United States Statutes and the United States Code: Historical Outlines, Notes, Lists, Tables, and Sources

A Federal Statutory Research Guide

Part of LLSDC's Legislative Source Book

The U.S. Statutes at Large is a chronological arrangement of all laws enacted by Congress.
The U.S. Code is an updated, subject arrangement of all general and permanent U.S. law so enacted.

Historical Outlines, Explanatory Notes, Lists


Basic Overview on How Federal Laws Are Published, Organized and Cited (2006, PDF - 5 p.)

How to Find U.S. Statutes and U.S. Code Citations (1980, 4th. Ed, Office of the Fed. Register, PDF - 12 p.)

Detailed Guide to the United States Code Content and Features (Office of the Law Revision Counsel)

United States Code: Historical Outline and Explanatory Notes (2011, PDF - 6 p.)

United States Code: List of Positive Law Titles with Enacting Cites and Location to Revision Notes (PDF)

Unraveling the Mysteries of the U.S. Code - a Q&A  (2009, PDF - 4 p.)

Authority of Statutes Placed in Section Notes of the U.S. Code (2015, HTML & PDF)

United States Statutes: Historical Outline and Source Notes (2008, PDF - 4 p.)

U.S. Statutes at Large: List of Documents and Information Included (2004, PDF - 1 p.)


Tables from the Law Revision Counsel & Others


United States Code Classification Tables (updates Code by year in public law and code order, including current year)

United States Code: Table I - Revised Titles (former sections to new positive law sections - See also PDF downloads)

United States Code: Table II - Revised Statutes (R.S. sections to U.S.C. sections - See also PDF downloads)

United States Code: Table III - Statutes at Large (statute sections to U.S.C. sections, including amendments - See also PDF downloads)

United States Code: Table IV - Executive Orders (Order No. to location in U.S.C. notes - See also PDF downloads)

United States Code: Table V - Proclamations of the President (Proclamation No. to location in U.S.C. notes - See also PDF downloads)

United States Code: Table VI - Reorganization Plans (Reorg. Plan No. to location in U.S.C. notes - See also PDF downloads)

Acts Cited by Popular Name - Tool (PDF) (citations to where that popular name title is found in the U.S. Code which is usually at the beginning of a U.S.C. section (or section note) where most of the rest of the text of the Act can be found)

Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules
(PDF) (Text) (U.S.C. cites to C.F.R. cites - U.S.C. sections, U.S. Statute pages & public laws cited as authority in various CFR citations - Office of the Federal Register via GPO.gov)

Table of Congressional Publication Volumes and Presidential Issuances (Current to 1789 - shows Statute at Large volumes & Congresses when U.S.C. titles enacted)


Electronic Sources for the U.S. Statutes and the U.S. Code


BloombergLaw (subscription service) - Has current U.S. Code as well as 2006 & 2000 editions; U.S. Public Laws/Statutes from 1976; many amended laws from 1933; search capability; and popular name table.

Cornell's Legal Information Institute - U.S. Code and Popular Name Table - Free service which has an effective date within a few weeks or less of recent public laws. The service can search, browse, cite and link to individual sections. It also has a popular name table that links to many U.S. Code cites with section breakdowns.

Fastcase.com - U.S. Code (subscription service) - Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable.

Findlaw - U.S. Code and Popular Name Table - Free service owned by Thomson Reuters, publishers of Westlaw..The service is updated about once a year. Provides unannotated U.S. Code that one can browse and search by keyword or citation. Subsections are not laid out nor are source authorities or note sections or appendices.

GPO's FDsys - U.S. Code and Public and Private Laws (U.S. Government Printing Office) - Annual, free service from 1994 to near current year. You can search, browse, and obtain sections by citation method. Also has a searchable and browseable Public and Private Laws database that includes PDF files from 1995 of all U.S. statutes. Fdsys has U.S. Statutes at Large (with indices) both as annual compilation PDFs (very large files) and by individual statute from 1951 to 2011.

GPO's GovInfo.gov has the same statutory materials as FDsys but it has a one stop search engine format.

HeinOnline - U.S. Statutes and Large / Historical Editions of the U.S. Code, a subscription service - has digitized the U.S. Statutes At Large (not word searchable) and all the historical editions and supplements to the U.S. Code. The Code is searchable and cite retrievable.

House Office of the Legislative Counsel maintains a list with links to PDF copies of frequently requested U.S. statutes that have not been placed into titles of the U.S. Code as positive law titles. These Statute Compilations  are instead arranged by statute sections with U.S. Code cites in parentheses.

Justia.com - U.S. Code has a free, browseable presenttaion of the annual U.S. Code from 1994 to the near present..

Law Revision Counsel, Office of the - U.S. Code (official compiler and publisher of the U.S. Code in the U.S. House of Representatives). The U.S. Code is searchable, citation retrievable, and downloadable in various formats (ASCII, PDF, XHTML, ZIP) back to 1994. The most current version is often up-to-date within days of a law's publication. All source citations are linked to the appropriate page in the U.S. Statute at Large. There is also a statute cite retrieval site, as well as a current cite checker site, a Popular Name Tool, a Statute to Code Table, and other tools, tables, explanations, and features.

LexisNexis and Lexis Advance (subscription) are subscription services which contain complete U.S. Statutes at Large (from 1789) and the U.S. Code Service (current and back to 1992). Updates sometimes take a few weeks. Can search, browse or retrieve by citation with links to source statutes at the bottom of each Code section. A USCS Popular Name Table and Index is also available. The services' U.S. Statutes at Large material is from 1789 (in PDF, not directly searchable) is available by citation method and there a searchable public law file from 1988.

Library of Congress / HeinOnline U.S. Code 1926 to 1988 editions, Browse volumes and titles, downloadable and linkable.

Library of Congress - U.S. Statutes at Large and Public Laws via its Congress.gov service. Covers the years 1789-1873; browseable but not directly searchable; part of Library's American Memory Project. Though its Congress.gov service it has the text of public laws in PDF back to 1995 (select All Legislation) and the text of enrolled bills back to 1989 with information about laws back to 1973.

LoisLaw.com - U.S. Code (subscription service) Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable.

The Law.net - U.S. Code (subscription service) - Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable.

VersusLaw.com - U.S. Code (subscription service)- Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable. 

Westlaw is a subscription which contains the U.S. Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) and and U.S. Statutes by citation with the current and past USCA from 1990 and an "effective date" service from 1996. Updates are usually prompt but may take a few weeks. Can search or browse. Also has a popular name index from 1789 with breakdown links to USCA cites and public law numbers of recent laws. Westlaw has a U.S. Statutes at Large premium service from 1789 to 1972 (not directly searchable) and U.S. public laws from 1973.


Compiled and maintained by Rick McKinney, Assistant Law Librarian, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, D.C.

Please email your questions or comments to the Legislative SIS.

Last revised on October 19, 2017