UN official publications are of two types by form: printed and letterhead. Almost everything issued by the UN, except periodicals, appears originally in letterhead document form. "Letterhead" documents, also known as "masthead" or "mimeograph documents" after their original form of publication, constitute the largest category of United Nations publications, particularly of those received as depository documents. They include materials that are the basis for discussion at UN meetings, such as reports, memoranda, studies, working papers, agendas, draft and final resolutions, decisions, meeting records, etc. Many masthead documents are reprinted in other publications, including the Official Records, Yearbook of the United Nations, and the Annual Review of United Nations Affairs. Full-text UN official documents can be searched using UN ODS.
UN documents are identified by "series symbols" composed of letters and numbers separated by slashes:
e.g., A/AC.73/SR.41 is General Assembly, Ad hoc Committee no. 73, Summary meeting record no. 41.
For a detailed explanation of the series symbol system and a full list of series symbols see:
- AccessUN -- Electronic index to UN masthead documents, official records and selected sales publications including journal articles, all from 1951 onward. Items indexed in AccessUN are available in the microform collections at Penn, specifically Microprint (1946-1981) and Microfiche 125 (1982-1999) in off-site storage and Microfiche 125 (2000-present) in Van Pelt.
- United Nations Digital Library -- Catalogue of UN publications and documentation indexed by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjvld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva. Included are non-UN publications held in the collection of the Dag Hammarskjvld Library. It also includes the voting records for all resolutions adopted by the General Assembly (1983-) and the Security Council (1946-); and an Index to Speeches, citations to speeches made in the General Assembly (1983-), the Security Council (1983-), the Economic and Social Council (1983- ) and the Trusteeship Council (1982-). See the UN Digital Library Research Guide for an extensive introduction.
- UN ODS -- The United Nations Official Documents Search reproduces most of the documents currently in microtext. By using the UN number identified from AccessUN or UNBISNet the researcher can view full text documents since 1993 and General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC, and Trusteeship Council resolutions and decisions from 1946.
- United Nations Treaty Collection -- Shows the status of over 500 major multilateral instruments deposited with the Secretary-General of the UN, listing the member states as they sign, ratify, and note reservations and objections.
There are several resources freely available online for UN statistical data, including:
United Nations Statistics Division - "The Statistics Division is committed to the advancement of the global statistical system. We compile and disseminate global statistical information, develop standards and norms for statistical activities, and support countries’ efforts to strengthen their national statistical systems. We facilitate the coordination of international statistical activities and support the functioning of the United Nations Statistical Commission as the apex entity of the global statistical system."
UNData - The central statistical information service for the United Nations and its affiliates and international partners.
UN Statistical Yearbook. - An annual compilation of a wide range of international economic, social and environmental statistics on over 200 countries and areas, compiled from sources including UN agencies and other international, national and specialized organizations. The five most recent issues (2006-2010) are available for free online, and Van Pelt has full coverage in print: HA12.5 .U63)
. (The latest version of this publication is also available in print at the Van Pelt Reference Desk: HA17 .D45)
UNESCO Institute for Statistics. - the primary source for cross-nationally comparable statistics on education, science and technology, culture, and communication for more than 200 countries and territories.
Millennium Development Goals. - A gateway to UN reports on MDG, ranging from world hunger to the spread of HIV/AIDS.