5 FAH-1 H-620
PREPARING DIPLOMATIC NOTES
(Office of Origin: S/ES-S)
5 FAH-1 H-621 GENERAL
a. This chapter contains instructions for preparing all diplomatic notes. The Executive Secretariat InfoLink website contains guidelines for preparing diplomatic notes for seventh-floor principals.
b. The Executive Secretariat Staff correspondence officer (S/ES-S) should be consulted for a list of Heads of State, Prime Ministers, and Foreign Ministers. Consult with the Protocol Office (S/CPR) or S/ES-S for correct titles of foreign diplomats.
c. A/GIS/IPS controls all diplomatic notes. If the Department receives a diplomatic note that is not under cover of an A/GIS/IPS tasking sheet, send the note to:
Office of Information
Programs and Services
6th Floor, SA-2
The correspondence officer in S/ES-S, Room 7512, must clear all outgoing diplomatic notes before transmittal.
d. In the Department, direct questions concerning diplomatic notes to the Executive Secretariat Staff correspondence officer, Room 7512, 202-647-0140. At post, the protocol officer or the executive section will answer questions concerning diplomatic notes.
e. A record copy of all diplomatic notes must be filed in the Records & Archives Division, Office of Information Programs and Services (A/GIS/IPS/RA).
f. Posts should send copies of diplomatic notes between posts and the host government and between posts and other diplomatic missions to A/GIS/IPS.
g. Except for the different letterhead at post, diplomatic notes in the Department and posts are prepared in the same format. Slight style differences are explained as appropriate. See exhibits in 5 FAH-1 H-610 for sample diplomatic notes.
h. Preparers may use the various features available with word processing software to generate diplomatic notes, provided the results are in accordance with the guidelines in this chapter. A glossary (macro or template) may be created to save time and increase efficiency.
i. Preparers must use Times New Roman 14 pitch font when preparing Diplomatic Notes. There are two exceptions: 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.
5 FAH-1 H-622 SECURITY CLASSIFICATION
a. All copies, including the original and courtesy copy of a classified diplomatic note, must show the overall classification marking (CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, or TOP SECRET) at the top and bottom of each page in underlined capital letters. On the first page, place the classification flush with the left margin two lines below the seal. At the bottom of the first page, center the classification one inch from the bottom.
b. On succeeding pages, center the classification one inch from the top and bottom of each page. Mark each paragraph, section, or portion with the appropriate classification (C), (S), (TS), (SBU), or (U).
c. The record copy and other office copies must be marked according to Section 1.1, E.O. 13526. On the first page, enter the name and title of the original classification authority, the agency and office of origin (unless otherwise indicated), the reason(s) for classification from the appropriate classification category(ies) in Section 1.4, E.O. 13526. Documents, which derive their classification from one previously classified source document, must show the title and the declassification date from the source document.
d. The drafter must also indicate declassification instructions. On the first page, enter a date or event less than 10 years from the date of original classification, a date 10 years from the date of original classification, or one or more of the exemption categories in Section 1.6, E.O. 13526. See 5 FAH-1 H-132, through 5 FAH-1 H-134, and 5 FAH-1 H-212 for further guidance on marking foreign government information, derivative classification marking, and downgrading.
e. The classified diplomatic note must also be approved for release to the particular country. The drafter must provide this information on the record copy of the note. Example: Rel. U.K. (Releasable to U.K.).
f. Classified diplomatic notes must be sent in double envelopes or wrapped according to security regulations outlined in 12 FAM 500.
5 FAH-1 H-623 STATIONERY
5 FAH-1 H-623.1 First-Person Notes
For the first-person formal note, preparers must use the (8-1/2” x 11” embossed white seal “Department of State Washington” diplomatic note stationery) or "Embassy of the United States of America" letterhead. For succeeding (8-1/2” x 11") pages, white bond paper must be used.
5 FAH-1 H-623.2 Third-Person Notes
The first page of the third-person note is prepared on 8-1/2” x 11” embossed white seal diplomatic note stationery. For collective notes, 8-1/2” x 11” white bond paper should be used. For succeeding pages, 8-1/2” x 11” white bond paper is used.
5 FAH-1 H-624 COPIES
a. Keep copies to a minimum and all copies must be readable. Preparers should designate copies as follows:
(1) Courtesy copy without drafting or clearance information to accompany the original. More than one courtesy copy may be sent upon request;
(2) Comeback copy marked S/ES-S Correspondence Office;
(3) A/GIS/IPS, ATTN: Diplomatic Note Desk; and
(4) Copy marked "return to the drafting office."
b. At post, preparers should designate the following copies:
(1) Courtesy copy without drafting or clearance information;
(2) Record copy to retain in the post's central files; and
(3) Two office file copies for the chronological file and drafting officer.
c. The information copy of an important note (with drafting information) should be sent promptly to the Department (A/GIS/IPS/RA, SA-2).
d. Photocopies may be used for any additional copies needed.
5 FAH-1 H-625 STYLE
a. Drafters should be precise and use self-explanatory language that is independent of previous correspondence. Courtesy phrases should be included in first-person notes, as appropriate. Courtesy phrases are not used in third-person notes. Official designations and titles should be checked for accuracy.
b. Foreign words or phrases, which have proper English equivalents, should not be used. When foreign words or phrases are necessary, spelling should be checked for accuracy and proper accent marks used.
c. First-person pronouns are not used in a third-person note. For example, in the text of a first-person note, use "Your Excellency" or "Your Excellency's" when first mentioned in a paragraph; to avoid repetition, "you" or "your" should be used in a subsequent reference.
5 FAH-1 H-625.1 Forms of Reply
a. Drafters must reply to all incoming notes in the same form as received. If the note combines two forms, the proper reply is determined from the first two words of the note received; such as, "The Ambassador (Chargé d'Affaires ad interim)" (note verbale) or "The Embassy" (memorandum).
b. If the incoming note begins "The Minister of Foreign Affairs (Minister of Foreign Relations, Secretary of State for External Affairs, etc.)," the response will be with a note verbale. If it begins "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Department of Foreign Relations, Department of External Affairs, etc.)" the response will be with a memorandum.
5 FAH-1 H-625.2 Formulas of Diplomatic Courtesy
a. Diplomatic courtesy phrases are used in the first sentence of a first-person note and in two types of third-person notes:
(1) A note verbale to a foreign ambassador, head of the foreign ministry, or diplomatic mission; and
(2) A circular diplomatic note to the chiefs of mission of the diplomatic corps at post or at Washington.
b. A first-person note should begin with the courtesy phrase "I have the honor" when a foreign ambassador, minister of foreign affairs, minister of foreign relations, secretary of state for external affairs, prime minister, or minister in charge of a legation is being addressed.
c. “I have the honor” is not used in a first-person note to a chargé d’affaires ad interim.
d. In a third-person note verbale the courtesy phrase "has the honor" is used to address a foreign ambassador, the head of the foreign ministry or diplomatic mission, and in a circular diplomatic note as follows: To a foreign ambassador: "The Secretary of State presents his (her) compliments to His (Her) Excellency the Ambassador of (country) and has the honor to...."
e. The phrase "has the honor" is not used in a note verbale to a chargé d' affaires ad interim. The note should begin as follows: "The Secretary of State presents his (her) compliments to the Chargé d' Affaires ad interim of (country) and acknowledges the receipt of, transmits to, refers to, etc...."
f. In a circular note: “The Secretary of State presents his (her) compliments to Their Excellencies and Messieurs and Mesdames the Chiefs of Mission and has the honor to….
g. To begin a third-person memorandum diplomatic note, use the formula, “The Department of State (informs, transmits to, etc.) the Embassy of (country)….” or “The Department of State acknowledges receipt of note No. (fill in) dated (fill in) from the Embassy of (country)….” The note must indicate clearly in the first two lines the embassy or mission to which it is being sent.
h. When the Secretary is out of the United States, a note verbale or circular diplomatic note should begin: “The Acting Secretary of State presents his (her) compliments to...." A notice to the Department issued by the Executive Secretariat Operations Center (S/ES-O) will indicate when to change this wording.
5 FAH-1 H-625.3 Abbreviations
a. Drafters may use common abbreviations in diplomatic notes, such as, No. (use with a figure); a.m., p.m.; Mr., Messrs., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. before a name; Jr., Sr., II, and III after a name.
b. A military service title (rank) is not abbreviated before a name, but the service designation is abbreviated after the name. Example: Lieutenant Colonel John J. Doe, USA.
c. Words such as "for example" should be used instead of the abbreviation "e.g.” and "et cetera" instead of "etc."
d. When quoting material in a note, drafters should follow the original text. Spell out Federal agencies and international organizations. In subsequent references, well-known international organizations may be abbreviated.
5 FAH-1 H-625.4 Quotations
a. Quotations consisting of one or more paragraphs are indented five spaces from the left and right. Double spacing is used both above and below quoted text.
b. Quotations of less than one paragraph are included in the text of the note and enclosed in quotation marks.
5 FAH-1 H-626 FORMAT
The following sections contain instructions for preparing diplomatic notes.
5 FAH-1 H-626.1 Margins
Allow margins of 1 inch on the left, 1 inch on the right, and at least 1 inch at the top and bottom. For a short note, adjust the margins to produce a well-balanced page. Diplomatic notes should always have one inch margins on left, right, top, and bottom.
5 FAH-1 H-626.2 Date
a. First-person notes signed by the Secretary or other principals are dated and mailed by the S/ES-S Records Management Unit.
b. For notes to be handed to a foreign embassy official, the drafting officer should date the note after obtaining all clearances (including S/ES-S); signature (or initials) (see 5 FAH-1 H-629.2). The addressee embassy receiving official’s name should be written on the record copy.
c. For a circular note, the drafting officer dates and initials the original and record copy before sending it to the correspondence officer, S/ES-S, Room 7512, for review.
d. For a third-person note, place the date after the comma following "Washington" at the end of the note.
5 FAH-1 H-626.2-1 Dating Notes in the Department
a. In the Department, S/ES-S must review diplomatic notes before a date can be affixed. After review, S/ES-S forwards notes to A/GIS/IPS for dating and dispatch. All copies are dated at the same time.
b. On a first-person note, the date is centered two lines below "Washington" on the letterhead page.
c. On a third-person note, the dateline is placed at the end of the note. Use the same spacing for the date as is used for the text. Beginning at the left margin, four to six lines below the text or any enclosure notation, enter "Department of State" followed by a comma. Indent the second line five spaces before typing "Washington" and a comma. A/GIS/IPS will place the date after "Washington."
Department of State,
Washington, (date to be inserted by A/GIS/IPS).
5 FAH-1 H-626.2-2 Dating Notes at Post
a. At post, the signing office or the information programs center (IPC) dates the diplomatic note before it is delivered to a foreign office. All copies are dated at the same time.
b. On a first-person note, place the date four lines below the letterhead after the name of the city, followed by a comma. Do not exceed the right margin.
c. On a third-person note, place the date at the end of the note. Use the same line spacing as is used in the text. At the left margin, enter the heading "Embassy of the United States of America" followed by a comma. On the second line, indent five spaces and place the name of the post, a comma and the date, followed by a period.
Embassy of the United States of America,
Ankara, (add date).
5 FAH-1 H-626.3 Numbering
a. Diplomatic notes prepared in the Department are not numbered.
b. At post, first-person notes and notes verbales to a foreign office may be numbered. Number other notes to a foreign office or other diplomatic missions only if it is the local custom. The information programs unit or the executive office controls the numbering system.
c. Enter the number flush with the left margin, two lines below the white seal on the letterhead page (or below classification), e.g., "No. 16."
5 FAH-1 H-626.4 Salutation
a. Do not use a salutation on a third-person note.
b. For a first-person note, enter the salutation followed by a colon at the left margin, approximately six lines below the white seal, leaving space for the date. If the note is short, more space should be allowed in order to produce a well-balanced appearance:
(1) Use the word "Excellency" to address the foreign ambassador, minister of foreign affairs, minister of foreign relations, secretary of state for external affairs, or prime minister;
(2) An appropriate personal title of nobility or honor may be used when it is known how the foreign official wishes to be addressed; and
(3) "Sir" or "Madam" is appropriate to a minister who is in charge of a legation or to a chargé d'affaires ad interim.
5 FAH-1 H-626.5 Text
a. A diplomatic note may be double-spaced or triple-spaced, depending on its length. Triple-space a short note for a well-balanced appearance.
b. On a first-person note, begin text at least two lines below the salutation if double-spaced, or three lines if triple-spaced.
c. On a third-person note, begin the text about six lines below the white seal. If using a heading, such as "Aide-Memoire," center it three lines below the seal and begin text three lines below heading.
5 FAH-1 H-626.5-1 Paragraphs
Indent the beginning of each paragraph five spaces from the left margin. Begin text near the bottom of the first page only if the text consists of two or more lines with two or more lines to be carried over to the next page.
5 FAH-1 H-626.5-2 Succeeding Pages
Center the page number in Arabic numerals, one inch from the top of the page ("2"). Continue the text two to three lines below the page number.
5 FAH-1 H-626.6 Complimentary Close
a. Do not use a complimentary diplomatic close on a third-person note.
b. For a first-person diplomatic note, enter the complimentary close as the last paragraph. If the note exceeds one page, at least two lines must carry over to the next page. Always include text on the page with a diplomatic close and signature. Appropriate closings are as follows:
(1) For a foreign ambassador, minister of foreign affairs, minister of foreign relations, secretary of state for external affairs, prime minister, or the head of the foreign ministry, drafter should use "Accept, Excellency" (or other appropriate title, such as "Your Highness"), "the renewed assurances of my highest consideration"; and
(2) To a chargé d' affaires ad interim, or a minister who is in charge of a delegation, drafter should use "Accept, Sir (Madam), the renewed assurances of my high consideration."
5 FAH-1 H-626.7 Subscription
a. Do not use a subscription on a third-person note or notes prepared at posts.
b. In first-person notes, use the subscription "For the Secretary of State:" only when a signing officer other than the Secretary is signing it.
c. When the Secretary is out of the United States, the subscription is changed to "For the Acting Secretary of State.” The Executive Secretariat Operations Center will issue a notice that will indicate when to change the wording.
d. Enter the subscription "For the Secretary (Acting Secretary) of State:" two lines (three lines if triple-spaced) below the complimentary close, followed by a colon. It is indented about 30 spaces from the left margin or slightly past the center of the page.
5 FAH-1 H-626.8 Enclosure
a. For a first-person note with an enclosure, enter the word "Enclosure(s)" followed by a colon at the left margin, six to eight lines below the last line of the complimentary close or subscription, if used, leaving enough space for the signature.
b. For a third-person note with an enclosure from the Department, "Enclosure(s)" should precede the notation, or "Department of State, Washington." At post, enter the word "Enclosure(s)" followed by a colon at the left margin, six to eight lines below the last line of text.
c. The description of the enclosure(s) should be single-spaced, using as few words as possible. Symbols are not used and abbreviations are limited in descriptions. Enclosure descriptions should be indented five spaces from the left margin (do not extend beyond center of page). Carryover lines are indented two spaces from the beginning of the first line for only one enclosure. For two or more enclosures, begin the carryover line directly below the first word in the above line. Place a period after each entry. Number two or more enclosures consecutively.
1. Two photographs.
2. Consular identification card.
3. Copy of Freedom of Information Act.
d. If there is not enough space on the page, list the enclosures on a separate numbered page under the heading "Enclosures:"
e. A copy of any enclosure not already a part of the file is attached to the official file copy (record copy) of the note.
f. Enclosures are forwarded with diplomatic notes through the clearance process. Bulky or extremely valuable enclosures may be retained in the drafting office.
5 FAH-1 H-626.9 Address
a. Enter the address in initial capital letters at the bottom of the letterhead page. On a one-page note, begin the address at the left margin three to four lines below the space for the signing officer or enclosure listing. On a note of more than one page, place the address at the left margin, three lines below the last line of text on the first page.
b. Use the same line spacing for the address and text. Enter the first line flush with the left margin and indent each additional line five spaces from the preceding line with closed punctuation (a comma after each line with a period at the end of the last line).
c. The address format for the third-person note depends on the type of note. In the first sentence, show the title of the foreign diplomatic representative, title of the foreign diplomatic mission, official designation of the government(s) to which it is being sent, or the appropriate inclusive address (used with a circular diplomatic note).
d. If sending a circular note, attach a list of the missions to which the note is to be sent. See 5 FAH-1 H-612.2-7.
5 FAH-1 H-626.10 Drafting and Clearance Information
5 FAH-1 H-626.10-1 Drafting Information
a. Place drafting information on the last page of text about one inch from the bottom of the page at the left margin, or on a separate page.
b. In the Department, enter the bureau, office, and division or staff symbols, drafting officer's initials and surname, preparer's initials, date of preparation, document control number (if used), and drafting officer's telephone extension on the official file copy and office copies only. The drafting officer initials in ink near the printed name on the record copy.
c. At post, enter the section symbol, drafting officer's initials and surname, preparer's initials, date prepared, and a document control number (if used), in the same format as above.
5 FAH-1 H-626.10-2 Clearance Information
a. In the Department, S/ES-S (Room 7512) must clear all outgoing notes before transmittal. Include S/ES-S in the clearance listing. The bureau, office, division or office symbol, and initials and surname of each clearing officer must be listed.
b. At post, indicate clearance by another bureau or section on the official file copy and office copies only. Place the word "Clearance:" one line below (or to the right of) drafting information. List the initials and surname of each clearing officer.
c. The clearing officer initials in ink near the office symbol and name. If the clearing officer clears the note in draft, in substance or by telephone or email, this information is included after the clearing officer's name, indicating the type of clearance. The drafting officer (or whoever obtains clearance) should write their name in ink after the clearance officer's symbol and printed name.
5 FAH-1 H-626.11 Distribution
a. In the Department, when sending information copies to another agency or post, list distribution on the official file copy and office copies only. Place “cc:” to the right of the drafting information and enter the addressees' names or descriptions directly below the other.
b. At post, when sending an information copy to the Department, show the office symbol and name of bureau officer under the "cc:" listing.
c. As appropriate, use Form OF-41, Routing and Transmittal Slip, to forward copies.
5 FAH-1 H-626.12 Revisions
a. When a diplomatic note is revised, use the same font size and print style of the original note. Keep the official file copy to preserve drafting and clearance information that may have record value or initialed clearances that will not be repeated on the rewritten file copy. Mark diagonally through this copy and staple it to the new official file copy. If the canceled copy has no record value, destroy it and all other copies. Destroy classified copies in accordance with guidance in 12 FAM 500.
b. The person rewriting the note must clear the revised note with the drafting officer. This person may obtain verbal concurrence from the original clearance officers that clearances remain valid for the rewritten note.
In this case, on the official file copy, list appropriate office symbols and the statement "see attached file copy," and follow with revising officer's initials in ink.
5 FAH-1 H-627 SIGNATURE
a. In the Department, first-person diplomatic notes are signed by the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, an Under Secretary, an Assistant Secretary, or a deputy assistant secretary, depending on the content of the note. Outgoing notes are submitted for a seventh-floor principal's signature under cover of an action memorandum (see the Executive Secretariat InfoLink website for guidelines).
b. Drafters should ensure that first-person notes that are to be signed by officers who are not seventh-floor principals are submitted to S/ES-S (correspondence officer) for clearance before signature.
c. An office director, or any of the principals listed above, initials third-person notes on the original, in the lower right corner of the last page of text.
5 FAH-1 H-627.1 First-Person Notes
a. In the Department, first-person diplomatic notes to a prime minister, minister of foreign relations, or secretary of state for external affairs, are signed by the Secretary or (in the Secretary's absence) the Acting Secretary.
b. Preparers should place the full title (no name) on the note: "Secretary of State of the United States of America" or "Acting Secretary of State of the United States of America" four to six lines below the diplomatic close and about 30 spaces (or set the equivalent tab) from the left margin. Arrange the title in balanced lines, with no punctuation.
c. When the Secretary signs a first-person note to the ambassador or a chargé d'affaires ad interim, the Secretary's name or title must not be shown on the note. When the Acting Secretary signs, the subscription "For the Secretary of State:" is omitted. The name of the signing officer and the title "Acting Secretary of State" are placed four to six lines below the last line of the diplomatic close and arranged in balanced lines with no punctuation.
d. For signature by officers other than principals, allow four to six lines for the signature below "For the Secretary (Acting Secretary) of State." The officer signs in ink on the original and official file copy of the note.
e. At post, the chief of mission or an officer authorized by the chief of mission signs a first-person note without using a diplomatic title. When a first-person note is to be signed by the chargé, use the title "Chargé d'Affaires ad interim."
5 FAH-1 H-627.2 Third-Person Notes
a. The aide-memoire, circular diplomatic note, memorandum, note verbale, and pro memoria are initialed in ink in the lower right corner of the last page of text by an office director or higher or the chief of mission.
b. A note collective must contain full signatures by authorized representatives of the governments presenting the note. A note collective is signed in ink on the last page of the text.
c. The note diplomatique may be either signed or initialed in ink in the lower right corner on the last page of the text. The approval to sign must be authorized by the deputy assistant secretary (or an officer above that level) or the chief of mission.
5 FAH-1 H-628 ENVELOPES
a. In the Department, A/GIS/GPS (Global Publishing Solutions) prepares envelopes for notes received from S/ES-S. Upon request, A/GIS/GPS will prepare envelopes for circular diplomatic notes. The drafting office is responsible for preparing the envelopes for all information copies to the Department, another Federal agency, or post.
b. At post, the drafting office prepares all envelopes for the note and any information copies to the Department. See 5 FAH-1 H-430 for additional instructions on envelopes and mailing.
5 FAH-1 H-629 ASSEMBLY, REVIEW, AND MAILING
5 FAH-1 H-629.1 Assembly
5 FAH-1 H-629.1-1 In the Department
a. The complete diplomatic note package is assembled for review in the following order (top to bottom):
(1) A/GIS/IPS/RA record copy with incoming note and background information attached;
(2) Original note and courtesy copy; and
(3) Information copies, with routing slips and addressed envelopes, as appropriate.
b. If the note is classified, prepare appropriate cover sheets, correctly marked envelopes and receipts as required by 12 FAM 510 regarding transmission and control of classified information.
c. If more than one type of communication is involved (i.e., note and telegram), keep all papers on the subject together to assist clearing and signing officers in the review and signature process.
5 FAH-1 H-629.1-2 At Post
a. The diplomatic note and related papers are assembled at post as follows:
(1) Outgoing note and courtesy copy;
(2) Information copies with routing slips and addressed envelopes, as appropriate;
(3) Record copy and office file copies; and
(4) Incoming note and any background information.
b. If the note is classified, prepare cover sheets and follow the procedures in 12 FAM 510. If the note is accompanied by another communication, keep all related papers together for clearance and signature.
5 FAH-1 H-629.2 Review
a. Bureaus must ensure that an urgent note is hand-carried. The note must be taken to S/ES-S for an immediate review prior to hand-delivering to the foreign embassy. (The review process for notes is not applicable at posts.)
b. Drafters and preparers must ensure that the following procedures are followed for notes prepared in the Department:
(1) Submit first-person notes to be signed by the Secretary or other seventh-floor principals (original and three copies) to the Correspondence Unit in S/ES-S, Room 7512 for review. These notes will be dispatched by S/ES-S;
(2) Submit an original and three copies of all other diplomatic notes already signed to S/ES-S, Room 7512, for review;
(3) If a note is to be signed by another officer, forward it to S/ES-S for clearance before signature. Return to S/ES-S after signature for final review;
(4) For a circular note, provide the original, official file copy and the Form DS-5, Requisition for Publishing, Reproduction, and Distribution Services, to S/ES-S for review. After the note has been reviewed, the originating office forwards the package to A/GIS/GPS for processing. Bulky enclosures are retained in the drafting office;
(5) Send final official file copies of circular notes with a list of addresses to A/GIS/IPS/RA for inclusion in the Written Correspondence System (WCS); and
(6) Submit telegrams containing the text of a diplomatic note to S/ES-S for review before dispatch.
5 FAH-1 H-629.3 Mailing
a. After review and signature, S/ES-S forwards notes to A/GIS/IPS for dating, enveloping, and mailing. Notes and information copies are then sent to the central mail unit of the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division for dispatch.
b. First-person notes signed by the Secretary or other principals are mailed by S/ES-S.
c. At post, after a diplomatic note has been signed or initialed, the drafting office prepares notes and information copies for mailing and forwards the complete package to the information programs center (IPC) for dispatch.