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Laws and Regulations: Citing Government Publications

Citing Government Publications

Citing government information can be a daunting task. Citation managers do not always know how to handle government documents and there isn't really an agreed-upon standard for citing all types of government publications. Always check the style manual for your particular citation style and use this guide for general advice.

The following information was taken from The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources (ed. 3) Revised by Debora Cheney, 2002. The examples were taken from various resources found at the Government Information Library at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

If your project or assignment requires citations in MLA style, please see the following document:

Government Publications by Type

General Format Should Include:

  • Legislative body
  • Session number
  • Bill number
  • Title (may be abbreviated)
  • Version with date (if known)
  • Accession source and date of accession


U.S. Congress

U.S. House. 107th Congress. 1st Sess. H.R. 3162, USA Patriot Act. Version 1, Oct. 23, 2001. Available from ProQuest Congressional; Accessed May 25, 2013.

State Congress

Illinois. Legislature, 98th Gen Assembly. SB0204, State Police- Collegiate Educ. as passed by the Senate. Available at.; Accessed June 30, 2013.

General Format Should Include:

  • Legislative body, committee
  • Title of Hearing
  • Hearing
  • Date of hearing/testimony
  • Unique identifying numbers
  • Publishing information (if print)
  • Source information and date accessed


House of Representatives Hearing

U.S. House, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Review of Hydraulic Fracturing Technology and Practices. Hearing, May 11, 2011. Hearing ID: HRG-2011-TEC-0020. Available from Proquest Congressional; Accessed July 21, 2013.


  • Congressional Research Service
  • Title
  • (Publication/Report Number)
  • Prepared by Personal Author
  • Date
  • Publishing information
  • Source information and date accessed


Congressional Research Service. Natural Gas: A Historical Perspective (92-49 ENR), Prepared by Lawrence C. Kumins. Washington: Library of Congress, Jan. 6, 1992. Available from Proquest Congressional; Accessed July 22, 2013.
Public Law

General Format Should Include:

  • Abbreviation (P.L. for public law, Pvt. L for private law)
  • Popular title or abbreviated title


P.L. 113-5 -- Pandemic and All- Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013

U.S. Code & Code of Federal Regulations

General Format Should Include:

  • Section heading
  • Title number
  • U.S. Code or Code of Federal Regulations
  • Section number (within title number)
  • Edition/date of the last update, if known
  • Publishing information, if print
  • Source of information and date accessed


U.S. Code

“Time for election of senators,” Title 2 U.S. Code, Pt. 1. 1934 ed. Available at: FDsys,; Accessed: 7/22/2013

Code of Federal Regulations

“Equal Access to Justice Act,” Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations, Sec. 16. Revised as of 7/1/2007. Available at: FDsys;; Accessed: 7/16/2013.

For Government Publications, the citation generally begins with the issuing agency rather than the author. One exception is if the work is part of a larger piece.

General Format

Geographic or Political Designation. Issuing Agency. Title: Subtitle (Medium). (Publication/Report Number). Edition. By Personal Author. (Series).(Notes).


Work by the Issuing Agency

U.S. Department of the Interior. Craters of the Moon: a guide to Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho. (Handbook).Washington: National Park Service, Division of Publications, 1991 (139).

One Personal Author

U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On the Moon with Apollo 16, guidebook to Descartes region [with bibliographies]. By Gene Simmons. Washington, Apr. 1972. (NASA EP Series  No. 95).

More than Three Authors

U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Project Fog Drops 5, Task 1, Numerical model of advection fog, Task 2, Recommendation for simplified individual zero-gravity cloud physics experiments (Paper). By C. William Rogers et. al. Washington D.C., Dec. 1975. (NASA contractor report series No. 2633).

Chapter in a Larger Work

“Eastern Europe Region: Memorandum from Director of Central Intelligence to Helms to President Johnson,” pp. 65-66. In Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968. (Vol. XVII). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1996.

Website as the Source of Information

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Advances in HIV/AIDS Research. Feb. 25, 2011. Available at: Accessed: 6/20/2013.

For citing local, state, and federal court decisions, consult the Blue Book: A Uniform System of Citation. The following websites will take you to citation guides for the Blue Book.