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Chicago Citations (17th ed.): F. Government Publication

This guide will help you use Chicago style for citations.

About Citing Other Sources

This guide is intended to cover only the Notes and Bibliography system for citing sources.

For each type of source in this guide, both the general form and a specific example will be provided. 

The following format will be used:

Full Note - use the first time that you cite a source.

Concise Note - use after the first time you cite a source.

Bibliography - use when you are compiling the Bibliography that appears at the end of your paper.

Information on citing and several of the examples were drawn from The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.).

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the manual.

Government & Legal Publications (pp. 875-876; 878)

For legal and government documents, the Chicago Manual of Style largely recommends following the legal styling recommended in either The Bluebook or the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation. The citations below provide some examples in this style, but if you find that you will be citing a great many government documents or court cases in your scholarship, we strongly recommend consulting The Bluebook. Most legal journals prefer notes-only and strongly prefer printed documents to websites, but if a source has been duly released and authenticated by a governmental body online, the source is acceptable.

Citations related to legal works or government documents are often omitted from the bibliography.

Freestanding publications, such as books and records printed by the Government Printing Office, should be cited following our recommendations on books.

Finally, if the document you are citing was found online, simply include the URL as the final item in the citation.

General Format for Legal Documents
Full Note:

1. Court Case, Vol. Case Reporter Series Number, Page decision begins on, (Court Date).

Concise Note: 

2. Defendant (unless government body, then Plaintiff), Vol. Case Reporter Series Number, at Page #.

Full Note:

1. United States v. Christmas, 222 F.3d 141, 145 (4th Cir. 2000).

Concise Note:

2. Christmas, 222 F.3d at 146.

General Format for Laws

1. Act, Location Information for Act (Year)


1. Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135 (2012).

General Format for Congressional Hearings


1. Title, Congress (year) page # (speaker's name, title, and affiliation)


1. Homeland Security Act of 2002: Hearings on H.R. 5005, Day 3, Before the Select Comm. on Homeland Security, 107th Cong. 203 (2002) (statement of David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States).

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Online Citation Creators

WARNING: Free online citation creators are not 100% correct. In fact, they are often wrong. It is much easier to write out the citation yourself than use these creators.

Please ask a librarian for assistance if you are having trouble with citations.