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University of Portland Clark Library

MLA Style (8th/9th Edition) Citation Guide: Government & Legal Documents


Note: All citations should be double spaced and have a hanging indent in a Reference List.

A "hanging indent" means that each subsequent line after the first line of your citation should be indented by 0.5 inches.

In your works cited list, abbreviate months as follows: 

January = Jan.
February = Feb.
March = Mar.
April = Apr.
May = May
June = June
July = July
August = Aug.
September = Sept.
October = Oct.
November = Nov.
December = Dec.

Spell out months fully in the body of your paper. 



Capitalize the first letter of every important word in the title. You do not need to capitalize words such as: in, of, or an.

If there is a colon (:) in the title, include what comes after the colon (also known as the subtitle).


The format of dates is: Day Month (shortened) Year. E.g. 5 Sept. 2012.

Whether to give the year alone or include a month and day depends on your source: write the full date as you find it there.

If no date is listed, omit it unless you can find that information available in a reliable source.

Access Date

Works from the web can typically be changed or removed at any time, so while it's optional, the date which you accessed material is often important.  This is especially true when there is no date specifying when an item was produced.This date will be added to the end of the entry. E.g. Accessed 23 July 2016.

Legal Citations

From the MLA Style website: "Following one of the fundamental principles of MLA style, writers citing legal works should document the version of the work they consult—not the canonical version of the law, as in legal style. As with any source in MLA style, how you document it will generally depend on the information provided by the version of the source you consulted." See "Documenting Legal Works in MLA Style" on the MLA website.

Government Document From a Website

Known Author

Cite the author of the publication if the author is identified. Otherwise, start with the name of the national government, followed by the agency (including any subdivisions or agencies) that serves as the organizational author. For congressional documents, be sure to include the number of the Congress and the session when the hearing was held or resolution passed as well as the report number. US government documents are typically published by the Government Printing Office.

Name of National Government, Agency, Subdivision. Title of Document: Subtitle if Given. Edition if given and is not first edition, Name of Government Department, Agency or Committee, Publication Date, URL. Accessed Access Date.

Works Cited List Example:

United States, Congress, House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.Government Publishing Office, 17 Apr. 2012, 112th Congress, 2nd Session, House Report 112-445. Accessed 22 Oct. 2019.

In-Text Citation Example:

(Shortened Title of Document)

Example: (Cyber Intelligence Sharing)


Unknown Author

If a personal author or a corporate author (e.g. government agency or organization) cannot be identified, start the citation with the title of the document.

Title of Document: Subtitle if Given. Edition if given and is not first edition, Name of Government Department, Agency or Committee, Publication Date, URL. Accessed Access Date.

Works Cited List Example:

 Healthy People 2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 2011, Accessed 6 July 2016.

In-Text Citation Example:

 (Title of Document)

 Example: (Healthy People 2020)

Government Document in Print

Title of Document: Subtitle if Given. Edition if given and is not first edition, Name of Government Department, Agency or Committee, Publication Date.

Works Cited List Example

Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Dept. of Labor. Employment and Training Administration, 1977.

In-Text Citation Example

(Title of Document)

Example: (Dictionary of Occupational Titles)

Court Decision

Government Entity as Author. Name of the Case. Date of the Decision. Title of Container, Publisher, URL (if online).


United States, Supreme Court. Brown v. Board of Education. 17 May 1954. Legal Information Institute, Cornell U Law School,

In-Text Paraphrase:

(United States Supreme Court).

In-Text Quote:

(United States Supreme Court Syllabus (d)).


Italicize the case name in the text of your paper also.


Government Entity as Author. Name of the Public Law. Title of Container, Date, Pages. Publisher, URL (if online).


United States, Congress. Public Law 104-191, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act., 1996. U.S. Government Printing Office,

In-Text Paraphrase:

(United States Congress)

In-Text Quote:

(United States Congress Section 264)

Unenacted Bill or Resolution

Government Entity as Author. Name of the Bill or Resolution. Title of Container, URL. Congressional session, Bill/Resolution number, last status.

Example (Senate):

United States, Congress, Senate. Anti-Phishing Act of 2005., 109th Congress, Senate Bill 472, Introduced 28 Feb. 2005.

Example: (House):

United States, Congress, House. Anti-Phishing Act of 2005., 109th Congress, House Resolution 1099, Introduced 03 Mar. 2005.

In-Text Paraphrase:

(United States Congress, House)

In-Text Quote:

(United States Congress, House Section 1351 "Internet Fraud") | 503.943.7111 or 800.841.8261 | 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203-5798
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