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U.S. Government Legal Information: Shepardizing Cases

Shepard's Abbreviations -- Print Volumes

History of Case Treatment of Case
a (affirmed) c (criticised)
m (modified) d (distinguished)
r (reversed) e (explained)
s (same case) j (dissenting opinion)
S (superseded) ~ (consenting opinion)
v (vacated) L (limited)
o (overruled)
q (questioned)

What is Shepardizing?

Case law is based upon precedent or authority. In order to find out if a case can be used as authority, check to see whether the case has been followed, distinguished, limited or questioned in subsequent court cases. This is done by "Shepardizing" – using Shepard's Citations to see how and when another court has cited the first decision. Shepardizing a case helps determine the precedential value of a legal authority. It is crucial to make sure the precedents are up-to-date.

Shepardizing a case helps determine the precedential value of a legal authority. Most commonly associated with case law, Shepard's citators are also published for the constitution and statutory law.

A legal citation for a case identifies the name of the court reporter in which the opinion is published and identifies the volume and page. In the Shepard's citator sources, the term "citation" is used more specifically to indicate a reference in a later authority to an earlier authority. The earlier authority is known as the "cited" case, statute, etc. and the later authorities are referred to as the "citing" case.

Supreme Court Citations

Federal Citations

Atlantic Region Citations

How to Use Shepard's (print version)

Choose the Shepard's citator for the type of case you have. Include all the softcover supplements.

  1. Find the volume and page of the case you are Shepardizing.

  2. Use the volume numbers shown in the sideheads on each page to speed your search. On the appropriate page, use the boldface numbers to find the case you seek, as in the example below, volume 386 page 780.

  3. Cited cases will be listed followed by case name, decision date, parallel citations in parentheses (legal citations to the same case in other reporters), and the citing references.

Shepard's Signals and Icons in LexisNexis Academic Database


Subject Guide

Rebecca Knight's picture
Rebecca Knight
Associate librarian
Reference and Instructional Services Department
Morris Library, Room 117H
(302) 831-1730

Subjects: U.S. Government Information,
Delaware, census, family studies, RefWorks, APA style, and genealogy.

B.A., History. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1973.
M.S., Library Science. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1981.

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