How to Cite a Government Document

Four Methods:

Proper citations in academic writing will add clarity and consistency to your work. The steps below will teach you how to cite government documents in three of the more common formats. List each "sentence" or "segment" of a citation in the order that appears in the steps, and follow each segment with a period.

Method 1

  1. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 1
    1
    Indicate the agency, office, committee or department that issued the document in the first sentence of your citation. Follow this with a period and include any subdivisions of the organization.
    • The first item in this section should be the highest level of the agency that issued the document. As such, it will often be the name of the national government (e.g. United States).
    • Do not list personal authors in this segment of the citation.
  2. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 2
    2
    Indicate the year of publication in parentheses as the next sentence of the citation.
  3. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 3
    3
    Write the full title of the document in italics after the year.
    • Capitalize only proper nouns and the first word of the sentence.
    • Indicate personal authors of the document after the title, if any are credited (e.g. "Operating hours of public libraries in the tri-city area, by John Smith"). The author's name should not be italicized.
  4. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 4
    4
    Cite the place of publication, followed by a colon, and then the publisher. Most U.S. documents are published by the Government Printing Office.
    • Abbreviate state names, for example, "Camden, NJ," or "Lubbock, TX."
    • Refer to the United States' capital as Washington, DC, without periods in the abbreviation.
  5. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 5
    5
    End the citation by indicating a report number or other identifying number in parentheses, when such a number is available.
  6. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 6
    6
    The first line of text in a citation should be aligned to the left of the page, and each line under that should be indented.

Method 2

  1. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 7
    1
    Indicate the author of the document, listing the surname first, followed by a comma, and then the first name and middle initial (if applicable). If an author is not credited, list the national government (e.g. United States).
  2. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 8
    2
    List the agency that serves as the organizational author of the text as the next sentence in the citation. Include any subdivisions of the agency.
  3. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 9
    3
    Cite the title of the document in italics. Capitalize the title as you would a book title.
  4. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 10
    4
    Include the number of Congress when citing congressional documents (e.g. 110th Cong.). Congress is abbreviated as "Cong."
  5. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 11
    5
    Indicate the state in which the document was published, followed by a colon and then the publisher.
    • Most U.S. documents are published by the Government Printing Office, which MLA abbreviates as GPO. Follow this with a comma, and then list the year of publication.
  6. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 12
    6
    Indicate the medium of the publication as the final sentence of the citation. If it is a printed publication, simply write, "Print."
  7. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 13
    7
    The first line of text in a citation should be aligned to the left of the page, and each line under that should be indented.

Method 3

  1. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 14
    1
    List the government division as the first sentence of the citation, followed by a comma.
  2. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 15
    2
    Cite the title of the document in italics next, and capitalize it as you would capitalize a book title.
  3. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 16
    3
    Indicate the state in which the document was published, followed by a colon, then the publisher, which is followed by the year of publication. Put this segment in parentheses and end with a comma.
  4. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 17
    4
    Add the specific page that relates to the information after the parentheses.
  5. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 18
    5
    The first line of text in a citation should be aligned to the left of the page, and each line under that should be indented.

Method 4

  1. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 19
    1
    List the government division as the first sentence of the citation.
  2. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 20
    2
    Indicate the subdivision or agency as the next sentence.
  3. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 21
    3
    Next include the title of the document in italics, and capitalize it as you would a book title. If there is a personal author for the document, follow the title with a comma and list the author, (e.g. "by John Smith") but do not italicize the name of the author.
  4. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 22
    4
    Indicate a report number or other identifying number if one is available.
  5. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 23
    5
    Cite the publisher as the next segment.
  6. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 24
    6
    End the citation with the state in which the document was published, followed by a comma, and then the year of publication.
  7. Image titled Cite a Government Document Step 25
    7
    The first line of text in a citation should be aligned to the left of the page, and each line under that should be indented.

Article Info

Categories: Research and Review