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APSA (American Political Science Association) Citation Guide: Legal, Public and Government Documents

Government Documents

Legal and Public Documents
  • The following are general guidelines for authors who need to cite legal and public documents in their manuscript. For authors who cite these types of documents often, APSA encourages seeking out and supplementing detailed and specific instructions from The Bluebook, by the Harvard Law Review Association.
  • Legal and public documents are not included on a reference list. Authors should make every effort to integrate the reference directly into the text. However, depending on the reference’s size, the surrounding sentence structure, and the level of detail desired, these documents can also be cited within an endnote and parenthetical citation combination (14.271).
  • The first page number of the document or case is cited directly after the name with no intervening punctuation, and then specific page numbers are given, separated by a comma. These can be sections or paragraphs, and should include the corresponding symbols (14.273).
  • Certain abbreviations and number formatting rules for legal and public documents do not follow the rules outlined elsewhere in this book (14.274).
    • Abbreviations usually use periods or apostrophes
    • Common abbreviations should be capitalized (e.g., No., Sess.)
    • In parenthetical citations and endnote citations, ordinal numbers should use the following format: 2d, 3d; not: 2nd, 3rd Cases and Court Decisions
  • When cited, full case names are set in roman. This differs from running text, where any version of a case name is italicized (14.276).
  • On an applicable basis, after the case name and the year, set off by commas, comes the volume number, the abbreviated name of the reporter, the ordinal series number of the reporter (following the altered number format above), the opening page of the decision, and then the actual page cited, set off by another comma. Following this is the abbreviated name of the court and the year the decision was made, in parentheses.

Government References 1

Court Decisions
  • For Supreme Court decisions, use the United States Reports, abbreviated U.S. in citations. Cases not yet published can be cited to the Supreme Court Reporter, abbreviated S. Ct. in citations. With Supreme Court decisions, the name of the court within the parentheses may be omitted (14.277).

Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015).

  • Lower federal court decisions can be cited to the Federal Reporter, abbreviated F. in citations, or the Federal Supplement, abbreviated F. Supp. in citations (14.278).

Eaton v. IBM Corp., 925 F. Supp. 487 (S.D. Tex. 1996).

Constitutions
  • Use roman numerals for articles and amendment numbers, but Arabic numerals for subdivisions (14.280).

U.S. Const. art. I, § 4, cl. 2.

Legislative and Executive Documents Laws and Statutes
  • These include public laws (Pub. L.), which are found in volumes of the United States Statutes at Large (Stat.) and later included in the United States Code (U.S.C.). Note that the No. of the law contains the number of the Congress adjoined with the document number by a hyphen.

Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135 (2012).

Bills and Resolutions
  • For bills and resolutions originating from the House of Representatives, use H.R. or H.R. Res. accordingly as abbreviated forms. For those from the Senate, use S. and S. Res. accordingly.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, H.R. 1599, 114th Cong. (2015).

Hearings
  • Use the full given title of the hearing in italics, and add, if necessary, the names of the committees included. At the end of the citation include, in parentheses, the speaker’s name, title, and affiliation.

Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data: Joint Hearing Before the S. Comm. on the Judiciary and the S. Comm. on Commerce, Science and Transportation, 115th Cong. (2018) (statement of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook).

Government References 2

Congressional Reports and Documents
  • For reports and documents originating from the House of Representatives, use H.R. Rep. or H.R. Doc. accordingly as abbreviated forms. For those from the Senate, use S. Rep. and S. Doc. accordingly.
Congressional Debates
  • The reference begins with the volume of Congressional Record (Cong. Rec.), or, for debates before 1873, the Annals of the Congress of the United States (Annals of Cong.), the Register of Debates (Reg. Deb.), or the Congressional Globe (Cong. Globe) where debates are published by the government. The page number and date follow.

112 Cong. Rec. 16 (1996).

State Laws and Municipal Ordinances
  • Titles for state codes are set in roman type, and the date refers to the year the current code was published. These will vary state to state, but this general format can be followed.

Wis. Stat. § 36.09(3) 2015

Presidential Documents
  • Proclamations, executive orders, vetoes, and addresses are published in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc.) and in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (Pub. Papers). Proclamations and executive orders are also published in the Federal Register (Fed. Reg.) and title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.).

Proclamation No. 5142, 49 Fed. Reg. 341 (1984).

Treaties
  • Give the full name, in roman type, and the parties that signed the treaty after, separated by a comma. After the parties are given, provide the exact date the treaty was signed, and the volume and treaty number along with the reporter name. Before the 1950s, US treaties were published unofficially in the Treaty Series (T.S.) or the Executive Agreement Series (E.A.S.). After the 1950s, the reporters are the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (U.S.T.), and the Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S.). International treaties are published in the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.), or were published in its predecessor, the League of Nations Treaty Series (L.N.T.S.).

Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, U.S.-U.K.-U.S.S.R., Aug. 5, 1963, 14 U.S.T. 1313.