GPO generally uses a Cutter number as the book number when the publication being classed does not have a numerical designation. For more information on when to use a Cutter number for a continuing resource class, refer to the Monographic Series and Continuing Resources chapters.
Cutter Table and Its Use
C.A. Cutter’s Two-Figure Author Table, known as the Cutter table, was developed by Charles A. Cutter in the 1800s as a tool for organizing library materials alphabetically using a minimal amount of characters. GPO uses the alphanumeric Cutter numbers for SuDocs classification when there is no number to identify the publications and dates are not appropriate. Cutter numbers consist of a combination of one or more letter(s), a space, and a number from 1-99, excluding any numbers ending in 0 (10, 20, etc.). A Cutter is used as a book number for piece-level identification within a SuDocs class.
When classifying a new publication that falls into a Cuttered class, first check the class under all possible Cutter words for similar publications. If none is found, use the following guidelines in selecting Cutter words.
To assign a Cutter number:
- Select the first (or most) significant word from the publication title (see the sections on ‘Selecting Cutter Words’ and ‘Words to Avoid when Cuttering’ for more information).
- Match the first letters of the word against the letters listed in the Cutter table. The Cutter number for a word consists of the bolded letter (or letters) in the group of letters most closely matching the word being Cuttered, plus the numbers following those letters.
- When a word falls between two numbers, always choose the preceding number.
The word selected as significant and then Cuttered in this example is ‘space.’ In the Cutter table, the closest entry for space is Sp 1. The Sp and 1 are in bold text, making the Cutter SP 1.
Examples of Cuttered words using the Cutter table:
Check the table closely to select the correct letter and number combination.
Filing Order for Cutter Numbers
Cutter numbers are filed alphabetically by letter, then digit by digit. For example, these Cutters are alphabetical by letter and then ordered by the numbers following the letters:
Cutters are ordered alphabetically by a) first letter in the Cutter, b) second letter in the Cutter, and c) number.
When the same Cutter number is assigned to several publications within a class, the publications are differentiated from one another by slash numbers. Slash numbers are sometimes called superior numbers, because historically they appeared above the preceding number (similar to exponential or footnote numbers) such as C 42².
These numbers are added in sequence as publications are received. The first publication will bear only the Cutter number, such as C 42. As other publications with other titles are received, they will be classed C 42/2, C 42/3, etc.
Slash numbers are filed as whole numbers.
If there are large numbers of publications within a class Cuttered under the same term, try to find a more distinctive Cutter word.
Selecting Cutter Words
The Cutter word is derived from the first (or most) significant word in the title which represents the subject of the publication. In cases of doubt between terms, choose the term which comes first in the title.
In these examples, the words in bold letters have been chosen as the best Cutter words:
Alternatives to lead bullets
Assistive technology products for information access
Chasing success: Air Force efforts to reduce civilian harm
History of the federal duck stamp: conserving habitats for birds and people
When a publication is bibliographically related to another publication, class using the same Cutter whenever possible.
Words to Avoid when Cuttering
- Avoid Cuttering under terms common to the Federal Government, such as National, Federal, United States, Government, etc., unless absolutely necessary.
- Avoid Cuttering under words which are common to the agency, particularly words in the name of the agency. Cutter under the name of an agency only when it is the sole subject of the publication title.
- Avoid using terms such as symposium, workshop, report, or similar terms.
- Ignore a catch phrase. If a title begins with a catch phrase, Cutter from the substantive part of the title which denotes the subject of the publication. Cutter a word from a catch phrase only if the title consists entirely of a catch phrase.
The words in bold in the following titles have been selected as the best for Cuttering:
Sets With a Collective Title
- Multiple volumes in a set with a collective title should all be Cuttered under the same term from the collective title.
- Multiple volumes in a set lacking a collective title may be kept together only when all titles are known and all titles share a common word.
- If all the titles are not known, classify titles individually.
Related publications in different classes, such as draft and final environmental impact statements, should be Cuttered under the same term.
Foreign Language Editions
A publication may be issued both in English and in one or more other languages. In order to keep these publications together, Cutter under an appropriate word in the English title. Keep this same Cutter number for the foreign language editions, and add a slash and the name of the language.
For additional guidance on foreign languages and country names, see Additions to Book Numbers.
Numbers in Titles
If the title word chosen as significant for Cuttering is a number, spell out the number and Cutter on the spelled-out form.
Cuttering Acronyms and Initialisms
Acronyms and initialisms are Cuttered from the first word spelled out when the full form of the acronym is known or is stated in the publication. In this example, NATO was selected as significant and the acronym was Cuttered as N 21:
Cuttering: Geographic Topics
Cuttering Related Documents Covering the Same Subject but Different Geographic Area
In classes where the subject matter is similar (e.g., draft environmental impact statements), Cutter from the first word of the geographic location.
General Subjects and Geographic Terms
When deciding between using either a geographic name or a topical subject term, select the geographic name to Cutter, especially when the topical term is common to the class. In more general classes such as the General Publications category classes, examine established Cutters in the class when deciding whether to Cutter on a topical or geographic term.
In this example, the class I 29.6/2: is for National Seashores, Information Circulars. The publication was Cuttered on the specific geographic name instead the topical term ‘seashores’ which is common to the class.
Areas within national parks, forests, wilderness areas, and similar geographical areas should be Cuttered under the name of the park, forest, etc. In cases of doubt concerning geographic terms, examine the class for past practice and try to follow the pattern if one has been established.
Cuttering Geographic Terms Using Personal Names
When Cuttering a geographic term consisting of a proper personal name, base the Cutter on the first word in the name as it appears on the publication.
Prior practice for Cutttering geographic terms using personal names has been mixed; examples exist where Cuttering is based on the last name instead of the first word in the name. If you encounter a new edition of an older publication previously classed using the last name, assign the same Cutter that was used previously to keep the different editions or revisions together. Within a particular class, if there is an established Cutter for a geographic term (either first word or last name), continue to use that same Cutter to keep related publications on the same geographic area together. This allows for collocation on the shelf as well as browsing and discovery of related items in a virtual environment like a library catalog.
Forest Service and other simple maps should be Cuttered using the name of the geographic area covered, i.e. country, state, national park, national forest, etc.
Forest Service maps should be Cuttered under the first-named national forest depicted. If the map shows a particular trail, wilderness area, or feature within a forest, still Cutter under the name of the forest. This practice will class and keep all maps covering a single forest or park together.
For additional guidance on maps and related materials, see Cartographic Resources.
Cuttering Multi-Part Geographic Names
Geographic names beginning with common terms such as Fort, Saint, Mount, San, etc., are Cuttered from the first word. The first letter of the second word is transcribed after the Cutter number.
In the case of similar names, when the geographic name begins with common terms such as Fort, Saint, Mount, etc., more than one letter may be used after the Cutter number to keep the place names separate. In more recent examples, however, the preference is to use only one letter after the Cutter and add a slash number to create a unique Cutter:
If the words Saint, Mount, etc. are abbreviated on the publications, Cutter the words as if they were spelled out: St. would be Saint (SA 2) for Cuttering purposes.
State Cutter Numbers
Cuttering by state is useful when an agency issues different state-specific versions of similar publications. In such cases, state Cutter numbers provide a method for correctly ordering publications by state on a shelf or when online browsing. Consult the State Cutter Numbers table when Cuttering by state.
Otherwise, for individual state-specific publications that are not issued in multiple versions, the preferred method for Cuttering is to Cutter on a topical term rather than the state unless the topical term is common to the class.
Most state Cutter numbers are simply the state name that has been Cuttered according to the Cutter table. However, some states have been given unique Cutter numbers by the addition of a letter after the number.
When Cuttering on a geographic feature that shares the same name as a state that has a unique number, for example Mississippi River, do not use the unique state Cutter. Simply Cutter on the word as usual.
State Cutter Numbers
The list includes the states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
|Alabama||AL 1 B|
|Alaska||AL 1 S|
|Arizona||AR 4 I|
|Arkansas||AR 4 K|
|District of Columbia||D 63|
|Mississippi||M 69 I|
|Missouri||M 69 O|
|New Hampshire||N 42 H|
|New Jersey||N 42 J|
|New Mexico||N 42 M|
|New York||N 42 Y|
|North Carolina||N 81 C|
|North Dakota||N 81 D|
|Puerto Rico||P 96 R|
|Rhode Island||R 34|
|South Carolina||SO 8 C|
|South Dakota||SO 8 D|
|Virgin Islands (U.S.)||V 81 I|
|West Virginia||W 52 V|
1. GPO uses a proprietary source for determining the Cutter number: C. A. Cutter’s Two-Figure Author Table (Swanson-Swift Revision), 1969.