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George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

Scholarly Writing & Spading

Spading Guidance

Legal Abbreviations

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations. Online, free. Enter a title to find the abbreviation; or enter the abbreviation to find the title. Cardiff Index includes U.S., British Commonwealth, international, and major foreign law abbreviations.

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations. Copies are available at the Circulation Desk, in the Reference area (KF246.B46 2009), and on Lexis. 

World Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (Reference collection, K89.K38) if your cite is not listed in Bieber’s. 

Books

Start with the Mason Catalog. We share the catalog with the main campus library. If your book is located at another campus library, request it using the ILLiad request form. For more information on borrowing from other libraries see the Borrowing from Other Libraries page.

If Mason does not own your book, use WorldCat to find all the necessary information for filling out the ILLiad request form. Most importantly, please include the OCLC, or Accession, number in your request form. This unique identifier ensures that we borrow the precise edition of the book you are requesting.

Loans from other libraries can take up to 10 days, so plan ahead when possible. It may be faster for you to visit another library yourself. Use WorldCat to see whether a local library owns your material. See below for details on visiting other law libraries in the region.

Articles

Check the Mason E-Journal Finder to locate electronic copies of journals.  Follow the link to the database noted for your journal. Some journals are available in PDF files, others are not. Links to HeinOnline and JSTOR will include the full text in PDF format. Except for very recent articles, nearly all law review articles are available in HeinOnline in PDF format.

If the journal is not available electronically using the E-Journal Finder, check the Mason catalog for print copies. For articles in journals not in the law library, you can request articles using the ILLiad request form. Include the ISSN or OCLC number of the journal in your request form. Also be sure to include the necessary information for the lending library to find and photocopy the article you want – author, title, page range, etc.

ILL for articles is usually fast because lending libraries normally photocopy and fax or email the article to us.

For more detailed information on finding articles, please see our Journal Databases research guide.

Congressional Materials

You can find many Congressional documents, including bills, Senate and House reports and documents, hearing transcripts, legislative histories, and the Congressional Record in the ProQuest Congressional database. Many of these documents are available in PDF format. Coverage of the Congressional Record and House and Senate reports is extensive, going back to the early sessions of Congress. If a compiled legislative history is available, then ProQuest Legislative Insight is an easier to use alternative.

Many congressional materials, bills, and laws from 1993 forward are also available in PDF format at Govinfo.gov.

For PDF versions of Public Laws published in United States Statutes at Large use HeinOnline (1789 to 2008) or the free Govinfo (1951 to 2011, and Public Laws as slip laws 1994 to present). The Govinfo versions are official and certified to be authentic and unaltered from their original form. 

To track the status of a bill in the current Congress, track the status of any bill from 1973 to present, or find Senate and House reports related to bills from 1995 forward, you can use Congress.gov.

For more detailed information on finding congressional material, please see our Federal Legislative History research guide.

USC, CFR, and Federal Register (FR)

HeinOnline provides comprehensive coverage in PDF of the USC, CFR, and Federal Register (FR) as follows: USC (1925 to present), CFR (1938 to present), and FR (1936 to present).

The Government's free Govinfo provides PDF versions of the USC (1994 to present), CFR (1996 to present), and Federal Register (1994 to present), too. The Govinfo versions are official and certified to be authentic and unaltered from their original form.

Litigation Filings/Court Documents

Federal court dockets (except for the United States Supreme Court) are searchable on Bloomberg Law--Search Dockets in the Litigation & Dockets tab. The underlying documents are available (in PDF format) so long as they were electronically filed with the court originally. Bloomberg Law waives the fee for academic users. Docket coverage goes back to the 1980's for most courts, but the underlying documents are only available since about 2000 (it varies by court). If you need assistance retrieving a federal court document, please consult with a reference librarian.

Current Newspapers

The Law Library keeps a couple of recent weeks' papers at the circulation desk, and some older newspapers are digitized, but for many in between, you will have to use the ILLiad request form to request microfilm of the paper you need. Be sure to first use Lexis or Factiva to verify all the information about the article – title, author, date, page – before filling in the ILLiad request form. Below are listed the ISSN and OCLC numbers for the most commonly requested papers. For others, please use WorldCat to obtain the OCLC (accession) number that you need for the ILLiad request form.

  • The Economist – ISSN 0013-0613; OCLC 1081684 (PDF available 1843-2010 in Economist Historical Archive).
  • New York Times – ISSN 0362-4331; OCLC 1645522
  • Wall Street Journal – ISSN 0099-9660; OCLC 4299067
  • Washington Post – ISSN 0190-8286; OCLC 2269358
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch – OCLC 9493729

ProQuest Digital Microfilm - Hosts selected local and national microfilmed newspapers such as The New York TimesLos Angeles TimesWall Street Journal, and Washington Post. Coverage is typically from 2008 to about three months ago.

For more detailed information on finding contemporary newspapers, please see our Newspapers, Magazines, and Other News Sources research guide.

Historical Newspapers in PDF

Proquest Historical NewspapersAtlanta Constitution 1868-1945; Baltimore Sun 1937-1987; Boston Globe 1872-1981; Chicago Defender 1910-1975; Chicago Tribune 1849-1987; Christian Science Monitor 1908-1999; Los Angeles Times 1881-1989; NY Times 1851-2009; Wall Street Journal 1889-1995; Washington Post 1877-1996.

American Periodical Series - Lesser known and short run American newspapers, magazines, and journals from 1740 to the mid 1940's. Examples include: New Englander (1843-1885) and Outing Magazine (1906-1911).

Nineteenth Century US Newspapers – Lesser known papers from the 19th century. Examples include Montgomery Daily Advertiser (1847-1965), Raleigh Register (1800-1886), and Virginia Sentinel (1854-1868).

Early American Newspapers, 1690 to 1976 - Fully searchable issues from over 710 historical American newspapers, focusing largely on the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Harper's Weekly in HarpWeek - Digital replica of Harper's Weekly, an authoritative, illustrated political news magazine covered in HarpWeek from 1857-1912.

Times [London] Digital Archive – 1785-1985

Chronicling America: Historic America Newspapers – Free database of the Library of Congress. Digitized select, U.S. papers from 1836 to 1922.

For more detailed information on finding historical newspapers, please see the historical newspapers section of our Legal History research guide.

 Working Papers

SSRN: The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) provides access to working papers in social science research, including law. These papers are not necessarily in final format. You should cite to an article in a published journal, not SSRN, if it has already been published.