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Serial Set Guide from Proquest: Citation & Copyright for Serial Set

The Serial Set includes over 300,000 U.S. Government titles and is a gold mine of primary source materials for research and study.

A Word About Copyright for the U.S. Serial Set

Since the U.S. Serial Set is a government publication, most items are in the Public Domain with respect to Copyright.  This means that you may freely use the material, giving proper attribution of the source.   Please see our Copyright Libguide for further information about Public Domain and other copyright basics.

Please Note:  the digital scans of documents in the Serial Set online database  are owned by Proquest.  Use of these PDFs  is granted by Proqest, as long as they are given credit as the source of the material. 

Helpful Resource for Citing the Serial Set

Citing The Serial Set- Print & Online Formats

The Serial Set contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports. The reports are usually from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. The documents include all other papers ordered printed by the House or Senate. Documents cover a wide variety of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set.

The serial number is a unique number applied to each book in the series of congressional publications running consecutively from the 15th Congress. The serial number may be useful for locating items, but not for citation. The documents and reports series have three numbers:

  • an individual report or document-publication number,
  • a volume number of each series for each session of Congress, and
  • the serial number.

Documents and reports can be located using the volume or serial number but should be cited using the publication number and Congress and session number.   For Example-

U.S. House Select Committee on Small Business.  Organization and Operation of the Small Business Administration: A Report.... Pursuant to H. Res. 46. (H. Rpt. 87-2564). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1963. (Serial Set 12440). 

For further information and examples see Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources in box to the left.


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