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Government Information

Guide for how to locate, use, and cite sources from government agencies in research projects.

Using Government Information

When is it appropriate to use government sources of information?

  • Many types of government sources are frequently described as "grey literature." Grey literature refers to any document produced by an organization that isn't published traditionally, including internal corporate documents, government documents, business reports, non-profit reports, etc. This information falls into a bit of a grey area for a lot of academic writing.
  • Although it may be being published by experts, government information found on the web often isn't subject to the rigorous standards of academic journals before it's published and therefore isn't considered "scholarly and peer-reviewed." 
  • Most of the time, government sources make great supplements to academic journal articles. Among other things, they provide raw data or statistics, consumer or patient facing information, and information about the law or proposed laws. Just make sure you're using these sources to support the more in-depth analysis and study found in academic journal articles rather than using these sources on their own.
  • If you're ever in doubt about a source, ask a librarian or your instructor if the source is appropriate for what you're writing.

Citation Manuals for Government Information

Federal Bills - introduced in the legislature, but not passed into law


Reference List Citation

Bill Title, Bill Number, Number of the Congress. (Year). URL


ZZZ's to A's Act, H.R. 2245, 115th Cong. (2017). 

In-Text Citation

Bill Title (Year) or (Bill Title, Year)


ZZZ's to A's Act (2017)

(ZZZ's to A's Act, 2017)

Wisconsin Bills - introduced in the legislature, but not passed into law


Reference List Citation

Bill Number, Number of Legislative Body, Number of Session. (State. Year). URL


A.B. 582, 2017 Biennium, 2017 Reg. Sess. (Wis. 2017).

In-Text Citation

Bill Number (Year) or (Bill Number, Year)


A.B. 582 (2017)

(A.B. 582, 2017)