Citing Canadian government documents: MLA Style


Government publications come from many different sources and so can be particularly challenging to cite. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers [print] does not cover Canadian government sources, and has only a limited section on American government resources (section 5.5.20, pp. 174-177).
This online guide was developed by SFU Librarians using the MLA Handbook, 7th edition (2009) as well as The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources : A Manual for Social Science & Business Research [print], adhering to MLA citation standards and rules when they are stated.
When citing legal sources, the MLA Handbook recommends adapting Bluebook recommendations to MLA style. Bluebook citation style can be found in Cite Right [print].


Reports by individual author

Standing committee reports


 Department reports


Note: do not italicize the titles of laws, acts, or similar documents (MLA Handbook, 7th ed. Section 5.7.14, p. 205 [print]).

Government regulations


Note: do not italicize the titles of laws, acts, or similar documents (MLA Handbook, 7th ed. Section 5.7.14, p. 205 [print]).

Case law

R. v. Nguyen. 1 S.C.R. 826. Supreme Court of Canada. 2009. Supreme Court of Canada. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

Note: do not italicize the titles of laws, acts, or similar documents (MLA Handbook, 7th ed. Section 5.7.14, p. 205 [print]).

Debates (Hansard)

Committee proceedings 

Acts and statutes 

Federal Accountability Act. Statutes of Canada, c.9. Canada. Department of Justice. 2006. Department of Justice. Web. 13 Feb. 2010.

Note: do not italicize the titles of laws, acts, or similar documents (MLA Handbook, 7th ed. Section 5.7.14, p. 205 [print]).


See also Library Citing Guide for Statistics Canada, PCensus Estat and CHASS 

Rules and explanations

Online vs. print government documents

Many government documents are most often accessed online, and so almost all the examples above are for documents accessed online. In MLA citation style there are a few differences between citing a document online and citing one in print.


Print Document Online Document

Include as much of this information as possible:
  • Author (e.g., British Columbia Ministry of Health)
  • Title (in italics)
  • City of publication:
  • Publisher (in government publications, it may be the same as the author),
  • Year
  • The word Print
  • Begin by citing the same information as is found in print sources, but remove the work Print and add:
    • the title of the database or website (italicized)
    • Include the word Web to let the reader know how the document was accessed
    • Record the date of access, e.g., 15 Mar. 2010
    • Do not include a URL unless the document is difficult to locate with the URL, or unless your instructor requires it.

For more information on online documents, see the MLA Handbook, 7th ed. Section 5.6, pp. 181-193

Works cited list

(MLA Handbook, 7th ed. Section 5.5.20, pp. 174-177 [print])

  • If you do not know the writer of the document, cite as author the government agency that issued it. State the name of the government first, followed by the name of the agency.


British Columbia. Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.


Canada. Commission of Inquiry into Part-Time Work.

  • If the agency has subgroups, arrange the subgroups in descending order, with periods in between.

Canada. Parliament. Senate. Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.

  •  The title of the publication, italicized, should follow. After the title, include the number of the reading, session, parliament, or other number of the publication, if the document has one.

  • Finally, include the place, publisher, date and the medium of the publication consulted (e.g. print, web, etc.) If it is a web resource, include the website (italicized) and the date accessed.


  • If known, the document's writer may either begin the entry or the agency can go first, and the writer's name can follow the title and the word By or an abbreviation (such as Ed. for editor or Comp. for compiler).

  • If the city of publication is not included on a document, but you can reasonably assume where it was published (e.g., Ottawa for many Canadian government publications, Victoria for many B.C. government publications), put the city name in square brackets, e.g.: [Ottawa]

  • When citing two or more works issued by the same government, substitute three hyphens for the name in each entry after the first. If you also cite more than one work by the same government agency, use an additional three hyphens in place of the agency in the second agency and each subsequent one.

In-text citation (6.4.5)

  • To cite a government document, you may use the author's (e.g., British Columbia. Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs) name followed by a page reference: 

However, MLA suggests including a long name in the text so that the reading is not interrupted:

Abbreviations (5.5.20. p. 175)

When citing publications such as bills, reports, resolutions and documents, use these abbreviations where applicable. Note: do not use them to shorten words in the "author" area, but in the part of the citation following the title (see example below).

Parliament - Parl.

Session - sess.

Report - Rept.

Resolution - Res.

Document - Doc.

Additional resources

Library MLA Citation Guide, 8th Edition -- General guide to MLA-style citation

Brief Guide to Citing Canadian Government Sources -- Guide by Queen's University for citing government resources. Note that this resource does not use MLA Style, but does have some useful examples.

Government Information Citation Guides - Courtesy of Concordia University