Citing Government Documents

Federal Depository Library Program

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Mary Ries
211 Thompson Library
1858 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1285
Phone: 614-688-8770

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Beware not all government publications are copyright free!

Follow Fair Use practices and cite, cite, cite. 

The standard style manuals do not provide examples for citing all the variants of government publications in a consistent fashion. The document itself may not have all the information needed, or it may be presented in a confusing fashion thus making citing difficult. Some government publications include a suggested citation, but overall citing government documents can be tricky.

The following is a good starting point: 

  • Arizona State University Libraries. Government Documents Service – DocsCite. [Interactive guide to MLA and APA formatting for government documents using templates and dropdown menus.]

The following sites and publications can also be helpful.

  • The Bluebook:  A Uniform System of Citation.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard Law Review Association, c1991-.  Guide for citing legal materials.  
  • Brief Guide to Citing Government Publications.  The University of Memphis.  University Libraries.  Government Publications.   Online citation guide for government documents.
  • Citing Government Documents.  Columbia University Library.  U.S. Government Documents.  Bibliography of citation guides.
  • Citing Maps.  Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries.   Online citation guide for citing maps.
  • Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States.  General Information Leaflet 17.  Revised 2010.   Washington, D.C.:  National Archives and Records Administration, 2010.   National Archives guide for citing their materials.
  • The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources:  A Manual for Social Science & Business Research.  3rd. Edition.  Debora Cheney.   Bethesda, Maryland:  LexisNexis:  Congressional Information Service, c2002.  A comprehensive guide to citing not only U.S. government documents but also foreign in all formats.
  • The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information:  A Manual for Writers & Librarians.  Dianne L. Garner.  Bethesda, Maryland:  Congressional Information Service, 1993.
  • Electronic Styles:  A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information.  Li, Xia.  Medford, NJ:  Information Today, 1996. Guide to citing electronic information resources.
  • Guide:  Citing U.S. Government Publications.  Indiana University Bloomington Library.  Guide based on The Complete Guide to Citing Government Documents:  A Manual for Writers & Librarians by Garner and Cheney. 
  • Online!:  a Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources.  Andrew Harnack and Gene Kleppinger.  Boston, Massachusetts:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.  Provides examples of citations for government document based on standard style manuals.

Ohio faculty, staff, and students who still have questions should consult the Citation Help LibGuide or contact the Copyright Resources Center for assistance.