Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Law Library

Federal Regulations

Regulations created by administrative agencies are primary materials such as statutes and cases. Final rules and regulations of federal agencies are first published in the Federal Register, which comes out each business day, except Federal holidays. They are eventually published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is a subject compilation of the rules and regulations in effect at the time of its publication. This guide offers more information about the Federal Register and the CFR and how to locate them.


About the Federal Register

Included in the Federal Register are final regulations, proposed regulations, notices of administrative actions (such as hearings), presidential proclamations and executive orders, reorganization plans, and other documents that the President orders to be published (including determinations, letters, and memorandums).

When a notice of proposed rulemaking or a proposed rule is printed in the Federal Register, the agency states why the rule is needed and under what “authority” [enabling act] the rule is promulgated. Names and telephone numbers of agency contacts are given so that the agency can receive comments on the proposed rule. These contacts can be very helpful when information is needed on regulatory activity in a particular area.

When the final rule is published in the Federal Register, a statement is usually included, summarizing the comments received and stating any changes in the final rule. There is also a citation to the Federal Register where the proposed rule was printed.

The “Unified Agenda” is published in the Federal Register during October and April of each year. The “Agenda” is a good place to review and prepare for any regulatory activity. Each agency lists the following in the “Agenda”:

  • All pre-rule actions
  • All proposed rules that the agency has issued or expects to issue
  • Currently effective rules under agency review
  • Planned rules or actions and completed actions since the last agenda

Federal Register Citation Format:

Here is a sample Federal Register citation: 55 Fed. Reg. 41,174 (1990).
The citation refers to page 41,174 of volume 55 of the Federal Register, published in 1990.


About the Code of Federal Regulations

The final regulations of federal agencies can be found in the CFR. The CFR is divided into 50 subject areas, called titles. The individual titles are arranged into chapters according to the issuing agency. The chapters are then divided into parts, which are further divided into sections.

The CFR is revised once a year, but not all at once. It is revised according to the following schedule:

  • Titles 1 through 16 — as of January 1
  • Titles 17 through 27 — as of April 1
  • Titles 28 through 41 — as of July 1
  • Titles 42 through 50 — as of October 1

Code of Federal Regulations Citation Format:

Here is a sample CFR citation: 14 CFR § 1240.100 (2000).
The citation refers to title 14, part 1240, section 100 of the 2000 CFR.

Ways to Search for Regulations


  • An official Federal Register index is issued monthly and is cumulated at the end of the calendar year. It is arranged alphabetically by agency, then by subject. If you are unsure of the agency issuing the regulation, you may have some difficulty using this index. Additionally, each issue of the Federal Register has a table of contents, which is arranged by agency.
  • A volume titled CFR Index and Finding Aids should be located at the end of the CFR. In addition, the USCS has an Index and Finding Aids to Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Another type of index is the publication List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA). The LSA indexes the Federal Register by CFR citation. The LSA has tables that list any changes or proposed changes in regulations printed in the Federal Register since the last printing of the CFR title.

Annotated Codes

  • The United States Code Service (USCS) has references to the CFR. USCS is available:
    • in the Law Library Core Collection on range 27;
    • on LexisNexis Academic (On campus use. Remote access for ASU students and faculty.)
      • Once in LexisNexis, click on the Sources tab and type USCS into the search box on the right.
  • The United States Code Annotated (USCA) also has references to the CFR. USCA is available:
    • in the Law Library Core Collection on range 27;
    • on Westlaw Patron Access (On campus use. Remote access for ASU students and faculty.)
      • Once in Westlaw Patron Access, click on the Federal tab, scroll down and check the box next to the USCA, then enter search terms in the box at the top.


Looseleaf materials may have the full text of regulations or citations to regulations. Examples of Looseleaf publications with CFR citations are: Federal Banking Law Reporter, Labor Relations Reporter and Standard Federal Tax Reporter.

To locate looseleaf publications of interest, look at Legal Looseleafs in Print on Reserve at KF1 .L42.


Update, Update, Update!

Do not forget to update your research
. To update a CFR section:

  1. Pull the CFR volume that contains the section you want to update. Look on the front cover and note the date of revision printed there. This date tells you how current that volume of the CFR is.
  2. Go to the pamphlets called LSA: List of CFR Sections Affected (“LSA”). The LSA is kept next to the CFR. Find the most recent issue.
  3. Look at the dates on the first page of the LSA to see how current the LSA is. Coverage should begin the day after the revision date of your CFR volume.
  4. Find your regulation’s title number and then see if your section is listed in this issue. It will be listed if it has been amended or repealed, and you will be referred to pages in the Federal Register for the text of any changes. Also look for any proposed regulations. In the LSA, proposed regulations are listed at the end of each title.
  5. Now you need to switch your attention to the Federal Register. Check the last issue of each complete month of the Federal Register not included in the LSA. For example, if the coverage of the LSA ends December 31, 2000 and it is now March 2001, check the last issue of the Federal Register for January and February. Look at the table in the back of each of these issues of the Federal Register called CFR Parts Affected During this month.
  6. The last step in updating your CFR research in print is to check the table of CFR Parts Affected During [month] in the most recent issue of the Federal Register.

Shepards and KeyCite

Shepards and KeyCite list citations to regulations in federal and state court opinions, law review articles, and American Law Reports (“ALR”) annotations.

  • Shepards is available on Law Library computers and on LexisNexis Academic (On campus use. Remote access for ASU students and faculty.)
    • Once in LexisNexis Academic, click on the Legal tab at the top of the page and then click on Shepard's Citations in the column on the left.
  • KeyCite is available on Westlaw Patron Access.

Where to Locate Print Copies of Regulations

Current Year

  • Both Federal Register and CFR — Government Documents Index Table.

Previous Year

  • Both Federal Register and CFR — Government Documents Stacks Ranges 3–4.

All Years

  • Federal Register (1936 to present) — microfiche cabinets 22 and 23
  • CFR (1938 to present) — microfiche cabinets 19 and 20

Federal Regulations Online

GPO Access

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute

  • Free!
  • Search, view, and comment on Federal regulations

LexisNexis Congressional

  • On-campus use. Remote access available for ASU students & staff
  • Current CFR
  • Federal Register 1981–current

Westlaw Patron Access

  • Available on Law Library computers.
  • From the Library home page databases drop-down menu, choose Westlaw Patron Access.
  • Once in the database, click on the Federal tab and then scroll down and select one of or both the Code of Federal Regulations (current) and the Federal Register (1981–current).
  • Enter terms in the search box and click on search.


  • On-campus use. Remote access available for ASU students & staff
  • 1936–current

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