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How to Cite US Government Documents in MLA, APA Citation Style: Congressional Reports and Documents

House and Senate Reports in the List of Works Cited

Note: If you have multiple citations to different types of Congressional documents, you can replace the repeated elements with a double-dash. See examples, below.

House and Senate Reports:

United States. Cong. House. Committee on House Administration. Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001. 107th Cong. 1st sess. H. Rept. 131, pt. 1. Washington: GPO, 2001. The Library of Congress. Thomas. Web. 12 January 2012.

--. --.  Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. Investigation of Illegal or Improper Activities in Connection with 1996 Federal Election Campaigns, Vol. 1. 105th Cong. 2nd sess. S. Rept. 167. vol 1. Washington: GPO, 1998. Proquest Congressional Publications. Web. 12 January 2012.

House or Senate Document:

United States. Cong. House. Proposed Legislation: 'Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform Act of 1989.' Message from the President, Sept. 26, 1989. 101st Cong. 1st sess. H. Doc. 101-96. Washington: GPO, 1989. Proquest Congressional Publications. 12 January 2012.

--. --. Senate. Veto: S. 3, Message from the President. May 12, 1992. 102nd Cong. 2nd sess. S. Doc. 102-21. Washington: GPO, 1998. Proquest Congressional Publications. Web. 12 January 2012.

Citing Government Documents in the Body of the Paper (Parenthetical Citations)

MLA Style -- References in the body of the paper

MLA documentation style uses brief parenthetical citations in the text that lead to the list of works cited. To cite government documents in parenthetical references, the MLA Handbook refers users to page 224, Section 6.4.5. Citing a Work by a Corporate Author.

Following MLA Style guidelines, the first element in a parenthetical reference (generally, the author) should correspond to the first element in the List of Works Cited.

If you are referencing a number of legislative documents, you will need to include enough information in the parenthetical reference to direct the reader to the correct reference in the List of Works Cited.

"When giving the name of a corporate author in parentheses, shorten terms that are commonly abbreviated...." (MLA Handbook 224) e.g., (U.S. Cong. House. Comm. on House Administration).

As you can see, even with the abbreviations, this makes for a fairly long reference and may make your paper more difficult to read. One alternative is to include the reference in a sentence.

"In 2001, the United States Congressional Committee on House Administration published their report on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001 (House Rept. 131).  In the report, ..."

If you need to reference a number of legislative or legal documents throughout the body of your paper, you may wish to use another citation style, such as the Chicago numbered note style or APA style. You will need to choose the citation style that best fits your needs (and approved by your instructor) and use it consistently throughout the paper.

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