Publication Editorial Guidelines

US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS-JPO) appreciates your interest in submitting documents and material to further the research and understanding of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).  We thank you in advance for your time and effort to further our mission.

The ITS-JPO invests in, studies, and supports the deployment of integrated, intelligent vehicles and infrastructure technologies to create an intelligent transportation system focused on safety, mobility and environmental improvements.

I. Requirements

A. Published Publically - All ITS reports funded in full or in part by the USDOT'S ITS-JPO program must be published in the National Transportation Library (NTL), formerly EDL.  NTL was established in 1998 by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) to maintain and facilitate access to statistical (and other) information needed for transportation decision-making at the Federal, State, and local levels and to coordinate with public and private transportation libraries and information providers to improve information sharing among the transportation community.  All reports are cataloged, meta tagged, sourced, summarized in abstract form and are published by the USDOT. 

B. Section 508 Compliant - In accordance 36 CFR 1194, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use Electronic and Information Technology (EIT), they shall ensure that EIT allows Federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal employees who do not have disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed by doing so.  As such, all work submitted by contractors/vendors must either: (1) meet the technical provisions of the Section 508 Access Board Standards applicable to a given procurement (see below); or (2) use design or technology alternatives to those prescribed in the specified technical provisions, provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater access to and use of a product for people with disabilities.  All documents submitted to the NTL must be accessible to the disabled. For more information about USDOT’s policy on 508 compliance please review the 508 Guidance.

NOTE: If the document you are submitting will be housed in the National Transportation Library, your document can be a 508 complaint PDF rather than an HTML document.

To learn about converting documents to 508 compliant PDF's please see click here.

C. In addition to the requirements above the National Transportation Library requires that:

1. All documents are freely available to the public
2. All documents are virus free
3. The author grants permission to the National Transportation Library to post their document on its web site for public access and preservation
4. The author has the authority to grant permission for publication of the resource and must be able to certify its authenticity
5. All links within HTML pages of the document must be working properly before submission to the National Transportation Library.

II. General Composition Guidelines

Material should be written in plain English that clear, concise style, suitable for web format, with an introduction that demonstrates the topic’s practical relevance to the transportation community. Documents should contain a minimum number of notes. When notes are necessary, note numbers should appear in brackets within the text and notes with corresponding numbers should be typewritten at the end of the document; authors should not use their word processing programs to create endnotes or footnotes. Bibliographic citations should appear in notes and include (1) author’s name, (2) title of work, (3) publication information, and (4) specific page(s) referenced.

Documents should be written in the third person; first-person treatments published only at editor’s discretion. Documents should be explanatory rather than anecdotal; keep use of quotations to a minimum. Documents addressing products or technology should be generic in nature, and may not promote a specific product or manufacturer.  Documents must be original work, previously unpublished, and not simultaneously submitted to another publisher.

Please keep the title of your report under 225 characters in length. Postscript Type 1 fonts are acceptable.


III. Proofreading

All documents submitted to the NTL must be professionally proofread and edited in advance of submission in order to correct any typographical, grammatical, graphical, factual or other errors in the document.

IV. Use of USDOT/OST-R logo and other images

All logos appearing on the documents should be government-only approved logos. For guidelines on branding and logo usage you can obtain a copy of the OST-R branding guidelines by contacting Craig Battle at or by calling 202 366-0768.

A. Other Document Images.  Additional images to convey the message of the document are encouraged and will be used as space permits depending on the final media selected for the material. Attribution for each and every image in the report must be included.  This includes all photographs, animation, graphs, charts, and other illustrations, etc. USDOT does not license images from private parties. An attribution should include: title of source, author’s last name and date of publication.

If a table is copied from another publication or source, whether it includes numbers, locations, projects or any other information, it should include an attribution as to the source. If the table was created by the author (or contributor) specifically for the publication in which it is first appearing, then it does not require an attribution as to the source (because the publication is the original source).

In the event that a series is being published, the following example would apply: You have three publications of varying detail on essentially the same topic and much of the material is identical, whichever publication is published first is the original source and the other two and any follow on publications should cite back to the original.

Important: Charts and diagrams must be prepared using high quality graphic design applications (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, etc.) or scanned to produce a high-resolution graphics file, minimum 300 dpi. Black-and-white glossy prints and top-quality color transparencies (slides) or prints desired. Electronic files must be PC platform compatible/ ready. Acceptable images should be Grayscale or CMYK, minimum 300 dpi; in TIF or JPEG file formats.

Email attachment is acceptable and preferred for small files under 3 MB; zip files must be used for files over 3 MB.  Illustrations not conforming to these requirements will not be considered for inclusion.

B. Corporate and Other Non-Federal Government Branding. U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) rules only allow federal government logos, signatures any other branding images to be included in government reports and publications. Corporations, non-profit organizations and other non-federal entities cannot put their branding images on a U.S. DOT report. Contractors producing work for the U.S. DOT should be listed on the report document page of the report template under section seven “Performing Organization Name(s) and Addresses”.

C. Use of the U.S. DOT logo on publications. U.S. DOT has specific rules for the use of the U.S. DOT mark and other official images. One of the key requirements is that only ONE US DOT modal administration can be placed under the USDOT signature on the cover of the publication. If more than one modal administration is listed on the report then they must be listed on the inside cover.

V. GPO Style

All documents submitted to the National Transportation Library must adhere to U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) guidelines.  Suggested electronic GPO-required formats allow for documents to be prepared in commonly accepted publishing applications (e.g. Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Corel Draw, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia FreeHand, etc.), in CMYK colorspace, as an original source file or a pre-flighted print ready PDF file. To access the GPO Stylebook see:

VI. Meta tags

All documents must include Meta tags for TITLE, BODY, DESCRIPTION and KEYWORDs so that search engines can easily read them. The NTL selected Dublin Core over MARC, electing to forego the traditional library interoperability standard Z39.50 and complying with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Recently, NTL has created crosswalks to interchange metadata with other libraries and information sources, as well as making NTL data more accessible.

VII. Submission for Publication Procedures

Before printing or posting a document, submit an application to the ITS-JPO Publications Manager to requesting an NTL electronic library number and a Federal Highway Administration document number. The application for this request can be found here. The requested numbers will be printed on the document’s front and back covers for publication tracking purposes.

Report Template - ITS-JPO has an official template for all reports:

Before you submit your report, please take a look at the ITS JPO Guidelines for Preparing Reports and ITS JPO Publications Checklist.

If you have any questions, please contact Mike Pina at 202-366- 3700.

  • A CD-ROM package contains all Web-only ingredients (mentioned in VII.1a-1d).  Contractors may produce the CDs, when needed quickly, as long as cost does not exceed the $2,500 threshold, is done at the discretion of the USDOT, and does not include contractor specific data.
2. Flash Drive
  • A flash drive can be an alternative production method and should contain all Web-only ingredients (mentioned in VII.1a-1d).  Contractors may procure and produce the flash drives, as long as cost does not exceed the $2,500 threshold, is done at the discretion of the USDOT, and does not include contractor specific data.
3. Multi Agency Logos
  • If the report being produced is a joint product involving more than one U.S. DOT agency click here to a listing of joint agency logos that can be used on the cover report. All joint logos need to have the U.S. DOT Triskelion in the lower right corner above the footer and the names of the agencies need to be below the footer.

VIII. Contact Information

Be sure to include author’s full name, complete mailing address, email and phone number so that we may contact you regarding the evaluation process.  If you have further questions on submission or editorial subject contact:

Mike Pina
Program Manager, Communications
U.S. Department of Transportation
HOIT-1 E84 – 443
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366 3700
(202) 493 2027 (fax)

Please Note: Any documents submitted that do not meet the above guidelines will not be submitted for review and will be sent back to the author (or destroyed in case of electronically submitted non-compliant material).