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.

Legal Research: Reading Legal Citations

Legal Citation Guides

Code Abbreviations

Federal Statutes

Abbreviation Publication
U.S.C. United States Code
U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated
U.S.C.S. United States Code Service

Maine Statutes

Abbreviation Publication
Maine Revised Statutes Annotated

Decoding Legal Citations

A legal citation is simply a way to help you find the case, statute or article being referenced. Typically, the citation includes:

  1. a volume number
  2. the name of the case reporter, code, or journal 
  3. a page or section number

Here are some examples:


  • Citation: 550 U.S. 618127 S.Ct. 2162, 167 L.Ed.2d 982
  • Translation: Refers to case name Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. found in volume 550 of United States Reports, page 618. Parallel citations in volume 127 of the United States Supreme Court Reporter, page 2162, and volume 167 of US Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer's Edition, page 982.


  • Citation: 42 U.S.C. 12101
  • Translation: Title 42, United States Code, Section 12101


  • Citation: 54 Hastings L.J. 243
  • Translation: Volume 54, Hastings Law Journal, page 243

Case Reporter Abbreviations

US Supreme Court

Abbreviation Publication
U.S. United States Reports
S. Ct. United States Supreme Court Reporter
L. Ed. US Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer's Edition

US Appellate Courts

Abbreviation Publication
Federal Reporter
F. 2d.
Federal Reporter 2nd Series
F. 3d. Federal Reporter 3rd Serie

US District Courts

Abbreviation Publication
F. Supp.
Federal Supplement
F. Supp. 2d.
Federal Supplement 2nd Series
F. Supp. 3d. Federal Supplement 3rd Series
Colby College on Twitter Colby College on Facebook Colby College on YouTube Colby College on Vimeo Colby College RSS Feed Search Previous Next