William D. Boutwell, 77, chairman of a publishing consultant firm and a former official of Scholastic Magazines and the U.S. Office of Education, died of a heart attack Friday in Ney York University Hospital.

He was a founder of Boutwell, Crane, Moseley Associates, known as BCMA, in 1971, and was shairman at the time of his death.

The firm provides studies and reports for major publishing organizations, educational associations and government agencies. Two recent studies in which he participated were for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Institute of Education.

Mr. Boutwell, who was a graduate of the University of Illinois and attended George Washington University, worked as a writer and editor for the Post Office Department and National Geographic Society here before joining the U.S. Office of Education in 1930.

He served there for 15 years as director of publications, radio and information. He organized and directed Works Progress Administration radio programs, another weekly program, "Education in the News," and several radio quiz shows.

Mr. Boutwell also set up a series of classes in the school of public affairs of American University and taught government report writing. He later taught professional writing at Teachers College of Columbia University.

In 1941, he co-authored a book, "America Prepares for Tomorrow - The story of Our Total Defense Effort."

After leaving here in 1945, Mr. Boutwell became vice president of Scholastic Magazines, Inc. in New York. He was the first editor of Scholastic Teacher magazine and set up Citation Press, a book service for professional educators.

He pioneered in introducing paper-back books into the school curriculum. He was a member of the governmental Program of the Smithsonian Institution, which has distributed millions of free paperback books to underprivileged children.

Mr. Boutwell also published numerous articles in national and state educational journals and had a regular column for many years in Parent-Teacher Magazine.

He helped organize the Association for Education By Radio, now the National Association for Educational Broadcasting.

After leaving Scholastic Magazines in 1971, Mr. Boutwell funded an Educational Materials Laboratory at Scholastic for use by teachers and curriculum specialists.

One of the organizers of the association of Government Officers, Mr. Boutwell had been a member of the National Press Club for many years.

He is survived by his wife, Olga Peterson Hull Boutwell, of the home in Brooklyn Heights, and a daughter, Jane Boutwell, of New York.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Reading is Fundamental Program at the Smithsonian Institution.