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How to Cite Government Publications
Table of Contents
- Purpose of this Guide
- Composition of Bibliographic Citations
- Format for a Bibliography
- Format for a Footnote
- Basic Format for CD-ROMs and Floppy Disks
- Basic Format for the Internet
- Sample Citations - Canadian Government Publications
- Sample Citations - United Nations Documents
- Sample Citations - Electronic Formats
Purpose of this Guide
To provide general citation examples for different types of government publications. For more detailed information see:
Garner, Diane L. The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources: a
Manual for Writers & Librarians. Revised edition. Bethesda, MD: Congressional
Information Service, 1993. (MILLS Reference Z 7164 .G7G37 1993)
Li, Xia and Nancy B. Crane. Electronic Styles: a Handbook for Citing Electronic
Information. 2nd ed. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 1996.
(MILLS Reference PN 171 .F56L5)
Also consulted in the preparation of this guide was:
Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. (MILLS Reference LB 2369 .T8)
Composition of Bibliographic Citations
Because of the varied nature of government documents, bibliographic citations are not always straightforward. However, in general, citations should include certain pieces of information so that others can quickly identify the sources. Listed below are the details that should be given if present in the publication at hand. (Not all of these will necessarily be present in the publication). The order in which they are listed is the order in which you would include them in a bibliographic citation.
- Issuing body (the government body issuing the document).
- The name is usually composed in a hierarchy going from the largest to the smallest unit:
Begin with a) the political jurisdiction (country, province, municipality or international body)
Note: If the name of the country forms part of the government body name, the country at the beginning may be omitted (e.g. Bank of Canada instead of Canada. Bank of Canada)
Follow with b) the government agency (department, legislative body, commission, task force, etc.) e.g. Canada. Health Canada
Follow with c) the sub-division within the government agency (division, branch, etc.) e.g. Canada. Health Canada. Health Protection Branch.
- In cases where the name of the government body (already given as issuing body) forms part of the title, it may be omitted from the title. (e.g. Report, instead of Report of the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy).
- Personal author or non-government body (e.g. consultants).
- Report title and number.
- Medium type (CD-ROM, microfiche, microfilm, etc.)
- Number of Part or Volume/Issue number.
- Place of Publication, Publisher, and Date
- A government agency issuing a document is usually also the publisher of the document. In these cases, the publisher information may be omitted or abbreviated to a phrase such as "The Department." However, if the name of the central government printing office or distribution agency is given (e.g. Queen"s Printer, Canadian Government Publishing, or Supply and Services Canada), this may be used in the publisher statement.
- Note: Use the form of name as it appears on the item. For example, Minister of Supply and Services Canada.
- Series title and number
- Notes (can include: format, catalogue number, microform collection title and number, data format, number of disks, system requirements, software included, system documentation)
Format for a Bibliography
(Actual citations will not necessarily include all the elements shown below)
Issuing body. Title, Personal Author. (Report number; medium). Edition. Place of
publication: Publisher, Date. (Series title, number). (Notes).
Canada. Environment Canada. Canadian Wildlife Service. The Ecology, Status and Conservation
of Marine and Shoreline Birds of the Queen Charlotte Islands, edited by Kees Vermeer and Ken
H. Morgan. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1997.
(Occasional Paper No. 93).
Format for a Footnote
Issuing body, Title, Personal Author. (Report number; medium). Edition. (Place: Publisher,
Date. (Series title, number). (Notes)), Page number(s).
Canada. Environment Canada. Canadian Wildlife Service, The Ecology, Status and Conservation of
Marine and Shoreline Birds of the Queen Charlotte Islands, edited by Kees Vermeer and Ken H.
Morgan. (Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1997. (Occasional
Paper No. 93)), 85-102.
Note: For Author-date footnote citations, the government body (author), does not need to begin with the name of the country, province/state or municipality unless it is not obvious from the text. An author-date footnote for the example above would therefore appear as:
- Canadian Wildlife Service, 1997, 85
Basic Format for CD-ROMs and Floppy Disks
Issuing body. Title (CD-ROM or Floppy Disk). Edition. Place (if available): Supplier, Date (if
available). (Note (optional) physical details, e.g. number of diskettes, system requirements,
access software, accompanying documentation, database identifier or number, etc.)
Basic Format for the Internet
Issuing body. Title (Online). Edition. Place: Supplier, Date (if available). Available: URL or web
address [Date accessed].
Sample Citations - Canadian Government Publications
Canada. Health Canada. Environmental Risk Assessment and Case Surveillance Division.
Economic Burden of Illness in Canada 1993, by Rachel Moore and others. Ottawa:
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1997.
Chapter in a Document
Coulter, Rebecca Priegert. "An introduction to aspects of the history of public schooling in
Ontario, 1840-1990," pp. 1-19. In Ontario. Royal Commission on Learning. For the
Love of Learning: Background Papers for the Royal Commission on Learning, compiled
by Nancy Watson, Joyce Scane and George Bedard. Toronto: The Commission, 1995.
Canada. Statistics Canada. A National Overview: Population and Dwelling Counts.
Ottawa: Minister of Industry, 1997. (1996 Census of Canada). (Catalogue no. 93-357).
Publication Included in a Microform Collection
Toronto. Community Services. Community Housing Initiatives Section. State of
Homelessness Report 1996/1997: Report on Homeless Initiatives. (microfiche).
Toronto, The Section, 1997. (Microlog 98-05584).
Clark, Warren. "Religious observance, marriage and family," Canadian Social Trends,
no. 50 (autumn 1998) pp. 2-7.
Royal Commission Report (Multivolume)
Canada. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Report. 5 vols. Ottawa: Minister of
Supply and Services Canada, 1996.
Separately Titled Volume in a Multivolume Set
Canada. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Report. Volume 1, Looking Forward,
Looking Back. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1996.
Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. Red Hill Watershed Study: Fisheries:
Phase 1, Background Inventory, prepared by C. Portt and Associates. [Hamilton, Ont.]:
The Municipality, 1997.
Myers, Lynn. "[Victims" rights]." In Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. Debates.
36th Parliament, 1st Session, Vol. 135 (May 26, 1998) pp. 7239-7241. Ottawa: Canadian
Government Publishing, 1998.
Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. Standing Committee on Natural Resources.
Streamlining Environmental Regulation for Mining: Final Report. Ottawa: Publishing,
Public Works and Government Services, Canada, 1996. (Minutes of Proceedings of the
Standing Committee ... Issue no. 4, Oct. 24, 1996).
Ontario. Legislative Assembly. Ninth Report of the Superintendent of Neglected and
Dependent Children of Ontario, 1901. Toronto: L.K. Cameron, 1902. (Sessional
Papers 1902, No. 43).
Legislative (bills, statutes, etc.)
Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. "An Act Respecting Advertising Services
Supplied by Foreign Periodicals Publishers." Bill C-55, 36th Parliament, 1st Session,
1997-98. Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada - Publishing, 1998.
(1st Reading, October 8, 1998).
Ontario. Legislative Assembly. "An Act to Revise the Law Related to Social Assistance
By Enacting the Ontario Works Act ... ." Bill 142, 36th Legislature, 1st Session,
1997. [Toronto]: The Assembly, 1997. (Assented to Nov. 28, 1997).
"Public Service Staff Regulations Act." In Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Vol. 7,
Chapter P-35. Ottawa: Queens Printer for Canada, 1985.
"Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act." In Statutes of Canada, 1993, Chapter 5. Ottawa:
Queens Printer for Canada, 1993.
General Guidelines: Include the following information in the order given:
- Title of the case (plaintiff"s name v. defendant)
- Volume of the law report
- Title of the law report (followed by series number, if present)
- Date of the decision
- Page number
Example:R. v. Oakes, 26 Dominion Law Reports. (4th) (28 February 1986) pp. 200-230.
Using a legal format, the above case may alternatively be cited as:
R. v. Oakes (1986), 26 D.L.R. (4th) 200.
Sample Citations - United Nations Documents
Masthead (Formerly Mimeographed) Documents
Masthead comprise perhaps the largest number of documents issued by the United Nations. They are usually printed in limited quantities for UN and other officials and therefore not meant for wide public distribution. However, these and other United Nations documents are available in a commercial collection referred to in the text below as Readex.
Format for a Citation in a Bibliography
Name of main U.N. body, session (if one). Subsidiary body, session (if one). Title
(Document number). day month year of publication. (Document type i.e. Masthead or
Mimeo). (Notes,i.e. microform collection note).
U.N. General Assembly, 52nd Session. Strengthening the Coordination of Humanitarian
and Disaster Relief...Emergency Assistance to the Sudan: Report of the Secretary-
General (A/52/525). 24 October 1997. (Masthead). (1997 Readex microfiche).
U.N. Security Council. Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait
Observation Mission (S/1998/269). 25 March 1998. (Masthead). (1998 Readex microfiche).
U.N. Economic and Social Council. Commission on Human Rights, 52nd Session. Further
Promotion and Encouragement of Human Rights...Human Rights and Mass Exoduses: Report
of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/1996/42). 8 February 1996. (Masthead). (1996 Readex microfiche).
U.N. Economic and Social Council. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 17th
Session. Summary Record of the First Part (Public) of the 41st Meeting (E/C12/1997/SR.41).
5 February 1998. (Masthead). (1998 Rea dex microfiche).
The permanent published records of the United Nations main bodies (e.g. General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council), they comprise three main types of documents: meeting records, annexes and supplements.
Format for a Citation in a Bibliography
Name of main U.N. body, session number or year (if one). Subsidiary body and session (if one).
Title and meeting number (if one), meeting date (if one) (document number). Document type,
i.e. Official Record. Place and date of publication (if given). (Notes, e.g. microform collection note)
U.N. General Assembly, 52nd Session. [Provisional Verbatim Record], 83rd Plenary
Meeting, 27 April 1998 (A/52/PV.83). Official Record. (1998 Readex microfiche).
U.N. General Assembly, 52nd Session, First Committee. [Provisional Verbatim Record], 3rd Meeting,
13 October 1997 (A/C.1/52/PV/3). Official Record. (1997 Readex microfiche).
U.N. Economic and Social Council. Commission on the Status of Women, 42nd Session. Report on
the Forty-second Session (2-13 March 1998) Supp. No.7 (E/1998/27). Official Record. New York,
U.N. resolutions may appear either as separate masthead/mimeographed documents or in published form in the Official Records. Examples of each are given below.
Note: Resolutions may not always have an actual title. If there is no title, make up a descriptive title and enclose it in square brackets.
U.N. Security Council, 3413th Meeting. "Resolution 940 (1994) [On the Question
Concerning Haiti]" (S/RES/940). 31 July 1994. (Masthead). (1994 Readex microfiche).
U.N. Security Council, 49th Year. "Resolution 940 [On the Question Concerning Haiti]"
31 July 1994, pp. 51-52. In Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council 1994
(S/INF/50). Official Record. New York, 1996.
Sample Citations - Electronic Formats
Some citation details are unique to electronic formats e.g.the date the source was accessed must be included since the information on the Internet is often subject to change. The date gives a reference to the document at a particular point in time.
As far as possible, use the information found in the source itself. If the information cannot be found in the CD-ROM or floppy disk, use other means, such as printed documentation or the library catalogue for details.
Complete work on CD-ROM
World Bank. World Development Indicators 1998 (CD-ROM). Washington, DC: International Bank
for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 1998. (Win *STARS version 4.01). Part of a Work on CD-ROM
Thomas, Jake. "Recital of the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy." Available on: For Seven
Generations: an Information Legacy of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (CD-ROM).
Public Consultations/Public Hearings/Akwesasne, ONT 93-05-03. Ottawa: Libraxus, 1997. United Nations Document
U.N. General Assembly, 52nd Session. "50th Plenary Meeting (A/52/PV.50)." 20 November 1997.
Available on: Index to United Nations Documents (1990-1998) (CD-ROM). [Newsbank/Readex, 1998].
Canada. Human Resources Development Canada. Post-TAGS Review Report (Online). [Ottawa],
1998. Available: http://www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/hrib/tags/lm489/toc1.shtml [Dec. 20,1998].
Part of a Work
Canada. Statistics Canada. "Census families in private households by family structure,
showing number of families...." In 1996 Census. Nation Tables - Families (Part 1:
Number Type and Structure - 20% Data) (Online). Statistics Canada, 1998. Available:
http://www.statcan.ca/english/census96/oct14/fam1.htm [Jan. 5, 1999].
Harris, Michael D. "Employment insurance." In Ontario. Legislative Assembly.
Legislative Debates (Hansard). 36th Parl., 2nd Sess. (October 6, 1998) (Online)
Available: http://www.ontla.on.ca/hansard/hansardindex.htm [Jan. 6, 1999].
United Nations Document
U.N. General Assembly, 53rd Session. "Resolution 4 (1998) Necessity of Ending the
Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of
America Against Cuba" (A/RES/53/4). 22 October 1998. (Online) Available:
http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/resfiles/a53r004.pdf [Jan. 8, 1999].
Statistics Canada. "Household Internet Use Survey" (Matrix #4432, D380002) Available:
CANSIM II (March 1, 2003)
Natural Resources Canada, Geo Access Division. "Principal Values, elevation and area,
the provinces and territories" in: Canadian Statistics: Geography (Online) Available:
Statistics Canada. "Education in Canada" (81-229-XIB) 2000 (PDF-1289K)
Available: Statistics Canada downloadable (March 7, 2003)