Command paper [from Print source using APA 6th 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, originally 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.

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). Place of Publication: Publisher.


Criminal Law Revision Committee. (1984). Fifteenth report: Sexual offences (Cmnd 9213). London: HMSO.

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

Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office. (1999). Modernising government (Cm 4310). London: The Stationery Office.

Citation in Text

… identified as a significant rise (Ministry of Justice, 2011, p. 31).

Clearly modernisation involves a re-assessment of priorities (Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office, 1999, p. 5) ...



  • The abbreviation used for the series is crucial in locating the right command paper, therefore be quite clear that you are citing.
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.) ...