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Law: Legal reference books & dictionaries

Find Treatises & Other Books

Search tip: Use UC Library Search to find books (including ebooks) available at the UC San Diego Library another UC campus or to request a book from libraries around the world. You can also use Circuit to find books in other San Diego libraries. 

Search tip: Remember, though, that you're only searching basic cataloging information about the book (not the book contents itself) so keep your search general.

Begin with a keyword search, for example

supreme court AND guns

supreme court AND (guns OR "second amendment")

Bonus Search Tip: When you find a record for a book that looks useful, take a look at the subject headings. In UC Library Search , these subject headings are clickable links that run a new search. Searching by these subject headings may help find resources that don't turn up with an initial keyword search. They might also give you ideas of other search terms to use in your keyword search.

Reference works are also a good place to begin your research, as they generally provide background information and often cite longer, more authoritative research works on the topic.

Legal scholarship includes several types of specialized books:

  • Treatises are books or sets of books that cover a single legal topic in depth.
  • Hornbooks are one volume treatises written primarily for law students and typically cover subjects commonly covered in law school.
  • Casebooks are textbooks that contain the text of cases covering particular legal topics.

Use UC Library Search to find books at UC San Diego and other UCs; some major treatises are included in Westlaw, Nexis Uni, and HeinOnline.

Encyclopedias & Handbooks

Use UC Library Search to search for encyclopedia, dictionary, and other reference entries by limiting search results to Resource Type: "Reference Entries." To find content that is available in ebooks and online resources, limit to "Available Online."

Alternately, use the Resource Type limit "Book Chapters" to find longer overviews.

Screenshot of UC Library Search search for the term gun violence. Limits for Resource Type: Reference Entries and Show Only: Available Online are each surrounded by a


Books on Doing Legal Research