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Education Law: Citing Legal Information in APA

Links to resources on education law for educational leaders.

APA and Citing Legal Information

As if APA citing and formatting isn't confusing enough, legal information (including federal and state bills, laws, court cases, and more) require a separate formatting style: the legal Bluebook style. The basics of this style are republished as a section in the APA Publication Manual.

Legal Bluebook

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (18th ed., 2005; The Bluebook sets the standard for all legal citations, and the style for legal citations that you see in the Publication Manual (see Appendix 7.1: References to Legal Materials, pp. 216–224) comes directly from the Bluebook.

Other resources

Websites and handouts from other university libraries.

Color Coding / Index

We've color coded the examples to help illustrate the parts of the citation. Here's the color coding index:

Title of Publication
Title of Article
Title of Periodical

Volume (Issue)
Publisher or Database
Other Information

Idea for color-coding citation guidelines borrowed from Long Island University, B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library's "Citation Style for Research Papers" website.

APA Reference Examples: Legal Materials


The basic formats are:

These are basic examples for citing legal materials; for more information, see the latest edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed., 2010), which is the source for APA legal citation style.

Common Abbreviations


U.S. Congress
House of Representatives
Federal Reporter

F. Supp.
Cong. Rec.
Fed. Reg.

Federal Reporter, Second Series
Federal Reporter, Third Series
Federal Supplement
United States Code
Congressional Record
Federal Register

Specific Examples:

Court Decisions
Wienhorst v. Stonebraker, 356 F. Supp. 1078 (E.D. Wis. 1988).
Wienhorst v. Stonebraker (1988)   or   (Wienhorst v. Stonebraker, 1988)
Appealed Case, Affirmed Decision
Hoeferkamp v. Bischoff, 471 F. Supp. 211 (D. Kan. 1988). aff’d, 727 F.2d 777 (9th Cir. 1992).
Hoeferkamp v. Bischoff (1988/1992)   or   (Hoeferkamp v. Bischoff, 1988/1992)
Unreported Decision
McDougall v. Riggs, No. 88-2109 (3rd Cir. March 8, 1949).
  • To cite a particular page of a slip opinion (opinion that is not published in a case reporter but is separately printed), use the form slip op. at [page number].
Unreported Decision, Located in a Database
Dougherty v. Royal Zenith Corp., No. 88-8666, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10807, at *2 (E.D. Pa. July 31, 1991).
  • Precede screen page numbers, if assigned, with an asterisk (*).
  • Precede paragraph numbers, if assigned, with a paragraph symbol (¶).
Enacted Statute
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2011).
No Child Left Behind Act (2001)   or   No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
  • U.S.C.A. stands for United States Code Annotated, the unofficial version of the United States Code.
  • Use the most current version of the statute, unless you are citing a specific version of the statute for historical reasons.
Enacted Statute, Specific Provision
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Qualifications for Teachers and Professionals, 20 U.S.C. § 6319 (2011).
No Child Left Behind Act: Qualifications for Teachers and Professionals (2011)   or   (No Child Left Behind Act: Qualifications for Teachers and Professionals, 2011)
  • If you have quotations from several provisions in the act, you may need to provide citations with the specific subheadings.
  • You only need the subheadings if you have several references to the same statute.
Information in a Statute
General definition of homeless individual. (2014). 42 U.S.C. § 11302. Retrieved September 29, 2014, from
Legislative Materials
Federal Testimony
Stem cell research: The pros and cons of cloning: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Bioethics, of the House Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, 110th Cong. 35 (2000) (testimony of Carey Hunt).
Stem Cell Research (2000)   or   (Stem Cell Research, 2000)
Unenacted Federal Bills and Resolutions
Small Farm Reimbursement Act of 2000, H.R. 2063, 102d Cong. (2000).
  • The version in the House of Representatives has H.R. and the bill number.
House Bill 2063 (2000)   or   (H.R. 2063, 2000)
Small Farm Reimbursement Act of 2000, S. 452, 102d Cong. (2000).
  • The version of the bill in the Senate has S. and the bill number.
Senate Bill 452 (2000)   or   (S. 452, 2000)
Enacted Federal Resolutions
S. Res. 167, 110th Cong., 127 Cong. Rec. 3432 (2004) (enacted).
  • Note that enacted bills and joint resolutions are laws and should be cited as statutes.
  • Enacted simple or concurrent resolutions should follow the format above.
Senate Resolution 167 (2004)   or   (S. Res. 167, 2004)
U.S. Constitution
  • When citing something from the U.S. Constitution, begin with U.S. Const., followed by the article, amendment, section, and/or clause numbers as relevant.
  • The terms article, amendment, section, and clause are always abbreviated art., amend., §, and cl., respectively.
  • Preamble is abbreviated pmbl.
  • Use Roman numerals (I, II, III) for article and amendment numbers.
  • Use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) for section and clause numbers.
Referred to in Passing
Students are to use the U.S. Constitution when completing their assignments.
  • References to the U.S. Constitution that are made in passing do not need to be cited in the reference list.
References to Parts Currently Still in Use
U.S. Const. art. I, § 3.
  • For the parts of the U.S. Constitution that are currently in force, the Bluebook states to not include a date.
When the United States of America was founded, a procedure for adding new states was devised (U.S. Const. art. I, § 3).
References to Parts No Longer Used
U.S. Const. amend. XVIII (repealed 1933).
  • The Bluebook says to include the year in parentheses if you are referring to a part of the Constitution that has been repealed or amended.
Prohibition is the period in U.S. history when the sale of liquor was made illegal (U.S. Const. amend. XVIII, repealed 1933).
Constitutional Amendment
U.S. Const. amend. XIX.
  • For the parts of the U.S. Constitution that are currently in force, the Bluebook states to not include a date.
The constitution was not amended until 1920 to give women the vote (U.S. Const. amend. XIX).
Smith, I. M. (1988). U.S. Patent No. 123,445. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Include the inventor or inventors to whom the patent is issued and the official source from which the patent information can be retrieved.
U.S. Patent No. 123,445 (1988)   or   (U.S. Patent No. 123,445, 1988)
Administrative and Executive Materials
Federal Regulation
FDA Prescription Drug Advertising Rule, 21 C.F.R. § 202.1 (2006).
FDA Prescription Drug Advertising Rule (2006)   or   (FDA Prescription Drug Advertising Rule, 2006)
Federal Small Business Regulations for Acquisitions by the National Parks Administration, 55 Fed. Reg. 66,343 (proposed Jan. 11, 2004) (to be codified at 66 C.F.R. pt. 1).
Federal Small Business Regulations for Acquisitions by the National Parks Administration (2004)   or   (Federal Small Business Regulations for Acquisitions by the National Parks Administration, 2004)
Executive Order
Exec. Order No. 11,609, 3 C.F.R. 586 (1971-1975), reprinted as amended in 3 U.S.C. 301 app. at 404-07 (1994).
Executive Order No. 11,609 (1994)   or   (Executive Order No. 11,609, 1994)
Creative Commons License
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