How to Cite This Site - The U.S. Constitution Online - USConstitution.net
U.S. Constitution Online
Quick Links: FAQ  Topics  Forums  Documents  Timeline  Kids  Vermont Constitution  Map  Citation   USConstitution.net

How to Cite This Site

Jump to: Citing the Constitution

It is very important when writing a paper for a school project (at any level, from elementary school to graduate school) to properly cite your sources. Where did you find your information? Citations are placed in the text as footnotes or endnotes, and/or placed at the end of your work in a bibliography. This page will handle a few different possibilities. The first is to answer the question "How do I cite a page on this site?" or, as I like to say, "How to cite the site."

There are two main areas that someone might wish to cite on this site. The first is one of the pages found on the site. Several are simply electronic copies of historical documents, while others are research pages or opinion pages. You should be able to discern which is which pretty easily. Unless the information is a copy of a historical document, and unless otherwise noted, everything here is written by the Webmaster, Steve Mount.

Here is a standard way to cite an HTML page published on the Internet, according to the Columbia Guide to Online Style:

  • Mount, Steve. "Constitutional Topic: Martial Law." USConstitution.net. 30 Nov 2001. http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_mlaw.html (3 Dec 2001)

Specifically, the data is as follows: Author, Title, Site, Modification Date (found at the bottom of every page), URL, and the date the page was accessed. The two dates are critical because of the changeable nature of the Web.

The next citation uses the APA format. This standard comes from the American Psychological Association, and is often used in psychology and other social sciences:

  • Mount, S. (2010). Constitutional topic: due process. Retrieved February 23, 2011 from http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_duep.html

Specifically, the data is as follows: Author, Modification Year (found at the bottom of every page), page title, the date the page was accessed, and the URL.

Finally, the MLA style is often used. This style comes from The Modern Language Association. With this style, citations are noted in the text and full references are given in a Works Cited list at the end of the paper.

  • Inline: (Mount)
  • Works Cited: Mount, Steve. "Constitutional Topic: The Census." USConstitution.net. 3 Jan. 2011. 27 Feb. 2011 .

Specifically, the data is as follows: Author, Title, Site, Modification Date, thee date the page was accessed, and URL.

The second source of information is this site's Message Boards. The primary information available in the Message Boards is opinion. Because the opinions are those of the posters, the citation of a message needs to include the name or handle of the poster. Here is an example, in the Columbia Style, for a posting from the Classic Boards on this site:

  • Ian. "Re: Question regarding Law." 2 Dec 2001. USConstitution.net Q&A Board. http://www.usconstitution.net/cgi-bin/wwwbmsg.cgi?const&001280.wwb (3 Dec 2001)

The data is as follows: Poster, Subject, Date Posted, Board Name, URL, and date accessed.

All posts created after November 2003 used the new messaging software. Here is an example for a posting using the new software:

  • Andy. "Re: Impeach Scalia?" 5 Feb 2004. Debate Archives. http://www.usconstitution.net/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=debarch;action=display;num=1077548457 (25 Feb 2004)

Citing the U.S. Constitution

Another common question involves how to cite the Constitution itself. There are two forms, a long form and a short form. In a legal document, the short form will suffice in all instances, whereas in a non-legal paper, the long form should be used once, and the short form can be used thereafter.

Long Form:

  • "The Constitution of the United States," Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5.
  • "The Constitution of the United States," Amendment 5.

Short Form:

  • U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 5.
  • U.S. Const. am. 5.

In place of the "§" symbol, the abbreviation "sect." can be used. In a paper dealing primarily with the Constitution, there is no need to mention "U.S. Const."



URL: http://www.usconstitution.net/cite.html
More To Explore