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Case Law: Digests (Primarily Print)

What about online research?

Please note that there are no separate digest publications within Westlaw. When you browse or search using key numbers, you are accomplishing the same thing.

However, because the format of the key numbers is based on the print digests, understanding how print digests are formatted and how they function in print can help you do your online research more effectively.

Function of Digests

A digest is essentially an index to case law; it takes the headnotes that summarize the points of law discussed in each case and organizes them by subject. Determine the jurisdiction for which you need to find cases, then consult a digest that covers that jurisdiction. Always work with the narrowest jurisdiction possible so you don't waste time weeding out jurisdictionally irrelevant information.

Which West Digest Do I Need?

Court or Jurisdiction Reporter Digest
United States Supreme Court Supreme Court Reporter West's United States Supreme Court Digest
Federal Courts

West's Federal Reporter; West's Federal Supplement

West's Federal Practice Digest
State Courts   All states except Delaware, Nevada and Utah have a state specific digest.
    Virginia Digest contains Virginia and West Virginia; Dakota Digest contains North Dakota and South Dakota
Regional Atlantic Reporter Atlantic Digest
  North Eastern Reporter West's Illinois Digest, West's Indiana Digest, West's Massachusetts Digest, West's New York Digest, West's Ohio Digest (N.E. Digest is no longer published.)
  South Eastern Reporter South Eastern Digest
  Southern Reporter West's Alabama Digest, West's Florida Digest, West's Louisiana Digest, West's Mississippi Digest (So. Digest is no longer published.)
  South Western Reporter Arkansas Digest, West's Kentucky Digest, West's Missouri Digest, West's Tennessee Digest, West's Texas Digest (There isn't a S.W. Digest.)
  North Western Reporter North Western Digest 
  Pacific Reporter Pacific Digest  
Combined State and Federal   General Digest, 11th Series (2005-present); Decennial Digest, Century through Eleventh (1658-2004)


The library has ceased updating most digests in print. To update your print digest research, you may need to use one of the following online services:

Combined Digests

The General Digest and Decennial Digests contain summaries of state and federal cases from all jurisdictions across the United States. This is a vast amount of information and should only be searched if you are not finding relevant information in the more specific federal, regional, and state digests. All copies that the library owns are located on the 2nd floor at Law Library Stacks KF141 .A4.

Iowa Digest

•  Print: Law Library Ready Reference
   Print subscription discontinued in 2019.

State Digests

State digests are published for all states except Delaware, Nevada and Utah. State digests include the decisions of that state's courts as well as federal court cases that originated in that state.

Regional Digests

All regional reporters except for the North Eastern, Southern, and South Western have their own digests. Regional digests for the Atlantic, North Western, Pacific, and South Eastern reporters can be used to locate state cases. For example, you could use either the Iowa Digest or North Western Digest to locate a case originating in Iowa.

Northwestern Digest

Federal Digests

The federal digests have undergone several name changes. Each digest series covers a specific time period, and they do not cumulate, so to thoroughly research an issue each series of digests must be consulted.

•  Federal Practice Digest 5th (covers 2003 through the present)
•  Federal Practice Digest 4th (1989-2003)
•  Federal Practice Digest 3rd (1975-1988)
•  Federal Practice Digest 2nd (1961-1975)
•  Modern Federal Practice Digest (1939-1961)
•  Federal Digest (covers years up to 1939)

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