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US Government Documents Fundamentals

A guide to basic information about finding, evaluating, and using government documents for assignments, research, and your own information.

U.S. Government Databases

For an extensive list of U.S. government databases--both general and topic-specific--see Federal Databases, Search Engines, and Metasites.

Search Engines

3D red question mark USA.gov searches the Internet for '.gov' and '.mil' domains as well as state government web sites.  Start with a keyword search and scan the results to see which agencies are concerned with your topic.

WSU Libraries Catalog

The library catalog, Search It, is a very good place to start searching for government documents. 

IMPORTANT! Use the Advanced Search to specify the government as the author. Here are some examples:

  • (author) united states             and    (keyword)  nutrition and 'food stamps'
  • (author) washington state       and    (keyword)  bicycle safety
  • (author) united states labor    and    (keyword)  statistics unemployment

Note that you can also filter by Government Documents as a Type in the Search It catalog. This will bring back government publications at differing levels of government.

The 2016 Presidential Election--Finding Information

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