Government documents often present special problems in creating citations. For example, a government document may not have a personal author, or the publication date or title may not be clear. They differ widely in purpose, style, and content, and the standard style manuals may not give examples for citing all these formats in a consistent fashion. For this reason, several authors have developed manuals specifically addressing the problems of citation peculiar to government publications.

Often a government publication will offer a suggested citation for itself. Check the front (recto) or back (verso) of the title page. Also, many Scholarly and Professional Style Manuals provide (usually limited) information on how to cite government documents.

If you are writing for a class or for publication, your instructor or publisher is always the final authority to consult for determining which general style to use, as well as for determining the proper format for a specific citation.

General Guidelines to Citing Government Documents

There is no universally accepted format for citing government documents, anymore than there is for any other source of information. The manuals listed below give examples of citations in various commonly used styles.

Citing Government Documents: American Psychological Association

  • Online samples of citations for selected types of government publications in APA style.

Citing Government Documents: American Political Science Association

  • Online samples of citations for selected types of government publications in APSA style.

Citing Government Documents: Chicago Manual

  • Provides general guidelines and specific examples for citing government information in Chicago style.

Citing Government Documents: Modern Language Association

  • Provides general guidelines and specific examples for citing government information in MLA style.

Citing Government Documents: Turabian

  • Provides general guidelines and specific examples for citing government information in Turabian style.


  • A step-by-step guide to putting government publication citations into proper MLA or APA format. Use interactive templates to generate a complete citation automatically.

The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources: A Manual for Social Science & Business Research

  • By far the most detailed manual for citing government documents. The format and punctuation, however (based on ANSI bibliographic standards), needs to be adapted to whichever style manual you are using for your other citations. This work includes information on citing British and Canadian government documents.

Style Manuals of Specific Agencies

Many government agencies have prepared guides to citing their own publications, or in-house style manuals for formatting documents that they publish.

CensusCitation Style Suggestions

CMHU.S. Army Center of Military History Style

  • For use in the preparation of U.S. Army Center of Military History publications.

EIAEIA Publishing Style Guide

  • Archived guide for creating and formatting uniform Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports in both printed and electronic forms. It is intended to stress the importance of maintaining traditional EIA publication features—such as source documentation, consistent and commonly understood abbreviations, and bibliographies—in all reports no matter how they are published.

GPOU.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual

  • By act of Congress the Public Printer is authorized to determine the form and style of federal government printing. Essentially, this is a standardization device designed to achieve uniform word and type treatment, and aiming for economy of word use.

NARACiting Records in the National Archives of the United States

  • Guidelines for citing unpublished records held by the National Archives and Records Administration in the Washington, DC area and in the Regional Records Services facilities, the Presidential Libraries system, and Affiliated Archives.

NCHSCitations for NCHS Publications and Electronic Media

  • Suggested sample citations for some of the most popular publications of the National Center for Health Statistics. Also includes information on Citing Electronic Media.

NLMCiting Medicine: TheNLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers

NLRBNLRB STYLE MANUAL: A Guide for Legal Writing in Plain English (National Labor Relations Board)

  • Guidelines for citing National Labor Relations Board rules and decisions, as well as decisions of Supreme Court and lower courts. Includes general recommendations on legal writing.

SECA Plain English Handbook: How to Create Clear SEC Disclosure Documents (Securities and Exchange Commission)

  • This handbook from the Securities and Exchange Commission shows how you can use well-established techniques for writing in plain English to create clearer and more informative disclosure documents.

U.S. ArmyHints and Helpful Guidance for the Army Writer

  • Extracted from TSP 158-F-0010, Write in the Army Style. Carrying out military duties requires the ability to write various types of correspondence effectively. This student guide will help one become an effective Army writer.

USNU.S. Navy Style Guide (U.S. Navy)

  • Navy editors and writers should follow the most recent edition of the Associated Press Stylebook except as noted in this U.S. Navy Style Guide.

Citing Foreign Government Documents

Many of the guides listed above include information on how to cite government publications from other countries besides the United States. The following resources are specially written to provide examples for specific foreign documents. Their examples are usually based on one or more of the works listed above.


Australian Guide to Legal Citation (University of Melbourne)


  • Brief Guide to Citing Canadian Government Documents

  • General overview of how to cite Canadian government publications. Examples were developed by consulting the MLA Handbook, the APA Manual, and The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources.

  • Canadian Government Publications: A Citation Guide
  • This guide is designed to help alleviate confusion in citing Canadian federal government documents by outlining the type of information that should be included in a reference to ensure that it can be easily traced and by suggesting possibilities for organizing each reference. The information included in this guide is based on citation manuals that focus on jurisdictions other than Canada (primarily Great Britain and the United States). The citation data and formats proposed in these manuals have been adapted to conform to the Canadian system of government and the peculiarities of Canadian government publishing.

  • Guide to Citing Canadian Government Publications

  • Examples of citations to Canadian documents, using a suggested format based on The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources by Diane Garner and Diane Smith, 1993 ed., and Li & Crane's Electronic Styles: A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information, 1996 ed.

Great Britain