United States Code Annotated

United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.)

Note: See also United States Code Annotated and Annotations, both in the World Encyclopedia of Law. And United States Code Annotated, in the Dictionary of Law.

The United States Code Annotated contains the full text of the U.S. Constitution as well as Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, Internal Revenue Code, Court Rules for Federal Trial and Appellate Courts. The United States Code Annotated index is more detailed than that of the United States Code Service. In addition, each United States Code Annotated title has an individual index. The Popular Names Table, located in the back of the last index volume, is helpful in locating statute and/ or code section by title of the Act. United States Code Annotated contains all the same tables previously mentioned in the United States Code description. United States Code Annotated provides more annotations to cases than United States Code Service but not some judicial opinions found in the United States Code Service.

An Unofficial edition

While the U.S.C. (United States Code) (U.S.C) is the official edition of the Code, the U.S.C.A. Code is an unofficial or commercial, more complete, version of the United States Code, together with the United States Code Service (United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) including the lawyers edition).

All the three editions provide:

  • tables containing parallel references between statutory cites
  • earlier revisions and later texts
  • presidential documents.
  • notes referring to the history of a law after most sections
  • an overall index (usually consisting of several volumes)

Practical Information

See united states code (in U.S. law).

United States Code Annotated (USCA) main titles

In U.S.C.A, the most popular titles are:

  • United States Code Annotated Title 18
  • United States Code Annotated Title 28
  • United States Code Annotated Title 11

United States Code Annotated Online

As publisher of United States Code Annotated, West made available the Code through Westlaw.


While the two commercial editions of the (U.S.) Code contain the same that is published in the United States Code, including annotations to case law relevant to statutory law, there are some differences:

  • United States Code Annotated annotations of cases are sometimes shorter if deemed particularly relevant cases.
  • United States Code Annotated preserves less closely the language and context of the original Statutes at Large text. This also means it deviates more from the text of the U.S. Code.
  • United States Code Annotated are less extensive than United States Code Service’s cross references.
  • United States Code Annotated is often less timely because of the monthly advance service of United States Code Service.

What is United States Code Annotated?

For a meaning of it, read United States Code Annotated in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to United States Code Annotated.

Legal Materials

Annotated Editions

The annotated editions of the U.S. Code are: the United States Code Annotated (USCA), by Thomson/West; and the United States Code Service(USCS) by LexisNexis. Both sets are excellent.

There are a few important differences between the two annotated Codes, including the following. The USCS follows Statutes at Large, while the USCA follows the official USC. The USCS has a cross-reference table to the CFR; the USCA doesn’t. The USCS includes more cases but the USCA has more annotations per case. The USCS is updated and invoiced monthly, while the USCA is updated and invoiced annually.

The USCA is available on Westlaw (USCA), while the USCS is on Lexis(GENFED;USCS). For more information, see “Fee-based Databases,” below.

For more about the different print versions of the USC, see Using the United States Code.

Fee-Based Databases

The annotated USCS is on Lexis (GENFED;USCS), and the annotated USCA is onWestlaw (USCA). The appropriate format for pulling a section on Lexis is: x uscs x. The format on Westlaw is: x usca x.

Lexis and Westlaw update their online code as new laws are passed; still, there is about a two-month time lag when Congress is in session. Running a Shepard’s or KeyCite report on the relevant section will tell bring you within 10 days of currency. To get even more current, search the bill number of any pending legislation that shows up on the Shepard’s or KeyCite report in a Congressional Record database — e.g., on Westlaw, use the CR database and search with the format: “(HR /10 235 767 1438) & da(after 12/10/200x)”.

You can also find a Popular Name Table at the end of the United States Code Annotated and the United States Code Service, available in print and online through Westlaw (USCA-POP) and Lexis, respectively.

Statutes and Law (International Approach)

See Also

Code of Federal Regulations annotated
Using public records
Uniform Laws and Model Acts
United Stat­es Code with Annotations

Further Reading

Shepard’s Acts and Cased by Popular Names, Federal and State (1986)

United States Code Annotated: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about United States Code Annotated. This part provides references, in relation to United States Code Annotated, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about United States Code Annotated by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about United States Code Annotated and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about United States Code Annotated or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to United States Code Annotated and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting United States Code Annotated. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about United States Code Annotated should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to United States Code Annotated when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

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