How to Cite the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

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In honor of the fourth of July and the most patriotic month of the year, let’s look at some tips on how to cite the Declaration of Independence and similar important historical documents in MLA format and APA format. USA!

  1. If you are citing a website with information about the Declaration or the Constitution (even if you can read the document on the site), you should use the source type “website” to make the citation in your works cited or reference list. 
  2. If you are citing the Declaration or Constitution itself, do not cite it in the works cited list. This is because both are considered well-known, or common knowledge documents. They should only be referenced in an in-text or parenthetical citation.
  3. In your text, do not underline or use quotation marks for the words Declaration of Independence or Constitution of the United States. Simply use a parenthetical citation like the examples below. Try to be as specific as possible, and use the section, clause, or amendment numbers. For example:

…in the Declaration of Independence (US 1776).

…In the Constitution of the United States, Article III refers to the “….” (sec. 1, cl. 3)

…in the U.S. Constitution (art. 2, sec. 1, cl. 3.).

…slavery was finally abolished in December 1865 (US Const., amend. XIII)

  1. The most important tip is to be consistent with your citations throughout your paper. Try to maintain some sort of uniformity throughout your references of the Declaration or Constitution, and be sure to include as much information as possible.

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