Office of the Federal Register (OFR)

OFR Handbooks Frequently Asked Questions

Federal agencies should use this August 2018 (Revision 1.4) edition of the Document Drafting Handbook (DDH) when drafting and preparing documents for publication in the Federal Register.

Federal agencies should use this June 2023 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 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 1.4) 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 April 15, 2019, you must use the August 2018 (Revision 1.4) edition of the DDH.  Revision 1 contains no new requirements but we have clarified and explained requirements in more detail. (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..)

As of August 1, 2023, you must use the current (June 2023) edition  of the IBR Handbook.  This edition reorganizes the handbook, includes the new material from supplemental Release 1-2022, expands the number of examples, templates, and boilerplate snippets available for use, and adds a glossary.  It also adds a new required element to the IBR request letter.

What should I know about this edition of 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 drafting conventions that we no longer accept 
  • Appendix D contains a list 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 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 request letter template in appendix A (available for download) 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: