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Citations to statutes of a particular jurisdiction follow a particular pattern. This uniformity of citation helps researchers find the materials they need more quickly. Different jurisdictions, however, do not necessarily follow the same pattern. For instance, citations to federal statutes differ from those to Texas statutes.
The United States Code (U.S.C.) is the official version of the codified federal statutes. There are two unofficial, annotated, versions of the Code that are published by commercial vendors: United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) and United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.). In general, the annotated versions incorporate useful research tools, such as indexes, citations to cases, name tables, etc., and are updated more quickly. Unless you are verifying or writing official Bluebook-conforming citations for a law review article or other scholarly work, it is recommended that you use the annotated codes. The USCA is available on Westlaw; the USCS is available on Lexis.
A citation of a federal statute contains four pieces of information:
For example, in the citation for the statute 18 U.S.C. § 115 (2006 & Supp. I 2007),
If you are conducting your research with USCA or USCS, you may need to ascertain the location of the statute within the U.S.C. and its supplements in order to write a Bluebook-conforming citation.
The elements of a Texas statutory citation are:
In Texas, you will see two different versions of this same citation pattern. The most common citation will be to the annotated Codes, but another citation will be to the Texas Revised Civil Statutes Annotated. Both citations are current--the Revised Civil Statutes are simply an older arrangement of the Texas statutes. (For more information on this process, see here.)
For example, for the statute Tex. Occ. Code Ann. § 2158.001 (West 2015):
Another example is Tex. Nat. Res. Code Ann. § 89.043 (West 2001 & Supp. 2009):
You may encounter citations to Texas statutes that have been abbreviated to "VTCA" (Vernon’s Texas Codes Annotated) and "VATS" (Vernon’s Annotated Texas Statutes).
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