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My question is pretty much what the title says. I'm using biblatex and having a very tough time figuring out what the proper way is to cite a particular article, section, etc of the Constitution (I'm actually working on the California Constitution, but it's the same question). None of the biblatex entry types seem to ask for the proper information.

  • @moewe Thanks for taking a look. I've never heard of any of those, but a quick glance at oscla looks like either that or biblatex is what I'm probably looking for. I'm using biblatex currently for my other citations simply because it is what I've done in the past. – NickO Sep 12 '13 at 13:37
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    oscola is a style for biblatex, so you will not have to give up using it. Just choose the style that fits your needs best as a basis and modify it to give exactly the result you expect. – moewe Sep 12 '13 at 13:43
  • I see, thanks! I'll have to spend a little time getting familiar with it. – NickO Sep 12 '13 at 13:44
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    If citations for constitutions require a new bibliography entry, the following question shows how this can be done quite easily in biblatex. Creating Entry in Bibtex for Executive Orders. – Alan Munn Sep 20 '13 at 20:55
8

Law citations are always quite tricky, but there are some biblatex styles implementing the complicated requirements.

  • oscola is an implementation of the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities, the de facto standard in the United Kingdom (more about OSCOLA at Oxford Law: OSCOLA).
  • biblatex-juradiss implements German legal citation practice (note though that the documentation states "[M]ein Stil [sollte] aber meinen Vorstellungen einer Doktorarbeit entsprechen [...]." => "My style is customised to conform to my ideas of a doctoral thesis."; so it might not follow an official citation standard).
  • droit-fr is a style to support French legal citations.
  • biblatex-swiss-legal implements a Swiss legal citation style.

American styles are currently not very well supported, there are no styles for Bluebook and ALWD (see Bluebook support in Latex?).


Following the Introduction to Basic Legal Citation, the following might be a good way to start.

\documentclass[american]{article}
\usepackage{babel}
\usepackage{csquotes}
\usepackage[style=authoryear,backend=biber,date=short,maxcitenames=2]{biblatex}
\usepackage{hyperref}

\addbibresource{\jobname.bib}

\DeclareFieldFormat[legislation]{title}{#1}
\renewcommand*{\postnotedelim}{%
  \ifentrytype{legislation}%
    {\addspace}%
    {\addcomma\space}%
}

\begin{filecontents}{\jobname.bib}
@legislation{USConst,
  title       = {Constitution of the United States},
  shorthand   = {U.S.~Const.},
  year        = {1787},
}
\end{filecontents}

\begin{document}
  \cite[art.~III, \S~2, cl.~2.]{USConst}
  \printbibliography
\end{document}

One might also like to get rid of the year (especially for the constitution and other basic laws, as well as for laws that contain the date in their title, e.g. "Representation of the People Act 2000" or "The Eggs and Chicks (England) Regulations 2009").


Note also that older versions of the MLA style guide do not even require the Constitution be listed in the works cited (with the approach above it looks indeed a bit lonely).

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