How to Cite a Public Law


To cite a public law properly, a special citation method is needed. In citation guidelines, current public laws are known as United States Statutes at Large. Instead of being attributed to an author or authors, as is normally the case with written documents, to cite public laws you must reference the title of the law and its publication information.

Things You'll Need

  • Source publication information
  • List the full title of the law at the beginning of your citation. Unlike the proper titles of most other texts, the title of a public law does not require special formatting, such as italics or underlining. Note that many statutes include the year of enactment in the title, such as with the Militia Act of 1862. In this example, "of 1862" would be included in law title at the beginning of your citation.

  • Follow the title of the law with the public law number. The words "public law" should be abbreviated as "Pub. L." Follow this abbreviation with the actual number of the public law, generally indicated by two numbers separated with a dash.

  • List the U.S. Statutes at Large information next in your citation. List the volume number that the public law is found in, followed by the abbreviation "Stat." Next, list the page number(s) in the volume on which the public law is printed.

  • Complete your citation by listing the day, month, and year that the public law was enacted, followed by the medium through which you accessed the public law. If you are citing a hardcopy text, the medium citation is "Print." If you referenced the public law information on the Internet, the medium citation is "Web."


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