How to Read a SuDoc Number

The call number for federal government documents will differ from that used for regular books and periodicals.  Federal documents are shelved by the Superintendent of Documents system, abbreviated as SuDoc.  Unlike the regular collection (which is organized by topic), government documents are organized by agency.

SuDoc numbers always begin with a letter or letters combined with a number, then a period, then a number, then a colon.  The colon is followed by more numbers and/or letters.

The letters at the beginning of a SuDoc number represent a specific government department or agency such as:

A = Agriculture Department

C 3.  = Census Bureau, Commerce Department

D = Defense Department

E = Energy Department

ED = Education Department

EP = Environmental Protection Agency

GA = Genereal Accountability Office

GS = General Services Administration

HE = Health and Human Services Department

HE 20.700: = Centers for Disease Control

HS = Homeland Security Department

I = Interior department

I 19. = U.S. Geological Survey (Interior Department)

J = Justice Department

JU = Judiciary

L = Labor Department

LC = Library of Congress

NAS = National Aeronautics and Space Administration

S = State Department

SI = Smithsonian Institution

T 22 = Internal Revenue Service (Treasury Department)

X, Y = Congress

Y 4. = Congressional Committees

Subagencies are assigned a number.  For instance, the Census Bureau, an agency within the Department of Commerce, is given the number 3.  So…all Census Bureau publications have SuDoc numbers that start with C 3.

Within a subagency, each series is also assigned a number.  For example, the Census Bureau’s U.S. Exports of Merchandise series is given the number C 3.278/3:.  Each individual publication in the series is then assigned a unique number or alphabetical symbol based on year, volume, series number, or title.  The unique publication number follows the colon. Therefore, C 3.278/3:2009/7 is the Sudocs number for the July 2009 issue of U.S. Exports of Merchandise.

In summary, the first half of a SuDoc number (up to the colon) identifies the agency and series, and the last half identifies the specific publication. Publications are filed alphabetically by letter and then numerically, first grouped by subagency, then by series, and finally, arranged alphabetically or numerically within each series.

Note: This is NOT a decimal system; the number after the period is a whole number.


Other Government Document Tutorial web pages:

What is a Government Document?

How to Find a Government Document…

How to Cite a Government Document…

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