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Introduction to the Classification Guidelines

The Superintendent of Documents Classification Guidelines were developed by staff in the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), Library Services and Content Management (LSCM), Library Technical Services section with assistance from staff throughout LSCM. These guidelines are a revision of the 1993 GPO Classification Manual. The ongoing maintenance and revision of the Superintendent of Documents Classification Guidelines are the responsibility of the Cataloging Policy and Documentation Committee, Superintendent of Documents Classification Subcommittee. The Subcommittee operates within LSCM’s Library Technical Services section.

GPO uses the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification system to classify Federal Government publications. The SuDocs Classification Guidelines describe how to apply that system to classify and organize Federal Government publications. The purpose of these guidelines is to convey the current policies for assigning SuDocs classification numbers. The principles of the SuDocs system apply to all U.S. Government publications, regardless of format.

The U. S. Government disseminates a large number of publications each year. These may be issued as books, serials, pamphlets, maps, or other document type and may be in paper, microfiche, tangible electronic (CDs, DVDs), digital and online, or other format. Under U.S.C. 44, all of these publications, with certain exceptions, are included in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). All U.S. documents that are identified, acquired, and processed through the Cataloging & Indexing (C&I) Program or the FDLP are assigned a unique SuDocs classification number and cataloged, whether or not they are distributed to Federal depository libraries.

The SuDocs system groups together the publications of all Government authors, with the various agencies, bureaus, and departments being considered the authors. It is based on the current organizational structure of the Federal Government; subordinate bureaus and divisions are grouped with the parent organization. Since the SuDocs system was introduced, new agencies have formed, older agencies have ceased, and organizational responsibilities have moved across agencies. Over time, the SuDocs system has been revised and expanded. As a result, publications of some issuing agencies may be located in multiple places in the scheme.

Guidelines covering the formation and structure of SuDocs classification numbers have also changed over time. Publications have been assigned SuDocs classification numbers based upon the guidelines in effect at the time of cataloging. The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications contains classification numbers created under different guidelines at different times.

The current SuDocs Classification Guidelines will be published online only. Each section will include the date published and date last updated for reference. If you choose to print individual sections, keep in mind that the online version remains the most current and authoritative source for classification policies. Select prior guidelines are available in the Resources section under ‘Superseded Guidance.’ The Resources section is available from the menu on every page of the Guidelines.

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 7.1: - Memorial Addresses
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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Questions on the GPO-specific practices outlined in the guidelines should be submitted via askGPO. Please indicate "Classification Guidelines" in the subject area.