Annotations in General

In the past they were called “glossation”, and sometimes still are called “gloss”.

Annotations (abbreviations: anno. or ann.) are notes from cases, statutes, treatises, essays, articles and similar which are included in a legal text (such a law, case or treatise section). They are discussion notes or cross-references of the text in issue, and may include references to scholar criticism, earlier or late law, and the like.

There are several codes annoted, such as the United States Code, which are annoted by two services which offer different material as annotation.

In America, together with the Digests, alternatives to case reporting were tried (see “Selective Publication of Cases “). One of these alternatives were the publication of sets of annoted reporters. They were not a reporter in the sense that it collects the text of reported cases in a given jurisdiction. Among them, there were “Lawyers Reports Annoted”(LRA), published from 1888 to 1918, the successor of the ALR.

Main Source: Salvador Trinxet Llorca

The American Law Reports (ALR) Annotations

This Annotation has been defined as an “in-depth analysis of a specific and important legal issue raised in the
accompanying decision, together with an extensive survey of the way the issue is treated in various jurisdictions.”

American Law Reports annotations are an excellent source for background information, discussion and analysis for the breadth and depth of law.

Typical annotations start with the text of an entire appellate case and are followed by a discussion of the legal trend or doctrine that that case represents.

The A.L.R. series publishes full texts of only certain state and federal court decisions, which are selected for the level of interest generated by the issues that they address. In earlier editions, each individual case selected was followed by an annotation, which provides an in-depth analysis of a specific and important legal issue raised in the accompanying decision, together with an extensive survey of the way the issue is treated in various jurisdictions. Many cases are cited and summarized in these annotations, making them excellent research sources. Beginning with the fifth series, cases are now presented at the end of the volume in their own section. All annotations precede the cases they discuss.

Note: A.L.R. 6th. Means the sixth series of the A.L.R. volumes.


To determine whether an annotation has been replaced (superseded) or supplemented (most of the annotations in the first four series have either been replaced or substantially supplemented), refer to the Annotation History Table. This table will update the changes that have affected that annotation.

Updating of the newer annotations is generally through the pocket parts.

Beginning in 1969, a second set of A.L.R. volumes called A.L.R. Federal was created.
It is structured identically to the standard A.L.R. series, with selected cases (all
federal) followed by annotations on the federal issues presented. Like other A.L.R.
volumes, A.L.R. Federal is updated and supplemented through its pocket parts.
There is a digest collecting all the A.L.R., A.L.R. Federal, and Lawyers’ Edition
headnotes arranged alphabetically by topic, called the A.L.R. Digest. Another useful
research aid is the Index to Annotations, which indexes all the annotations in A.L.R.
3d, A.L.R. 4th, A.L.R. 5th, A.L.R. 6th, and A.L.R. Federal.

Using and Finding A.L.R. Annotations

Annotations can be a valuable resource tool. They are extensively researched and include
all jurisdictions that have dealt with the topic about which the annotation comments. Since
A.L.R. was purchased by ThomsonWest, the A.L.R. Digest now is linked to the Key
Number System. Use the same principles learned for using the American Digest series.
Once you have located the applicable annotation citation, retrieve the annotation
volume for review. The annotation is structured differently than an encyclopedia.
Using Figures 6.21 and 6.22, the first substantive piece of information is a summary
of the annotation. Review the summary to determine whether the annotation is
relevant to the issue you are researching. The summary is followed by the case on
which the annotation is based with a reference to its location in the volume. As you
begin to examine the annotation, you will observe a table of contents, which lists
the contents of the annotation. This section is followed by all the related legal
research references. Note that since A.L.R. is now a ThomsonWest publication, all
related references will be cited. This will include not only the key numbers but also
Westlaw data searches and other relevant A.L.R. annotations. Coupled with law
review articles and periodicals, you will have a wealth of information to assist you
in your research.

Annotations list an index at the beginning of the commentary, which is followed
by the jurisdictions cited in the annotation. Clearly, the coverage of the subject is
extensive and comprehensive just by the number of jurisdictions cited. Then the annotation
begins; annotations generally follow a similar format, usually discussing the
scope of the annotation in the introductory paragraphs with a summary and comment
leading into the annotation analysis.

Scope of annotation in Section § 1 of text is about the exact annotation issue and also mentions issues not included as well as information about previous or superseded annotations.
Article Outline: Specifies what annotation covers and lists major topics by section number.

Typical Annotation Format and Contents

An ALR volume contains from ten to tewnty annotaions.

The typical format is the following:

Research References
Statutory Text
Table of Cases
§ 1 Scope
§ 2 Summary and comment
§ 3 Practice pointers
II. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS (here varies greately).

An alternative (old)format is the following:

Research References
Jurisdictional Table of Cited Statutes and Cases
§ 1 Introduction
b)Related annotation
§ 2 Summary and comment
§ 3 Practice pointers

Research References: they offer information about references that may be of related or collateral interest to a
user of the annotation.

1. Fully reported case at the beginning of the annotation that illustrates the point under consideration in the annotation, including a summary of the decision.

2. Scope statement states subject matter of annotation and modifications of earlier annotations.

3. Related annotations – directs the researcher to related subjects for research.

4. Summary – provides overview of the discussions in the annotation.

5. Practice pointers provides tips for case preparation and trial tactics.

6. Detailed case analysis – summarizes every case on point, organized according to the legal principles and factual situations involved.

Summary of Decision (with Background and Holding): brief synopsis of case with appeals court decisión
Cases, statutes, and other legal changes are cited to complement and supplement the original annotation.

Later versions had the cases indexed at the back of the volume.

See Also



References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international

Mentioned in these Entries

American Jurisprudence (encyclopedia), American Jurisprudence, 2d, American Law Reports (ALR), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary and Institutes of American Law, Cataloging for legal materials, Court Reports, Digests and American Law Reports, Human Rights resources, Legal Citation, Legal Treatises, Lexis’ Case Search, List of Australian Reports, List of Criminal Law Online Journals, List of U.S. Federal Court Reports, Oxford Reports on International Law, Patent Cooperation Treaty; with Regulations 4, Restatements of the Laws, Selective Publication of Cases, Sociological Abstracts, U.S. States Court Reports.



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