Guidance on Publishing in the Government of Canada

Publishing is a communications activity that falls under the responsibility of heads of communications. This guidance supports the requirements in the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity, Directive on the Management of Communications and Procedures for Publishing.

Volume printing

Volume printing, also known as a "print run", is a predetermined number of communications products that require warehousing. Volume printing should only be undertaken under specific situations.

The situations, or exceptions, where volume printing is permitted are meant to give departments the flexibility needed to communicate with target audiences in print where required, for example, by legislation or in the case of a health or safety issue.

Regularly reviewing warehoused printed publications and other communications is recommended in order to limit warehousing costs.

The head of communications approves all communications products, promotional items and volume printing even though publishing activities can be carried out by a variety of functional areas within a department.

On-demand printing

On-demand printing refers to the printing of communications products whether using in-house printers or contracted printing firms, when requested by an individual or as the need arises. On-demand printing does not require warehousing.

Departments are required to limit volume printing and to ensure that on-demand printing is carried out by default using the most economical printing option.

Social media and

The Government of Canada is communicating more and more through social media. When publishing information on digital platforms, it is important to note that the official source and communications channel is the Government of Canada’s web presence (

The Directive on the Management of Communications requires that equivalent information posted on digital channels and platforms is also available on the Government of Canada’s web presence.

Promotional items and use of the official symbols of government

Promotional items are novelties, mementoes, merchandise, gifts and other giveaways used to promote a program, project, service or initiative. Heads of communications approve all promotional items produced in their department.

Promotional items generally include a message about programs and services such as a URL, at a minimum, along with one of the official symbols (Canada Wordmark, departmental signature or Government of Canada signature) to identify it. If the item has no message on it, then official symbols should not be used.

In the case of awards and gifts, the item does not display an official symbol, but the related certificate, card, tag, plaque, etc. displays a signature and the Canada Wordmark.


Co-publications are products created in collaboration with another government or published by a third-party such as a private sector publisher or a university press and selected through a competitive process.

The Procedures for Publishing apply to all co-publications except when a third-party incurs all costs, including distribution, printing and warehousing costs.

Co-publications are included in the index of publications maintained by departments and provided to Public Services and Procurement Canada and Library and Archives Canada.

Use of third-party material

Departments must obtain permissions prior to using third-party material (e.g. texts, photographs, videos, etc.) to protect the Government from any potential legal or ethical issue.

Departments must not publish advertisements from private-sector or non-government entities including symbols, logos or other information that could be perceived as an endorsement by the public on government communications products or vehicles.

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN)

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that is applied to publications published by the Government of Canada. Book-like products include books, pamphlets, educational kits, microforms, CD-ROMs and other print, digital and electronic publications. Publishers, booksellers, libraries and others in the book industry use ISBNs to identify, locate, track and manage publications. As well, many retailers will not stock an item that doesn’t include an ISBN.

An ISBN generally appears on the verso of the title page, following the Crown Copyright statement and the Government of Canada Catalogue Number. For example:

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of (legal departmental name), (year of publication)

Cat. No. En40-568/2001E
ISBN 0-662-50000-X

However if this is not possible or appropriate, the most important factor is that the ISBN appears accurately and legibly in the publication. For example an ISBN can appear on the face of a CD-ROM or on the back of a kit or folder.

International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSN)

An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an 8-digit number used to identify serial publications, such as periodicals, newspapers, annuals, journals and monographic series, published by the Government of Canada. The ISSN provides an efficient and economical method of communication between publishers and suppliers. ISSNs are used in libraries to identify titles, order and check in serials, and claim missing issues.

The ISSN should appear in a prominent position on all issues of a serial publication. For serials distributed on the Web, the ISSN should appear on the first screen of the item. For printed serials, the preferred location for the ISSN is the top right-hand corner of the front cover. The number should always be preceded by the letters ISSN.

Electronic publications

The Publishing and Depository Services Directorate at Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is responsible for managing electronic access to Government of Canada publications provided by departments and agencies.

PSPC no longer produces, prints, distributes or warehouses tangible publications such as printed books, DVDs or CDs, and videos and no longer accepts tangible publications from departments and agencies for distribution to depository libraries.

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