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Federal Government Documents Tutorial
Meaning of SuDoc Numbers
The following paragraphs describe how SuDoc numbers are constructed. This discussion will be helpful to you if you're interested in what these numbers mean, but you don't have to know this information before you make use of it. You can simply think of SuDoc numbers as a location device to find documents in the bookstacks or Microform Room.
A SuDoc number is made up of several elements, from general to specific as the number is read left to right. Each complete number uniquely identifies a publication. The first element identifies the cabinet level department, or independent agency, that issued a document.
The Y3 and Y4 numbers carry an additional element that specifies the Congressional committee or the commission/council. This additional element consists of one or two letters and one or two numbers that represent a significant word in the agency's name. It's called a "cutter number." Examples:
The second element of a SuDoc number represents the subdivision of the cabinet level department or independent agency. This second element is made up of one to three digits, and is followed by a period:
A SuDoc number's third element represents a specific series of documents published by an agency. "Series" is rather loosely defined in some instances to be catch-all spots for "general publications" or "handbooks, manuals, guides." This portion of the call number sits between the period after the department subdivision and a colon. It may contain as many as four digits. It's important to know that the period in the call number is just a place marker, it does not represent a decimal fraction. The numbers in SuDoc number elements file as whole number integers, not as fractions.
Some very large departments use one or more digits after the period to specify an additional level of the issuing agency's hierarchy of offices:
In addition to the general types of publications noted above, "series" in this part of a SuDoc number often equate to a specific bibliographic series of publications, or even a periodical title:
Note that, with the additional element in Y3. and Y4. SuDoc numbers, the element to specify a specific series falls to the right of the colon.
This much of a SuDoc number is called its "stem." The final element of a SuDoc number (usually that which follows the colon) identifies a specific title or piece of a serial publication. This part of the call number may have any one of a number of different styles.