5 FAH-1 H-320


(CT:CH-45;   04-12-2016)
(Office of Origin:  IRM/BMP/GRP/GP)

5 FAH-1 H-321  GENERAL

(CT:CH-10;   01-19-2005)

a. Persons using word processing software, should create a glossary (macro, template) with the memorandum heading format to save time and to increase efficiency.

b. Times New Roman 14 pitch is the Department's standard font and size.  This font must be used for all written materials prepared for Department Principal Officers.  There is one exception.  Materials prepared by L/T (Treaty Affairs) and by HR/PAS (Presidential Appointments) for the President's signature should continue to use Courier New 12.

c.  Posts should follow instructions provided by the Executive Office or Information Programs Center (IPC).


(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. Most memorandums are prepared on the standard 8-1/2" x 11" Department or post letterhead.  Special letterhead stationery (8-1/2" x 11" or 5" x 7") may be used only for seventh-floor principals and some high-level Department officials .

b. Plain bond (8-1/2" x 11") paper should be used for succeeding pages.

5 FAH-1 H-323  MARGINS

(TL:CH-2;   05-30-1998)

A minimum of one-inch margins should be used on all sides of memorandums.  Depending on the length of text, margins should be widened to present a well-balanced appearance on the page.


(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

Preparers in the Department and posts, regardless of the type of stationery, should place the word "MEMORANDUM" two lines below the seal, special letterhead, or post name, flush with the left margin.  If the memorandum is classified, the heading is placed two lines below the classification.

5 FAH-1 H-325  FORMAT

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

Preparers must follow the step-by-step instructions in the following sections.

5 FAH-1 H-325.1  Date

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. Enter the date on the memorandum at the time it is prepared unless it will be signed in another office or dispatched to another agency through a central mail processing unit.  Spell out the month and follow with the day and year, in numerals, e.g., January 31, 2003, on the same line as "MEMORANDUM" aligned with the "W" in Washington, D.C. or with the first letter in the printed letterhead on special letterhead.

b. At post, align the date with the first letter in the printed letterhead (see 5 FAH-1 Exhibit H-312.1 (2)).

5 FAH-1 H-325.2  TO Line

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

Place the word "TO:" in capital letters three lines below and flush with the "MEMORANDUM" heading.  Enter the addressee's office symbol and name at least two spaces after the colon and aligned with the "SUBJECT" line entry.  Format the TO line as follows:

(1)  Internal Memorandum:—Enter the Addressee's office symbol followed by a hyphen (space before and after the hyphen), initial(s) and last name, or full name.  See 5 FAH-1 Exhibit H-312.1 (1).

(2)  Interagency Memorandum—Enter the agency name and office symbol followed by a hyphen (space before and after the hyphen), and the addressee's name (see 5 FAH-1 Exhibit H-312.2).  If on special letterhead enter, addressee's name on the first line followed by organization title and agency name on the next two lines.  For carryover lines, indent two spaces directly below the line.  Example:

TO:   Mr. David A. Doe
Administrative Officer
for Correspondence
Department of Commerce

(3)  Multiple Addressee Memorandum:—The format is tailored to specific cases.  List the office symbols and names of up to three addressees.  Example:

TO:   IRM/OPS - J. Andrew Doe
IRM/APR/IAP - Jack A. Doe
IRM/M/EX - Jane Doe

(4)  For more than three addressees, titles are shown as one line or the word "Distribution" may be placed on the "TO" line, followed by "(see attached list)."  Use a separate page and list addressees single-spaced and flush with the left margin, immediately below the heading "Distribution."  Example:

TO:   All Program Managers (see attached list)

TO:   Distribution (see attached list)

5 FAH-1 H-325.3  THROUGH Line

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. Use a "THROUGH" line when the memorandum requires the attention or approval of another person or office.

b. Place the word "THROUGH:" in capital letters two spaces below and flush with the "TO:" line, followed by the office symbol, and full name of the officer.

5 FAH-1 H-325.4  FROM Line

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. Enter the word "FROM:" in capital letters two lines (one blank line) below the "TO:" line or "THROUGH:" line.  Align the sender's name with the "SUBJECT" line entry.  Use the same format for sender's identification as in the "TO:" line.

b. The signing officer initials the memorandum in ink on this line after the printed name.

5 FAH-1 H-325.5  SUBJECT Line

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

Enter the word "SUBJECT:" in capital letters two lines (one blank line) below the "FROM:" line.  Start the subject two spaces after the colon.  Carryover lines begin flush with the first line.  Subject lines of classified documents should be kept unclassified whenever possible.  For regular reports, the report number is included, e.g., Report Number F-93-2.

5 FAH-1 H-325.6  TAGS Line

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

Enter the word "TAGS:" in capital letters two lines (one blank line) below the "SUBJECT:" line.  Enter the appropriate TAGS code.  Subject TAGS are required on all memorandums to be indexed into the State Archiving System (SAS).  See 5 FAH-3, the TAGS/TERMS Handbook.

5 FAH-1 H-325.7  REFERENCE Line

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

Refer to any previous communication in the "SUBJECT" line or first paragraph of the text.  If a reference line is preferred, abbreviate the word "REF:" two lines (one blank line) below and flush with the "TAGS" line.  References should be kept brief.

5 FAH-1 H-325.8  Text

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. Use the block style (flush with left margin) format for all text.  Begin text two lines below the "TAGS" line or "REF" line and double-space between paragraphs.  Double-space a memorandum with one paragraph that contains eight lines or less.

b. Quoted text with two lines or less becomes a part of the paragraph.  Use both double and single quotation marks.


The regulation clearly states "...ambiguous reference such as 'herein’, 'above’, 'below’, and the like shall not be used.”  Quoted text with more than two lines must be single spaced, indented five spaces from the left and right margins without the quotation marks.

c.  For succeeding pages, use plain bond paper and continue text in block style three lines below the page number.  Do not use a hyphenated or carryover word at the end of a preceding page.  Center the page number, e.g., - 2 -, two lines below the top margin.

5 FAH-1 H-325.9  Attachments

(CT:CH-45;   04-12-2016)

a. Describe each attachment by title or in as few words as possible (abbreviate where appropriate).  Enter the word "Attachment(s):" two lines below the last line of text, flush with left margin.  Number and describe two or more attachments (do not number a single attachment).  Place carryover lines under the first letter of the previous line.

Example - single attachment:


Point Paper

b. Multiple attachments should be assembled and numbered.  Do not number a single attachment.  List each attachment single-spaced in the order mentioned in the text.  Identify and number each page of the attachment in the upper right corner on all pages.

Example - multiple attachments:

Attachment No. 1, Summary Sheet, p. 1 of 3

Attachment No. 2, Outline, p. 2 of 3

Attachment No. 3, Drawing, p. 1 of 2

c.  Classified Attachments—If an attachment is classified, mark it according to section 1.7, E.O. 13526, identifying an original classification authority and adhere to the following:

(1)  The covering memorandum must reflect the highest classification of the information in the attachment or the covering memorandum;

(2)  Show declassification instructions for the memorandum and each of its classified attachments; and

(3)  If the classification of the covering memorandum is lower when separated from its attachments, the original classification authority should also provide downgrading instruction, e.g., “Unclassified when separated from classified attachment.”

d. If an attachment must be administratively controlled (SBU), it must be protected from unauthorized disclosure (see 12 FAM 540).

5 FAH-1 H-325.10  Drafting and Clearance Information

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. The drafting office will determine who must clear on memorandums.

b. Drafting and clearance information may be shown on internal memorandums at the drafter's discretion.  Place drafting and clearance information on all file copies, two lines above the bottom margin.  Identify drafter by office symbol, initials and last name; preparer's initials (if prepared by other than drafter); telephone number or extension; date; and document number.  The word processing directory/drive/file name may be added to internal office copies only.


IRM/APR/RG:JMDoe:bs X73454


The drafting officer must initial the official file copy in ink.

c.  To show more than one author, place the second author's initials and last name immediately following the first author's name, separated by a semicolon.

d. Drafting information is not shown on the original of memorandums to be signed by someone other than the drafting officer and those exchanged between high-level offices.  This information is shown only on file copies and information copies, or on a separate drafting page (see paragraph g., below).

e. Each clearing officer must initial in ink beside the printed name unless the drafting officer clears the memorandum by telephone or e-mail.  In this case, the drafter indicates telephone or e-mail clearances in parentheses after clearing officer's name.  The drafting officer will then initial for the clearance officer.

f.  Do not show clearance and/or drafting information on the original or any courtesy copy of interagency memorandums.  Show this information only on the file copies in the same format listed above.  Include the office symbol, initials and last name of drafting officer; preparer's initials, drafting officer's telephone extension, and date.

g. An optional method for recording the drafting and clearance information is to create a separate drafting page on plain bond paper (see example in 5 FAH-1, Exhibit H325.10).  The office symbol, initials and last name of the drafter; preparer's initials, drafter's telephone extension, date, and any word processing document number is entered single spaced.  Enter the word processing directory/drive/file name on internal office copies only.  Place clearance information two lines below the drafting information under the word "Clearances.”  Enter the office symbol, initials and last name of each clearing officer.  Each clearing officer must initial in ink beside the printed name unless the drafting officer clears the memorandum by telephone or e-mail.  Be sure to attach a copy of the drafting page to the official record copy and all office file copies.

5 FAH-1 H-325.11  Distribution

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

The drafting office determines distribution requirements for memorandums and must use the following guidelines:

(1)  When distributing copies of memorandums to other than the addressee, the distribution is shown on the original and all copies;

(2)  To indicate that a copy is furnished enter "cc:" flush with the left margin two lines below the last line of text or "Attachment(s)" if any.  Below "cc:" enter the agency and/or office symbols and names or designations of addressees (include name on "THROUGH" line), single-spaced and flush with left margin.  Place a check mark before an addressee's name or use a highlighter over the name on each copy;

(3)  Do not show distribution of copies on the original of an interagency memorandum; show only on copies; and

(4)  If the same memorandum is to be distributed to more than one person, tailor the format of the "TO" line to each specific case (see 5 FAH-1 325.2 paragraph 3) and list addressees up to three lines. For more than three addressees, enter "Distribution" on the "TO" line and prepare a separate sheet using plain bond paper listing addressees under the heading "DISTRIBUTION.”  Place this sheet on top of the memorandum, highlight or place a check mark before name on each copy when ready to distribute.

5 FAH-1 H-326  COPIES

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. The original copy of an internal memorandum is the record copy.  Make copies of the original for all addressees, clearance officers, and information copies as needed.

b. Make copies of the original interagency memorandum for information copies.  Make copies of the record copy (showing clearance and drafting information) for clearance officers and other internal file copies.

c.  Information copies of memorandums are restricted to only those required on a need-to-know basis.  An official record copy (which shows clearance and drafting information either on the copy or a drafting page) is always kept for easy retrieval and reference.

d. Specific Department (front office) or post (Executive Office, IPC) procedures should be followed for the type and number of office copies.


(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)

a. The original memorandum should be placed on top followed by information copies appropriately marked for distribution.  Office file copies are placed on the bottom.

b. For multiple addressee memorandums, the copy of the memorandum is placed on top, followed by information copies marked for distribution, and office file copies.

c.  For multiple addressee memorandums addressed to "Distribution,” the distribution sheet should be placed on top followed by the memorandum, information copies, and file copies.


5 FAH-1 EXHIBIT H-325.10  

(TL:CH-4;   07-31-2002)


IRM/APR/RG:JADoe:ja:10/1/02 X70441
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