Case in hand. If there is a West reported case on point in hand, use the headnotes and associated key numbers to find more cases on point in any of the other West Digests.
Descriptive Word Index. Use the multi-volume Descriptive Word Indexes to find relevant topics and key numbers.
Topical Outlines & Topic Indexes. Each topic has a broad general outline at the beginning of the topic followed by a much more detailed outline. Review these to find relevant topics and key numbers.
Other Useful Finding Aids
- Table of Cases: for looking up cases by plaintiff’s name.
- Defendant-Plaintiff Tables: same as above but listed in order of defendant’s name.
- Words & Phrases: citations to cases where words or phrases have been judicially defined.
The most common strategy for case finding with a digest is:
- Begin with the appropriate (narrowest) digest containing the jurisdiction in question.
- Identify a relevant topic and key number for your research via the topic list in the front of the volumes or via the Descriptive Word Index.
- Choose digest volumes and supplements you need.
- Skim outline of topic, read digest paragraphs under relevant key numbers and use citations given at the end of the paragraph to find the relevant cases.
- Examine recent bound reporter volumes and advance sheets for material not yet found in the updates to the digest.
- If no cases are found on point, broaden the search by examining jurisdictions outside the jurisdiction question.