Citing Government Reports in an APA Format

The American Psychological Association publishes a style guide for academic and scholarly work, in the social sciences, education and nursing. It includes formatting directions for both in-text citations and the final References page. Government reports are cited similarly to other publications, but there are some specific formatting requirements.

In-Text Citation

When information in a paper comes from a specific source, it must be identified within the text. Using APA style, the author's last name, a comma and the year of publication are placed within parentheses. Government documents often do not have individual authors, so the organizational name is used instead, such as: (FBI, 2008). However, if the organization is identified in the text, only the year is placed inside the parentheses.

Online Government Report

Many government reports do not have a specific author, so on the References page, the name of the organization is listed in title case with a period after it in place of the author's name. Next comes the year in parentheses, followed by a period. In italics, the report's title is written in sentence case. Within parentheses is the document identification: the office or agency, comma, publication number. A period follows.

The publication location, if available, has a colon after it, then the publisher is identified. Often this is the government organization itself. There's a period, then the words "Retrieved from" is followed by the URL.

For example:

Federal Trade Commission. (2010). 10 things you can do to avoid fraud (FTC, 138). Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved from URL

Online Research Report

Research reports often have specific authors, so the entry on the reference page begins with the author's last name, a comma and initial with a period. If there are multiple authors, the names are separated by commas and an ampersand comes before the final name. Publication date is placed inside parentheses with a period after. Next comes the italicized title, in sentence case, with a period.

Publication location, if available, is followed by a colon, the publisher's name and a period. Finally, the word "Retrieved" has the access date after it with a comma, and "from" is followed by the URL. For example:

Levinson, J. & Bogich, T. (2013). Targeting surveillance for zoonotic virus discovery. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 13, 2103, from URL

Paper Document

If the government report or research report is a paper copy, the reference is created using a format almost identical to the corresponding Internet document. The author, date, title, ID number and publishing information remains the same. The only difference comes at the end, where the entry stops with the name of the publisher. Since the report was not accessed on line, retrieval information is not available.

For example:

Federal Trade Commission. (2010). 10 things you can do to avoid fraud (FTC, 138). Pueblo, CO: Federal Trade Commission.