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Department of Defense Publications: DoD Publications Dictionary

A guide to understanding and locating historical and current DoD publications

DoD Publications

DoD Publications Dictionary

Directives/Instructions – administrative documents that are cataloged by number. See here:



Establish policy, assign responsibilities, and delegate authority to the DoD Components--Do not contain procedures.

Can be signed by either the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary of Defense or by the Under Secretaries of Defense delegated the authority to sign.


Assign responsibilities; may contain overarching procedures.

Signed by OSD Component Head; Principal Deputy; or Presidentially-Appointed, Senate-Confirmed (PAS) Officials.


General Orders – Permanent instructions, issued in order form, that apply to all members of a command, as compared with special orders, which affect only individuals or small groups. General orders are usually concerned with matters of policy or administration.

ManualsImplements or supplements a Directive or policy Instruction, which will be cited as a Reference; Provides detailed procedures for carrying out the policy in a Directive or policy instruction; May not establish policy.


Memos – Issued ONLY for time-sensitive actions and ONLY when time constraints prevent publishing a new issuance; May establish or implement policy.



Regulations/Pamphlets – administrative documents cataloged by subject into series that define a branch’s policies and procedures.



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