Correspondence Samples

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* Memos; used within activity/command
* Letters
Standard Letter used within DoD, or to agencies that accepted the Standard Letter format, such as USCG
Business Letter, going  outside DoD
* Sample Endorsement

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant;
if what is said is not what is meant, then what ought to be done remains undone.
(Quoted from the Navy Correspondence Manual.)

85% of verbal communication
is body language and how words are spoken.  Written correspondence contains none of those.  It is said writing is an art.  It's easy to see why when written communications must make up in some way for the 85% that is missing.

Nothing here is intended to imply that memo or letter formats must be used,
or that less formal correspondence is prohibited.  This information is provided solely for those who wish to present a more professional military appearance to their written correspondence.  

Memos and letters may be sent via e-mail.

Do not use the message format when corresponding, unless of course the correspondence is an actual message and you are prepared to have it entered into the MARS system.

Don't be intimidated by the information here.  No one expects you to know or follow everything in the Navy correspondence manual.  This section is intended to help those who wish to know the correct format and usage of the Navy letters and memorandum.  While not required in Navy-Marine Corps MARS, The use of properly formatted correspondence can greatly increase your credibility and professionalismwith the readers.  

The Navy has several memo and two letter formats.  Each has a distinctly different use.  All are very different from message formatting.  The Navy has an entire publication known as the Navy Correspondence Manual.  No attempt will be made here to cover the various contingencies in that publication.  This web page is intended to give you a basic layout for general use in corresponding within and outside of your activity.

  Memo Format
A memorandum is used within or between activities of the same command and a less formal presentation meets the correspondence need.  For MARS purposes a memorandum might be used from one State Staff person to another, or to/from a member within the state. It may be used among Region staff within the Region in the same way.  Region or Area staff may chose to use the memo to an activity, staff person, or member within the Area or Region.   For example, a memo might be used between GCC Four and GAO Four, or to AS0 Four.  It might even be used from Area director to a member where informality is acceptable.  A member should never use a memorandum from him/her self to the Area director unless it is in reply to a memo and no more formal correspondence seems necessary.  

In short, the Navy Correspondence Manual states a memorandum may only be used were the correspondent is authorized direct liaison with the recipient and the recipient is within the Dept of the Navy.  If the correspondence is to go via chain of command, such as member to area director on an operational matter, it must be sent via chain of command and standard letter format should be used.  Additionally, a memorandum may not be used if it is to make a commitment or state an official position.

The Navy Correspondence Manual identifies seven different forms of memorandum.  The sample memorandum here will suffice for most MARS purposes.

A Standard Letter is used when writing outside your activity or command, but the addressee is within DoD or an activity that has accepted the standard letter format, such as USCG and some contractors.  Examples might be a member who is corresponding with Chief MARS via chain of command, or a state director wishing more formal correspondence with the Area Director.

A Business Letter is used for correspondence with any addressee who is outside DoD.
Each of these is explained below, along with some samples.  

In all correspondence, think before you send it.  It is easy to get off track or to say things in a tone that is other than professional, especially when the topic of the correspondence directly relates to something that upset you.  Leave your emotions out of written correspondence.  

Be sure that what you say is what you mean to say and that you say it clearly and professionally.  So often we word things on paper in ways that are easily misconstrued, or where the reader does not get a clear grasp of our intent.

Do not use the message format when corresponding, unless of course, the correspondence is intended as a message to be entered into the MARS system.

Writing outside your activity or command requires use of the Standard Letter or Business Letter, depending on the addressee   See "Letter Format", below.

Correspondence sent to higher authority via the chain of command require an endorsement by each interim authority.  Chain of command is member to state director to region director to area director to Chief MARS (if going that high).  Bear in mind that directors' assistants are not in a member's chain of command.  They serve as advisors and can be an excellent source of information.  It is always advisable to c.c. the respective director's assistant on matters pertaining to topics under their responsibility.  

Staff members, or anyone cc-ed on correspondence do not take any action and do not include an endorsement.  Any staff member or person cc-ed on correspondence wishing to convey any thoughts or recommendations must correspond separately with their respective director.  The originating member should be cc-ed on that correspondence.

When sent via the chain of command each echelon in the chain must attach his/her endorsement AND the correspondence must be forwarded whether that echelon agrees or disagrees with the content.  

The exception to forwarding with endorsement is if that person can definitively answer the correspondence and there is no need to forward further.  In such a case that person will formulate a written reply to the author.  Copies of the reply and original correspondence, with endorsements if any, must be copied to all addees in the chain.  Example:  Member writes to chief MARS via chain of command.  State director adds endorsement and forwards to region director.  Region director is able to resolve the matter.  Region director does not add an endorsement.  He or she writes a response addressed to the member.  There is no via line.  The region director's reply is cc-ed to the state director, area director, and Chief MARS.
Click here for a sample endorsement

  Standard and Business Letter formats
There are two primary formats for letters.  The Standard Letter very much resembles the above format for a memo except that it is written on letterhead rather than memorandum, as in the sample that follows.  The standard letter is used for addressees within the Dept of Defense (DoD), or any activity outside DoD that has adopted this format, such as USCG.  Following the Standard Letter format is the Business Letter, used for correspondence outside DoD.

  Standard Letter
Use the Standard Letter for correspondence addressed within the Dept of Defense, but outside of your command/activity.

All letters must be on MARS Letterhead.  If you do not have MARS letterhead create it as shown here.  You may replace the wording "headquarters" and the address with "Pac Area Headquarters" and the correct address.  Never use your personal title or mailing address in the header.  The addressee needs an official contact title and address (Chief MARS or Area Director) in the event he or she needs to confirm authenticity.

B. observe the alignment of information in each part of the formatting.  As in the memo, the beginning of the info is always lined up with the one above it regardless of label length (Date, To, etc.)

Letter format:

U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Military Auxiliary Radio System
Cheatham Annex Bldg 117
108 Sanda Ave
Williamsburg VA 23185-5830

In reply refer to

01 Jan 04

FROM:     title/staff position of originator. No name unless sent by an individual not a staff member.
        Your mailing address and phone can go here, if so put it all on one line. example

        1234 N 56th ST, City, ST, 99999, 360-234-5678

    TO:        title/staff position, no name (should be highest echelon you want it to go to)

   VIA:        Itemize via chain, if 2 or more they are numbered, same as enclosures below
        note there is no c.c. or info lines in the header.  See below, after signature block


  REF        (a.) as needed Identify each refer with a letter if there are 2 or more. (see memo)

ENCL:        (1.) list all enclosures, if any, each is numbered if there are 2 or more, (see memo)

1. Text should begin here and follow the format as shown under Memos above.  

2. Text is followed by a signature block as shown below.  

3. Position of signature block is near the center of the page horizontally, with start of each line directly under start of line above.


(4 blank lines for signature)

YOUR FULL NAME (all upper case)
Your Staff Title, if applies, written out (not MARS call sign)

 Copy to:    (1.) such as the assistant state director,
                    (2.) Assistant Director, Region Ten
         these are persons not in TO or VIA lines. If only one do not number. 

  Business letter, for Correspondence outside the Dept of Defense use the business letter format that follows.  This might be a cover letter for an article you are submitting to the local newspaper, or any other outside correspondence.

If you are writing to a prospective member use the business letter.  Once they have joined MARS you would use the memo and standard letter formats.

All letters must be on MARS Letterhead.  If you do not have MARS letterhead create it as shown here.  You may replace the wording "headquarters" and the address with "Pac Area Headquarters" and correct address.  Never use your personal title or mailing address in the header.  The addressee needs an official contact title and address (Chief MARS or Area Director) in the event he or she needs to confirm authenticity.

The greeting (Dear Sir line) should have Mr., Ms., title or rank as appropriate and last name (such as CDR Johnson, Dr. Fredricks, Ms. Jackson, etc.).  If the person's name is not known "Dear Sir or Madam" is the correct greeting.  If writing to a military command, another MARS service, any addressee within the Dept of Defense, or any addressee whose activity has accepted the standard letter format (such as USCG) use the Standard Letter, not the business letter.

When writing a business letter and you want it routed to a specific person or department within that business use the ATTN line.  If you have named that person in the address block do not include the ATTN line.  Examples:

sample address block with ATTN line

The Seattle Post-Intellegencer
Seattle WA zip code

ATTN:  editor Metro Section

Dear Editor:

sample address block, person named at beginning of block, no ATTN line is used

John Smith, Metro Editor
The Seattle Post-Intellegencer
Seattle WA zip code

Dear Mr Smith:

Letter format:

U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Military Auxiliary Radio System
Cheatham Annex Bldg 117
108 Sanda Ave
Williamsburg VA 23185-5830

January 01, 2004 note use of civilian date, not military format

in reply refer to
Addressee's name, and title as appropriate (or use ATTN line, see above)
company or agency if applicable

ATTN:    may not be necessary.  See notes above (2 blank lines precede the Subj. line)

SUBJ:  Appropriate one line description of content

REF:     (a.) references if desired/needed -

often there is just one, such as a related correspondence. When only one, do not include the letter identifier (a.).  Normally military/government documents are not referenced in a business letter unless there is an expectation the addressee will have access to them.

Dear (Sir or Madam, Mr., Mrs., Ms, title, or rank. as appropriate):

1. first paragraph of the text of your letter

2. Second paragraph showing numbering of subparagraphs (use subparagraphs sparingly)
    A. main para numbered as shown
    B. sub para lettered
        i. small Roman for 2nd sub para
        ii. follow this lay out.
    C. See "memos" above for identifying additional levels or sub paras.

3. Include a blank line between main paragraphs.

4.  When citing an enclosure in the text, do so as "see enclosure (1)." or whatever it is.  When citing a reference say "Reference (a.)"  If there is only one enclosure or one reference then simply say "enclosure" or "reference"

5. Your last paragraph should be contact information such as phone number or you your mailing address, etc.  Preceded with wording such as, "I may be reached at..."

close with a signature block like the one below.

The entire block is near the center of the page with the first letter or each line directly under the first letter of the line above. Do not use page centering.


(4 blank lines for signature)

YOUR FULL NAME (all upper case)
Your Staff Title, if applies, written out (not MARS call sign)

cc    (1.) name or title of first person copied. -- normally your state director
        (2.) 2nd person copied, such as cognizant state staff member as appropriate
        (3.) 3rd person copied, may need to be Director, Region ten
        (4.) 4th may be Area Director,
        (5) Area and Region Assistant Directors may also need copies

ENCL: (1.) list 1st enclosure, if any.  One item per line. If only one enclosure, do not number it
             (2.) 2nd enclosed item
             (3.) etc.

As with references, if there is only one person in your cc list do not number it (1.). same with enclosure.

If there is a need to include your direct mailing address for convenience of the adressee(s) you should place that in the text of the letter as part of the last paragraph containing contact information.

  First Endorsement (sample)

An endorsement is required on all correspondence going via chain of command that contains a request or recommendation.  Only the persons in the chain of command attach endorsements.  For example in a request going to chief MARS from a state director the Region Director writes 1st endorsement, Area Director writes 2nd endorsement.  Other staff members may have been designated to receive copies, but they do not write endorsements to the original correspondence.  If a staff member has pertinent comments they should be addressed to their respective director under separate correspondence.  All correspondence must be forwarded through the chain of command to the highest addressee unless an interim director can resolve the matter.  If an interim director can resolve the matter he/she must include all TO and VIA addees in his/her reply to the originator.

Each person in the chain of command starting with lowest echelon must attach an endorsement.  This is not a detailed explanation of that person's position on the subject matter or request.  It is simply agree, disagree, or no position on the matter.  However, a brief statement may be included if considered critical and will save time.  For example, a member is requesting to be designated as NMO 2.  The state director disagrees because the member's participation record does not reflect the required participation time.  The state director's text of his/her endorsement would read:
"I do not support this request.  Records indicate this member has only completed xx hours of participation during the required period.  yy hours are required"





I agree/disagree..., or
"Forwarded without comment", 
(or whatever wording is appropriate to the subject of the correspondence)

  Routing letters for prior approval
At times you may need to forward a letter up the chain of command for prior approval.  For example, you have written an article for a newspaper and drafted a cover letter to the newspaper, proceed as follows:
   The cover letter to the newspaper will be in Business Letter format;
   Since the request for approval is likely going outside your activity you will need to draft a standard letter that is requesting review and approval of the article.
   list the cover letter to the newspaper and the article as separate enclosures.  Be sure you include both for review.

Classifications such as "secret" are not used in Navy-Marine Corps MARS.  However, you may occasionally have need to designate a document for official use only.  In such cases the words,


This is written at the bottom, center of each page.  It is written in all upper case and underlined.  Do not use the acronym "FOUO".

  By Direction
By direction authority is normally used where a member of a unit is authorized to sign certain correspondence on behalf of the commanding officer.  It is not normally used in MARS.  There are specific rules around "by direction".  It can not be used indiscriminately and authority must be in writing designating an individual to use it, and under what circumstances.

This ends the Correspondence Summary
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