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Government Information and Resources Research Guide at FAU Libraries

What are SuDoc Call Numbers? 

Federal documents diverge from conventional printed materials in their classification methods. Unlike the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal systems, federal documents adhere to the Superintendent of Documents Classification (SuDoc). Developed by Adelaide R. Hasse in the 1890s, SuDoc categorizes U.S. Government publications based on their origin and agency rather than subject matter, stemming from the burgeoning collection managed by the Government Publishing Office (GPO).

Under this system, each department within the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative Branches and independent agencies is assigned an alphabetic symbol. While mnemonic, these symbols primarily reflect the agency's name, such as A for Agriculture and C for Commerce. Additional two- or three-letter symbols, like FS for Federal Security Agency and HE for Health and Human Services, are utilized when needed.

(source: FDLP).

GPO Classification manual.


SuDoc stands for "Superintendant of Documents." This type of call number is applied to federal (government-produced) documents. Instead of being arranged by subject (like LC and Dewey call numbers), SuDoc numbers arrange documents by the agencies that produce them. For example, A stands for Agriculture, while T stands for Treasury.

Here is an example of a SuDoc call number:

SUDOC Example

The SuDoc Call number C 3. 186/22: 999 is broken up into the following parts:

  • C: Issuing agency (Commerce Department)
  • 3.: Subagency (Census Bureau)
  • 186: Series Title (Current Population Reports)
  • 22: Document Title (Poverty in the U.S.)
  • 999: Year (1999)

For more information and a deeper explanation, see the Northwestern University library page link below.


Current SuDoc Class Stems 

You can tell what government agency produced a document by the "class stem" that begins the document's call number. For example, documents with call numbers beginning with HE are from the Department of Health and Human Services. Documents with call numbers beginning with SSA are from the Social Security Administration. The following links go straight to the agency or department's website.

A Agriculture AE National Archives & Records Administration
B Broadcasting Board of Governors C Commerce Department
C 3 Census Bureau CC Federal Communications Commission
CR Civil Rights Commission CS Civil Service Commission
D Defense Department E Energy Department
ED Education Department EP Environmental Protection Agency
FA Fine Arts Commission FCA Farm Credit Administration
FEM Federal Emergency Management Administration FHF Federal Housing Finance Board
FMC Federal Maritime Commission FM Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service
FR Federal Reserve Board of Governors FT Federal Trade Commission
FTZ Foreign Trade Zones Board GA Government Accountability Office
GP Government Printing Office GS General Services Administration
HE Health and Human Services Department HH Housing and Urban Development
HS Homeland Security I Interior Department
I 19 U.S. Geological Survey ID U.S. Agency for International Development
IC Interstate Commerce Commission ITC International Trade Commission
J Justice Department JU Judiciary (Courts of the U.S.)
L Labor Department LC Library of Congress
LR National Labor Relations Board MS Merit Systems Protection Board
NA National Academy of Sciences NAS National Aeronautics & Space Administration
NC National Capital Planning Commission NCU National Credit Union Administration
NF National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities NMS National Mediation Board
NS National Science Foundation OP Overseas Private Investment Corporation
P United States Postal Service PE Peace Corps
PM Personnel Management Office PR President of the United States
PREX Executive Office of the President PRVP Vice President of the United States
RR Railroad Retirement Board S State Department
SBA Small Business Administration SE Securities and Exchange Commission
SI Smithsonian Institution SSA Social Security Administration
T Treasury Department T 22 Internal Revenue Service
TD Transportation Department TDA U.S. Trade and Development Agency
VA Veterans Affairs Department X and Y Congress
Y 1 House and Senate Reports & Documents Y 4 Congressional Committee Hearings