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Social Work 258: Social Policy

APA Format for Social Policies

Enacted laws, U.S.:

In-text citations:  "In text, give the popular or official name of the act (if any) and the year of the act."  (APA manual, p. 219-220)

Mental Health Systems Act (1988) or

Mental Health Systems Act of 1988

In your reference list:

Mental Health Systems Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9401 (1988). 

(NOTE: The title should not be underlined or in italics, nor should it be in all caps!)

Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, § 2, 104 Stat. 328 (1991). 

(NOTE: The title should not be underlined or in italics!  If you use the whole law, you won't have a § (section) number.)  

If the item is taken from a database (like Westlaw), then add the name of the database after the citation. If the item is taken from an electronic source on the open web, then you need to add the URL. No period at the end of the url. No access date needed.

Enacted laws, states:

From a web site:

Minn. Stat. § 518.175 (2007). 

From a commercial database:

Minn. Stat. § 518.175 (2007).  Westlaw database.

Executive Orders:

In-text citations:  

Executive Order No. 11,609 (1994)

(Executive Order No. 11,609, 1994)

In your reference list:

Exec. Order No. xxxx, 3 C.F.R. Page (year).

Exec. Order No. 11,609, 3 C.F.R. 586 (1971-1975), reprinted as amended in 3 U.S.C. 301 app. at 404-07 (1994).

Executive Orders, states:

In-text citations:

Minnesota Executive Order No. 20-14 (2020)

(Minnesota Executive Order No. 20-14, 2020)

In your reference list:

Minn. Exec. Order No. 20-14 (March 23, 2020)

Court Decisions:

In-text citations: 

Smith v. Jones (1999)

(Smith v. Jones, 1999)

In your reference list: 

Smith v. Jones, 349 F.3d 24, 27 (8th Cir. 1999).

Smith v. Jones = title of case; 349 = volume of case reporter; F.3d = abbreviation for case reporter; 24 = first page of case; 27 = page on which cited material appears.  If the case is taken from an electronic source, then you need to add the “Retrieved…” sentence.

For more information on citing court cases, see Citing Court Decisions in APA Style


Federal Laws

How to read a federal law citation:

​First the Public Law is published individually in pamphlet form and given a "PL" number -- the congress and the consecutive number of the law as it was passed.  For example: PL 105-332 is the 332nd law passed by the 105th session of Congress.

Then the pamphlets get bound together in numerical order as enacted as the statutes -- so 112 Stat 3076 (1998) means volume 112 of the statutes, page 3076, which was published in 1998.

Then finally, everything gets broken apart by topic into the U.S. Code: 42 USC 9401, which means title 42 of the code, section 9401.


American Psychological Association (APA) Style, 7th Edition