How To Cite the Constitution

citing the constitution
If you would like to cite the constitution in any works, then there are specific ways to do it.

The method for citing the Constitution will vary based on whether you use the APA or MLA formats, but both are easy to use and are described fully below.

An Introduction to Citing the Constitution provides a full-text copy of the United States Constitution. This site includes the Bill of Rights, all twenty-seven Amendments, and indexes to help you find specific details throughout the text.

man writing academic paper
There are a number of ways to cite the Constitution in any document.

You can cite the Constitution in any document by using a few standards. But the rules for citing the Constitution will vary surrounding whether you use the APA or MLA format.

Before making a citation, be sure to know which of the two formats you should be using.

A Note About Passing References

You must cite the Constitution if you’re using it to support a point you wish to make when writing. However, you do not have to reference the Constitution if you make a passing reference to the document without mentioning any precise points in your work.

study items on desk
Making a passing reference to the Constitution does not require a citation.

You can tell you need to reference the Constitution by looking at how specific you are when referencing the overall content.

How To Cite the Constitution Using MLA

The first way to cite the Constitution is through the APA format. The American Psychological Association format is for scholarly journal reports and academic documents.

Basic APA constitution citations

The following items will be included in your APA citation. You’ll need to use the proper abbreviations and standards for writing:

  • The U.S. Constitution name – U.S. Const. You do not need to add a comma after that part, although you will need to add one after each other section.
  • Article – Art. When citing an article, it is always written in Roman numerals.
  • Amendment – Amend. Citing an amendment is also written in Roman numerals.
  • Section – §. Use Arabic numerals for citing a section of an article or amendment. You can write § by using Alt-21 in your word processing tool.
  • Clause – cl. This part also uses Arabic numerals when citing a clause.
  • Preamble – pmbl. This is for cases where you will cite the preamble of the Constitution.
man working on laptop
Proper abbreviations and standards are required for your citations.

For example, you might cite a detail in the Constitution about when the President and Vice President’s terms end. An example would come in this form:

“The Twentieth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that the President and Vice President’s terms will expire on January 20 at noon, while Congressional members’ terms end on January 3 at noon (U.S. Const. Amend. XX, §1).”

The citation lists the specific amendment you are citing and the section in that amendment, showing that you understand the subject matter.

The APA format does not require you to list the website or any other URL in your reference.

Citing articles and amendments that were repealed or amended

You will need to add the proper year when something in the Constitution was repealed or amended if you refer to something that was altered through such means. 

Years engraved in wood
The correct year should be added when citing amendments to the Constitution.

You will cite this by including at the end of your reference in parentheses the year when that part was repealed or amended.

An example of the in-text use of the citation entails how Article 1, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution was amended by Section 1 of the Seventeenth Amendment. You could write in this case:

“The Senate was established with the Legislature intending to choose the two senators for each state for six-year terms (U.S. Const. Art. I, §3, cl. 1, amended 1919).”

You are referencing the part of the Constitution that was utilized at the start while also mentioning that the rule was amended in 1919, as the Seventeenth Amendment gave people the right to elect their senators through popular elections.

How it appears in your reference list

The next part of the APA citation entails how the Constitution will appear in your reference list. You will use the same listing you utilized in your in-text citation in your reference list.

Mid-Manhattan Library, New York, United States.

For the Twentieth Amendment example listed above, you will write:

“U.S. Const. Amend. XX, §1.”

For repealed or amended content, you would need to add parentheses around the time the change took place. For the earlier example, you would list:

“U.S. Const. Art. I, §3, cl. 1 (amended 1919).”

You can also use a similar format when citing the Bill of Rights.

How To Cite the Constitution Using MLA

The Modern Language Association or MLA is another format you might utilize to cite some documents.

Student reading
The Modern Language Association format can be used when citing the Constitution.

The MLA standard for citing the Constitution differs from what you would use with the APA format, most notably in that you’ll need to list the URL or other source that features the copy of the Constitution you are using.

In-text citations

The in-text MLA citation will entail listing the name of the webpage where you viewed the Constitution. You will list these points:

  • The webpage title or name of another source you are using
  • The article or amendment in Roman numerals; use the same Art. or Amend. abbreviations
  • The section that you should write as Sec.

For example, when referring to a copy of the Constitution on, you can use a citation like this:

Article III of the United States Constitution states that impeachment cases do not have to be subject to a trial by jury like with all other crimes (“US Constitution,” Art. III, Sec. 3).”

How it appears in your reference list

The most noticeable difference here is that you’ll need to provide details on where you found the Constitution in your MLA citation. You will use this standard:

“Page Title.” Name of Website, Day, month, year of publication (without commas), URL. Accessed (day, month, and year of access without commas in between).

You can use this example when referring to the earlier example of the Constitution from the last segment:

“US Constitution.”, 2020, Accessed 10 March 2021.

What about book versions of the Constitution?

You could always use a book version of the Constitution if you don’t have access to For this case, you would use the following format in your works cited space:

Book title. Edited by (First and last names), edition, publisher, year.

Stack of books
Book versions can also be used.

You would also refer to the Constitution within the text by (U.S. Constitution, (amendment or article), (section)).

If you refer specifically to the Bill of Rights, you can use a similar citation method.

A Final Word on Citing the Constitution

Be sure you use the right standards when referencing the United States Constitution in your work, whether APA or MLA. Failing to use the correct citation standard could result in penalties in your papers or even allegations of plagiarism.

Watch the following video to learn more about constitution citation:

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