Citing Government Reports in an APA Format


American Psychological Association (APA) style is one of the most common citation methods used in academic writing. It contains specific directions for providing a citation for any possible source, including printed text, online, audio, and video. Even with a firm grasp of APA style, citing government documents can be confusing. Government reports often have long, complicated names, as well as document or report numbers, making them different from most other print sources. The best way to correctly cite a government report is to take the citation one step at a time.

Print Sources

List the parent entity that produced the report, such as county, state or city. For example, if the report is from a U.S. federal agency, you will list "United States." If it is a report from the California Department of Labor you will first list "California." Place a period at the end of the government name.

Follow the government listing by the highest hierarchy of the agency that prepared the report. For example, a report prepared by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would begin with "Department of Homeland Security," which is the parent organization of ICE. Again, place a period after the entry. This information should be listed on the report title page.

Continue to list the agency hierarchy until you reach the actual level of the organization that prepared the report. Place a period after each sub-agency name.

List the year the agency released the report inside parentheses, followed by a period.

List the full name of the report. The names of government reports can be long, but they can also be similar. Therefore, list the entire name regardless of length. If there is a specific author or authors, list them after the report title, followed by a period.

List the city and the publisher of the document, placing a colon between the city and publisher, and a period after the publisher. For federal reports, this part of the citation will almost always be "Washington DC: Government Printing Office." State and local documents will vary.

Finish the citation with the report number in parentheses. This is particularly important for congressional documents.

Online Sources

List the parent entity, organization, report date and report title as you would for a print source. Omit the city and name of the publisher.

Immediately after the title, list the date you accessed the document and the name of the webpage from which you retrieved it. For example, state "Retrieved on 21 February 2011 from the Congressional Budget Office website."

List the full URL to the document after the retrieval date.