Command paper [from Electronic source using APA 5th ed.]


Because the situation regarding legal references is complex, and only US law is covered in the APA Manual, the following guidance is based on the system recommended by the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies. It should not be followed by any student submitting work to the Law Department of Portsmouth Business School, and students working in other departments should consult their lecturers.

Command Papers are Parliamentary Papers presented to the United Kingdom Parliament nominally by command of the Sovereign, but in practice by a Government Minister. The title derives from the formula originally carried on papers “Presented to Parliament by Command of Her (or His) Majesty”. In recent years the approach has been to use the phrase: “Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for ... (or other title as appropriate) by Command of Her (or His) Majesty”. Sometimes more than one Minister will present the Paper in which case all Ministers are listed, appearing in order of Cabinet precedence. In certain circumstances, e.g. reports produced by Royal Commissions, the original formula still applies. As well as reports they include White Papers and Green papers, orignally so called because of the colour of their covers.

The convention is to give the Department presenting the report to Parliament as the author unless the committee itself is named as an author. It is not usually necessary to name the Chair, although if the report is commonly referred to in this way e.g. the Robens report, you could use this in the text of your work for example, the Department of Employment report (1972, p. 7) hereafter referred to as the Robens report ...

The alphabetic designation of the series involved or the lack of it is crucial in identifying which of the six series of command papers you are dealing with, so do note this carefully. The main aim in any citation is for clarity; Command Papers are exclusively a British series therefore you do not need to specify the jurisdiction.

An electronic version of a command paper (2001-) retrieved from the Office of Public Sector Information website is an exact pdf replica of the hard copy therefore you only need note that you have consulted the electronic version of the paper.

Standard Form

Command Papers can be treated very much as normal books, and referenced according to APA rules, but it is important to include the Command paper series designation in the full reference:

Author. (Date).Title (Series statement) [Electronic version]. Place of Publication: Publisher.


Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. (2004). The Royal Commission Environmental Pollution Report on Chemicals in Products: Government Response (Cm 6300) [Electronic version]. London: HMSO.

Department of Employment. (1972). Report of the Committee on Health and Safety at Work 1970-1972 (Cmnd. 5034). London: HMSO.

HM Treasury. (2005). Britain meeting the global challenge: Enterprise, fairness and responsibility: Pre-Budget Report (Cm 6701) [Electronic version]. London. HMSO.

Ministry of Justice. (2011). Reform of legal aid in England and Wales: The Government response (Cm 8072) [Electronic version]. London: TSO.

Citation in Text

The continuing strength of the British economy as evidenced in these export figure (HM Treasury, 2005, p14)

The Department of Employment report (1972, p.4) outlines health and safety policy ...

… quantifying the environmental effect of these measures (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA], 2004, p. 3).

By including an accepted abbreviation for a complex corporate author in this first citation, later citations can take a shorter form:

Clearly the modern retail environment creates specific problems (DEFRA, 2004, p. 5) ...


  • The abbreviation used for the series is crucial in locating the right command paper, therefore be quite clear that you are citing. Only papers in the latest Cm series are available electronically in an official version from the Office of Public Sector Information.
First series 1 – 4222 1833-69
Second series C 1- C 9550 1870-99
Third series Cd 1- Cd 9239 1900-18
Fourth series Cmd 1- Cmd 9889 1919-56
Fifth series Cmnd 1- Cmnd 9927 1956-86
Sixth series Cm 1 - 1986-
  • You may choose to include an accepted abbreviation in your first in text citation which can be used to shorten later citations so

… identified as a significant rise (Criminal Law Revision Committee [CLRC], 1984, p. 31).

could be followed later in the same essay by a further reference such as

However other factors such as changes in sentencing tariffs (CLRC, 1984, p64.) ...