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How to Cite US Government Documents in MLA, APA Citation Style: Bills introduced in Congress

Bills introduced in Congress

Congressional Bills

For material not specifically covered in the MLA Handbook, the MLA refers users to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. The example below follows general MLA guidelines for citing Congressional reports and hearings and The Bluebook* guidelines for citing a bill. (The Bluebook 115)

United States. Cong. Senate. Presidential Funding Act of 2010. 111th Cong. 2nd sess. S. 3681. Washington: GPO, 1998. Proquest Congressional Publications. Web. 13 January 2012.

Note: S. 3681 = Senate bill 3681

*The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the standard reference source for legal citation. The MLA, APA, and Chicago style manuals refer users to The Bluebook standards for additional information about legal citations.

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.