covers cases from the appropriate court(s).

Digests are organized alphabetically by topics, established by West Publishing Co. and detailed in its Analysis of American Law. KF144.W4 at Reference Area & Reference Office.

Each Topic begins with a scope note (Subjects Included and Subjects Excluded and Covered by Other Topics), then an outline of the Topic (Analysis). Abstracts of points of law are then arranged in order by Key Number.

Each digest has a Descriptive Word Index and a Table of Cases. Most also have Defendant-Plaintiff Tables (earlier regional and decennial digests do not).

For more information, see The Topic and Key Number System (PowerPoint slideshow).


Digests in the Gallagher Law Library

The digests in this table are listed from most comprehensive to most specific.

Court(s) Title Call Number Location
U.S. & state courts (all cases in the National Reporter System) Decennial Digest (multiple series, 1897 - 2013) KF140 - KF141 Reference Area
Classified Stacks (1897-1906)
U.S. courts, including
Supreme Court,
Courts of Appeal,
District courts,
Bankruptcy courts,
Court of Claims &
Military courts
Federal Practice Digest, 4th Series (1975 - 2013) KF127 .W484 Reference Area
Federal Practice Digest, 3d Series (1975 - 89) KF127 .W483 Reference Area
Federal Practice Digest, 2d Series (1961 - 75) KF127 .W48 L2 Compact Stacks
Modern Federal Practice Digest (1939 - 60) KF127 .M6 L2 Compact Stacks
Federal Digest (1754 - 1938) KF127 .F4 Reference Area
U.S. Supreme Court United States Supreme Court Digest (1754-date) KF101.1 .W4 Reference Area
State appellate court cases from the Pacific Reporter * Pacific Digest (1884 - 2013) (5 series) KF135 .P21 Reference Area
Washington State appellate courts West's Washington Digest, 2d (1854 - date) KFW57 .W47 1988 Reference Area
U.S. Bankruptcy courts West's Bankruptcy Digest (1980 - 2009) KF1515.3 .W47  Reference Area

* Note: The Law Library does not have digests for other regional reporters. Use the Decennial Digests (current through 2013) for states not included in the Pacific Reporter and Pacific Digest (current through 2013).

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Methods for Searching Digests

There are several successful approaches to using the digests to locate relevant cases.

  1. Begin with a known case.

From reading secondary sources or using annotated codes, you might have identified a major case on point. Review the topics and key numbers in that case that case; determine which of them (and there may be more than one) address the specific issue in which you are interested. Find digest that covers the jurisdiction(s) you need; the topics and key numbers are the same throughout the system.

  1. Use the Descriptive Word Index. Look up terms to find Topics and Key Numbers that have relevant abstracts.
  1. Use the topical approach.

Choose one or more Topics that are likely to address the issue you are researching. Read the scope notes to see whether your issue is covered. Skim the outline to find a Key Number or range of Key Numbers.

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Updating Digests

  1. Check for a pocket part (or later edition of the digest).
  2. Check for interim pamphlet(s).
  3. Check digest section of recent reporter volumes and advance sheets.
  4. Use WestlawNext.

Note: The Law Library maintains current subscriptions only for the United States Supreme Court Digest and the West's Washington Digest.

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