of Chelsea Lee
The basic citation for a government report follows the author-data-title-source format of the APA style references. Here is a model:
List of references:
Author of the Government. (year). Report title: sub-title of the report if applicable (Report No. 123). Retrieved from http: // xxxxx
In the text:
(Author of the government, year)
Note that the report number may not be present or, when present, the text may vary. Follow the wording shown in your report to write your reference (see how the wording for the example of the National Aging Institute later in this post has been changed).
Who is the author of a government report?
Most of the time the department or government agency is used as the author of a reference to the APA Style government report. Sometimes individual persons are also credited with writing the report; however, their names do not appear in the APA Style reference unless their names also appear on the report cover (or inside the report somewhere, as in a recognition page). So, once again, the names on the cover or on the title page go in the reference, for reasons of recoverability, and most of the time, it is the name of the agency.
How many layers of government agencies should be listed?
Government agencies frequently list the entire hierarchy of departments in their reports. As anyone familiar with bureaucracy knows, this can add many layers. For example, the author of the National Institute on Aging report in the above example could be completely written as follows:
Reference list (long form, correct but not recommended):
United States Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services of the United States, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging. (2007). Because the aging of the population counts: a global perspective (Publication No. 07-6134). Excerpt from https://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-06/WPAM.pdf
In the text (long form, correct but not recommended):
(United States Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services of the United States, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, 2007)
You may notice that this author's name is quite long! The list of the complete hierarchy of agencies as shown in the report in question (from the largest to the smallest) is correct; however, it is also correct to list only the most specific responsible agency (in this case, the National Institute of Aging).
We recommend the shorter and more specific format for some reasons.
- Our users have told us that this shorter name form makes it easier to write references and quotes in the text.
- The shorter form makes it easier for readers to distinguish between reports created by a variety of agencies. Imagine, for example, a document containing many government reports; citations and references could quickly overwhelm the text if long form were used.
However, if the use of only the most specific responsible agency would cause confusion (for example, if you mention institutions with the same name as two countries, such as the United States and Canada), then include the main agencies in the authoring element to differentiate them.
How does the quote in the text correspond to the reference list entry?
Make sure that the name of the author of the government you use in the quote in the text exactly matches the name of the author in the reference list item. Do not use the long form at one point and the short form in the other. An exception is that it is possible to introduce an abbreviation for the government agency in the text if we refer to it often. Read this blog post to learn how to shorten the names of group authors.