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How to Find Congressional and Legislative Information: Searching

This guide provides an overview of how to search for and find Congressional and legislative information.

Overview publishes U.S. Government information from all three branches of government for the public. It is run by the Government Publishing Office (GPO). Like, GovInfo publishes bills, committee prints, and all other Congressional and legislative publications. However, only has Congressional and legislative documents from 1993 to the present. 

Because has fewer Congressional and legislative documents than, it should be the second website you access to find legislation.

Using the Basic Search Bar and Browsing

There are two ways to search on, a basic search and an advanced search. When you initially come to the website, you will see the basic search bar which looks like this:

There are two important aspects of the basic search:

  1. You can enter the document(s) you are looking for into the search bar, OR
  2. You can use the five boxes beneath to browse the website for the document(s) you are looking for.

Browsing through the five boxes can be invaluable if you're not quite sure what to enter into the search box. To do so:

  1. Click a box
  2. Browse through the pre-determined categories. 
  3. Select the category that best fits your search. 
  4. Initiate your search.

The video below gives a thorough overview of how to perform a search on

Federal Depository Library Program. (2022, March 17). Govinfo basic search [Video file]. Vimeo.

Using the Advanced Search Tab

While using the basic search on may be enough to find what you are looking for, the Advanced search tab can provide more, specific options that create a traditional results list (like what you will see in an academic database).

As with basic search, you can enter the date range, refine by collection, and choose where to limit your search (the "Search In" option). There is a final option to add "Additional Criteria" which provides a second "Search In" box for you to enter additional keywords to add to your search.

Once you enter this information, you will be brought to a page that looks like this:

As you can see, the Advanced search results can be narrowed/refined on the left side of the screen like in a traditional database.

Use the Advanced search option if you want more autonomy throughout your search process.

A Note on "Citation"

While you will see "Citation" tab on the GovInfo search bar, it does not mean that it will provide you a working, APA 7 citation for the documents you are looking for. Instead, the "Citation" tab is an alternate way to search for documents by entering their official, government citation in the search bar.

If you need to retrieve APA citations for Congressional or legislative documents, use's generator to create them.