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Preparation, submission and processing of official UN Publications

The Publications Board is the United Nations Secretariat-wide body governed by the Secretary General's Bulletin ST/SGB/2012/2 issued on 29 March 2012. The purpose of the board is to establish the publishing policies and standards of the Secretariat, including for offices away from Headquarters and regional commissions. 

The Publications Board webpage can be consulted at for all information including the yearly consolidated Publications Programme, Board instructions for author Departments submitting their proposed Publications and the complete series of Administrative Instructions ST/AI 189 on Publications and the very practical and useful United Nations Policy Manual for Publications. While the manual is still in its draft form, the board recommends it be consulted for all up-to-date detailed information on the preparation, content, format, copyright and licensing of publications.

Step 1:  Ensure the Publication is part of the UN Publications Programme. Each submitting office has a designated Focal Point for the Publications Board who can be contacted for details of the publications on the Programme. Once the Publications Board completes its review the Secretariat of the Publications Board will inform each Author Department through the Focal Point, of the outcome of the Board's review as well as in-house services involved with publications which includes the Publications Board Programme ID for each publication.

Step 2:  If you are co-publishing and/or co-authoring the publication, at least one month before its intended submission for processing through gDoc2.02.0, reach out to the Publications Board Secretariat, New York. Publication Board Secretary, Ms. Irina Lumelsky:

Note: Author Departments who plan to produce co- publications must enter into an agreement with the identified co-publishers. They must consult with the Secretariat of the Publications Board prior to entering into co-publication discussions with parties that are not UN System entities (including multilateral development banks) and should not commit to joint copyright until confirmation that it is legally allowed by the Office of Legal Affairs. Author Departments should select the co-publication option in the database whenever they anticipate that the title will be co-published with other UN entities and/or external entities/publishers. Author Departments should include a note listing the number of expected co-publishers, their name, and the languages, if any, in addition to the original edition in which the co-published title will be translated and published. Co-publications are encouraged as they allow for cost sharing and reduce duplication of similar titles. Author Departments should not agree to bear all production and translations costs and should note that all co-publication projects require a co-publication contract. These contracts are negotiated and prepared by the Secretariat of the Publications Board in New York.

Step 3:  Fill in the questionnaire for the UN Sales and Marketing Section in New York by following the instructions below received from NY: 

  • Log in with your UniteID username and password here: 
    Note: the system times out after 15 minutes of inactivity. Opening the questionnaire in the next step must be initiated within a 15-minute window.

  • If you are a first-time user, wait 24-48 hours before moving to the next step to allow for an initial clearance. Click at the bottom of the page on “Contact us” if you are not able to login with your UniteID at this point.

  • After logging as above, open the author questionnaire here: 

  • Opening the author questionnaire could take as much as 24 to 48 hours to access the link after logging in for the first time because of added OICT security measures. You will have immediate access moving forward. If you require immediate first-time access, please contact us after you have successfully signed into the first link provided.

Step 4:  Log into gDoc2.0 and create a forecast for your publication (Steps on creating a forecast is covered under a separate sheet entitled “Forecasting of publications for translation”.

Step 5:  Complete the Demande d'impression (DI) form (available through your office or DMS) using relevant information from the forecast and submit to DMS for verification.

Step 6: Get the ISSN (if publication series) and eISSN numbers (if relevant): ISSN numbers are language specific and issued by the ISSN International Centre On submission of the author questionnaire, Sales and Marketing NY will systematically indicate the ISSN and/or eISSN numbers in their reply email when they exist. If not, create a new request register at  

Step 7:  Two weeks before submission, email the cleared DI, the reply from the Sales and Marketing Section and the barcode file(s) if necessary to DMS Coordination Focal Point:

Note: The same procedure also applies to electronic only publications. 

Step 1: In gDoc2.0, if your publication is for reproduction (printing only), create a request and enter the corresponding Publications Board ID number. A number of fields will get updated automatically. Complete all the mandatory gDoc2.0 fields where requested.  

If your publication is for translation into other languages, in gDoc2.02.0, submit the publication using the forecast ID and fill in all the parameters requested.  

Step 2: Upload the following files to gDoc2.0: 

  1. cleared Demande d'Impression 
  2. cover page 
  3. Word file with ready for print final text (in one editable file) 
  4. bar codes for ISBN and eISBN 
  5. printing specifics such as colors 
  6. fully labelled photos, graphics, excel support files (should correspond to the final text), etc.
  7. co-publishing and co-authoring, agreement/and approval of the Publications Board if relevant

DMS will verify the following elements in your submission before scheduling it for processing:

  • symbol: no gaps in numbering; series symbols should be maintained; modifications of previously issued publications should indicate a suffix- Rev., Amend., Corr., etc.
  • title of publication: should be or correspond very close to the title in the Publications Board programme. Modifications of the text like draft, advance version, revision, amendment should be reflected
  • total original pages: include cover and title pages
  • requested completion date: should correspond to the issuance of the last language version (refer stage 2)
  • mandate: the legislative mandate that bears the decision for the publication
  • submitting information: consulting, authorizing and certifying officials’ information
  • budget: if extra-budgetary, a DCM issued cost estimate carrying the UMOJA coding block should be included)
  • organ information: if correctly chosen from the drop-down menu in gDoc2.0
  • publication information: Publications Board programme year and ID number
  • ISSN and eISSN numbers: if issued by the iSSN International Centre  
  • ISBN and eISBN numbers: if applicable
  • manuscript pages: production specifications that should already have been agreed with the Printing Service
  • instructions in gDoc2.0: any special instructions such as related meeting/event dates and for those publications for translation, emails of persons to receive translated text for clearance
  • languages: for print only, tick all languages to be submitted in the column "Original". Note that Languages for translation outside the entitlement will be considered extra-budgetary (funds will need to be provided)

Processing of publications is done in two stages: 

  1. The original language version is sent for processing/printing.

  2. Work commences on the translation of language versions. Should you wish to explore parallel processing, where the two steps are carried out together, please contact DMS.

STAGE 1 (for processing of all original versions)

Step 1: You will receive the Bon a tirer (BAT) with a print ready PDF version of your publication from the Printing Section. Depending on the volume of submission and the work involved, this timeframe may vary for up to four weeks. 

Step 2: When you receive the BAT, verify formatting elements in the PDF. Make valid corrections to the layout and return the signed BAT to the Printing Section within one week of receipt. The BAT is valid for correction of layout only. No corrections should be made to the text at this stage. No corrections will be accommodated to the text beyond this stage.

Step 3: When the layout changes have been confirmed, if any, you will receive another BAT with a final PDF file. As soon as the signed BAT is returned to the Printing Section, your publication is sent for printing.

Step 4: Printing is completed and delivered to the specified address. For large quantities exceeding three boxes, please make your own arrangements with the Distribution Section who will direct you to the appropriate services. 


STAGE 2 (if the publication is also for translation)

Step 1:  When you receive the final PDF version following your approval of BAT at stage 1 described above, convert the PDF file into a Microsoft Word file.

Step 2:  Check the converted files for consistency: missing chapter(s) or parts of text, title and paragraph numbers, all footnote numbers and texts in them, words replaced by squares or question marks, full text in tables, graphs, etc. 

Step 3:  Once complete, submit the final Word file through gDoc2.0 and label is as “Final Text”. Upload the PDF version in gDoc2.0, including any references and a marked-up copy (if previously translated). 

Step 4:  Send email to DMS confirming all files have been uploaded. It is only at this point that the files will be sent to translation sections for processing. Note: if this step if not fulfilled, translation cannot commence, so it is very important that this is duly completed.  

Step 5:  When translated versions are complete, you will receive by email the electronic versions of the publications for verification. You have five working days to check the translation for consistency. At this stage, you may contact the relevant translation sections directly to discuss terminology issues or other elements of the text. No major changes to the text can be accommodated at this stage. After this time, the text will be “logged” out of text processing. 

Step 4:  You will receive another BAT with a print-ready PDF version of languages from the Printing Section. Verify layout elements in the PDF. Make valid corrections to the layout and return the signed BAT to the Printing Section within one week of receipt. No corrections should be made to the text at this stage. No corrections will be accommodated to the text beyond this stage. As soon as the signed BAT is returned to the Printing Section, your publication is sent for printing.

Step 4:  Printing is completed and delivered to the specified address. For large quantities exceeding three boxes, please make your own arrangements with the Distribution Section who will direct you to the appropriate services.

For queries

General Inquires: 
Inquiries relating to the Demande d'impression (DI):
Printing Service:

Forecasting of UN Publications

Forecasting publications for translation is the responsibility of the submitting office and should be entered in gDoc2.0 at the time of the submission of the print request/Demande d’impression (DI), to the Documents Management Section (DMS).The forecast should include the following elements:

  • Forecast type: choose Non-Parliamentary
  • Document type: choose: Publications Programme

There should be no gaps in numbering. Series symbols should be maintained. Modifications of previously issued publications should be reflected through suffix (Rev., Amend., Corr., etc.)

The title should correspond or closely reflect what was entered in the Publications Board programme. 

The mandate should come from a UN General Assembly or ECOSOC Resolution or a request of an intergovernmental body. Please provide a web link to the mandate document or include the symbol of the document with the programme of work or report that bears the decision on the publication.

This information gets automatically populated from the publications programme.

This information gets automatically populated from the Publications Board programme ID number.

The ISSN number is obtained through the ISSN International Centre via the web site:

ISSN attributions cost 25-50 Euro. Each language of a publication has its own ISSN number. Detailed information on ISSNs and ISBNs may be found in ST/AI/189/Add.24 and on the ISSN International Center website.

These numbers have to be obtained from the UN Sales and Marketing Section, New York. It is to be reflected in the DI.

This information gets automatically populated from the Publications Board programme ID number if the information was included at the time of the publication approval by the Publications Board. If not, manual intervention will be prompted by the system at the time of the creation of the forecast. 

This information gets automatically filled from the Publications Board programme ID number. 

Note: if the language combination differs from that of the approved Publication Board programme ID, changes can only be implemented once approved by the Publications Board with the support of your secretariat’s focal point in the Publications Board and a duly justified decision approved in a report of the organ concerned. In such cases, a forecast should be created only once the changes are reflected in the Publication Board programme ID number so that the new language requisites get correctly populated in the forecast.

This date should be the date of the expected submission. 

The first date is the Issuance Date Requested by Client for the original language(s) and, for cases where translation is requested, the second date should reflect the Issuance Date Requested by Client for the destination languages. 

Information on previously translated versions or series, including references to symbols of those publications, are to be included in this field.


The term “United Nations publication” refers to any written material issued by or for the United Nations, to a defined external audience. Examples of United Nations publications include major studies and reports, monographs, edited volumes, statistical compilations, conference proceedings, journals, serial publications such as yearbooks, the United Nations Treaty Series and other international law publications. 

United Nations publications are generally published in response to legislative mandates or requests by intergovernmental bodies and need authorization and certification of funds (if they are extra budgetary publications). Publications may be distributed free of charge or for a price. If sold, United Nations publications are assigned an International Standard Book Number (ISBN/eISBN) or, for serials and periodicals, an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN/eISSN). Publications may be published in print or electronic form, including as mobile applications, and in any other format or media as technology evolves.

After approval by the Publications Board, a proposed publication is then included in the Publications Programme.

A title is regarded as a publication if its audience is at least 500 copies in all formats in the original language and 1000 copies (all formats) for a translated edition.

When the content warrants publication, but the audience is too limited to justify the cost of a full-fledged publication and/or funding is not available, the manuscript can be published as a working paper formatted by the author department with a minimal layout and no cover (only a black and white title page). Working papers are only digital, in the original language and are uploaded on the author department’s website. They bear UN copy right and mention “working paper”.

The Secretary-General, for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of United Nations publishing activities in implementing the mandates of intergovernmental bodies, promulgated the Publications Board in ST/SGB/2012/2. The purpose of the Publications Board is to establish the publishing policies and standards of the Secretariat, including offices away from Headquarters and regional commissions, so that:

  • United Nations publications remain a source of high-quality, relevant and timely information for Member States, policymakers, practitioners, scholars and the public at large.

  • United Nations publishing activities and practices are aligned with the overall goals and priorities of the Organization with regard to relevance, marketability, dissemination, production, cost-effectiveness and preservation.

The role of the Publications Board is to determine the policies governing the preparation, production, distribution and sale of documents, and to coordinate the planning and supervise the execution of the publications programme. 

Only these publications have priority, and these titles will be processed - i.e., translated in all mandated languages and printed - at no cost to the author department. Once a publication is included in the publications programme, no changes can be made without the authorization of the Publications Board. Should author departments need to add a title or bring a change to an item on the publications programme such as implement a new mandate from an intergovernmental body, a detailed request should be submitted to the Secretariat of the Publications Board for its approval.

The term “publications programme” refers to a body of works planned for publication by an author department over a year or a biennium, generally in response to legislative mandates or other requests by intergovernmental bodies or other expert bodies. All United Nations publications should be included in the publications programme. Substantive offices must therefore follow in detail the directions and policies that apply to this programme (ST/AI/189/Add.1/Rev.2).

Information and promotional material such as brochures, flyers, newsletters, posters, calendars, catalogues and press releases are not part of the publications programme. United Nations documents are also not part of a publications programme. Also excluded are internal issuances such as preparatory documents, working papers and conference room papers consisting of background and technical documentation for meetings and seminars.

In line with paragraphs 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 of Section 2 of ST/SGB/2012/2, each year around November, the Publications Board writes to all Secretariat author departments, including regional commissions transmitting the Publications Board instructions for the preparation of the next year’s publications programmes. Through this inter office memo, author departments are requested to submit their proposed publications programme via the gDoc 2.0 publication module.

All Publications should be registered in gDoc for processing. Publications that are not registered in gDoc do not have official UN status and should not and cannot carry the United Nations symbol.

The preparation of publications does not take priority over the preparation of official parliamentary documentation. Therefore, all publications submitted should be supplied in good time for their completion, taking account of their size and complexity. Production schedules cannot be estimated precisely until all the elements of a publication have been furnished.

As an estimate, publications take at least ten weeks to prepare if they are submitted "print ready". When translation is involved in the preparation of a publication, the time requested for the translation and additional typesetting should be added to the above deadline. It is therefore recommended that an individual schedule for each publication be discussed with DMS.

At the conclusion of each year, publications linked to items on the Publications Board for that year should have been submitted in gDoc for processing. Each year DMS will share a deadline with the respective focal points in a given secretariat. After this date, requests for translation and printing will not be accommodated. Exceptions will be made only in cases where the costs have been pre-encumbered in UMOJA, which would still need consultation with DMS.

Author departments are required to adhere to the deadlines in the forecast as work will be planned accordingly. 

Obsolete titles and language versions that have sat in a translation queue for over two years will be deleted.

The emblem should appear on the cover page of all United Nations publications beside or above the name "United Nations" at the bottom of the page. The emblem may not be used in combination with the emblem of any organization outside the United Nations system without the express authorization of the Secretary-General.

When the United Nations emblem appears together with that of another body of the United Nations system, the emblem of each should appear in combination with the name of the organization to which it relates.

The emblem may be used together with the insignia of any individual Government only with the express permission of the Publications Board. For more details, please refer to para. 28 of ST/AI/189.