Skip to main content

U.S. Government Legal Information: Regulations & Legal Citations


What is in the Federal Register?

Main sections
  • Presidential documents
  • Rules and regulations
  • Proposed rules
  • Notices
  • Reader Aids

Presidential documents

Executive orders, numbered consecutively and reprinted annually in Title 3 of the CFR
Presidential proclamations

Rules and regulations

Final rules, temporary rules, and corrections. These amend the CFR and will be codified in the annual revision

Proposed rules

These announce possible changes to the CFR and solicit public comment on the proposal, such as notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and preliminary rulemaking documents. Includes advance notices of proposed rulemaking and petitions for rulemaking.
Proposed rules are not of permanent legal value and are not codified in the CFR


Documents describing official actions and functions of an agency that affect the public or provide important information, but do not amend the CFR



Arranged by agency. Within each agency, arrangement is Rules and regulations, Proposed rules, and Notices

Common Abbreviations in the Federal Register

N Notice
NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
NOFA Notice of Funding Availability
PR Proposed Rule
Pres Presidential Document
R Rule (Final Rule)

What are Regulations?

Regulations are written by executive agencies to establish the rules and detailed procedures needed to administer the statutory laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. All of these terms are used to describe regulations: rule, administrative law, delegated legislation, and sublegislation.

Federal Register

The federal government publishes all regulations in the Federal Register, along with other materials (such as proposed rules, and notices).

Code of Federal Regulations

The regulations are collected, rearranged by subject, and published in the Code of Federal Regulations.


  • for citizen input on Federal Rulemaking
  • RegInfo for detailed information on the Regulatory process



Federal Register (F.R.)

A legal newspaper published every government business day. Contains all federal agency regulations (final rules). Also contains notices, proposed rules, presidential proclamations, executive orders, and public laws. Rules and proposed rules include citations to the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Arrangement is alphabetically by agency. Published since 1936. The Federal Register is available in several online versions; searching capabilities differ.

78 FR 55014 - Machine Guns, Destructive Devices and Certain Other Firearms; Background Checks for Responsible... Federal Register. Proposed Rules. Notice of proposed rulemaking. Monday, September 9, 2013. govinfo

Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.)

The CFR is the subject arrangement (codification) of the general and permanent regulations of federal agencies. The regulations are arranged (codified) into 50 subject areas, called "titles." Indexing is by agency with some subject references. The CFR is revised once a year, in a quarterly publication cycle. This Library retains only the most current revision, except for Title 3 (The President) which is retained permanently. The CFR is available in several online versions. Dates of coverage and searching capabilities differ. Note: "title" refers to a subject section of the code.

Sources of Regulations

LSA: List of CFR Sections Affected (L.S.A.)

Numerical listing of changes keyed to CFR parts/sections. Bridges the gap between new rules and the CFR. Arrangement is by date, then CFR titles and section numbers; it cannot be searched by subject. The LSA is necessary if using the print copies of the FR and CFR. The LSA online edition includes: About List of CFR Sections Affected.

CFR Parts Affected from the Federal Register

Federal Register Legal Citations

The legal citation for a Rule in the Federal Register identifies the volume and page where the rule is published.

F.R. can also be written as FR

Reference list or Bibliography

Combine the legal citation with the information required by the citation style you are using.

APA requires the name of the regulation, followed by the legal citation.


Definitions, and Selection Criteria; Race to the Top -- District, 78 FR 47979 (August 6, 2013).

Code of Federal Regulations Legal Citations

A citation to a rule in the Code of Federal Regulations identifies the title number, the abbreviation "C.F.R.", the part and/or section number, and the year of the latest revision of the title, in parentheses.

Subject Librarian

John Stevenson's picture
John Stevenson
Associate Librarian and Head
Multimedia Collections and Services Dept.
Send Email

History of Science, Maps, Public Policy & Administration, U.S. Government Documents

Parallel Codication of Legislation and Regulations

Illustration of the publishing process of statutes and regulations. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!


Search Hints

How do I find the most up-to-date version of a regulation?

How do I find regulations for a particular law?

Use the "Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules" in the CFR -- arranged by USC (United States Code) reference. The LSA contains a USC table.

How can I comment on proposed rules?

Go to

How can I get a preview of rules or proposed rules before they are published?

Eample of the CFR Codification Structure

Title: 46: Broad subject area of regulations (Shipping)

.Chapter: I: Rules of individual agency (Coast Guard)
..Part: 10: Rules on a single program or function (Merchant Mariner Credential)
...Section: 10.203: One provision of program/function rules (Requirement to hold a TWIC and a merchant mariner credential)
....Paragraph: 10.203(a): Detailed, specific requirements