Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification Scheme

Subordinate Structure

To describe subordinate structure, the alphabetic symbol is followed by an integer denoting the agency, bureau, office, or other subordinate unit. 1 always represents the parent agency. The integer is followed by a full stop (period) which is not a decimal point.

An integer denoting series, general type, or form follows the period. Originally four series designations were defined:

.1 Annual Reports
.2 General Publications
.3 Bulletins
.4 Circulars

These four have remained in common usage. Other form designators have been defined but their application has been inconsistent over time. These designators include:

.5 Laws
.6 Regulations, rules, and instructions
.7 Press releases
.8 Handbooks, manuals, and guides
.9 Bibliographies and lists of publications
.10 Directories
.11 Maps and charts
.12 Posters
.13 Forms
.14 Addresses

Other series designators that were established, but were not assigned specific numbers, include Electronic Products (which includes CD-ROMs, VHS, and DVD-ROMs) and Ephemera (which includes items issued for a specific, limited use, and are usually intended to be discarded thereafter – it includes bookmarks that are not part of a kit, event programs, and calendars; this class is no longer active).

The second integer is followed by a colon. All the characters up to and including the colon are referred to as the "class stem" or "first figure" and refer to all items of a particular class, not a specific volume, issue, or manifestation.

To the right of the colon, a second figure describes the particular volume or issue at hand. Serial items receive a series designation: volume and number, year and month, or sequential number within series. Monographic items receive a two figure Cutter symbol, derived from the first significant word in the title and based off of C.A. Cutter's Two-Figure Author Table. In its usual application, Cutter classification is applied to personal author names to arrive at a shelf arrangement within subjects. Because SuDocs classification depends solely on corporate authorship, and the stem describes that authorship hierarchically, Cutter is adapted to arrive at a shelf arrangement within provenance from the title.