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Cutter Numbers

GPO generally uses a Cutter number as the book number when the publication being classed does not have a numerical designation. For more information on when to use a Cutter number for a continuing resource class, refer to the Monographic Series and Continuing Resources chapters.

Cutter Table and Its Use

C.A. Cutter’s Two-Figure Author Table, known as the Cutter table, was developed by Charles A. Cutter in the 1800s as a tool for organizing library materials alphabetically using a minimal amount of characters. GPO uses the alphanumeric Cutter numbers for SuDocs classification when there is no number to identify the publications and dates are not appropriate. Cutter numbers consist of a combination of one or more letter(s), a space, and a number from 1-99, excluding any numbers ending in 0 (10, 20, etc.). A Cutter is used as a book number for piece-level identification within a SuDocs class.

When classifying a new publication that falls into a Cuttered class, first check the class under all possible Cutter words for similar publications. If none is found, use the following guidelines in selecting Cutter words.

To assign a Cutter number:

  1. Select the first (or most) significant word from the publication title (see the sections on ‘Selecting Cutter Words’ and ‘Words to Avoid when Cuttering’ for more information).
  2. Match the first letters of the word against the letters listed in the Cutter table. The Cutter number for a word consists of the bolded letter (or letters) in the group of letters most closely matching the word being Cuttered, plus the numbers following those letters.
  3. When a word falls between two numbers, always choose the preceding number.

The word selected as significant and then Cuttered in this example is ‘space.’ In the Cutter table, the closest entry for space is Sp 1. The Sp and 1 are in bold text, making the Cutter SP 1.

Examples of Cuttered words using the Cutter table:

Significant title word: Cutter table: Cutter number
Space Sp: 1 SP 1
Spammed Spam: 2 SP 2
Species Spe: 3 SP 3
Sphere   SP 3 (follows Spe, but precedes Spi)
Spine Spi: 4 SP 4

Check the table closely to select the correct letter and number combination.

Filing Order for Cutter Numbers

Cutter numbers are filed alphabetically by letter, then digit by digit. For example, these Cutters are alphabetical by letter and then ordered by the numbers following the letters:

A 101.46:B 81 Brown treesnake 
A 101.46:C 16 Canada geese
A 101.46:C 81 Cormorants

Cutters are ordered alphabetically by a) first letter in the Cutter, b) second letter in the Cutter, and c) number.

Slash Numbers

When the same Cutter number is assigned to several publications within a class, the publications are differentiated from one another by slash numbers. Slash numbers are sometimes called superior numbers, because historically they appeared above the preceding number (similar to exponential or footnote numbers) such as C 42².

These numbers are added in sequence as publications are received. The first publication will bear only the Cutter number, such as C 42. As other publications with other titles are received, they will be classed C 42/2, C 42/3, etc.

Slash numbers are filed as whole numbers.

If there are large numbers of publications within a class Cuttered under the same term, try to find a more distinctive Cutter word.

Selecting Cutter Words

The Cutter word is derived from the first (or most) significant word in the title which represents the subject of the publication. In cases of doubt between terms, choose the term which comes first in the title.

In these examples, the words in bold letters have been chosen as the best Cutter words:

Alternatives to lead bullets

Assistive technology products for information access

Chasing success: Air Force efforts to reduce civilian harm

History of the federal duck stamp: conserving habitats for birds and people

When a publication is bibliographically related to another publication, class using the same Cutter whenever possible.

Words to Avoid when Cuttering

  • Avoid Cuttering under terms common to the Federal Government, such as National, Federal, United States, Government, etc., unless absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid Cuttering under words which are common to the agency, particularly words in the name of the agency. Cutter under the name of an agency only when it is the sole subject of the publication title.
  • Avoid using terms such as symposium, workshop, report, or similar terms.
  • Ignore a catch phrase. If a title begins with a catch phrase, Cutter from the substantive part of the title which denotes the subject of the publication. Cutter a word from a catch phrase only if the title consists entirely of a catch phrase.

The words in bold in the following titles have been selected as the best for Cuttering:

EP 1.2:V 53/13

Federal and California light-duty vehicle emissions standards for air pollutants

D 1.2:C 61/2

National security implications of climate related risks and a changing climate

GP 1.2:IN 3/2/2016

Keeping America informed, the U.S. Government Publishing Office: a legacy of service to the nation

Sets With a Collective Title

  • Multiple volumes in a set with a collective title should all be Cuttered under the same term from the collective title.
  • Multiple volumes in a set lacking a collective title may be kept together only when all titles are known and all titles share a common word.
  • If all the titles are not known, classify titles individually.

Related publications in different classes, such as draft and final environmental impact statements, should be Cuttered under the same term.

Foreign Language Editions

A publication may be issued both in English and in one or more other languages. In order to keep these publications together, Cutter under an appropriate word in the English title. Keep this same Cutter number for the foreign language editions, and add a slash and the name of the language.

HE 20.3861:H 59/2013 Hospital hints
HE 20.3861:H 59/2013/SPAN. Consejos para cuando debe ir al hospital

For additional guidance on foreign languages and country names, see Additions to Book Numbers.

Numbers in Titles

If the title word chosen as significant for Cuttering is a number, spell out the number and Cutter on the spelled-out form.

Cuttering Acronyms and Initialisms

Acronyms and initialisms are Cuttered from the first word spelled out when the full form of the acronym is known or is stated in the publication. In this example, NATO was selected as significant and the acronym was Cuttered as N 21:

Cuttering: Geographic Topics  

Cuttering Related Documents Covering the Same Subject but Different Geographic Area

In classes where the subject matter is similar (e.g., draft environmental impact statements), Cutter from the first word of the geographic location.

General Subjects and Geographic Terms

When deciding between using either a geographic name or a topical subject term, select the geographic name to Cutter, especially when the topical term is common to the class. In more general classes such as the General Publications category classes, examine established Cutters in the class when deciding whether to Cutter on a topical or geographic term.

In this example, the class I 29.6/2: is for National Seashores, Information Circulars. The publication was Cuttered on the specific geographic name instead the topical term ‘seashores’ which is common to the class.

Areas within national parks, forests, wilderness areas, and similar geographical areas should be Cuttered under the name of the park, forest, etc. In cases of doubt concerning geographic terms, examine the class for past practice and try to follow the pattern if one has been established.

Cuttering Geographic Terms Using Personal Names

When Cuttering a geographic term consisting of a proper personal name, base the Cutter on the first word in the name as it appears on the publication.

Prior practice for Cutttering geographic terms using personal names has been mixed; examples exist where Cuttering is based on the last name instead of the first word in the name. If you encounter a new edition of an older publication previously classed using the last name, assign the same Cutter that was used previously to keep the different editions or revisions together. Within a particular class, if there is an established Cutter for a geographic term (either first word or last name), continue to use that same Cutter to keep related publications on the same geographic area together. This allows for collocation on the shelf as well as browsing and discovery of related items in a virtual environment like a library catalog.


Forest Service and other simple maps should be Cuttered using the name of the geographic area covered, i.e. country, state, national park, national forest, etc.

A 13.28:B 48/5/2016 Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming

Forest Service maps should be Cuttered under the first-named national forest depicted. If the map shows a particular trail, wilderness area, or feature within a forest, still Cutter under the name of the forest. This practice will class and keep all maps covering a single forest or park together.

A 13.28:R 67/6 The Cache la Poudre, Colorado: a wild and scenic river
(river in Roosevelt National Forest)

For additional guidance on maps and related materials, see Cartographic Resources.

Cuttering Multi-Part Geographic Names

Geographic names beginning with common terms such as Fort, Saint, Mount, San, etc., are Cuttered from the first word. The first letter of the second word is transcribed after the Cutter number.

In the case of similar names, when the geographic name begins with common terms such as Fort, Saint, Mount, etc., more than one letter may be used after the Cutter number to keep the place names separate. In more recent examples, however, the preference is to use only one letter after the Cutter and add a slash number to create a unique Cutter:

If the words Saint, Mount, etc. are abbreviated on the publications, Cutter the words as if they were spelled out: St. would be Saint (SA 2) for Cuttering purposes.

State Cutter Numbers

Cuttering by state is useful when an agency issues different state-specific versions of similar publications. In such cases, state Cutter numbers provide a method for correctly ordering publications by state on a shelf or when online browsing. Consult the State Cutter Numbers table when Cuttering by state. 

Otherwise, for individual state-specific publications that are not issued in multiple versions, the preferred method for Cuttering is to Cutter on a topical term rather than the state unless the topical term is common to the class.

Most state Cutter numbers are simply the state name that has been Cuttered according to the Cutter table. However, some states have been given unique Cutter numbers by the addition of a letter after the number.

Alabama AL 1 B
Alaska AL 1 S
Mississippi M 69 I
Missouri M 69 O

When Cuttering on a geographic feature that shares the same name as a state that has a unique number, for example Mississippi River, do not use the unique state Cutter. Simply Cutter on the word as usual.

State Cutter Numbers

The list includes the states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Alabama AL 1 B
Alaska AL 1 S
Arizona AR 4 I
Arkansas AR 4 K
California C 12
Colorado C 71
Connecticut C 76
Delaware D 37
District of Columbia D 63
Florida F 66
Georgia G 29
Guam G 93
Hawai’i H 31
Idaho ID 1
Illinois IL 6
Indiana IN 2
Iowa IO 9
Kansas K 13
Kentucky K 41
Louisiana L 93
Maine M 28
Maryland M 36
Massachusetts M 38
Michigan M 58
Minnesota M 66
Mississippi M 69 I
Missouri M 69 O
Montana M 76
Nebraska N 27
Nevada N 41
New Hampshire N 42 H
New Jersey N 42 J
New Mexico N 42 M
New York N 42 Y
North Carolina N 81 C
North Dakota N 81 D
Ohio OH 3
Oklahoma OK 4
Oregon OR 3
Pennsylvania P 38
Puerto Rico P 96 R
Rhode Island R 34
South Carolina SO 8 C
South Dakota SO 8 D
Tennessee T 25
Texas T 31
Utah UT 1
Vermont V 59
Virgin Islands (U.S.) V 81 I
Virginia V 81
Washington W 27
West Virginia W 52 V
Wisconsin W 75
Wyoming W 99

1. GPO uses a proprietary source for determining the Cutter number: C. A. Cutter’s Two-Figure Author Table (Swanson-Swift Revision), 1969.

Superintendent of Documents Classification Guidelines

Introduction to the Classification Guidelines
The Classification System: A Brief History
Structure of the Classification Number
Sorting in SuDocs Order
Example of a SuDocs Sort
Class Stems
Letter Author Symbols
New Agency Classes
Joint Publications from Different Agencies
Publications Prepared by One Agency for Another
Serials with Changing Publishers
Joint Publications Issued in Series
Subordinate Offices
First and Second Levels
Assignment of Classes
Third and Fourth Levels
Joint Publications from Different Subagencies
Name Changes and Reorganizations
Category Classes
Most Frequently Used Category Classes
.1 - Annual reports
.2 - General publications
.8 - Handbooks, manuals, and guides
.11 - Maps and Charts
.12 - Posters
Less Frequent Category Classes
.3 - Bulletins
.4 - Circulars
.5 - Laws
.6 - Regulations, rules, and instructions
.7 - Press releases
.9 - Bibliographies and Lists of Publications
.10 - Directories
.13 - Forms
.14 - Addresses
Cutter Numbers
Cutter Table and Its Use
Filing Order for Cutter Numbers
Slash Numbers
Selecting Cutter Words
Words to Avoid when Cuttering
Sets With a Collective Title
Foreign Language Editions
Numbers in Titles
Cuttering Acronyms and Initialisms
Cuttering: Geographic Topics
Cuttering Related Documents Covering the Same Subject but Different
General Subjects and Geographic Terms
Cuttering Geographic Terms Using Personal Names
Cuttering Multi-Part Geographic Names
State Cutter Numbers
State Cutter Numbers Table
Additions to Book Numbers
Year Format
Dates for Revised Editions
Punctuation in Dates or Date Ranges
Volume, Part, Chapter, and Section Numbers
Volume Number and Date: Which Comes First?
Volume Number Followed by Date
Date Followed by Volume Number
Words and Abbreviations
Foreign-language Publications
Multiple Word Phrases in a Suffix
Multiple Versions of a Publication
Corrected Copies of Numbered Volumes
Standard Abbreviations and Words
State Abbreviations
Classes by Publication Type
Preliminary, Draft, and Final Reports
Preprints and Separates
Summaries and Executive Summaries
Electronic Products
Sets with Multiple Publication Types
Monographic Series
Identifying a Monographic Series
Assigning New Series Classes
Series Related to Existing Classes by Subject
Structure of the Series Class
Departmental Series vs. Bureau Series
Series Book Numbers
Series Numbering
Unusual Series Numbering
Series Numbering and Revised Editions
Numbering system changes
Two series on one publication
Series number vs. Agency control number
Letters and Phrases Appearing on Publications
Volumes, Parts, or Sections
Publications Which Are Not Serials or Series
Multipart Monographs versus Series
Other Situations
Continuing Resources
Identifying a Continuing Resource
Integrating Resources
Assigning New Continuing Resource Classes
Works Related to Category Classes
Works Related to Existing Classes by Subject
New Classes to Reflect Changes for Existing Serials
Serials within Series: Separate Class Approach
Serials with a Constant Series Number
Cuttering a Serial or, When Not to Establish a New Class Stem for a Serial
Serials within Series: Cuttering Approach
Publications of Short Duration
Other cases for Cuttering
Serials Designation
Number 1 for First Month Appears Annually
Date incorporated in Series Number
Volume and Number
Annual Publications
Semiannual Publications
Publications Issued Three or More Times a Year
Variations in Publication Cycles
Release Date vs. Coverage Date
Special Issues of Serials
Frequently Revised Monographs Cataloged as Serials
Presidential Publications
Presidential Committees and Commissions
Presidential Commissions vs Presidential Initiatives
Permanent Agencies Reporting to the President
Vice President of the United States
Congressional and Legislative Branch Publications
Y 4. - Congressional Committee Publications
Constructing the Committee Designation
Reorganized Committees and Name Changes
Y 4. Committee Print or Y 1. Report?
Joint Hearings
Publications Prepared by One Committee for the Use of Another
Individual Book Numbers
House Book Numbers
Numbered and Unnumbered Documents in One Class
Senate Book Numbers
Cutter Numbers
Multipart Works
Errors in Numbering on Publications
Y 1.-: - Congress as a Whole, House and Senate as a Whole
Individual Book Numbers
House and Senate Documents and Reports
Y 1.1/2: - U. S. Congressional Serial Set
Y 1.2/5: - United States Code
Boards, Commissions, and Independent or Temporary Committees Established by Congress
Boards, Commissions, and Committees Established within the Executive Branch
Executive Branch Independent Agencies with Limited Duration or Publishing Output
Y 3. - Boards, Commissions, and Independent or Temporary Committees
Agency Designations
Category and Series Designations
Related Series or Subjects
Individual Book Numbers
Y 3.2: - Limited Boards, Commissions, and Independent Committees
Y 4.2: and Y 4.3: - Select and Special Committees (As Appointed)
Y 9. - Speeches
Y 10: and Y 11: - Subordinate Offices
X 1.1: - Congressional Record
XJH: and XJS: - House and Senate Journals
Y and X General Issues
Serial Publications
Star Prints
U.S. Participation in International Organizations
Cartographic Resources
Category Classes for Maps and Charts
General Rules
U.S. Geological Survey Maps
Map Reference Numbers
Northwest (NW) Quadrant
Northeast (NE) Quadrant
Southwest (SW) Quadrant
Southeast (SE) Quadrant
Edition Date
Bureau of Land Management Maps
U.S. Forest Service Maps
Revision Dates
National Ocean Service Nautical Charts
Map Types
Classification Guidelines for Digital Reproductions
Classification by Type of Digital Reproduction

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