How to Cite State Law Using APA Format

Written by melissa cole
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The American Psychological Association (APA) has a citation style that is popularly used in research and text dealing with the social and behavioural sciences. You may find the APA citation format particularly apt if you must cite laws within the text of your research. The APA citation style is a straightforward method of helping readers locate the laws cited in your research.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Quote or paraphrase text from the case you wish to cite within your research. Underline the name of the case (i.e., "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka") and then cite the year of the decision in parentheses. If you're not making direct reference to the name of the case within the text, cite the case at the end of a sentence. Include the name of the case (underlined) followed by a comma and then the year of the decision---all in parentheses---before the period that ends the sentence. This format holds for Supreme Court as well as lower-court decisions.

  2. 2

    Format the citation in your reference list to include the volume and page numbers of the reporting service's report. List the name of the case, followed by a comma, the volume number, reporter abbreviation, page number and then the year of the court decision in parentheses. For example, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

  3. 3

    Cite lower-court decisions on your reference list page by listing the name of the case followed in order by a comma, the volume number, reporter abbreviation, page number and court name (i.e., circuit courts or district courts) in parentheses. End the citation with a period.

  1. 1

    Quote or paraphrase text from the statute you wish to cite within the text of your research by plainly mentioning the name of the act followed by the year it was enacted in parentheses, or by mentioning the name of the act and adding "of (the year it was enacted)" within the text.

  2. 2

    Cite the act on your reference list page by explicitly helping readers find its exact location in the U.S. Code.

  3. 3

    Cite the name of the act followed by a section symbol (§), the section number, a comma, the volume number, "U.S.C." (to indicate that you are pointing to locations in the U.S. Code), a section symbol, the section number and then the year in parentheses followed by a period.

  1. 1

    Abbreviate the name of the constitution (i.e., "N.Y. Const." or "U.S. Const.") in a text citation.

  2. 2

    Follow with the part number (i.e. "pt. 1") if applicable, the article number in Roman numerals (i.e., "art. VI"), a comma, a section symbol (§) and then the section number followed by a period.

  3. 3

    Cite state and the U.S. constitutions in the same way on the reference page as you did in text.

Tips and warnings

  • There is a slight variation for citing Massachusetts court decisions and statutes.

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