How to Cite This Site – The U.S. Constitution Online – 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copies of historical documents, while others are research pages or opinion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information is a copy of a historical document, and unless otherwise noted,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

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

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

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.
    (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
  • “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.”