Wilkes University

Vancouver Referencing Guide: State Laws (Statutes)

A guide to the Vancouver referencing style commonly used in the biomedical sciences

Pennsylvania Statutes Published as Slip Laws

During a legislative session, enacted statutes are printed individually in a format referred to as Slip Laws. At the end of the session, the slip laws are arranged by year and act number and combined into bound volumes which are officially referred to as the Laws of Pennsylvania but are unofficially referred to as Pamphlet Laws.

The Pennsylvania Pamphlet Laws from 1970- 2003 are available at: http://www.palrb.us/pamphletlaws/browse/plgetyears.php

Standard Format for Citation:

Official or popular name of the statute, if the law has one (if not named, “Act of”), date of the enactment of the original Act of the General Assembly, abbreviation for the Pamphlet Laws, the page reference in that year’s publication of the Pamphlet Laws, (possibly) the act number.  (An Act number may be referenced; these are assigned consecutively to bills passed in each legislative session; for example, No 64.)

Examples:
Pharmacy Act, Act of September 27, 1961, P.L. 1700.

Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, Act of April 14, 1972, P.L.233, No.64.

Act of April 28, 1999, P.L. 24, No.3.

Consolidated and Unconsolidated Pennsylvania Statutes

Consolidated Pennsylvania Statutes (the official statutes in force) are organized under 79 subject titles and are updated annually with revised supplements.

Unconsolidated Pennsylvania Statutes
Pennsylvania is the last state to attempt to consolidate its statutes; i.e., take individual laws or principles of law and organizing them within one statute or into a single chapter of related statutes. The legislature began this task in the 1960s and only about two thirds of the statutes have been codified so far. They are organized under 79 subject titles and are updated annually with revised supplements. Prior to this a private commercial publisher recompiled the laws into a source known as Purdon’s Statutes. As a result statutes are cited with either

  • Pa.C.S.: the “official” Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes
  • P.S.: Purdon’s Statutes, the unconsolidated statues, having the original Purdon’s scheme of organization; not official

It is important to understand the distinction between them when citing a source.  This free but commercial site provides access to both the consolidated and unconsolidated Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes and Constitution, as compiled and maintained by the editorial staff of Thomson/West, and made available under agreement with the Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau.

Standard Format for Citation:

Title, title number, Pa.C.S. (or P.S.), section symbol, section number.  P.S. identifies statutes not yet officially consolidated by the legislature; Pa.C.S. identifies those officially enacted in consolidated form.

Examples:
Blood Donation Age of Consent 35 Pa.C.S. § 10011

18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 - 5511.3

53 Pa.C.S. § 8801 [statute on the Internet]. [cited 2013 June 25] Available from: http://government.westlaw.com/linkedslice/default.asp?SP=pac-1000

47 P.S. § 6

(You may sometimes see consolidated statutes referred to with an enactment citation.  For example, Pharmacy Act, Act of September 27, 1961, P.L. 1700, (63 Pa.C.S. § 390-1 et seq.  In this example, the Pharmacy Practice Act was enacted as the Act of  September 27, 1961, P.L. 1700.  It has also been codified in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues and may be cited as 63 P.S. § 390-1 et seq.  Either citation is correct, although when using the enactment citation, it is customary to include the consolidated statute information in parentheses.)