Federal Register

OFR Handbooks Frequently Asked Questions

Federal agencies should use this May 2017 edition (Revision 5) of the Document Drafting Handbook (DDH) when drafting and preparing documents for publication in the Federal Register.

Federal agencies should use this October 2017 edition of the Incorporation by Reference (IBR) Handbook when drafting documents with and preparing requests for approval of material incorporated by reference.

 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 proprosed 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 May 2017 edition (Revision 5) is the current edition of the DDH.

The October 2017 edition is the current edition of the IBR Handbook.

Can I use an older edition of either handbook?

As of October 2, 2017, you must use the May 2017 (Revision 5) edition of the DDH.  We corrected examples, added additional cross-references within the handbook, and clarified when and how to use Sunshine Act Meeting notice headings.

As of January 2, 2018, you must use the current (October 2017) edition of the IBR Handbook.  This edition modifies the submisstion process for formal requests for IBR approval.

What changed in this edition of the DDH?

We have reorganized the DDH and included a lot more examples, as well as clarified existing requirements. The following highlight some of the changes to the DDH:


  • Common elements across document types are now in Chapter 1 instead repeated for each document type
  • More detail about electronic submissions with Appendix B as an FAQ
  • Internal cross-references are linked so that they are easier to find
  • Appendix C contains a listing of all examples and tables throughout the DDH

Document content

  • DATES and ADDRESSES captions now include all relevant dates and addresses, respectively, instead of limited to 4 of each
  • Underlining is no longer required to show italics - you can just use an italic font instead
  • Piecemeal amendments of appendices are restricted in some cases (see Chapter 7) 
  • Privacy Act notice documents have new structure and formatting requirements


  • 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


What changed in this edition of the IBR Handbook?

In addition to correcting typographical errors, we added our new delivery address and modified the submission process for formal requests for IBR approval.

As of January 2, 2018, do NOT send a hard copy of the draft rule with your signed request letter and standards. Instead, email the draft rule, as a Word file, to ofr-legal@gpo.gov and use the request letter template at the back of the handbook. 

I have a Comment

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