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Recent Site Updates

Reader Aids

Reader Aids help people use and understand the federal rulemaking process. Reader Aids information is not published in the Federal Register.

Welcome to the updated!

When we launched in July of 2010 we had two major goals, to make the Federal Register accessible to more people and to use the power of modern technology to make it easier to understand in the context of the larger regulatory environment.

Over the past 6 years we’ve continued to update with new features and new ways of exploring and understanding the content. We’ve added more data sources and integrated with other government sites to provide more context for each document.

We’re excited to launch the latest iteration in this process to make Federal Register content easy to understand and interact with. As you may have already noticed some of the changes are obvious; others a bit more subtle and behind the scenes.

This post highlights 3 major changes and why we made them. There are a myriad of other small and subtle changes that we believe will make easier to read, navigate and understand. Over the coming months we’ll be refining these changes – as always we value your feedback.

FR Content Box

Over time, as we’ve added more features and enhanced our document display with more content from other governments sites, we saw that we could do a better job helping our users identify which type of content they are viewing and how that content differs from other content on the current page or elsewhere on Making these content differences clear became our first goal.

With this update, we’ve addressed this challenge in a number of ways. The most noticeable change appears in what we call FR Content Boxes. Anywhere substantive content appears on, we’ve wrapped it in a box that identifies the type of content that is contained within.

2016-09-08 at 7.05.22 PM

As you can see in the examples above, each content box contains a header label describing the type of content contained inside. Each of these labels reveals more details about the content if you hover over (or click on) them. When you read a block of text on, we want you to be able to tell what type of content it is and where it came from, without being distracted by our site design.

Improved Document View

Other improvements make the document easier to read and make the document tools easier to access. Previously we displayed Federal Register documents in a two column layout – headers on the left, content on the right. With this update, we’ve simplified our layout into a single column making it easier to read down a document.

We’ve also worked with the Government Publishing Office to improve how tables are displayed within documents – in particular, complex tables – as well as improving our embedded image display. We now display the current printed page number inline with the text order to make it easier for you to compare documents displayed on to the printed version.

And, we’ve also added a utility bar to the left of each document. This bar contains tools such as the links to social media, a generated table of contents for the document that you’re reading, links to other formats, and links to any public comments associated with this document. The utility bar scrolls with the document so that you can always access these tools.


API First

Our third major goal in this update was to demonstrate our commitment to maintaining and updating our API. Our API is used in many different ways by other government agencies, private companies, transparency advocates, non-profits, and others. And now our API is used as the exclusive data source for the web display of!

With the exception of the MyFR content everything you see on comes from an API. In fact, even this blog post is delivered from an internal WordPress API endpoint. Some of the reasons we made this change are so that:

  •  our API users know we are as dependent on our API as they are
  • API users will get access to new content when we add any to our display
  • we can reduce costs and increase development speed by decoupling our display from the complexity of our data imports and cleanup