Citing the Foreign Relations series

The Office of the Historian offers the following general recommendations for citing documents in the Foreign Relations of the United States series. Your style guide may require different formatting of a citation, so you may need to adapt the elements of the sample citations below to a specific format.

Cite document numbers rather than page numbers

Every document in the Foreign Relations series since the 1955–57 subseries has been assigned a sequential number unique within the volume. The advantage of citing a Foreign Relations document by its document number is that, unlike page numbers, the numbers are media neutral and remain consistent across different media: print, web, and ebook. An example of a citation to document number is as follows:

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XIX, Part 1, Korea, 1969–1972, eds. Daniel J. Lawler and Erin R. Mahan (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2010), Document 75.

The components of this citation are as follows:

  1. Series title: Foreign Relations of the United States
  2. Subseries title: 1969–1976
  3. Volume number: Volume XIX, Part 1
  4. Volume title: Korea, 1969–1972
  5. Editors (not to include the General Editor): Daniel J. Lawler and Erin R. Mahan
  6. City: Washington, D.C.
  7. Publisher: Government Printing Office
  8. Year published: 2010
  9. Location within the volume: Document 75

Cite volumes by URL

Particularly if you consulted the web or ebook edition of a Foreign Relations volume, we recommend appending the canonic URL for the volume (or document) to your reference. This will allow readers to directly access the source. Taking the previous citation as an example, the following URL would be appended to the end of the citation, often including a date the material was accessed: [accessed 27 Oct 2011]

URLs to Foreign Relations documents always follow this structure: the Office of the Historian’s website domain (“”), section (“historicaldocuments”), volume identifier (“frus1969-76v19p1”), and document identifier (“d75”).

A scanned image of the original printed page (or scanned document, in the case of certain electronic-only volumes) is available for citation by URL. You can find these URLs in the right sidebar of each document, labeled "View Image." For example, the sidebar for document 75 contains links to the images of pages 190, 191, and 192. Notice that in these page-number-based URLs, the document identifier (“d75”) is substituted with the page number identifier (“pg_190”, etc.).

Citations to ebook editions are no different for these examples.

When citing a document number is not possible

Since volumes before the 1955–57 subseries did not include document numbers, citations must reference page numbers:

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, General: Economic and Political Matters, Volume I, Part 1, eds. David M. Baehler, Herbert A. Fine, Ralph R. Goodwin, N. Stephen Kane, Ronald D. Landa, Lisle A. Rose, William F. Sanford, Jr., and Ilana M. Stern (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1983), 798–800.

Document numbers have been superimposed on the web and ebook edition of all these earlier volumes that have been digitized, so that every document has a unique URL. But take caution that readers of the print edition will not be able to locate a citation in these volumes by document number (e.g., the web edition of the above citation appears as “Document 221”).

Variations in the titles of early Foreign Relations volumes

Early editions of the Foreign Relations series used a variety of titles. For example:

Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia, Volume III (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1932), 51.
Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1893 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1894), 452–453.
Message of the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1862), 356–370.

(For more information on the titles, see the discussion of the term “Foreign Relations series” in the history of the Foreign Relations series.)

Also, earlier volumes typically do not identify the editors, in which case the names of editors can not be included in a citation.