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West's National Reporter System: Using the National Reporter System

A guide to using West's National Reporter System for law students, recent graduates, and members of the public

Potential Uses

Finding the full text of cases by citation

Finding headnotes for cases

Finding Key Numbers for cases

How to Use

If you have a proper case citation, you can easily look up the case in the National Reporter System. You’ll need the reporter abbreviation (e.g., “F. Supp.”, “S.W.3d”, etc) and the numbers on either side of the abbreviation. The number before the abbreviation is the volume of the reporter that you’ll need. The number after the abbreviation is the page in that volume where you’ll find the case.

Take, for example, the following case: Gary Friedrich Enterprises, LLC v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d 302 (2d Cir. 2013).

To find the full text of this case, you would first locate the “F.3d” reporter in the library. This is the third edition of the Federal Reporter, which publishes circuit court cases.

Once you find the reporter set, look for volume 716 (the number before the abbreviation).

Within that volume, go to page 302. The case will start on page 302 and continue on from there.


Federal depository libraries receive print slip opinions (without corrections or enhancements) of individual cases as those cases are decided. Westlaw can take between two and twenty-four hours to update after the case is delivered to West.

Advance sheets are issued by West every two weeks. It takes 6-8 weeks for a slip opinion to make it to the advance sheet.