Strict procedures apply when a standard letter that
will contain classified information is drafted. Each
paragraph that contains classified material must be
identified by its classification. Some letters may
contain classified and unclassified information. In this
case, the overall letter should be assigned the highest
classification of material that is contained in the letter.
Mark or number a major paragraph flush at the left
margin with an Arabic numeral with a period. Allow
two spaces between the period and the first word of the
paragraph. Single-space a paragraph in a letter.
Double-space between paragraphs and subparagraphs.
Do not begin a paragraph at the bottom of the page
unless you have enough space for at least two lines of
text on that page and at least two lines of text on the
You should indent subparagraphs four spaces from
the left margin and mark each with a small letter that is
followed by a period. The second and succeeding lines
should extend between the left and right margins.
Indent each further degree of subdivision accordingly.
Mark sub-subparagraphs with numerals in parentheses
and the next lower degree paragraph with small letters
in parentheses. If you need subparagraphs, you should
use at least two. You should limit your use of
subparagraphs whenever possible.
SIGNATURE BLOCK: Type or stamp the
signature block. Begin the block at the center of the
page, four lines below the last line of the text. The
signing officials name should be in capitals. Dont
include the rank or the title of the signing official.
Include the term "By direction below the signature
when a subordinate is authorized to sign the letter. Use
the term Acting below the signature when the signer
has been formally appointed to temporarily sign the
letter in the absence of the commanding officer or other
signing official. Enter a title under the signature block
of a principal subordinate who is authorized to sign by
title, such as the chief of staff or deputy in a major
command. For correspondence or orders that affect pay
or allowances, enter "By direction of the Commanding
Officer. The term "By direction means the
correspondence is signed by direction of the
commanding officer, and it is only used when the
person who signs is authorized to do so in writing.
COPY TO LINE.The "Copy to" line is an
optional line that list addressees outside your activity
that have a need to see a letters content but have no
need to take action on the letter. When used, place the
Copy to line at the left margin on the second line
below the signature line. List the officials who will
receive copies with abbreviated titles below Copy to
and even with the left margin. In naval correspondence,
Copy to addressees may be indicated on the original
as well as on the copies. Addressees that appear under
the Copy to line do not have to be listed by seniority
and should be kept to a minimum.
PAGE NUMBERING.Unless the letter is
classified Top Secret, do not number the first page of a
letter. Number each page of a Top Secret letter.
On all other correspondence, number the second
and succeeding pages. Center page numbers 1/2 inch
from the bottom edge of the page beginning with the
number 2. Type the page numbers without parentheses,
dashes, or periods.
The signature page of a letter that exceeds one page
in length should contain a minimum of two lines of the
text. Repeat the subject shown on the subject line of the
first page on the sixth line from the top of the second
and succeeding pages.
Assembling a letter
After you complete a letter, arrange the
correspondence that should accompany the letter for
signature according to the instructions of the signing
official. The arrangement that is outlined below is a
suggested order for assembling an outgoing letter and
may be altered to conform to local practices. For
specific guidelines, refer to the SECNAVINST 5216.5.
Briefing sheet as prescribed locally. Brief
sheets may be omitted for short, self-
Original outgoing letter to be signed, arranged
in normal order.
Courtesy copy with enclosures, if required,
arranged in the order that they are listed in the
Copies for Via addressees with enclosures.
Envelopes or mailing labels, if required.
Copies for Copy to addressees, with
enclosures if required.
Official file copies of the letter with
Incoming letter, previous correspondence, or
reference documents, if any.
A multiple-address letter is a standard letter that is
addressed to two or more activities. The addressees