Key to Document Symbols

Document Symbols : United Nations Documentation UN-I-QUE
A ready-reference file created by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library to respond to frequently asked questions, designed to provide quick access to document symbols/sales numbers for UN materials (1946 onwards).

A note about document symbol numbers...

Documents are organized by major UN body and document symbol number

Main Body: General Assembly

Symbol numbers begin with:



Main Body: Economic and Social Council

Symbol numbers begin with:



Main Body: Security Council

Symbol numbers begin with:



S/INF.(session number)



No symbol numbers

Main Body: Trusteeship Council

Symbol numbers begin with:


Main Body: Trade and Development Board

Symbol numbers begin with:


Please note: For documents that do not appear to have come from one of the main bodies listed above, see Documents from other UN Bodies/Agencies

Locating UN Documents by symbol number

Step 1: Verify the symbol number using either AccessUN, below. This online index will also provide information about the type of document -- official record, masthead, or sales publication* -- and the date published (as opposed to the date produced).

*Please Note: Sales publications are generally not part of the depository collection, however, we may have selected a sales publication individually. If AccessUN or UNBISNet indicates that the item is a sales publication, search the library catalog  or Worldcat  by title.

  • AccessUN
    Expecially helpful for identifying items that have been filmed by Readex (and available in Olin on fiche or microcard), but may also be used as a general index to (older) UN publications
  • Yearbook of the United Nations.
    Available online through 2009. Olin Library  also has from 1946 - 2009, in hardcopy. [JX1977.A37 Y4 +].  The 2009 ed. is housed in Olin Reference. Highly Recommended! The Yearbook provides important background information on issues before the UN, including references to documents by document symbol number.

Step 2:  Examine the record to determine whether or not the item is labelled "Official Record" and for the date published. If you don't see "Official Record"  or "sales publication," it's a "masthead" document.

Step 3: Locate the Document.

First, search the ODS Online (Official Document System of the United Nations) by UN document symbol number.

ODS covers all types of official United Nations documentation, from 1992 forward. Older UN documents are being added to the system on a daily basis. ODS also provides access to resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards. The system does not contain press releases, UN sales publications, the United Nations Treaty Series or information brochures issued by the Department of Public Information.

Prior to 1992 (if the item is unavailable online):

For Official Records, see the "Official Records" section of this guide.

For "masthead" documents (i.e. documents that are not labelled Official Record or "sales publication"), or for Official Records that cannot be found in the bound volumes, see: "On Microfiche/Microcard."