Office of the Federal Register (OFR)

OFR Handbooks

These handbooks provide policy, guidance, instructions, and examples for:

  • drafting documents; and
  • publishing documents in the Federal Register

The Document Drafting Handbook applies to all documents and explains how to:  

  • draft (including formatting, style, structure, and amendatory language requirements);
  • transmit a document for publication;
  • correct; and 
  • withdraw from publication

The Incorporation by Reference (IBR) Handbook (with supplement) applies only to rulemaking documents that reference and require material outside the CFR and explains:

  • when to IBR; 
  • how to draft (including formatting, style, and structure requirements);
  • when to request approval; and
  • how to transmit an approval request









Document Drafting Handbook (DDH)

The DDH gives Federal agencies guidance and examples for drafting Federal Register documents.  This guidance explains how to follow the submission, format, and editorial requirements established in 44 U.S.C. chapter 15 (the Federal Register Act) and 1 CFR chapter I

We will always have the most-current edition and revision available for download from this page and we will alert your agency's liaisons whenever we issue a new edition. The August 2018 edition is a complete revision of the DDH.  We completely revised the instructions for digital submissions; changed the how we will process rules with information collections requirements that haven’t been approved by OMB; and added an appendix (new Appendix C) to highlight some stylistic, formatting, and structural conventions that are no longer allowed and must be corrected in your regulations.  We have also clarified existing language and formatting requirements.

In Revision 1, we’ve added a category for final rules issued under the Congressional Review Act, formalized how long an agency has to notify us of when we cause an error in the CFR, clarified the use of notes, footnotes, and appendices, and provided additional details regarding appropriate titles in a signature block.  We’ve also noted other technical restrictions and have reorganized some of chapter 5.There are no new requirements in this revision, only clarifications and expanded explanations for existing requirements. (Revisions 1.1 and 1.2 restore example headings that were inadvertently dropped from Revision 1. Revisions 1.2 and 1.4 fix hyperlinks. Revision1.3 clarifies PIV use for an electronic signature.)

You must begin using this revision of the DDH by April 15, 2019.

Important: Check our Special Procedures page for pertinent delivery information, office status, and FAQs.


Current Edition: August 2018 Edition (Revision 1.4, January 7, 2022)



Incorporation by Reference (IBR) Handbook

This handbook highlights the issues agencies should consider when thinking about IBRing materials into the CFR and describes the purpose and legal effect of IBR under 5 U.S.C. § 552 and 1 CFR chapter II.  It provides guidance to Federal agencies on the following:

  • what factors agencies should consider when incorporating standards by reference into the CFR;
  • what types of materials are eligible for IBR;
  • how to request approval for an IBR;
  • how to use the right IBR language in a rulemaking document;
  • how to remove IBR from the CFR.


The July 2018 IBR Handbook replaces all other versions of the handbook and is supplemented by Release 1-2022, which will be incorporated into the next edition of the handbook.  

Current Edition: July 2018

IBR Handbook | Release 1-2022