Tip of the Week: How to Search the Popular Name Tables in the United States Code

Tip of the Week, U.S. Code

If you know the name of an Act and want to know where it was codified in the United States Code, the best approach is by searching the Popular Name Tables.  This week’s tip demonstrates how to search the Popular Name Tables for the name of the Act.

Watch the Tip of the Week on YouTube, or continue reading below the video for the full-text version.

Each version of the United States Code contains a popular name table, which lists federal acts alphabetically by their official or popular name and provides citations to those acts. The popular name tables are located immediately following title 50 in the United States Code and have each been indexed to allow a researcher to search across just those tables.  

The citations include the number assigned to the act, which could be a chapter number or public law number (depending upon when the act was passed), the title(s) and section(s) in the U.S. Code, and any citations to amendments made to the act.

This tip illustrates how to search across just those tables within the U.S. Code.

For our example, we want to find a federal statute in the US Code by the name, in this case, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980.

By looking up the statute in the popular names table, we can easily find the U.S. Code citation for it as well as the public law number with Statutes at Large citation.

In HeinOnline, the popular name tables have all been indexed as “Acts Cited by Popular Name” across the title field. This makes it easy to search across by inserting title: “Acts Cited by Popular Name” into the Advanced Search option. Then we can add keywords to search for the act by name.

The search would thus look like this:

title: “Acts Cited by Popular Name” AND text: “Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980”

This will return 12 results, which you can then sort by volume date ascending or descending.

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