This page shows how to cite some of the common pieces of legislation -- those you will use in you course assignments -- in APA format. For a comprehensive overview of citing government document, visit these resources:
§ = section, refers to a particular part of a document, usually in legal materials
To create the §:
ch. = Chapter
Cong. = Congress, usually refers to a specific session of congress, i.e. 101st Cong. (See Dates of the Session of Congress)
CRS = Congressional Research Service, an arm of the Library Congress that conducts research on policy for the US Congress
Gen. Ct. = General Court, usually refers to a state level congressional session
H.R. or H. = House of Representatives
P.L. = Public Law
Rep. or Rep. No. = Report or report number
S. or Sen. = Senate
Sess. = Session
Stat. = Statute, usually refers to a specific law or section of a larger law
U.S.C. = United States Code
1. Bills introduced in every Congress are given sequential numbers, e.g., H.R. 1, H.R. 2, S. 1, S. 2, etc.
2. It is also important to know the number of the Congress, e.g., 117th. See Dates of Sessions of the US Congress. The session of congress is often included in the bill number (e.g. 117 H.R. 110)
3. Once a bill becomes law, it gets a public law number in its first printing as a slip law. The public law number has two parts-the first part is the number of the Congress, and the second part indicates it was the nth law passed by that Congress, e.g., Public Law 111-148. Public law is often abbreviated PL in citations.
4. The public law is also cited to the Statutes at Large, a second printing of the slip laws, arranged chronologically in bound volumes. A Statutes at Large citation , e.g., 120 Stat. 648, includes the volume and page number on which a law can be found.
5. The public law finally becomes part of the United States Code. This is arranged by subject, so provisions in the public law can be codified in several different titles (subjects.)
The Timeline of Printing a Federal Law
|Type of Law||Format||Example|
|Full Law||Name of the Law/Act, Public Law Number, Statute Number. (Date).||Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, P.L. 103-322, 108 Stat. 1796. (1994).|
|Specific Act within a Larger Law||Name of the Act + "of" + Date, Public Law Number, Statute Number.||Violence Against Women Act of 1994, P.L. 103-322, 108 Stat. 1902.|
|As U.S. Code||Name of the Act, United States Code Number § Section Number (Date).||Violence Against Women Act, 42 U.S.C. § 13701 (1994).|
|(Name of the Act [Acronym], Date). After the first citation of this act, you would cite successive citations as (Acronym, Date)||
(Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act [VCCLEA], 1994) successive citations as (VCCLEA, 1994)
Name of the Bill, Bill Number, Session of Congress. (Date).
Bill Number, Session of Congress. (Date).
Violence Against Women Act, H.R. 1502, 102nd Cong. (1991).
H.R. 1502, 102nd Cong. (1991).
(Name of the Act [Acronym], Date). After the first citation of this act, you would cite successive citations as (Acronym, Date)
(Bill Number, Date)
(Violence Against Women Act [VAWA], 1991), successive citations as (VAWA, 1991)
(H.R. 1502, 1991)
Reference with Author:
Sacco, L. (2015, May 26). Violence Against Women Act: Overview, legislation, and federal funding (CRS Report No. R42499). https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42499.pdf
In-text with Author:
(Sacco, 2015) or
Sacco (2015) stated that...
Reference without Author:
Congressional Research Service. (2015, May 26). Violence Against Women Act: Overview, legislation, and federal funding (CRS Report No. R42499). https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R42499.html
In-text without Author:
(Congressional Research Service, 2015) or
Congressional Research Service (2015) stated that....
State law citation varies from state-to-state. Here are some resources to help you cite state law:
Contact your librarian if you need more assistance with state citations
|Name of Law. Source § Section number (Year). URL OR (Database)||
Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 24:6I-1 (2019). (West)
NOTE: In this case, the "Ann." means "annotated"
|(Title Number Source § Section number)||
(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 24:6I-1)
|Bill Number. Session of Congress. (State Abbrev. Year) (enacted). URL||
H. 199, 189th Gen. Ct., Sess. (Mass. 2015) (enacted). https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/House/H199
|(Bill Number, Year)||
(H. 199, 2015)
NOTE: Unenacted bills are the same citation, just remove the word "enacted" from the citation
This page is based on the libguide for APA Style 7th Edition: Citing Government Documents at Boston College Libraries. https://libguides.bc.edu/apa/govcite
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