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Executive Order 397

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It is hereby ordered that there shall be appointed by the head of each of the Executive Departments an advisory committee on the subject of printing and publication. The chairman shall be an Assistant Secretary, or other qualified official, and at least one member of the committee shall have had practical experience in editing and printing.


It shall be the duty of such committee, under direction of the head of the Department, to see that unnecessary matter is excluded from reports and publications; to see that copy is carefully edited before rather than after going to the Printing Office; to do away with the publication of unnecessary tables, and to require that statistical matter be published in condensed and intelligible form; to supervise the preparation of blank forms; to require the frequent revision of mailing lists; to prevent duplication of printing by different bureaus; to exclude unnecessary illustrations from Department documents, and to prevent the printing of the maximum edition allowed by law, when a smaller edition will suffice; to recommend to the head of the Department, for inclusion in the recommendations contained in his annual reports, needed changes in the statutes governing Department publications.


The following general principles shall hereafter govern the form of the annual reports of the various bureaus and offices of the Departments:

  1. Annual reports shall be confined to concise accounts of work done and expenditures incurred during the period covered, with recommendations relating to the future, including plans for work to be undertaken.
  2. Contributions to knowledge in the form of scientific treatises shall not be included in annual reports.
  3. Illustrations in annual reports shall be excluded, except (a) maps and diagrams indispensable to the understanding of the text; (b) views of monuments or important structures begun or erected; (c) views showing conditions in outlying possessions of the United States and relating to work done or recommendations made.
  4. Inserted material, written or compiled by persons not connected with the reporting office, and biographical and eulogistic matter relating to the past or present personnel of the office, shall be excluded.
  5. Reports of officers who do not report directly to the head of an Executive Department shall not be printed in the annual report of a Department, but where necessary shall be summarized in the reports of the officials to whom such officers do report.
  6. Tables shall be inserted only when verbal summaries and statements of totals are inadequate, and complete texts of laws and court decisions shall, except in cases of great importance, be excluded.
  7. Detailed descriptions and lists of methods, processes, purchases, bids, rejections, installations, repairs, specifications, and personnel employed shall be omitted except when required by their unusual importance or by statute.
Signature of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt.

The White House,

January 20, 1906.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).