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How to Cite US Government Documents in MLA, APA Citation Style: Executive Documents -- Presidential Papers, Proclamations and Executive Order

Executive Documents

For material not specifically covered in the MLA Handbook, the MLA refers users to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. The examples below are based on the tenth edition of The Bluebook. (p. 223-224)

Presidential papers, Proclamations, and Executive orders

Presidential papers, Proclamations, and Executive orders are first published in the Federal Register, and later appear in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Executive Orders are eventually  incorporated into the United States Code (U.S.C.).

Exec. Order No. 13491, 3 C.F.R. 199 (2010)

If your information indicates where it will eventually appear in the United State Code, include this information with a comma following the year, reprinted in...

If the paper, proclamation or executive order has not yet appeared in the C.F.R. cite to the Federal Register ( Note: To find the volume and issue, open the pdf to view the header of the published Register.

Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Iran, Exec. Order No. 12957, 77 Fed. Reg. 50 (March 14, 2012). Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States. Web. 6 April 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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