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Federal Regulations - California Western
Federal Regulations

Compiled by: Bobbi A. Weaver
Foreign & International Law Reference Librarian
California Western School of Law
Rev. Sept. 2006

SCOPE: This research guide is not all-inclusive. It does, however, present resources available at the California Western library and online regarding federal regulatory research. It is designed to provide the researcher with guidance as to the location of materials dealing with this subject.

Additional research can be conducted by using the KIM system, legal periodical indices, and other finding aids. Access to Lexis and Westlaw is limited to students and faculty at California Western.

We welcome suggestions for improvement on this and other research guides. Please consult the Reference Librarian with suggestions and further research questions. This research guide was originally compiled November 1997. It was most recently revised in Sept. 2006.

Table of Contents
  1. Introduction

  2. Arrangement of the CFR

  3. Finding Aids

  4. Updating Regulations

  5. Automated Resources

  6. Further Training


When looking for federal regulations, there are basically two primary sources: the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the Federal Register. The CFR is a fifty-title collection of regulations from federal executive departments and agencies. Groups of CFR titles are revised in sequence annually at four points during the year (January, April, July, and October). Before regulations are published in the CFR, regulations are published in the Federal Register, a daily publication of the federal government.

Arrangement of the Code of Federal Regulations

The following describes the major levels of arrangement of the CFR:

  • Title: The numbered volume(s) of the CFR that encompass regulations in a broad area. (e.g., Title 46 is titled Shipping).

  • Chapter: Major division within each title (although subtitles may be used on rare occasions). Numbered by Roman numeral.

  • Subchapter: Optional, but used fairly regularly. Generally lettered.

  • Part: Divisions within chapters and/or subchapters that are numbered by Arabic numerals.

  • Subpart: Divisions within parts that generally are numbered by Arabic numerals.

  • Section: Divisions within parts and/or subparts which appear as Arabic-numbered and are usually further divided into lettered paragraphs.

How the CFR is arranged will become especially important when you are using the various finding aids and updating materials.

Finding Aids

A. Code of Federal Regulations

  1. CFR Index and Finding Aids

    Location: (Current) Core Collection--1st Floor; (Past) Microform Room--2nd Floor.
    The index in this resource is arranged alphabetically and includes subject terms as well as agency names. Entries reference CFR titles and parts, not sections. This volume also contains a list of agency-prepared indexes appearing in individual CFR volumes; a parallel table of authorities and rules; a listing of CFR titles, chapters, subchapters, and parts; and an alphabetical listing of agencies, which appear in the CFR.

  2. United States Code Services (U.S.C.S.) and United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.)

    Location: Core Collection--1st Floor
    If you know the statutory section which authorized the particular regulation for which you are looking, you can find CFR references following some code sections in U.S.C.S. and U.S.C.A. In both series, there are annotation sections titled "Code of Federal Regulations". Don't forget to check the pocket part supplements located in the back of each volume of both the U.S.C.S. and the U.S.C.A. series for updated information. If you do not know the authorizing statute, you can consult the index volumes for either of these series by searching for the subject of your research. The "Authority" section generally noted at the beginning of the CFR part you are researching should provide you with the authorizing statute.

  3. Legal periodical indices

    1. LegalTrac
      Location: CWSL Library Web Site--"Electronic Resources"

    2. Index to Legal Periodicals
      Location: [Print] Reference Collection
      [Online] CWSL Library Web Site--"Electronic Resources"
      Call No.: K9 .N32 [for print]

    3. Current Law Index
      Location: Reference Collection
      Call No.: K3 .U3

    4. Current Index to Legal Periodicals
      Location: Reference Collection
      Call No.: KF8 .C87

    There are many law journal articles that deal with various aspects of regulatory law. Often the authors of these articles cite to appropriate CFR parts and/or sections pertaining to the particular subject areas about which they are writing. The above-referenced indices will help you locate pertinent articles. Legal journals are arranged in alphabetical order by title in the "3rd Floor Periodicals" section of the library.

B. Federal Register

  1. Federal Register Index

    Location: (Current) Core Collection--1st Floor; (Past) Microform Room--2nd Floor
    This monthly publication is arranged by agency name rather than subject term. Each month's edition is cumulative for the calendar year. References are made to page numbers on which the regulations appear.

  2. "Contents" in each Federal Register issue

    Location: (Current) Core Collection--1st Floor; (Past) Microform Room--2nd Floor
    Each daily issue of the Federal Register contains a "Contents" section toward the beginning of each issue. This section is arranged first by agency headings in alphabetical order. Under each heading, there appears a listing of publications with page references. If you are interested in one or two agencies, you may find it beneficial to browse this section on a regular basis to keep up-to-date with the agency or agencies' rulemakings.

Updating Regulations

A. List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA)

Location: Core Collection--1st Floor

This monthly publication lists changes to the CFR which have resulted from publications in the Federal Register subsequent to the CFR revisions. Citations to final rules, interim rules, and proposed rules are referenced in this monthly publication.

When using this resource, be sure to check the date of the revision on the front cover of the CFR title volume containing the section you are updating. Also, check the coverage date of the most current edition of the LSA. If the CFR revision's date does not fall within the coverage dates of the most current LSA edition, you need to look at the annual volume of the LSA for the CFR title you are researching. Annual volumes have an indication of their annual volume status on their front covers.

The LSA cites to page numbers in the Federal Register. You can ascertain in which editions these rules were published by consulting the "Table of Federal Register Issue Pages and Dates" located in the back of each LSA volume.

B. Readers' Aids -- "List of Parts Affected"

Location: Each Federal Register issue [Core Collection--1st Floor]

Each day's Federal Register contains a "Readers' Aids" section. This section appears at the back of the Federal Register issue and contains a part titled "List of Parts Affected". This list contains cites to Federal Register pages for rules published during the month which affect certain CFR titles and parts.

To properly update regulations published in the CFR, check the LSA as noted previously; check the "Readers' Aids" section of the Federal Register for the last date of the month(s) following the most recent LSA edition available; and check the "Readers' Aids" section for the most current issues of the Federal Register.

Like the LSA, the "Readers' Aids" section also contains a table by which you can find the issue dates for page citations.

C. Shepard's Code of Federal Register Citations

Location: Core Collection--1st Floor

Although this resource does not provide citations for regulatory amendments, it does provide citations to cases, law review articles, and treatises which have mentioned the regulations.

This series is arranged first by titled number and then by part and/or section number. Be sure to check bound volumes, bound supplements, and paperback supplements while using this resource.

D. Shepard’s (Lexis-Nexis) and KeyCite (Westlaw)

Both of these automated citators will work for CFR regulations. Like their print counterpart, these citators provide citations for cases, law review articles, and treatises which have mentioned the regulations. These services are only available to CWSL students and faculty at the library.

Automated Resources

A. Lexis-Nexis files

  1. Code of Federal Regulations

    1. Current (all titles)
      FILE: CFR
    2. Past (from 1981)
      FILE: CFR (last 2 digits of year)
      e.g., CFR81
  2. Federal Register


B. Westlaw

  1. Code of Federal Regulations

    1. Current
    2. Past (from 1984)
      DATABASE: CFR(YR), e.g., CFR94
  2. Federal Register


C. GPO Access

Code of Federal Regulations:

Federal Register:

Provides online access to Code of Federal Regulations (current edition) and Federal Register (from 1994).

Further Training

A. The Federal Register: What It Is And How To Use It

Location: Reference Collection
Call No.: KF70 .A2 U52 1985

Also available online at

This book published by the federal government provides comprehensive guidance regarding the history of the rulemaking process, the arrangement of federal regulations, and researching federal regulations. Copies are generally distributed to attendees of the free public briefings on the Federal Register noted below.

B. Free Public Workshops on The Federal Register: What It Is And How To Use It

For further information these workshops, see “About Public Workshops” at Most workshops are held in the Washington D.C. area.