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Administrative Law

This guide addresses federal administrative law research in general. Please consult topical research guides for information related to specific subject matter and agency procedures.

Finding Regulations

The New Deal era of the 1930s resulted in a marked increase in federal regulation. At that time, there was no central repository for federal rules and regulations. Executive branch agencies would print regulations in different publications such as gazettes, bulletins, and notices. To simplify public access to administrative law, Congress passed the Federal Register Act, 49 Stat. 500 (1935) (44 U.S.C. Chapter 15), requiring that the National Archives publish all rules and regulations in the Federal Register. The first Federal Register was issued on March 14, 1936.

Materials published in the Federal Register include Presidential documents (proclamations, executive orders, and other executive documents); notices of proposed rules, hearings, and meetings; proposed rules and regulations; and rules and regulations adopted by executive agencies. The Federal Register is published every federal work day.

Since 1938 adopted rules and regulations are also published in the Code of Federal Regulations. See 44 U.S.C. s. 1510. Regulations are arranged by subject and agency, and organized into 50 different titles. Many, though not all of these titles, correspond to similar U.S. Code subjects. Within each title, regulations are organized by agency.

CFR Volumes are now updated once each calendar year and is issued on a quarterly basis:

Titles 1-16           January

Titles 17-27         April

Titles 28-41         July

Titles 42-50         October  



Note that the official version of the CFR is the print version (or equivalent PDF) published by the U.S. Government Printing Office. To cite regulations not yet appearing in the print CFR, cite to the Federal Register as described in Blue Book Rule 14.2.

Continuously updated versions of the CFR

  • e-CFR (GPO)
  • Lexis
    • Shepard's is also available for regulations 
  • Westlaw
    • Keycite is also available for regulations