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Detail from Sculling on the Potomac by J. Love, 1888

Detail from Sculling on the Potomac by J. Love, 1888. From the University Art CollectionBooth Family Center for Special Collections

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How do you cite the Declaration of Independence?

Last Updated: May 06, 2014  |  175759 Views

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When citing the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution itself, do not cite it in the "Works Cited" list. Both are considered well-known documents that are only cited in a parenthetical reference.

The first time you reference the work, include the institutional author (US) and date (1776) in your parenthetical reference.

Ex: ". . . in the Declaration of Independence (US 1776)."

If you refer to a specific section, parenthetically reference it in your text.
Ex: ". . . In the Constitution of the United States, Article II (sec.1, cl.3) refers to the..."
Ex: ". . . in the U.S. Constitution (art. 2, sec. 1, cl.3.)..."

Advanced citing:

Note MLA does not use the standard legal format for citations. If your paper includes many legal references, MLA suggests consulting the most recent edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, which can be found it the Lauinger Reference Stacks, KF246 .U5 2005.

In general, do not italicize, underline, or use quotation marks for the titles of laws, acts, or documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or US Code.

The standard format, as recommended in the Bluebook, is the second example here. The symbol "§" means "section".

MLA format:

US Const., art. 1, sec. 1. Print.

Standard legal format: U.S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 8 

(Article 1, section 8, clause 8)

Answered by Anna SimonBookmark and Share

Other Answers / Comments (2)

  1. What does "cl" mean???
    by Robin on Apr 29, 2016.
  2. Greetings, it means "clause." It's a bit hard to find, but the "translation" is at the very end.
    by Michael Scott on Apr 29, 2016.

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