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How to Cite US Government Documents in MLA, APA Citation Style: State Legislative Documents

State Legislative Documents

State Legislative Documents

For material not specifically covered in the MLA Handbook, the MLA refers users to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. The recommendations below are based  on general principles of MLA documentation and The Bluebook

A report:

The following citation for a state legislative document is modeled on the format for U.S Congressional documents (no report number available).

New York (State). Legislature. Senate. Special Task Force on Voter Participation. Making every vote count: report of the Special Task Force on Voter Participation, 2001. New York State Library. Web. 18 Jan. 2012.

A bill:

The Bluebook advises writers to "include the name of the bill (if relevant)..." (115); however, as you can see, some titles can be fairly unwieldy. Use your best judgment about whether the title is needed and how much to include.

 S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
300--A 2011-2012 Regular Sessions I N A S S E M B L Y (PREFILED) January 5, 2011A
N ACT to establish a moratorium upon the disposal and/or processing  of
         any  fluid  which was used in and cuttings from a hydraulic fracturing
         process outside of the state pending the issuance of a report  thereon
         by  the federal Environmental Protection Agency and certain justifica-
         tions from the department of environmental conservation; and providing
         for the repeal of such provisions upon the expiration thereof

Suggested citation:

New York (State). Legislature. Assembly. An act  to establish a moratorium upon the disposal and/or processing of any fluid which was used in and cuttings from a hydraulic fracturing process.... 300 -- A (S 6097). 2011-2012 Reg. Sess. (January 5, 2011).  New York State Assembly. Web. 18 Jan. 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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