Skip to main content

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

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 SearchIt catalog. This will bring back government publications at differing levels of government.

The 2016 Presidential Election--finding information

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us