How to Cite the U.S. Constitution

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The Modern Language Association, the American Psychological Association and the Chicago Manual of Style have adapted their citation formats for legal document citations from "The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation," published by the Harvard Law Review Association. As a legal document, the U.S. Constitution is cited according to the adapted guidelines.

Chicago and APA Styles

According to the guidelines in the "Chicago Manual of Style" (16th ed.) and the APA Style website, Chicago and APA use the same reference format for the U.S. Constitution. First write the name the document, abbreviated "U.S. Const.," and then the article or amendment number. Abbreviate "article" as "art." and "amendment" as "amend." and then write the number. Next, to cite a specific section, add a comma and the symbol "§" before the number. For example: "U.S. Const. art. II, § 1." If the article or amendment has been amended or repealed, add that information in parentheses. For example: "U.S. Const. amend. XVIII (repealed 1933)."

MLA Style

The citation in MLA differs slightly from APA and Chicago. Based on the guidelines in the 7th ed. of the MLA handbook, start the reference with "U.S. Const." Then, write the article or amendment number, preceded by "art." or "amend.," respectively. For the section, use "sec." instead of the symbol "§" and add "Print" or "Web" to show whether you are citing a print or an online source. For example: "U.S. Const. art. II, sec. 1. Web."


About the Author

Melissa McDonald has been writing about education since 2006. Her work has appeared in “AdjunctNation,” “JCW” and “Honor Cord” e-zine. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and currently works in higher education as a writing consultant. Beyond her work as educator and writer, McDonald volunteers as a judge in both local and national writing competitions for high school and college students.

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