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U.S. Government: Citing Government Documents

Basic guide to get you started in researching the federal government resources both online and in the library.

COURT CASES

In text Citation:

Format:                Party v. Party, Year of Decision

Example:             Roe v. Wade, 1973


Reference List:

Format:                Party v. Party, Legal Citation, Name of Court, Year.

Example:             Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, Supreme Court of the United States, 1973.

Explanation: Supreme Court decisions are published in the United States Reports, abbreviated “U.S.” In the example above, 410 U.S. 113 refers to volume 410 of the United States Reports, page number 113.


Parallel Citations for U.S. Supreme Court Opinions

Each U.S. Supreme Court opinion will have 3 different parallel citations (U.S., Sup. Ct., L. Ed.), depending on the source of the opinion: US Reports, West Supreme Court Reporter, and Lexis Nexis Lawyer’s Edition, respectively. Below are 3 citations for the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court opinion these three sources.

Source Abbreviation Example

United States Reports (Government)

U.S. 410 U.S. 113

Supreme Court Reporter (West)

S.Ct. 93 S. Ct. 705

Lawyer’s Edition (Lexis Nexis)

L.Ed. 35 L. Ed. 2d 147

 

In all 3 citations, the format to cite a Supreme Court opinion is:   Volume Number  Source Publication  Starting Page No.

Note: The standard explained above is based on the Bluebook Rule 10.

 

Abbreviation

Source

Type

F.

F. 2d.

F. 3d.

Federal Reporter

(2nd Series)

(3rd Series)

U.S. Appellate Court Opinions

F. Supp.

F. Supp. 2d.

F. Supp. 3d.

Federal Supplement

(2nd series)

(3rd series)

U.S. District

Court Opinions

 

An example of a U.S. Appellate Court citation based on the standard above is: 384 F.3d 225.

Note: When citing a case in Lexis Nexis, which displays multiple citations for the same case, it’s generally advisable to use the first listed citation. For Supreme Court Opinions, this would be the U.S. Reports. Only cite the Lawyer’s Edition if the case hasn’t been published in U.S. Reports.

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CONGRESSIONAL DOCUMENTS

Official numbered documents issued by the House or Senate. The following abbreviations are used:

House Report            H.Rpt.

Senate Report           S.Rpt.

House Document     H.Doc.

Senate Document     S.Doc.

 

SAMPLE HOUSE REPORT

State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015

Committee on Ways and Means. House

H. Rpt. 114-51

Date: April 6, 2015

CONG-SESS: 114-1

 

Reference List Entry: H. Rep. No. 114-51 (2015)

If a page of the report is to be cited in the reference list entry, cite as H. Rep. No. 114-51, at page no (2015)


In-text Citation: House Report No. 114-51 (2015)

Or

(H. Rep. No. 114-51, 2015).

 

SAMPLE SENATE REPORT

Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015

CIS Number: 2015-S483-15

Committee: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Senate

Document Date: July 27, 2015

Document Number: S. Rpt. 114-94

CONG-SESS: 114-1

 

Reference List Entry:

S. Rep. 114-94 (2015)


In-Text Citation

Senate Report No. 114-94 (2015)

Or

(S. Rep. No. 114-94, 2015)

Congressional Records are issued in “the Daily Edition”, and “the Permanent Edition”. Use of the Permanent Edition is advised, except for issues not yet published in it (Bluebook, 2010, p. 13). The Publication Manual of the APA does not include citing Congressional Record. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is used in place of the APA Manual for materials not citations not covered in the APA Manual.

 

CITING THE PERMANENT BOOUND EDITION

Reference List Entry

Format: Volume Cong. Rec. Page Number (Year)

Example: 141 Cong. Rec. 38585 (1995)

Or

141 Cong. Rec. 38585 (1995) (Appointment of Senate Acting President Pro Tempore)

Note: There can be more than one entry (issue discussed) on one page of a day’s Congressional Record. A single Congressional Record citation, therefore, does not summarize all of the day’s events in Congress. For example, on the same page OF 141 Cong. Rec. 38585, 1995, there is also an entry for the Senate consideration of The Middle East Peace Facilitation Act of 1994. The citation for that would be:

141 Cong. Rec. 38585 (1995) (Consideration of The Middle East Peace Facilitation Act of 1994)

 

In text Citation:

Recommended in-text citation for the first example above would be

(141 Cong. Rec. 38585, 1995)

 

CITING THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD DAILY EDITION

Note: The Daily Edition includes the letters H, S, and E, before page numbers.

Reference List Entry

161 Cong. Rec. S7224 (daily ed. Oct. 7, 2015) (Consideration of Bill S. 2162, Librarian of Congress Succession Modernization Act of 2015).

 

In-Text Citation:

(161 Cong. Rec. S7224, 2015)

Reference List Entry

Format: Title: Hearings before “Committee Name”, Congress, # Cong. Page (Year)

Example: Unconstitutionality of Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration: Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. 202 (2015).

Note: The page number following the Congress, “202” in the example above refers to the page number of the official pamphlet that was prepared for the hearing (APA, 2010, p.16-17).

 

In-text Citation

Unconstitutionality of Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration (2015)

Or

(Unconstitutionality of Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration, 2015)

Reference List Entry

Unconstitutionality of Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration: Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. 25 (2015) (Testimony of Elizabeth Price Foley (testifying in her personal capacity), Professor, Florida International University College of Law).

Note: The rank and affiliation of the person giving the testimony is not required.

 

In-Text Citation

Unconstitutionality of Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration (2015)

Or

(Unconstitutionality of Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration, 2015)

Note: According to the APA Publication Manual, only cite the title of the hearing, not the name of the person giving the testimony.

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STATUTES

The Publication Manual of the APA refers users to Bluebook Rule 12.

In Text Citation:

Format: Name of Act (if available) and Year

Example:             Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010          /OR

                              Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010)

Reference List (Not including US Code):

Format:  Name of Law, Pub. L. No. ## – ##, Volume Stat. Page

Example: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111–148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010)


Reference List (When Codified):     

Format (When Codified): Name of Law, Pub. L. No. ## – ##, Volume Stat. Page, Codified as Amended at Title U.S.C. § Section No.

Example 1: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111–148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010), Codified as Amended 42 U.S.C. § 18001.

Example 2: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-247, 88 Stat. 4, Codified as Amended at 42 U.S.C. §§5101–5106.

Note: In the example above, Pub. L. No. 111–148 refers to Public Law number 148 from the 111th Congress, as it appears in volume 124 page 119 of the US Statutes at Large (124 Stat. 119).

Important: According to the APA Publication Manual (2010, p.219), the year in parenthesis in the citation should be the publication date of the statutory compilation, which may be different from the year in the name of the act.

 

Parallel Citations for Federal Statutes

Abbreviation

Type

Source

USC

Codified Statutes

United States Code (Government)

USCA

Codified Statutes with Annotations

United States Code Annotated (West)

USCS

Codified Statutes with Annotations

United States Code Service (Lexis)

Stat.

Statutes as written when passed into law

Statutes at Large

UNACTED CONGRESSIONAL BILLS

Format: Title (if available), Bill or Resolution Number, # Cong. (Year).


Reference List Entry

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, Relating to the Nuclear Program of Iran, H.R. 3461, 114th Cong. (2015).

Or

H.R. 3461, 114th Cong. 2015


In-Text Citation Entry

House Bill 3461 (2015)

Or

(H.R. 3461, 2015

CONSTITUTION

Citations of both federal and state constitutions consist of two elements:

  1. The name of the constitution consisting of an abbreviation of the jurisdiction (U.S. for United States, and FL for Florida) followed by “Const.”
     
  2. The cited part (identifier). This includes:
    • Articles (abbreviated “art.”)
    • Amendments (abbreviated “amend.”)
    • Clauses (abbreviated “cl”)
    • Sections (represented by §)

Note: No part of the citation is italicized or underlined. No punctuation separates the name of the constitution from the part identifier. Commas separate successive subparts. Examples below:

  • U.S. Const. art. IV, § 2, cl. 2.
  • U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 3.
  • N.Y. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 2.
     
  1. Date (optional element). No date is required in constitutional citations unless the citation is to a provision or a version of the constitution no longer in effect.

CITATIONS BY SOURCE TYPE

Encyclopedia

A complete legal encyclopedia citation has 5 elements: Volume Number; Name of Encyclopedia; Title of Topic (underlined); Section; Year (in parentheses).

Example: 18 Am. Jur. 2d Copyright and Literary Property § 87 (2015)


Law Journal

A full law journal and/or law review citation has 6 elements: Full Name(s) of Authors; Title of Article (underline); Volume Number; Abbreviated Name of Law Journal/Review (see Table 13 of Bluebook); Page Number(s) of Article (pincite if making reference to specific pages); Year of Publication (in parentheses).

Example: Susan Nevelow Mart, Protecting the Lady from Toledo: Post-USA PATRIOT Act Electronic Surveillance at the Library, 96 Law Libr. J. 449 (2004).


Restatements of the Law

A full restatement citation has 4 elements: Title of the Restatement; Edition of Restatement; Section Number; Year (in parentheses).

Example: Restatement (Third) of the Law: The Foreign Relations of the U.S. § 5 (1987)

FEDERAL CODE

Please see the section on “Statutes” above.

The U.S. Code arranges laws by subject, and are cited by Section instead of the page number. Section numbers are denoted by § symbol.

Format:                Title U.S.C. § Section No.

Example:             42 U.S.C. § 18001

Note: In citing the U.S. Code Annotated, it is not uncommon to have two separate years in the citation (example: “1821.2002”). The second year (2002) denotes the most current amendment to the cited section, first published in the 1821.

FEDERAL REGULATION

Important: Federal Regulations are first published in the Federal Register before being codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Federal regulations are therefore divided into: those published in both the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations; and those published in the Federal Register but awaiting publication in the C.F.R.

If the regulation hasn’t appeared in the C.F.R, cite the entry in the Federal Register. This entry will include information about when the regulation will appear in the C.F.R. Include this information at the end of your citation, in parentheses.

Examples:

  1. Regulations in the Federal Register but not yet published in the C.F.R.

In Text Citation

Format: (Title (or number), Date of Publication)

Example:             (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, 2013)             /OR

                                Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (2013)

Reference List

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, 78 Fed. Reg. 73355 (to be codified at C.F.R. Parts 1710, 1717, 1721, 1724, 1730).

Explanation: The official posting of this new rule appears on page 73355 of the 78th volume of the Federal Register, affecting parts 1710, 1717, 1721, 1724, 1730) in the Code of Federal Regulations.


  1. Regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R)

In text Citation

Enforcement of Nondiscrimination On The Basis Of Handicap in Programs or Activities Conducted By International Development Cooperation Agency, Agency for International Development (2015).

Or

(Enforcement of Nondiscrimination On The Basis Of Handicap in Programs or Activities Conducted By International Development Cooperation Agency, Agency for International Development, 2015).


Reference List

Enforcement of Nondiscrimination On The Basis Of Handicap in Programs or Activities Conducted By International Development Cooperation Agency, Agency for International Development, 22 CFR 219 (2015).

AGENCY REPORTS

There are two main principles to citing an agency report:

  1. Periodicals: Agency reports that are published periodically in volumes take the same form as journal articles.
  2. Agency reports that are titled and disseminated separately take the same form as books by institutional authors. If the agency numbers it’s reports, as does the U.S. Government Accountability Office, that designation should be included as part of the title.

Example: U.S. Gen. Accounting Office, GAO-02-802, SSA: Enhanced Procedures and Guidance Could Improve Service and Reduce Overpayments to Concurrent Beneficiaries 11 (2002).

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