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Government Information Search Tips: Reading Gov Citations

Citation Formats

Citations for government information can be a little complex. Once you understand the components of the citation, finding the information will be much easier! There are a few different types of citation formats.


Laws Format: Popular Name, Public Law # or Chapter #, Volume # Title of Book or Abbreviation Page #. (Year Enacted). 

Example: Endangered Species Act of 1973, P.L. 93-205, 87 Stat. 884 (1973). 


Codes Format: Popular Name, Title # Abbreviation Section # (Year Enacted)

Example: Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq 

Note: may include §  which marks a Section #., year enacted is optional. 


Regulatory Format: Title # Abbreviation Section # (Year Enacted). 

Example: 74 FR 9753 

Note: may include §  which marks a Section #., year enacted is optional. 

How to Read a Bill or Law

This screenshot of a public law contains a lot of citations that will be useful in finding out about the drafting and implementation of this law. There are different parts of the page that act as citations for where to find more information. See the "Finding Cited Information" box at right for details. 

 "A" is found underneath the title of the document, "B" is found on the top right of the page, "C" is found on the right of the page, and "D" is found at the bottom of the page.














A: Laws format citation. Public Law designation. Introduced to the 115th Congress as the 15th bill. 

B: Laws format citation. Statutes at Large Citation. To be published in Volume # 131 as # 79. 

C: U.S. Code Citation. 

D: Legislative History. Cites the Senate Bill number and the debate days where discussion is recorded in the Congressional Record. 

How to Use GovInfo Citation Search

Dictionary of Abbreviations

Have a citation or part of a citation but don’t know what it means? Use this dictionary of abbreviations to look it up. 

U.S. Publication Abbreviations and Sample Citations





Bill originating in the Senate

S. 1


Bill originating in the House

H.R. 2002


Simple resolution originating in the Senate

S.Res. 2


Simple resolution originating in the House

H.Res. 3


Joint resolution originating in the Senate

S.J. Res.4


Joint resolution originating in the House

H.J. Res.5


Concurrent resolution originating in the Senate



Concurrent resolution originating in the House



A bill or joint resolution, originating in either the Senate or House, may become a Public law




United States Statutes at Large is a chronological listing of the laws enacted each Congress.  Volumes are numbered according to the number of Congress.

80 Stat.371


United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States. It is grouped by subject in one of 53 titles.

5 U.S.C. §  552


United States Code Annotated



United States Code Service – The U.S. Code reprinted with additional information. Accessible online through LexisNexis or in print via request from the BARN. See the library catalog to request the print copy. In Lexis Nexis, click on the drop down for “Search by Subject or Topic” and Select “Federal Statues and Regulations”

7 USCS §§ 136c


Report issued by a Senate committee, usually to accompany legislation that has passed in committee



Code of Federal Regulations



Report issued by a House or conference committee, usually to accompany legislation that has passed in committee


et seq.   "and what follows", usually accompanies a section # to denote reference to the whole section.   16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq
§  section number  16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq

*Adapted from the U.S. Senate's Key to Legislative Citations

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Jen Kirk
Merril-Cazier Library, Lower Level, Room 012
(435) 797-8033

Finding Cited Information