Answered By: Kate Britt
Last Updated: Feb 06, 2018     Views: 0

Regulations first appear in the Federal Register and then are compiled in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR").


The Federal Register was first published on March 14, 1936, and now appears daily, Monday through Friday. It contains: 

  • Federal Agency Regulations 
  • Proposed Rules and Public Notices 
  • Executive Orders 
  • Proclamations 
  • Other Presidential Documents 

Each issue of the Federal Register contains: 

  • Table of contents arranged by agency name and listing rules, proposed rules, and notices 
  • List of CFR parts affected in that day's issue 
  • List of telephone numbers in the Office of the Federal Register 
  • Table of pages and dates for each Federal Register 
  • Cumulative list of CFR parts affected during the current month 
  • List of public laws received and a weekly checklist of current CFR volumes

How to access the Federal Register:

  • Federal Register Index published monthly. Each month's index cumulates those earlier in the year. For past years there is an annual index. Entries are arranged by agency. 
  • CIS Federal Register Index published weekly and cumulated periodically (1984-1998) REF COLL KF 70 .A2 Index 
  • Also available online at Lexis Nexis Congressional under “Regulations”. 
  • Available on Lexis and Westlaw. 
  • Hein Online Federal Register Library Full PDF version, from 1936 forward.
  • GPOACCESS (1994- current) Full-text, PDF searchable and/or browseable format 
  • National Archives provides access to the Federal Register, as well as information about its organization and uses
  • FederalRegister.gov - search Federal Register documents from 1994-forward, browse by agency or topic, and more.

Physical Location 

  • Issues for the current year plus the latest year only are in paper (FED COLL). 
  • Volumes 1-48 are on microfilm (FILM v. 1-48) 
  • Beginning with volume 49 (and up to latest year) microfiche (MICRO-10 S156) 
  • The Federal Register Annual Index (RESERVE KF 70.A2). *Microform Room is on S-2 by the microfilm cabinets. There are a bunch of paper indexes to various microfilm/fiche sets. 

The Code of Federal Regulations (SMITH & REF COLL KF 70.A35 2002x4) compiles all federal administrative agency regulations in approximately 50 titles, by subject. The CFR is revised annually and reflects the regulations in force on the date of revision. Each year, Titles 1-16 are revised by January 1, Titles 17-27 by April 1, Titles 28-41 by July 1, and Titles 42-50 by October 1.

The first edition of the CFR was published in 1939 and contained regulations in force as of June 1, 1938. The second edition didn't appear until 1949. Superseded editions of the CFR can be found on microfiche (MICRO-10 S9) from 1949 onwards. The “List of Sections Affected” (LSA) may be found at the end of the fiche for each title. The LSA also lags behind 1 year (e.g. you need to look at the 1971 LSA for changes made in 1970). 

Updating Regulations 

  • See the discussion in Cohen and Berring's How to Find the Law (REF COLL KF240 .C538 1989), pp. 281-283.

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