Back to Circulation Home Page
Back to
Circulation Home Page

Dewey Decimal in the UIUC Bookstacks


-Anatomy of a
  Call Number

  *Size Designation
  *Dewey Number
  *Cutter Number
  *Work Mark
  *Putting it Together
-Other Resources
  *Web Resources

The Cutter Number

Cutter Number

Among his other contributions to the wonderful world of librarianship, Charles Ammi Cutter devised a way to assign an alpha-numeric code for authors' last names. Use of this system allows all books within a particlar Dewey Decimal number to be arranged alphabetically on the shelf, usually by title. In "local practice" at the University Of Illinois, it's not quite this simple, but by following the shelving instructions we'll go over later, you'll know where to find the book you're looking for. The Cutter system works as follows--a large book of tables consists of pages and pages of the following sort of thing. Catalogers try to assign distinct numbers for each name.

Doyle D    773
Doyle G    774
Doyle J    775
Doyle M    776
Doyle R    777
Doyle U    778
Doyo        779
Dr            78

So in this case, David Doyle might get assigned a Cutter of D773, and George Doyle D774. Suppose Frank Doyle also wrote books.... The catalogers would make some room for him by going one more number place--maybe D7735, stuffing him in between David and George, and allowing room for more Doyles around him. It's a bit pesky, and the tables continue to be revised periodically. By the way, vowels and consonants get treated differently--names beginning in vowels, like Umberto Eco, get two letters--thus the Ec we see above. And names beginning with Sc-something get three letters and the usual bunch of numbers. Wow!

Cutter Numbers Quiz

Click on the button next to the correct answer to receive feedback. (Incorrect answers will provide feedback too!)

1. What do Cutter numbers do?

allow books to be arranged by subject
allow books to be alphabetized by author's first name
allow books to be alphabetized by author's last name

2. Which of these might be an appropriate Cutter number for a book by Kevin Doyle, considering the information from the piece of the Cutter Table above?


Dewey Decimal Number
Dewey Decimal Number
Work Mark
Work Mark

Background    Evaluation    UIUC Library    UIUC Home Page