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Citing in APA Format: Organizational, Governmental & Legal

This guide will assist you in citing electronic and print resources. Each tab will indicate the type of resource and how to cite.

GENERAL INFORMATION

The main difference between citing legal periodicals and APA journals is that legal periodicals cite references in footnotes, whereas APA journals locate all references in the reference list. In general, follow the standard APA style for formatting citations, but when it comes to citations of court decisions, statutes and other legislative materials, follow the format of legal citations found in the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation,2015. Examples provided in this guide reflect the Bluebook.

WHAT IS...DEFINITIONS OF COMMON LEGAL SOURCES

Definitions of Common Legal Sources

...a Slip (Session) Law?
Within a day or so after enactment of a law, copies of it are distributed as "slip" or "session" laws on one or several pages.

...United States Statutes-at-Large?
Slip (Session) laws are assembled into annual volumes of enacted laws and published as the United States Statutes at Large (Stat.).

The U.S. Statutes at Large is arranged strictly in chronological order so that statutes addressing related topics may be scattered across many volumes. Statutes often repeal or amend earlier laws, and extensive cross-referencing is required to determine what laws are in effect at any given time.

...the United States Code?
The United States Code is the result of an effort to make finding relevant and effective statutes simpler by reorganizing them by subject matter, and eliminating expired and amended sections.The official U.S. Code is prepared by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel and published by the Office and by the Government Printing Office.There are also unofficial versions available from private publishers. These have a slightly different format from the official version and include some other enhancements not found in the official U.S. Code. The most popular of these are the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.), published by Thomson/West, and the United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.), published by LexisNexis.

 ...a reporter (U. S. Supreme Court)?

Only the printed bound volumes of the United States Reports (U.S.) contain the final, official opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court Reporter (S Ct.) is an unofficial reporter and includes the full text of all decisions published in the official U.S. Reports plus additional notes and finding aids. 

The Federal Reporter (F.), Federal Reporter, Second Series (F. 2d), and Federal Reporter, Third Series (F.3d) are unofficial reporters containing the reported cases of the U.S. Appeals Courts. The Federal Supplement (F. Supp.) is an unofficial reporter containing reported cases from U.S. District Courts.

RULES FOR CITING GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

APA Citation Style doesn't have a separate category for government publications. Instead, government documents should be cited as books (APA 6.27, 7.02), technical/research reports (APA 7.03), or brochures.

  • For print publications, take the bibliographic information from the title page of the document if there is one.
  • If a person is named on the title page, use him/her as the author.
  • If no person is named, use the government agency, department, or branch as a group author.

Give the name of the group author exactly as it appears on the title page. Spell out the entire name; no abbreviations. If the branch or agency is not well known, include its higher department first. Ex. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Child Development, Children's Bureau. (2005).

Note: In text, the agency's name is usually spelled out each time it occurs. If the agency name is familiar, you may abbreviate it in 2nd and subsequent citations. If the name is short or if the abbreviation would not be easily understandable, spell out the name each time it occurs. Use brackets to indicate the abbreviation you intend to use in subsequent citations. Ex.  (National Institutes of Mental Health [NIMH], 2003.) Subsequent citations would look like this: (NIMH, 2003).

  • If the group author is also the publisher, use the word Author after the location. Ex. Washington, D.C.: Author.
  • If there is a series or report number, include it immediately after the title in parentheses. Ex. Managing asthma (NIH Publication No. 02-2650).
  • If the document came from the U.S. Government Printing Office, list the publisher location and name as Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
  • For reports retrieved online, identify the publisher as part of the retrieval statement unless the publisher has been identified as the author Ex. Retrieved from Agency name website: http://www.xxxxxx. See # 5 above.

Congressional Publications

  • When citing any United States legislative material (except for debates), include the title (if relevant), the abbreviated name of the house, the number of the Congress, the section (if any), and the year of publication, in parentheses. Ex. Privacy Protection Act of 1998, H.R. 3224, 105th Cong. § 2(a) (1998).
  • When citing state legislative materials, include the name of the legislative body, abbreviated appropriately, the number of the bill or resolution (or, if not numbered, the year of the body), and the number or designation of the legislative session. In parentheses, indicate the name of the state, abbreviated, and the year of enactment or publication. Ex. H.R.189, 145th Gen. Assemb. (Ga. 1999).
  • Note: When abbreviating names of the states, use the Bluebook, Table 10.1 for appropriate abbreviations.

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT

Government Documents

APA Citation Style doesn't have a separate category for government publications. Instead, government documents should be cited as books (APA 6.27, 7.02), technical/research reports (APA 7.03), or brochures.

Reference Example:

Print Citation - Example 1

National Institutes of Health, Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General. (1986).
               The health consequences to using smokeless tobacco: A report of the advisory committee to the surgeon general
               (NIH Publication No. 86-2874).  Washington, D.C.: Author.

Print Citation - Example 2

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2008). Urban and regional planners. In Occupational Outlook
                 Handbook  (Bulletin 2700, pp. 197-199). Indianapolis, IN: JIST.

If no person is named as author, use the government agency, department, or branch as a group author. Give the name of the group author exactly as it appears on the title page. Spell out the entire name; no abbreviations. If the branch or agency is not well known, include its higher department first. (Ex. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Child Development, Children's Bureau.)

Place information about editions, volume numbers, and page numbers in parentheses following the title, with the period after the parentheses.

When the author and publisher are the same, use the word "Author" as the name of the publisher.

Electronic Citation - Example 1

Sampson, R. (2006). Acquaintance rape of college students (DOJ Report No. 17). Retrieved from U. S. Dept. of Justice
                website: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/Publications/POP_Acquaintance%20Rape033012b.pdf
 

Electronic Citation - Example 2

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Urban and regional planners. In Occupational Outlook
                Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-
               planners.htm
 

For reports retrieved online. identify the publisher as part of the retrieval statement unless the publisher has been identified as the author. (Ex. Retrieved from Agency name website: http://www.xxxxxxx).

UNITED STATES STATUTES AT LARGE

U.S Statutes At Large

Reference Citation example:

Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004. Pub. L. 108-266. 118 Stat. 791.

Capitalize the first letter of words in the names of laws, court cases, and regulations (referred to as "title case").

The Act above was the 266th public law of the 108th session of Congress. It is located in volume 118 of the United States Statutes at Large , p. 791.

Note: Use the popular title of the act, if there is one.

In-Text:

Marine Turtle Conservation Act (2004).

In text, give the popular or official name of the act (if any) and the year of the act.

UNITED STATES CODE

United States Code (U.S.C.)

Reference example

Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004, 16 U.S.C.A. § 6601 et seq. (West 2010).

In the reference list entry, give the popular or official name of the act (if any) and the year of the act. Include the source and section number of the statute, and in parentheses, give the publication date of the statutory compilation, which may be different from the year in the name of the act.

Abbreviate the source as specified in the Bluebook.

Do not italicize the abbreviation for United States Code (U.S.C.) or United States Code Annoted (U.S.C.A.). Capitalize the first letter of major words in the names of laws , court cases, and regulations (referred to as "title case").

Citing to the U.S.C. or U.S.C.A. is the preferred method of citing legislation, because codified legislation is usually easier to work with and retrieve than is a session law.

The citation above is located in title 16 of the United States Code Annotated. "Et seq." is a Latin phrase meaning "and following" and is a shorthand way of showing that the act covers not just the initial section cited, but also others that follow the initial session. The text in parentheses indicates that the United States Code Annotated is published by West publishing and that 2010 is the publication date of the volume in which the cited sections can be found.

In-Text example

Marine Turtle Conservation Act (2004).

Give the popular or official name of the act (if any) and the year of the act.

U. S. SUPREME COURT

U. S. Supreme Court

Reference example

Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (1990).

Provide: 
  --Case name (not italicized)
  --Volume number of the reporter where the published decision can be found
  --Appropriate abbreviation of the reporter
  --Page number in the reporter where the case can be found.

  --Full date of the most recent major
     disposition of the case (in parentheses).

******* If a decision is not available in an official or unofficial reporter, cite a widely used computer database, a service, a slip opinion, or an Internet source or a newspaper, in that order of preference.

Maryland v. Craig, No. 89-478, 1990 U.S. LEXIS 3457, (U.S. June 27, 1990).

Provide: 
  --Case name (not italicized)
  --Docket Number
  --Database Identifier
  --Court Name (abbreviated appropriately)
  --Full date of the most recent major
     disposition of the case


Page numbers, if assigned, should be preceded by the word, "at" and an asterisk (*); paragraph numbers, if assigned, should be preceded by a paragraph symbol (¶).

UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

U.S. Const., art. I, § 9, cl.2.

Citations of the U.S. Constitution begin with U.S. Const., followed by the article, amendment, section, and/or clause numbers as relevant. Abbreviate the terms article, amendment, section, and clause, etc. as specified in T16 of the Bluebook.

Article and amendment numbers are given in Roman numerals (I, II, III); section and clause numbers are given in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3).

When citing parts of the Constitution currently in force, do not include a date. When referring to a part of the Constitution that has been repealed or amended, include the year that the part in question was repealed or amended in parentheses.

U. S. Const. amend. XVIII (repealed 1933).

CONGRESSIONAL PUBLICATION

Congressional Publication

When citing United States legislative material except debates, include the title (if relevant), the abbreviated name of the house (H.R. or S.), the number assigned to the material, the number of the Congress, and the year of publication (in parentheses).

Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act, H.R. 81, 111th Cong. (2009).

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CITATION RESOURCES

ABBREVIATIONS

When citing legal documents, it is typical to use abbreviations. Here are some of the most common legal/governmental abbreviations according to The Bluebook.

Annotated - Annot.

Article - art.

Clause - cl.

U. S. Congress - Cong.

Congressional Record - Cong. Rec.

United States Constitution - U.S. Const.

Division - div.

Document - doc.

Federal Register - Fed. Reg.

Federal Reporter - F.

Federal Reporter, Second Series - F.2d

Federal Reporter, Third Series - F.3d

Federal Supplement - F. Supp

House of Representatives - H.R.

House of Representatives Document - H.R. Doc.

House of Representatives Report - H.R. Rep.

Legislation, Legislative - Legis.

Legislature - Leg.

The Northeastern Reporter, Second Series -  N.E.2d

Preamble - pmbl.

Public Law - Pub. L.

Regulation - reg.

Report - rep.

Resolution - Res.

Revised - rev.

Senate - S.

Senate Document - S. Doc.

Statutes at Large - Stat.

Supreme Court (United States) - U.S.

Supreme Court Reporter -  S. Ct.

United States Code - U.S.C.