Part Number Building Tips


Almost every electronic component from our manufacturers has a part number structure. We often receive requests for incomplete part numbers that often cause confusion. Sometimes if sections of a part number are left off, it is passed down to people who don’t have context and ask for that modified part number. When we search for that part, our system will either find a match that has more numbers/symbols or not find anything at all. This post covers what is often omitted from part numbers and/or common issues seen when searching.

General Note About a Part Numbering Scheme/Structure

A datasheet that has a part builder/structure for ordering is being very specific on what is necessary. All pieces of a part number are valid. If there are dashes between sections, those are probably important to identifying a part. If there are other symbols like the following: “#”, “.”, “;”, “,”, “/”, “”, “|”, “&” or any other non-alphanumeric symbol, they are important to the part number.

Common Pieces of Structure Omitted From a User

  • Series Name
  • A series name is very common for electronic parts. Manufacturers, more often than not, create a series of products that are similar in nature. Series names may have trademarks, just a string of numbers, a combination of numbers and letters, or just letters. This will often be at the beginning of the part number structure.
  • Part Packaging Suffix
  • Many integrated circuits and loose pieces have some sort of packaging suffix explained in the datasheet. The packaging is how we receive the part if we stock it or if we don't stock it, how a user receives a part. If something comes in a 5000 piece reel, the datasheet will probably have a code for that and add it to the end of the part. If the packaging is some specific reel or shipping method, the datasheet should explain what the suffix is (not all manufacturers do this). Many manufacturers let Digi-Key break up the minimum order quantity down to 1 piece, so don't worry on adding the suffix in case you only want a few. Our part number might change if we do break up that quantity, but the manufacturer's part number never changes.
  • Less Common Attributes
  • Sometimes certain parts have a special portion of the number dedicated to RoHS status or other uncommon attributes. Some integrated circuits have a "Green" status where the part exceeds current RoHS standards. Some specifications are actually left blank. If a user is unsure about a section of a part number, read any notes under the structure. If the datasheet explains that part can be left blank, just leave out that spot completely. If a specification is vague, please do ask us questions if the meaning is unclear. Leaving out symbols necessary to build a part number can lead to empty searches.

Datasheet Ambiguity

Every manufacturer has a different way of showing sections of a part and sometimes manufacturers that make several types of electronic components aren’t consistent with their own datasheets. Here are some tips:

  • If datasheets have part structures that look like they have smaller spaces between sections, they are probably just for separating pieces of the part number. Those spaces are more than likely omitted when searching for a full part number. If the spaces are much larger, then they are probably included in the part number. However, this can be ambiguous, our site should be able to search for it regardless.
  • Some manufacturers do have dashes or other symbols that don't actually appear in the part number when searched for. These can often separate sections of a part as well. So if dashes or other symbols aren't working, then they probably aren't part of the number.

Part Markings

Integrated chips and other parts with markings often have to abbreviate or just put what they can on components. This method of finding a part is “hit and miss” because markings are much more inconsistent than part number structures in datasheets. Sometimes markings are just date and lot codes, sometimes the abbreviated name of the part number is on the part, sometimes a completely different reference is used to represent the part, and sometimes there are no markings at all. In most cases, the full part number will not be present on a part if there is no room for it. Manufacturers aren’t obligated to put their part number on parts, unfortunately. The full part number will probably be longer than what is present on a part. If there is a partial part number, search for that and see if a good datasheet exists to help find the part that works best for you based on the possible part number breakdown (if there is one).