Office of the Federal Register (OFR)

Federal Register Bulletin Newsletter

Federal Register Bulletin, The Newsletter of the Office of the Federal Register
October 6, 2008

A Letter from the CFR Unit on Reducing the Length of CFR Source Notes


The OFR is announcing a new policy and process for reducing the length of overly long source notes found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Periodically, we contact agencies to discuss shortening CFR source notes to a more manageable length. But that process has become too time-consuming and resource-intensive. Accordingly, the OFR will begin abbreviating lengthy source notes as a matter of course. But we will permit agencies that prefer to retain long source note entries to exercise that option by contacting the OFR. We will begin applying this policy as we edit the 2009 edition of the CFR.

Our Policy on Abbreviating Source Notes

Following every basic unit of the Code of Federal Regulations (typically the section or appendix) is a bracketed source note that reflects the regulatory history of that unit. The CFR editor inserts a source note at the inception of the unit and continues to update the source information throughout the life cycle of the section or appendix, adding citations to reflect each published modification. The source note is originated and maintained by the CFR unit of the OFR to document regulatory activity and to aid in research. The source note is not considered “agency content,” and does not impact the official legal text of the CFR.

It has long been our unwritten policy, to attempt to abbreviate overlong source notes (those over 9 lines of printed text) to our shortened form, which you can see an example of below. In the reduced form, the initial citation is retained inside the brackets, and is followed by a note that refers the reader to the LSA (List of CFR Sections Affected) for further research. All source information is still accessible within the LSA. To achieve insertion of the shorter form in the past, we typically contacted the agency for approval to do so, or obtained a blanket approval for all sections whose source notes grew to over 9 lines of text. We are now establishing a policy of abbreviating overlong source notes as a default condition.


An overlong source note:

[55 FR 13266, Apr. 10, 1990, as amended at 55 FR 31180, Aug. 1, 1990; 55 FR 42562, Oct. 22, 1990; 55 FR 43342, Oct. 29, 1990; 56 FR 44006, Sept. 6, 1991; 56 FR 50273, Oct. 4, 1991; 58 FR 35408, July 1, 1993; 58 FR 51239, Oct. 1, 1993; 58 FR 58961, Nov. 5, 1993; 60 FR 6019, Feb. 1, 1995; 60 FR 12437, Mar. 7, 1995; 60 FR 52094, Oct. 5, 1995; 63 FR 7287, Feb. 13, 1998; 63 FR 48446, Sept. 10, 1998; 63 FR 56082, Oct. 21, 1998; 64 FR 60671, Nov. 8, 1999; 65 FR 41003, July 3, 2000; 67 FR 45172, Aug. 28, 2001; 67 FR 18115, Apr. 15, 2002; 67 FR 40604, June 13, 2002; 69 FR 60555, Oct. 12, 2004; 70 FR 61378, Oct. 24, 2005; 72 FR 63988, Nov. 14, 2007; 73 FR 46809, Aug. 12, 2008]

Its abbreviated form:

[55 FR 13266, Apr. 10, 1990]

List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA)
Editorial Note:
For Federal Register citations affecting §199.14, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and on GPO Access.

Exercising the Option to Retain Full Length Source Notes

We recognize that some agencies may desire to retain all source information within the printed source note to make that information directly and immediately available to the reader. We do not wish to circumvent this intention. Agencies may indicate their preference for retaining all information in a source note, if they so desire.

If your agency requires an exception to this policy, we ask you to respond to this letter, which is designed to make it convenient for you to indicate your preference. Please respond by e-mailing

If you require no special accommodation to the policy of reducing overlong source notes, no action is necessary, and source notes that reach a size of 10 lines of printed text in the CFR will be reduced to their abbreviated form in the future.

empty checkbox If your regulations require that all source information be retained within the source note, indicate that need by checking this box, and we will not reduce any overlong source notes.

empty checkbox If your regulations require a few, particular and specific units (typically sections or appendices) be allowed to retain all source information in the source note, you may list and forward that information to our office.

empty checkbox If your regulations require a special accommodation that would be better served by further discussion of the issues, please submit information to indicate your needs.

We intend to consistently apply this policy beginning with the 2009 edition of the Code of Federal Regulations. Please take the opportunity to communicate any concerns regarding this policy by contacting the CFR unit so that we may address your needs (202-741-6090). By clarifying and documenting common policy we can increase productivity, accuracy, legibility, and convenience.

The Office of the Federal Register and federal agencies share the responsibility and pride in maintaining the accuracy and quality of the codified volumes of federal regulations. We will continue to work toward that goal in partnership with you.

Thank you.

Ann Worley
CFR Unit Chief
Office of the Federal Register