Suggested Citation in Document

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Citation Guides and Style Manuals for Government Publications

Suggested Citation in Document

Occasionally the publication itself will offer a suggested citation, usually on the front or back of the title page, or linked from a menu bar in a Web page. When available, this is by far the quickest easiest way to obtain a citation, but some adjustments may be necessary to make the citation match the requirements of your style manual.


Quick Citation Guides

Several libraries have provided selected examples of citations for several types of government information. These examples can be used as models for constructing your own citation.

Cite Source (Trinity College Library)

Provides sample citations for a variety of formats in APA, MLA, Chicago, and other selected styles

APA Citation Style, 6th edition: Government Publication (The George Washington University, Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library)

Provides sample citations, usually to Canadian government publications, in APA format.

Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide for Government Documents (Bowdoin College Library)

Provides sample footnotes and bibliographic citations in Chicago style. The examples are based on the 15th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, since the 16th edition doesn’t have as detailed instructions for citing government publications.

How to Cite US Government Documents in MLA, APA Citation Style (Cornell University Libraries)

Provides sample citations, mostly for legal and congressional materials, in APA and MLA styles. When the specific case is not addressed by the pertinent style manual, they provide suggested examples based on The Bluebook guidelines adapted to MLA or APA style. 

Basic Legal Citation,” by Peter Martin (Cornell University Library)

Provides sample citations of legal materials in Bluebook and related styles. Based on a thorough review of the actual citation practices of judges and lawyers, the relevant rules of appellate practice of federal and state courts, and the latest edition of The Bluebook. Includes cross-references to The Bluebook, the ALWD Citation Manual, and state-specific manuals.

Some Archived Quick Citation Guides (May be using outdated styles)

Uncle Sam - Brief Guide to Citing Government Publications (University of Memphis Libraries)

Citing Government Documents – APA - University of Nebraska
Citing Government Documents – MLA – University of Nebraska
Citing Government Documents – Chicago – University of Nebraska
Citing Government Documents – Turabian – University of Nebraska

Citation Generators

Obtain a citation by specifying the style desired and entering a title or filling in a blank form. These can be great time-savers, but think of the results as a “rough draft” of your citation. They are only as reliable as the information entered into the record. Be sure to check each citation for typos and other errors, and check for missing elements, such as a series number. Also note that some of these generators only provide a citation in bibliography format, not in footnote format. Consult a reference for how to convert bibliographic entry to a footnote, endnote, or inline citation.

Standalone Citation Generators

These citation generators are available for free on the Internet.

DocsCite (ASU Libraries)

Focuses on government publications, but provides fill-in form option only, is limited to two styles (APA and MLA), and uses outdated versions of both those styles.

Son of Citation Machine (Imagine Easy Solutions)

Automatically generates citations in thousands of styles. Other online citation generators that appear to be using the same software as Son of Citation Machine include EasyBib and bibme.

Style Wizard (EB Communications)

Puts elements in proper order and adds italics, but for the most part you need to understand how to format each element in order to fill in the form. Also only works with APA and MLA styles.

Online Catalogs

Many online catalogs will create citations based on the information in the bibliographic record. These tend to be more successful with monographs, and not very useful for citing periodicals and legal materials.


Select Cite/Export from the bibliographic record to generate a citation in APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, or Bluebook (which they call Harvard) styles; export results to a bibliographic management program such as RefWorks, EndNote, or EasyBib. Not as useful with periodical articles or legal materials.

UNT Library Catalog

Select “Cite This” from the left menu bar of the catalog record to generate citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, and Bluebook (which they call “Harvard”) styles. Select “Add to RefWorks” to generate a citation and add it to the RefWorks bibliographic management program.

Bibliographic Management Programs

Bibliographic Management Programs such as RefWorks, Zotero, EndNote, and EasyBib can generate a citation and import it into a bibliography.

Commercial Databases with Citation Services

Some commercial databases that contain government information will generate citations on the fly for the articles or other information being currently viewed.

LexisNexis Academic: Citing Resources:

ProQuest Congressional: How to Cite

CQ Press Library: How to Cite

How to Cite CQ Researcher

How to Cite CQ Magazine (formerly CQ Weekly)

NewsBank: How to Cite an Article

Style Manuals


APA: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.)

Used in social sciences.

MLA: MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.)
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.)

Used in liberal arts and humanities.

Chicago: Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.)

Notes-Bibliography System (NB) is used in literature, history, and the arts.

Author-Date System is preferred in the social/sciences.

Turabian: A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (8th ed.)

Chicago style simplified for students and researchers (8th ed.)

U.S. Government Publications

The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources (3rd ed.)

The standard guide for citing government publications. Format is based on ANSI standards, which may need to be adapted to the requirements of a different style manual.

The 2nd edition is summarized online at “Citing U.S. Government Publications” (University of Indiana – Bloomington)

APSA Style Manual for Political Science (2006)

Based on Chicago style, adapted for manuscripts submitted to American Political Science Review (APSR).

Foreign and International Government Publications

Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research: Legal Citation

Citing Documents in the National Archives (TNA—United Kingdom)

Information on how to cite items from the National Archives of the United Kingdom.

Ask DAG! How Should I Cite a United Nations Document?

Concise instructions, list of resources, and sample citations of UN documents from the staff at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library.

Citing UN Materials: Issues and Strategies,” by Cyril Robert Emery. In DttP: Documents to the People 41:3 (Fall 2013).

United Nations Editorial Manual Online

Official style manual for drafting UN documents. Includes information on how to cite UN documents, but format may need to be adapted to a different style manual.

Legal Materials

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

Summarized online in “Basic Legal Citation,” by Peter Martin (Cornell University Library)

ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation

The Indigo Book: A Manual of Legal Citation (2016)

Free, Creative Commons-dedicated implementation of The Bluebook’s Uniform System of Citation.

Prince’s Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (University of Minnesota)

Formerly called Bieber’s Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations. Comprehensive list of Bluebook-style legal abbreviations. Useful for creating citations and for interpreting abbreviations in citations.

The Law Student’s Quick Guide to Legal Citation, by The Boston University School of Law Legal Information Librarian. Edited by Steve Donweber. 2012 Pappas Law Library, Boston University School of Law


Cartographic Citations: A Style Guide, 2nd ed. (2010)

Based on Chicago style manual. Lists citation elements, provides several examples for paper and electronic maps, and defines key terms.

Summarized online in “Citing Maps” (Ohio Wesleyan University)

These online guides provide examples in APA and MLA styles:

  • Citing Maps (NCSU Libraries)

  • Citation Quick Guides and Style Manuals: Citing Maps (Western Washington University)

This online guide provide examples in ACMLA style:

  • ACMLA recommended best practices in citation of cartographic materials (Waterloo University)

Unpublished Materials

Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States (NARA)

How to Cite Digitized Primary Sources (Library of Congress)

Provides structural template and sample citations for APA (6th ed.), MLA (7th ed.), and Chicago (15th ed.) styles.

Citing Historical Legislative Materials” (American Memory—Library of Congress)

ANSI/NISO Standard Z39.29—2005 (R2010), “Bibliographic References,” National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore, MD, 2010,

Citing Government Information Sources Using MLA Style (University of Nevada, Reno Library)

Foreign and International Documents

Frequently-Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments

As an aid to law review citation-checking, this guide provides a list of treaties frequently cited in law review articles, along with available sources of hard copy.  In addition, wherever possible, the entries are linked to the EISIL database of the American Society of International Law.  EISILprovides additional citation information, explanatory material, and a link to the text of the treaty.  

Electronic Publications

Li, Xia and Nancy B. Crane. Electronic Styles: a Handbook for Citing Electronic Information. 2nd ed. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 1996.

Agency Style Manuals

American FactFinder: How do I cite tables and maps in American FactFinder? (U.S. Census Bureau)

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