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Government Documents: Citing GovDocs

A guide for the Government Documents Collection

Style Manual


U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual

U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual

By act of Congress the Public Printer of the U.S. Government Printing Office is authorized to determine the form and style of Government printing. The Style Manual is the product of many years of public printing experience, and its rules are based on principles of good usage and custom in the printing trade. Essentially, the Style Manual is a standardization device designed to achieve uniform word and type treatment, and aiming for economy of word use. The Style Manual has served Federal printers since 1894, and with each new edition, the traditions of printing and graphic arts are carried forward into new technologies.

Citation Guide

Government documents can be confusing to cite. They can take the form of anything from an informational pamphlet to a Congressional debate and everything in between. Unlike standard publications, these documents do not necessarily follow the pattern of author, title, publisher, date. This guide will try to help you get started building your citation, but if you get stuck, contact a librarian.

Basic Citation Form

The point of a citation is to help your reader locate the exact document you are using. Government documents may not have some of the more familiar elements of a citation but they may have other elements you aren't used to seeing. Include the following, as best you can, but always ask yourself if you would be able to lay hands on the document again using only the citation. If not, you may need to add more information and alter the form.

Country. Issuing Agency. Title: Subtitle. By Author. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, Date. (Series elements). (Notes).

Here is an example:

Cited item

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Varieties of Cheese: Descriptions and Analyses. By C.F. Doane and H.W. Lawson. Revised. Washington: Government Printing Office, February 1932. (United States Department of Agriculture Bulletin no. 608). (A 1.3:608).


Complete Guide from Indiana University