How to Cite Bills MLA Style
The 7th edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, as published by the Modern Language Association, provides specific information for citing legal documents and bills on the works cited page of a research paper. MLA citation uses different methods for citing legal documents and bills depending on whether the document is well known, whether it is a legislative act and whether it is a court case or document. Knowing how to create the proper MLA citation is important for establishing your credibility as a researcher.
Citing Popular Bills on the MLA Works Cited Page
Cite well known documents, such as the U.S. Declaration of Independence, by leading with the document title. Author names are not required for these well known documents because their title has become commonplace. Create a citation for these well known documents by beginning with the document title, the document date and the publication information. The document title should not be placed in italics or quotation marks. The document date should include a day and month if made available. Publication information should include where you found the document, such as in a textbook or reference book.
Citing Legislative Acts on the MLA Works Cited Page
Create a citation for a legislative act using the title of the act, the Public Law number preceded by the phrase "Pub. L.", the Statutes at Large number proceeded and preceded by the phrase "Stat." and the date the act was issued. This information can located on the first page of any legislative act.
For example, the USA Patriot Act legislative act citation should read as follows:
USA Patriot Act. Pub. L. 107-56. 115 Stat. 272. 26 Oct. 2001. Print.
Citing Court Documents on the MLA Works Cited Page
Cite a court document using the plaintiff and defendant names as authors. Begin with the first plaintiff's last name or title, followed by the phrase "v." followed by the first defendant's name or title. For example, writing "New York v. Pennsylvania" indicates that the state of Pennsylvania is defending itself in the case against charges made by the state of New York. Follow this information with the law report number, name of the court, year of the case, and the publication information that describes where the court document is located.
For example, "New York v. Pennsylvania. 123 US 456. Supreme Court of the US. 2012. Supreme Court Collection. Legal Information inst., Cornell U Law School, n.d. Web."
In-Text Citation of Bills
Cite a bill or legal document in the text of a document by writing the name of the act and the date it was issued. For example, write "the USA Patriot Act of 2001" in the text of your paragraph to cite the act. Cite a court proceeding in the text of your paragraph by providing the last name or title of the first plaintiff and the last name or title of the defendant, separated by the phrase "v." and italicize all three elements in the text of your paragraph.
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- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition; Modern Language Association; 2009
- A Writer's Reference, 6th edition; Diana Hacker; 2010
Justin King is a writer and scholar of environmental and public rhetoric. He holds a Master of Arts in writing studies from Saint Joseph's University and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. King has been contributing to online publications and print journals since 2004, as well as delivering talks on science writing and environmental theory throughout the United States.