Black’s Law Dictionary

Posted by Troy Johnson on August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized |


Pictured is the 7th, 8th, and 9th editions of Black’s Law Dictionary. The 9th edition is the most current edition of Black’s. Black’s is available on Westlaw. To access the dictionary just type “Black’s Law Dictionary” in the search box on WestlawNext. If you have any problem accessing the dictionary, just ask for help at the reference desk in the law library.

I want to use this opportunity to briefly discuss context and currency of online materials using Black’s Law Dictionary as an example. Currently when you look up a term using Black’s on Westlaw you are obtaining a definition from the 9th edition. When the 9th edition first came out there was a period of time where only the 8th was available on Westlaw.

The lesson is to not always assume that everything online is up to date. As a legal information consumer, you need to be in the habit of checking how current online materials are.  Sources have different ways of conveying the currency of materials and databases. Look for links that provide information on scope or currency.

When you use Black’s Law Dictionary in print you know you have the current edition if you have the green volume. This type of context is not always available online so when using online resources always ask yourself how you know the materials you are looking at are current.

If you ever need to know if a legal source is the most current and you are are having problems determining this, ask for help from a reference librarian.



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