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Help Searching the United States Code

Office of the Law Revision Counsel

Any part of a search query may be keyed in either upper or lower case. Some of the following examples use upper case for readability only.



Searching for a Phrase

Put the phrase in single quotes, as in:

    'unethical conduct'



Boolean and Proximity Connectors

Searching for: Finds documents containing:
wheat ADJ corn wheat followed immediately by corn
wheat AND corn both wheat and corn
wheat OR corn either wheat or corn
wheat NOT corn wheat but not corn
wheat W/5 corn wheat followed within 5 words by corn
wheat NEAR/5 corn wheat within 5 words of corn



Wildcards and Masks

1. A question mark represents individual characters. For example, searching


will retrieve all occurrences of int, followed by two characters, followed by city (e.g., intercity and intracity).

2. An asterisk represents an unlimited number of characters. For example, searching


will retrieve all occurrences of int, followed by any number of characters, followed by city.

3. A dollar sign represents one or zero characters. For example, searching


will retrieve both labor and labour.



Searching by Topic

Add an exclamation mark after the name of the topic. For example, searching


will retrieve all documents that relate to grapes (but do not necessarily use the word "grapes"). The computer will search for all occurrences of "grapes", look at what words occur near "grapes", look at how near they are to "grapes", look at how often they occur near "grapes" versus how often they appear throughout the Code, put all of this information through a formula that results in a list of words related to "grapes", search on those new words, and then rank the results in relevance order.



Limiting Search to a Particular Field

The documents in the Code database are divided into fields as shown in the table below. A search query can be constructed so that documents are found only if certain words appear in certain fields.

To apply a field limiter to a single word, insert a colon and the field name after the word. For example, to retrieve documents containing 'wheat' in the STATUTE field, search:


To apply a field limiter to an entire query, insert /F: and the field name after the query. For example, to retrieve documents containing 'short title' in the section heading, search:

    short adj title /f:head

The following fields are available in the Code database:

CITE Section citation (in the form: 2 USC Sec. 285b)
EXPCITE Expanded citation (title, subtitle, chapter, subchapter, part, subpart, and division numbers, and appendix name)
HEAD Section heading
STATUTE Main statutory text
SOURCE Source credit (Statutes at Large citations)
STATAMEND Text of amendments having delayed effective dates
REFTEXT Reference in Text notes
MISC2 Notes between REFTEXT and COD
COD Codification notes
MISC3 Notes between COD and CHANGE
CHANGE Change of Name notes
MISC4 Notes between CHANGE and TRANS
TRANS Transfer of Function notes
MISC5 Notes between TRANS and EXEC
EXEC Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations
MISC6 Notes between EXEC and CROSS
CROSS Cross Reference notes and Definition notes
MISC7 Notes between CROSS and SECREF
SECREF Section Referred to in Other Section notes
MISC8 Notes after SECREF



Unsearchable Words

The following words cannot be searched:

    and, any, be, by, of, on, or, such, the, this, to, which



Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations

To find documents containing an executive order, enter

    EX W/2 ORD W/2

followed by a space, the executive order number, another space, and then


To find documents containing a presidential proclamation, enter

    PROC* W/2

followed by a space, the proclamation number, another space, and then


When the section of the Code containing the order or proclamation is found, use your browser to search within that section for the order or proclamation.



Making a permanent link to a U.S. Code section

To make a permanent link to a U.S. Code section, insert the following code in your HTML, substituting the title number for title and the section number for section:

<FORM METHOD=POST ACTION="http://uscode.house.gov/uscode-cgi/fastweb.exe?search">
<input type=hidden name=view value="uscview">
<input type=hidden name=db2 value="t01t04">
<input type=hidden name=db3 value="t05t08">
<input type=hidden name=db4 value="t09t12">
<input type=hidden name=db5 value="t13t16">
<input type=hidden name=db6 value="t17t20">
<input type=hidden name=db7 value="t21t25">
<input type=hidden name=db8 value="t26t28">
<input type=hidden name=db9 value="t29t32">
<input type=hidden name=db10 value="t33t36">
<input type=hidden name=db11 value="t37t40">
<input type=hidden name=db12 value="t41t42">
<input type=hidden name=db13 value="t43t44">
<input type=hidden name=db14 value="t45t48">
<input type=hidden name=db15 value="t49t50">
<input type=hidden name=db16 value="usclass">
<input type=hidden name=db17 value="uscnst">
<input type=hidden name=db18 value="usctbls">
<input type=hidden name=query size=35 value="title:cite w/3 section">
<input type=hidden name=operation value=simplesearch>
<input type=hidden name=numresults value="100">
<input type=submit value="title U.S.C. § section">

If you were to substitute 39 for title and 3008 for section, the result will be:


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