Reading Government Document Numbers

All federal government agencies/departments are required to send copies of the documents they publish to the U.S. Superintendent of Documents. There they are assigned a SuDoc number, which begins with 1, 2 or 3 letters based on the publishing agency/department;

e.g.

ED

Dept. of Education.

HE

Dept. of Health

J

Dept. of Justice

NAS

PR

President’s Office

X

Congress

Y

Congress

and the letters are followed by numbers and often more letters, with all sorts of punctuation in the middle. The basic reference works/indexes used with U.S. Documents cite these numbers, so researchers can easily move from an index to the Government Documents shelves/drawers to find the document they need.

BEWARE:

The sorting of SuDoc numbers for shelving/filing is VERY DIFFERENT from the Library of Congress call number sorting. The basic rules for sorting SuDoc numbers are:

Alpha-numeric:Sort by alphabetical letters(s) first, then by numbers

The periods between 2 numbers are just dots; they are NOT decimal points.

CORRECT ORDER

WRONG ORDER

C 1.1:992

C 1.1:992

C 1.2:C 3

C 1.11:25

C 1.11:25

C 1.2:C 3

Order of punctuation

: Colons file before / or –
/ Slashes file before –
- Dashes file last