Policy Research: How to Cite Policy Resources

Useful Links on Citing Legislation and Laws

Citing Laws & Bills

Federal Statute

APA citation style for statutes is constructed with the following elements:

  • Name of Statute
  • Title Number
  • Source (e.g. United States Code or U.S.C. for short)
  • Section Number(s)
  • Year
  • URL


Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601–2654 (2006). https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title29/chapter28&edition=prelim

For more information, please review Writing References for Federal Statutes from the APA blog. 

State Statute

Example of a state law citation from the Purdue OWL websiteMental Care and Treatment Act, 4 Kan. Stat. Ann.§§ 59-2901-2941 (1983 & Supp. 1992).

Explanation: This Kansas act can be found in codified version between sections 2901 and 2941 in Chapter 59 of volume 4 of the 1983 edition of Kansas Statutes Annotated. Two amendments to the act and additional references are provided in the 1992 supplement for the Kansas Statutes Annotated.

Federal or State Bills

For unenacted bills, gather the following information:

  • Name of Bill
  • Senate or House bill number. Use S. for Senate, H. for House
  • Congressional session number
  • Year
  • URL of page you found the bill

Oil Pollution Prevention and Response Act of 2009, S. 684, 111th Cong. (2009). https://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.684

Government Reports & Websites

Government Webpage

List as much of the following information as possible--you might need to look closely at the website:

Government Agency. (Date of publication). Title of webpage. https://Web address

Example: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). School-associated violent death study. Retreived from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/savd.html

Government Report

Citing a government report is similar to citing a book. Often the author will be the government agency. If there is a specific report number available reference, include it in parentheses after the title. 

Example: National Institute of Mental Health. (1990). Clinical training in serious mental illness (DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1679). U.S. Government Printing Office.

News Articles

From Purdue OWL

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. https://www.someaddress.com/full/url/

Example: Parker-Pope, T. (2008, May 6). Psychiatry handbook linked to drug industry. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com

Cite Your Data Set

It is increasingly important to cite your data sources, just like you would normally cite a journal article that you used to support your research.

Here is an example of a data set citation from the APA Blog:

Pew Hispanic Center. (2004). Changing channels and crisscrossing cultures: A survey of Latinos on the news media [Data file and code book]. Retrieved from http://pewhispanic.org/datasets/

Online help with APA Citations

Citation Generators in PsycINFO & Google Scholar

Tools like PsycINFO, Google Scholar, and other databases provide you with APA formatted references, but always remember to double-check them -- often there will be a couple details that need to be corrected. 

In PsycINFO, select the items you want citations for, then click "Cite" in the upper toolbar. In Google Scholar, click "Cite" for the individual article in the results list: 

APA Publication Manual

Complete instructions on citing and useful information on writing style and content can be found in the latest edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Society. We have multiple copies in the Library in reference and on reserve; it's also worth considering buying your own if you are in the social sciences.