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How to Locate Government Documents by SuDocs Number

The Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification System is used for shelving most government publications.

The SuDocs number represents the federal department or agency from which the document originated. Therefore, documents on the same subject may not be classified together, depending on the issuing body. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published a document (L 2.3: 2084) as did the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources (Y4.L 11/4: 994/2/982) both on the subject of Labor Productivity in the United States.

To find material on the shelf, use each element of the SuDocs number one at a time:

E l . 9: T 88/992

(1) (2) (3) (4)

  1. Documents are shelved in alphanumeric order; first alphabetically by the first letters of the SuDocs number. The first letter(s) signify the originating department or agency (i.e. A=Agriculture, C=Commerce, E=Energy, NAS=National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
  2. The period is not used as a decimal point, but rather to indicate the beginning of the next element of the SuDocs classification scheme. Therefore, E 1.9: T 88/992 is located on the shelf before E 1.68: T 88/992, because 9 is less than 68.
  3. Letters come before numbers (E 1.9: T 88/992 before E 1.9: 311/3).
  4. When a year is used at the end of a SuDocs number, the first digit is dropped; so 1992 becomes 992. Dates are not filed in with other numbers. Therefore, E 1.9: T 88/992 comes before E 1.9: T 88/3.

The examples below represent a shelf of U.S. Government Documents correctly arranged:

  1. A 1.9: OP 7/973
  2. A 1.9: OP 7/3
  3. A 1.32/2: B 65
  4. A 1.32/2: H 11
  5. AA 1.9/3:84/1
  6. C 3.2: M 58/984

To find SuDocs number for U.S. documents on your topic, consult the Catalog of Government Publications (1976 - present), the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (1895-1976). Check KentLINK for the availability of the document in the Kent State collection.