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Guide for Journal Cite Checkers: Guide for Journal Cite Checkers

Cite checks are a tedious rite of passage in law school. This guide, and the Law Library’s reference staff, are here to help make this part of your law school life a little easier.

Finding Electronic PDFs

Listed below are databases that have PDF images of the types of sources you’re likely to be gathering. For cite checking purposes, downloading a PDF image is as good as having photocopied from the hardbound material yourself (so long as you're getting the PDF from a trusted source). Access these databases, both on and off-grounds, using the links in the righthand column of this guide and on the Law Library's homepage:


  • Westlaw has PDFs of cases printed in West’s hard copy reporters (e.g., Federal 2d, Atlantic 2d, Southeastern 2d). Pull up your case in Westlaw, and click on the “original image” PDF link next to the case name.

  • HeinOnline has PDFs of Supreme Court decisions from the U.S. Reports.  It also has United Kingdom cases printed in the English Reports (Eng. Rep.) from 1220-1827.

Statutes and regulations

  • HeinOnline has the U.S. Code (2012 ed. and earlier versions), U.S. Statutes at Large (1789-2009, 111th Cong. 1st Session), C.F.R. (1938-2013), and Federal Register (1936-to date).

  • The Government Publishing Office’s website FDsys has PDFs of the C.F.R. (1996-2013), and Federal Register (1994-to date).

Congressional documents

  • ProQuest Congressional has a deep collection of committee reports, the Congressional Record and its predecessors, and congressional hearings beginning with 1824.

  • HeinOnline also has the Congressional Record and its predecessors starting in 1789.

  • FDsys has bills (starting 103rd Congress, 1993-94).

  • Congressional committee reports are supposed to be parallel cited to the Thomson Reuters' publication U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.) (Bluebook Rule 13.4), if they're included there. U.S.C.C.A.N. is available in hard copy in the Library's Reference stacks. 

Journal articles

  • Use the Journal Finder to link directly to journals available online, and to find them in hard copy at U.Va. If U.Va. doesn’t have a journal, use interlibrary loan.

    • HeinOnline has more than a thousand law reviews, most all the way back to the journal’s first year of publication.

    • JSTOR has social science journals in addition to law reviews.

    • For PDFs of recent articles, check journals’ websites.

  • You can also link from Google Scholar to articles in U.Va. databases: click “find this @ UVA libraries” next to the article:

Google Scholar - Find 

Newspaper articles 

The Law School Library gets the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Richmond Times-Dispatch and Daily Progress every day, and keeps them in the first floor Klaus Reading Room (next to the Circulation Desk) for one or two months.  If you need earlier articles, Alderman has the New York Times and Washington Post on microform, and Darden has the Wall Street Journal. Use our Journal Finder to locate other newspapers at U.Va.  For older newspaper articles try:

  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers has the Chicago Tribune (1849-1988),Los Angeles Times (1881-1988), New York Times (1851-2008), Wall Street Journal (1889-1994), and Washington Post (1877-1995) in searchable PDF.

  • America’s Historical Newspapers has selected issues of newspapers from cities nationwide, 1690-1991. Go to the “Newspaper Titles” tab to search within a particular publication. 

  • Nineteenth Century Newspapers has selected issues of 19th Century newspapers from across the country.


Documents from Court Cases (petitions, briefs, indictments, etc.)

  • In Westlaw, check the “filings” tab for PDF images of parties’ briefs. 

  • Bloomberg Law’s dockets database pulls federal court case documents from PACER, and also has documents from some state courts.

  • For Supreme Court cases, try SCOTUSblog’s “merits cases” section for PDFs of briefs starting with the 2007 Term, the American Bar Association website’s links to merits briefs from terms back to 2003, and the Making of Modern Law subscription database for cases from 1832-1978.

  • Organizations filing amici curiae briefs in a case sometimes post the briefs on their websites - Google!

Finding hard copies in the Library

Go first to Virgo, the U.Va. libraries' online card catalog, to find hard copies of books, journals, newspapers, and congressional documents here at U.Va. A combination of title/author keywords in the basic search box usually works, but don’t give up if your first search doesn’t show the result you need. Try another search with simpler keywords; also try the advanced search screen. Virgo results are ordered by relevance. Click on the hyperlink for the item for its location, availability, and a map of where it is in the stacks. Here are some Virgo tips:

  • If an item is “unavailable” (Virgo-speak for checked out), click the “request unavailable item” link to recall it.  The person who has it should return it within 10 days.

  • If an item is in “Ivy” (the library storage facility), click the “request items from Ivy” link; delivery usually takes just a couple of days.

  • If Virgo says a book is on the shelf, but it’s not, first check to see if another cite-checker has it or if it is stashed it in your journal’s carrel.  Then check around the photocopiers, the re-shelving truck near the Reference Desk, and the re-shelving trucks at the Circulation Desk.

  • If a book, bound journal volume, or microform you need is in a Main Grounds libraries, the Law School Library’s Student Delivery Service can pick it up for you and deliver it to the Law Library circulation desk.  Request up to two items at a time, and allow 2-3 days.

Remember to check out UVA books to your journal’s carrel before putting them in there! Note that ILL books cannot be checked out to a carrel.  

If a book, book chapter, or journal article you need isn’t at U.Va., you can request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Here’s how:

  1. Double-check Virgo to make sure the item isn’t at U.Va.
  2. Look up OCLC, ISSN, and ISBN numbers in WorldCat, the online catalog for libraries worldwide (search for items as in Virgo, using keywords for title/author).  Once you’re in an item’s detailed record, scroll down to find the ISSN/ISBN and OCLC numbers and plug these into your ILL request form.
  3. Submit an online ILL request form:
    1. login to get to the ILL request forms (your first time, click on the “first time users” button to set up your interlibrary services account; be sure to select Law as your Pick Up Library/Home Library);
    2. choose the request form that matches your source (“borrow an item” for books, bound journals; “scan” for a chapter, article), and fill in as much information as you can including the OCLC number and ISSN/ISBN number; 
    3. if you’re requesting a scan, use the drop-down menu at the top of the form to specify that your request is for a “law cite check.”  This lets the ILL department know you need a PDF. 
    4. You'll get an E-mail either notifying you that your item has been delivered to the circulation desk or with a link to a PDF of it. Interlibrary loan requests usually take a week or more (requests for scans usually take less time).
    5. Return ILL materials on time! You'll receive an email reminder a week before the due date. Although some items can be renewed for a short time, due dates are not otherwise flexible.  


About the Cite Checkers' Guide

This guide has quick tips to help you locate sources for your cite check and deal with hard-to-find sources and tricky citations.  

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Library Liaisons for Law Journals

  • Journal of Law & Politics  
    Leslie Ashbrook
  • Virginia Environmental Law Journal
    Cathy Palombi
  • Virginia Journal of Criminal Law
    Kent Olson
  • Virginia Journal of International Law
    Ben Doherty
  • Virginia Journal of Law & Technology 
    Amy Wharton
  • Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law
    Leslie Ashbrook
  • Virginia Law & Business Review
    Jon Ashley
  • Virginia Law Review
    Kristin Glover
  • Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal
    Michael Klepper
  • Virginia Tax Review
    John Roper