The current laws of Wisconsin are compiled in subject order and published every two years by the state government in Wisconsin Statutes (abbreviated Wis.Stats.) The printed volumes are shelved in the Reference Collection on the main floor of the library, Ref KFW2430 .A2. The Laws of Wisconsin are also available online:

For links to the LexisNexis Academic database, the Wisconsin Bar, and much more, visit the library's Resources by Academic Discipline page for Criminal Justice and Law.


Wisconsin Statutes Annotated

To find the history of the law and how the courts have interpreted the law use Wisconsin Statutes Annotated (abbreviated W.S.A.). The printed set is found in the library's Reference Collection, Ref KFW2430 .A23.

Please note: The W.S.A. volumes are kept up-to-date by pocket parts which fit into the back inside cover of each volume. Pocket parts must be used with the main section or the most recent changes will be missed.

To Find a Statute

A law or statute in the Wisconsin Statutes Annotated may be located by either of the following methods:

By Descriptive Word or Phrase

Use the General Index volumes which are shelved with the set and locate the subject or descriptive word. Following each subject is a reference to the chapter and section number in the main volumes.

By Topic

A topical breakdown by chapter and section is at the beginning of each statute title. Go directly to the title needed and find the chapter and section numbers which best apply.

How to read a legal citation:

4 Wis.2d 519

Means: Volume 4 of Wisconsin Reports, 2nd series, pages 519+.

To Read the Information in Wisconsin Statutes Annotated

Determine and locate the statute by using the correct chapter and section number. Following the text of the law you may find:

  1. Historical Notes
  2. Cross References
  3. Law Review Commentaries
  4. Administrative Code References
  5. Library References
  6. Notes of Decisions

Each part contains abbreviations which may be deciphered in the front of the book.

1. Historical Notes

This part states when the law was first enacted and cites any changes in the law. To read the text of the former law(s) listed consult the Laws of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Statutes.

L. Laws of Wisconsin (KFW2425 .W5) are a chronological compilation of the acts passed by each legislature. The library has many, but not all, of these volumes on the third floor.

St. Wisconsin Statutes (KFW2430 .A2) are a subject arrangement of all the general laws in force at the end of the most recent session of the legislature. The latest biennial edition is shelved in the Reference Collection and earlier volumes are on the third floor.

2. Cross References

3. Law Review Commentaries

4. Administrative Code References

5. Library References

These parts make references to other material such as regulations, laws, legal encyclopedias and articles.


  • U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated Ref KF62 .W4
  • C.J.S. Corpus Juris Secundum Ref KF65 .M3
  • Wis.L.Rev. Wisconsin Law Review 
    (Articles in this journal are available full text online via LexisNexis Academic, also in print format on the library's first floor.)

6. Notes of Decisions

Another special feature found in Wisconsin Statutes Annotated consists of annotations from Wisconsin court decisions, attorney general opinions, federal cases, and articles. These annotations or summaries also provide citations to the case decisions and other documents.

91 N.W.2d 93, 4 Wis.2d 519

This is a parallel citation which cites the same case printed in two separate sources: North Western Reporter and Wisconsin Reports. The library has only Wisconsin Reports.

  • Wisconsin Reports, 1st series, (KFW2445 .W5) vol. 1-275 (vol. 21 missing)
  • Wisconsin Reports, 2nd series, (KFW2445 .W5 2d Ser.) vol. 1 to date.

These volumes are located on the third floor of the library.

Additional Information:

  • Legal Research Illustrated Ref KF240 .J32
  • Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations Ref KF246 .B46 1993

For Assistance

  • Ask at the Reference Desk
  • Call 342-1668 or Toll free: 1-888-450-4632
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