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Guide for Journal Source Finders

A guide to assist journal staff retrieve commonly cited sources.

Books & Journals

How to find books

1. Log into MNCAT  - Catalog Only mode by clicking on the "Sign in" link in the top right corner of the the MNCAT search page.

  • After you sign in, click on the "Browse" link (top of the search page) to access the Browse Search form. Run a title browse for the name of the book you're looking for. Drop any initial articles at the beginning of the title like "the" and "an."
  • If that doesn’t work, try an Advanced Search in MNCAT - Catalog Only mode, searching by title keyword, and/or an author search using the name of the author or editor.
  • If you find a book in a University of Minnesota-Twin Cities library, you can request to have the book sent to the Law Library (beginning on Sept. 8, 2020) by using the University Libraries' Get It! service.  Please note: books retrieved from libraries (other than the Law Library) are checked out to your personal library account and cannot be checked out to your journal's account.  You will be held personally responsible for any recall, overdue or replacement fines or fees.
  • TIP: If you find the item in MNCAT but it is checked out, simply place a Get It request to have the item recalled. The average time for a book to return after it’s recalled is about seven days. Visit the Get It Book Delivery page for more information on how to use the Get It! service.

2. WorldCat: if MNCAT doesn’t have a record of the book, try WorldCat. This database includes listings from most local libraries and thousands of libraries worldwide. If WorldCat tells you that another library owns the book, make a note of that fact for your article editor. You can request books held at other libraries via interlibrary loan

TIP: If you can’t find a book in WorldCat or MNCAT, try a Google Books or Google search.  Also, try full-text search of law review articles in Lexis Advance or Westlaw Edge. Sometimes this technique exposes problems with the citation by turning up records from online booksellers, faculty web pages, law review articles or other sources that cite your book.

How to find Journals

  • If the journal is located outside the Law Library at any library on the Twin Cities Campus (including St. Paul campus libraries such as the Magrath Library), you are responsible for going to that library and making a photocopy.
  • Your journal may accept a PDF version. If so, check whether MNCAT indicates "Online access" is available for the journal you need.  If so, click to "View It" tab for links that provide access to full-text articles. Some of these sources may offer PDF versions of the journal's articles.
  • If you can’t find the journal in MNCAT, check the University Libraries', E-Journal Search form, which lets you search for online journals "buried" in larger databases.
  • If you still can’t find the journal at the University of Minnesota, check the WorldCat database to see if a library has the journal containing the article you need. You can make interlibrary loan requests for articles held in other libraries.

TIP: If you don’t recognize the journal abbreviation, try the following approaches:

  • Enter the abbreviation as a title search in MNCAT —e.g., j. law econ retrieves the Journal of Law & Economics.
  • Look in the Bluebook, Table 13, which lists periodical titles and their abbreviations.
  • Check with a Reference librarian for assistance. They have access to other resources such as, Prince's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations, 7th ed., Reference Office KF246 .B46 2017 that can be helpful.

Journal Articles

How to find journal articles

  1. Libraries Search by Article Title

    Use the Libraries Search Advance Search template to locate journal articles by the article’s title. Set the Field to "Title" and enter the article title. This search allows you to retrieve full-text articles from databases available University-wide, e.g. JSTOR, HeinOnline, PAIS Index. If you locate your article in one of these databases, check to see if it is available as a PDF file. Most journals prefer/require that you to provide a facsimile copy of articles (image/PDF or photocopy).

  2. MNCAT Advance Search by Journal Title

    Use the MNCAT (Catalog Only) Advance Search template to determine if the journal that your article is published in, is held at a library on-campus. If so, check the holdings information in the catalog record to confirm the volume you need is available. If so, you can then either go to the library and copy the article or place a Get It Request to have the volume that contains your article delivered to the Law Library for you.

    • TIP: If you don’t recognize the journal abbreviation, try the following approaches:
      • Enter the abbreviation as a title search in MNCAT—e.g., j. law econ retrieves the Journal of Law & Economics.
      • Look in the Bluebook, Table 13, which lists periodical titles and their abbreviations.
      •  Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations, 7th ed., Reference Office KF246 .B46 2017.
      • If you still can’t find the journal at the University of Minnesota, check the WorldCat database to see if a library has the journal containing the article you need. You can make interlibrary loan requests for articles held in other libraries.

  4. Index to Legal Periodicals: search for articles by keyword or subject. Sometimes the articles are available in PDF.


  5. HeinOnline has a substantial collection legal journal articles (academic & bar) in PDF format.


How to find newspapers

Catalog Search:

Start with a browse search in MNCAT for the newspaper title. Generally, the Wilson Library has some major newspapers like the Washington Post, but does not have ones like the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Databases & Microform:

The University Libraries' News Sources Guide describes databases, websites and microfilm collections available to you.  The Historical News Sources Guide is helpful in identifying news digital archives and historical news sources, including newspapers and magazines.

If MNCAT doesn’t have the newspaper, try WorldCat. The Minneapolis Public Library has a few US newspapers that Wilson does not. You are, however, unlikely to find a paper or microfilm version of most newspapers at any Twin Cities library.

TIP: It is difficult to track down an exact copy of newspaper articles that have appeared in non-major newspapers in recent years. This is because libraries today purchase electronic archives and many no longer collect back runs of newpapers on microform. These archives often do not provide imaged versions of articles. Most law review authors cite to newspaper articles they have found on Westlaw, Lexis, or the internet. If they cite to a hard-to-find newspaper, or to wire services like Reuters or Associated Press, you can sometimes use newspaper databases to find a nearly-identical story in one of the major newspapers (Wall Street JournalWashington PostNew York Times). If your editor won’t accept Westlaw, Lexis, or web versions of newspaper stories, ask if you can try finding a story in one of the major papers.

Codes / Statutes

How to find codified statutes

Generally, current federal statutes must be photocopied from the official U.S. Code. The current edition is available on Reserve at the Circulation Desk (call no. KF62).  Earlier editions are available in Section 1B of the first floor stacks. The current permanent edition of the U.S. Code is also available in PDF format on the GovInfo website. Earlier editions are available on GovInfo back to 1994.

The HeinOnline U.S. Code Collection includes complete coverage of the U.S. Code dating back to inception in 1925-1926. Documents are available in PDF image format. It also includes a comprehensive collection of early federal statute compilations published prior to the U.S. Code.

Current state statutes must be photocopied from the first-floor state statutes collection on the low shelves (Law Library PRIMARY).  Older state statutes are on the third floor; ask a reference librarian for help. HeinOnline's State Statutes: An Historical Archive is an online source for PDF copies of certain older state statutes/codes.

TIP: Official state codes are very difficult to find. It might be necessary to cite to an annotated version.

Public Laws

How to find public laws

PDF Sources


A complete set of U.S. Statutes at Large is at the entrance to the first floor of the Law Library (KF50 .U6); at the same call number in the stacks on the first floor there is a set that ends in 1997. Note: the set on the 1st floor cannot be checked out to your journal's library account but the set on the 2nd floor can be checked out.

Legislative History Documents

Federal Legislative History Documents

Sources for Documents in PDF 

TIP: ProQuest Congressional also indexes many documents that are not available online in full-text and provides information such as document numbers that can be helpful in retrieving them from the library’s microform and print collections.

Microfiche & Print Collections
In addition to online databases, many Congressional documents such as bills (through 2001), committee reports, hearings, prints and more are available on microfiche in the Law Library and the Government Publications Library in Wilson Library. Use ProQuest Congressional and/or MNCAT Discovery to locate document numbers and call numbers.

Congressional Record
See the Congressional Record section of our Federal Legislative History Research guide to locate the Congressional Record and it's predecessor publications (Annals of Congress, Register of Debates and Congressional Globe) in print and online.

Minnesota Legislative History

To find Minnesota legislative history materials, consult this guide: 

Federal Register & Code of Federal Regulations

How to find the Federal Register (FR)

Online PDF Sources

Hardcopy Sources

Recent copies of the Federal Register (about the last six months) are available on the first floor on the low shelves, Law Library Primary KF70.A2. These cannot be checked out to your journal's library account and must be photocopied.  Hardcopy of the Federal Register from 1936-October 1981 are available in US Documents GS4.107: on the second floor.

How to find the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

Online PDF Sources


The most current edition of the CFR is located in Law Library Primary KF 70 .A3. These paperback volumes cannot be checked out, so you’ll need to photocopy them. Older paper versions of the CFR are located on the second floor in two different areas (depending on the date you need): GS4.108:35 (1949-1984) and AE2.106/3:35 (1985- ). govinfo also has images of the CFR from 1997 to date.

Court Opinions & Documents

How to find cases

Online PDF Sources

Hardcopy Sources

The Library has older collections of duplicate case reporters, that you can check out to your journal's library account.  However, the Library no longer buys duplicate sets, so for recent cases, you may need to photocopy the reporter sets on the second floor. For a guide that shows the location of reporter sets, see our, Location Guide to Frequently Requested Materials.

TIP: When you select the PDF format option on Westlaw, you may get a warning saying that you will "incur additional charges." This warning does not apply to law school users.

Court Documents (dockets, briefs, oral argument transcripts, etc.)

Consult our guide, Case Records & Briefs Research Guide.

Treaties & Int'l. Trade Law Documents

How to find treaties

  1. For help on finding treaties, see the Law Library Research guide, Researching Treaties. See also the Library's Frequently-Cited Treaties & Other International Instruments guide, which provides citations to print sources and other useful information.
  2. You can get PDF versions of several U.S. treaty series from HeinOnline, and United Nations treaties from The EISIL database contains citation information for hundreds of commonly-cited treaties.

How to find international trade law documents

  1. See the Law Library guide, Finding Paper Sources for GATT/WTO Documents.

Social Media

Other Documents & Bad Cites

How to find other documents and resolve bad cites

  1. You can sometimes resolve a cite problem by searching in the Lexis  or Westlaw full-text law review databases. This technique can lead you to a correct author or title, a more complete and understandable citation, or a paper source for a document that your article cites to the web.
  2. For foreign citations, try the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations, which lets you search by citation or title.
  3. Bluebook Table 13, Foreign Jurisdictions, may also be helpful for citations to foreign 
  4. For other citations, try Prince's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (Law Library Reference Office KF246.B46 2017).
  5. For other documents, bad cites, or any source-finding problem, the reference librarians can help.

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