Skip Navigation Links


How to Locate a Case Using a Digest

The Law Library has two sets of West Digests in print format: 

The United States Supreme Court Digest, used to locate United States Supreme Court cases, is located in Compact Shelving next to the Supreme Court Reporter, at KF 101 .1 U55. Like all digests, each volume in the set is updated with pocket parts.

West's California Digest, located in Row C-9 of Compact Shelving at KFC 57 .W47, is used to locate California Supreme Court and California Appellate Court cases.

Digests are arranged alphabetically by topic. Examples of the approximately 400 topics are: Banks and Banking, Franchises, Insurance, Libel and Slander, Partnership, Schools, and Trade Regulation

Each topic is divided into subtopics known as "key numbers." A complete list of topic headings is available in the front of each digest volume. A complete list of key numbers is available at the beginning of each topic. A Quick Reference Guide to West Key Number System is available online

Locate a topic and key number that interests you by scanning the list of topic headings and key numbers or by using the Descriptive Word Index at the end of each set of digests. 

West also publishes West's Analysis of American Law, which is a complete guide to the topic and key number system. This is available at the Reference Desk KF 141 .W485.

Read the case summaries that are listed under each topical key number. A case citation follows each summary. This citation will be composed of a volume number, an abbreviation that indicates the "reporter," or series of books that contains the case you need, and the page where your case begins. Some cases can be found in more than one reporter; therefore more than one citation may be listed, e.g., "6 Cal. App.3d 675; 86 Cal. Rptr. 294." 

See the list of abbreviations and locations of case reporters on the last page to locate the reporter that contains your case.  

If you have the name of a case and the jurisdiction in which it was decided, you can find the citation to your case using the Table of Casesvolume of the digest covering that jurisdiction. These volumes are located at the end of the set. 

How to Locate a Case Using West's Topic and Key Number System in WestlawNext

 Use Westlaw Next to locate cases in any jurisdiction with West's topical and Key number system. The Law Library's subscription to WestlawNext is available on all public computers. Click on WestlawNext on any desktop, and follow these steps:

  • Click on the Tools Tab
  • Click on West Key Number System
  • The next page will display the list of topics and topic numbers. Roll your cursor over the topic to display a small "i" (stands for information). Click on the "i" to see a list subjects included.
  • Click on the topic to display a detailed list of key numbers and subtopics.
  • When you click on a key number, the key number and topic will appear in the search field at the top of the screen.
  • The default jurisdiction is California and will retrieve California cases. Other jurisdictions may be selected by clicking the drop down arrow in the CA (state and federal) box.

A search will retrieve a list of cases for the key number and jurisdiction selected. 

To replace this placeholder, please upload the original image (C:\Users\refdesk\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\clip_image005.png) on server and insert it in the document.

Abbreviations and Locations of Case Reporters

California Reporters

Official California "Reports" can be found in Compact Shelving, rows C16 – C20: 
Cal., Cal. 2d, Cal. 3d, Cal. 4th
California Reports, 1st through 4th series: California Supreme Court.

Cal. App., Cal. App. 2d, Cal. App. 3d, Cal. App. 4thCalifornia Appellate Reports, 1st through 4th series: California Appeals Courts.

West's California "Reporter" contains both California Supreme Court and California Appellate Court cases. They can be found in Compact Shelving, rows C12 – C13: 
Cal. Rptr., Cal. Rptr. 2d, Cal. Rptr. 3d.

Regional Reporters

These reporters contain appellate level cases from the 50 states. These cases are available in the Law Library electronically through the Library's subscription to WestlawNext on any public computer. An online interactive map of the United States and the National Reporter system regions is online at

A., A.2d, A.3d Atlantic Reporter, 1st through 3rd series: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

N.E., N.E.2d Northeastern Reporter, 1st or 2nd series: Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York & Ohio.

N.W., N.W.2d Northwestern Reporter, 1st or 2nd series: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota & Wisconsin.

P., P.2d, P.3d Pacific Reporter, 1st through 3rd series: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington & Wyoming.

S.E., S.E.2d Southeastern Reporter, 1st or 2nd series: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia & West Virginia.

So., So.2d, So.3d Southern Reporter, 1st through 3rd series: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana & Mississippi.

S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d Southwestern Reporter, 1st through 3rd series: Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.

Federal Reporters containing federal cases are located in Compact Shelving, rows C54 - C67:

F., F.2d, F.3d Federal Reporter, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd series: United States Circuit Court of Appeals Decisions.

F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d Federal Supplement, 1st or 2nd series: United States District (trial) Court Decisions.

U.S., S.Ct., L.Ed. United States Reports (official), Supreme Court Reporter (West), United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer's Edition (LEXIS): Supreme Court Decisions. The Library only carries the Supreme Court Reporter in print.


updated 2/2015 jc