New York Official Reports

Editorial Procedures

The New York Official Reports are professionally edited and prepared for publication by the New York State Law Reporting Bureau, which performs the most comprehensive and meticulous editing of any Reporter in the Nation.

An experienced staff of attorney-editors, selected for their attention to detail, edits every opinion for spelling, punctuation, grammar and conformity to the New York Law Reports Style Manual prepared by the Law Reporting Bureau and approved by the Court of Appeals.

The Style Manual covers such matters as forms of citation, abbreviations, capitalization, various miscellaneous rules, and word styles. It is available for use and download electronically.

Guided by the Style Manual, our attorney-editors verify every citation—cases, statutes, legislative history, administrative regulations, periodicals, treatises, etc.—and every quotation, by comparing it to the original source. When editing opinions, our attorney-editors not only verify that the cited material exists, but also determine that the citation supports the proposition for which it is cited, i.e., that it is substantively correct and has not been repealed, amended or otherwise rendered inappropriate in the context in which it is cited.

In performing this editing function, for Court of Appeals opinions and memoranda, our attorney-editors consult the records and briefs on appeal. We examine every opinion and memoranda for, among other things, factual errors and accuracy of quotations. 

Our comprehensive and meticulous editorial work results in a high volume of substantive corrections each year, and we make many more stylistic and technical corrections.

An experienced staff of attorney-editors, selected for their writing abilities, compose headnotes for every significant point of law decided in opinions. To facilitate legal research, we endeavor to give a concise and specific statement of the Court's holding in the first sentence of each headnote. This is followed by a concise statement of the elements of the Court's reasoning in support of the holding. All headnotes are preceded by main and secondary subject headings that classify the legal issue summarized in the headnote.

Our attorneys prepare summaries for Court of Appeals opinions which summarize the procedural history of the appeal insofar as it is material to the matters discussed in the opinion. All of the information contained in these summaries is taken from the record on appeal. We prepare more extensive summaries for Court of Appeals memoranda in order to explain the essential facts and proceedings below based upon our examination of the record, the contentions of the parties contained in the briefs, and internal reports which the Court has made available to us. These summaries assist the legal community in understanding brief memorandum decisions, some of which may be only one or two sentences in length.

Court of Appeals motions for leave to appeal and criminal leave applications are edited into tabular lists. We use motion papers and internal reports to correct titles and to determine the court, decision date and official citation of the order or judgment sought to be appealed from. Because we have access to the record on appeal and briefs, we are able to identify authoritatively the correct lower court citation affected by each appellate court decision. This is particularly difficult where there are multiple decisions in the lower courts with the same title, most of which are unpublished, or a particular case has been back and forth through the appellate and lower courts several times.

Additionally, we consult the briefs and records to prepare appearances of counsel, listing the attorneys who appeared in the case, and, for Court of Appeals decisions, points of counsel, summarizing their arguments and listing the authorities that they cited.

At the completion of each stage of our editorial work, experienced paralegals proofread the work.

The Law Reporting Bureau obtains approval from Court of Appeals Judges and Appellate Division Justices for all of our editorial work—headnotes, summaries, points and appearances of counsel, citations and grammar corrections, stylistic changes, etc., before the opinions are published in the Advance Sheets. We obtain the approval of Trial Judges for significant editorial revisions of their opinions, and we send them an email with the Advance Sheet citation of their opinions in the Miscellaneous Reports. This gives authoring Judges an opportunity to review their opinions in the Advance Sheets and notify us of any revisions which they desire to make for the Bound Volume.

Considerable additional work must be performed to create a Bound Volume after the initial work for that volume has been completed in the Advance Sheets. Revisions made by the authoring Judge after the opinion has been printed in the Advance Sheets must be applied; corrected pages received from the publisher must be proofread; the Table of Cases, Table of Statutes and Rules, and Digest must be prepared for that Bound Volume; missing citations in the Advance Sheets must be filled in if then available; and the title page, copyright information and list of Judges must be prepared. For some volumes, we also prepare historic court proceedings such as Swearing-In Ceremonies, Tributes to retiring Judges and In Memoriam Ceremonies for deceased Judges. While this is occurring, computer printouts and page proofs are passing back and forth between the Law Reporting Bureau and publisher as we review and proofread the publisher's typesetting and page composition work to ensure that the Bound Volume, which will be the permanent official text of all the decisions contained therein, will be absolutely accurate.

The online database version of the Official Reports likewise is reviewed to detect and correct any errors which may arise in the conversion of the Official Reports to that format.