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Citing Government Documents

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

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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.  Also available electronically.
  • 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.
  • Electronic Styles:  A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information.  Li, Xia.  Medford, NJ:  Information Today, 1996. Guide to citing electronic information resources.
  • 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.
  • Tutorial:  Citing Government Publications (General Guidelines).  University of North Texas.  University Libraries.  Basic overview of the elements required for a good citation and suggestions on how to find these elements for a government publication.

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