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 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







 What is the DDH for? Do I need it?

You need this handbook to ensure that you have met the drafting and submission requirements for publication in the Federal Register under 1 CFR chapter I.

The DDH:

  • explains how to create and submit documents that comply with OFR's requirements
  • provides numerous examples illustrating common situations
  • suggests solutions to drafting problems


What is the IBR Handbook for? Do I need it?

If you reference material in your regulatory (or proposed regulatory) text that is not a federal statute or in the CFR, you need this handbook to determine:

  • if 1 CFR part 51 requires that you incorporate that material by reference;
  • whether the material is eligible for IBR; and
  • how to request approval

What is the latest edition?

The August 2018 (Revision 2.1) edition is the current edition of the DDH.

The June 2023 edition is the current edition of the IBR Handbook.

Can I use an older edition of either handbook?

As of September 1, 2023, you must use the August 2018 (Revision 2.1) edition of the DDH, except that you are not required to use the new process for reporting OFR errors and requesting a correction until October 2, 2023. (See the DDH introduction for a complete list of all changes in this revision)

As of August 1, 2023, you must use the current (June 2023) edition (with editorial revisions through August 28, 2013)  of the IBR Handbook.  

What should I know about this edition of the DDH?


  • We must receive your withdrawal letter by 4 p.m. the day before your document is scheduled for Public Inspection (PI) to guarantee that we can withdraw the document from PI and by 12 noon the day before publication to guarantee that we can withdraw the document from publication
  • If you fax a letter (of any kind) to our office, you must follow up with a phone call to confirm that we received the fax
  • Your agency has 3 months after publication of a document in the Federal Register to notify us of an error and to request that we publish a correction (there is no set time for you to publish a document to correct your own error)
  • Your Federal Register liaison officer must provide specific information using a dedicated email address to request the correction
  • You may only request one correction per document


What should I know about this edition of the IBR Handbook?

We added one new requirement in requesting IBR approval - agencies must include information in the request letter detailing what, if any, proposed rule(s) published as part of the rulemaking.  The IBR request letter template in appendix A (see OFR Letter templates for the downloadable Word file) includes the required details.

We reorganized the content of the handbook and simplified the instructions, making it easier to find information. In addition to including the updated content and template from the supplemental Release 1-2022, we added a glossary, more examples, and flow charts to help explain when to request IBR approval, when to include IBR elements in the preamble, and which IBR structure to use.

We continue to require that agencies request IBR approval electronically, using secure file transfer protocol (sftp).  Do NOT send paper. 

I have a Comment

If you think we left something out, should have done something differently, or find an error, please tell us: