Officers advanced training school - service writing



Officers advanced training school - service writing


Service writing covers purpose of service writing, formal letters, informal letters, postagrams, D.O letters, air ministry letters, memoranda, reports, paragraphing, abbreviations and style. Part 2 handling of a file covers central registry, degree of secrecy, filing of correspondence, numbering of files, file prefixes, cross reference, closing files, passing files and methods of using a file. Followed by appendixes on types of service writing and several others giving examples of each type and abbreviations for rank an finally a page of questions.



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Ten page typewritten document

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[date stamp of No. 1 Officers Advanced Training School Jun 1945]
19 C 5
[underlined] OFFICERS ADVANCED TRAINING SCHOOL [/underlined]
PRECIS: [underlined] SERVICE CORRESPONDENCE [/underlined]
Appendices:- “A” – Types of Service Writing
“B” – Skeleton Example of Formal, Informal and D.O. letters.
“C” – Skeleton Paper to Illustrate Paragraphing and the use of headings.
“D” – Abbreviated Ranks
[underlined] PART I – SERVICE WRITING [/underlined]
[underlined] The Purpose of Service Writing [/underlined]
1. The broad aim of any Service writing is to initiate action as quickly and efficiently as possible. Particular aims are:
(a) To impart knowledge.
(b) To express intentions.
(c) To convey orders and instructions.
(d) To persuade by logical argument
(e) To record discussions at which decisions are taken and from which the need for action arises.
[underlined] Formal Letters [/underlined]
2. These are written in the first person. They begin: “Sir, I have the honour to ……..” and end: “I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant.”
[underlined] Informal Letters [/underlined]
3. These are generally written in the third person. The usual heading is as follows:-
“From: …………………..
To: …………………………
Date: …………………….
Ref: ………………………
[underlined] SUBJECT [/underlined] “
4. Letters addressed to a higher authority are normally signed by the Commander; those to a subordinate Command are signed “for” the Commander.
[underlined] Postagrams [/underlined]
5. Postagrams are used for messages calling for action immediately on receipt, but which are not sufficiently urgent to be sent by signal. Be careful not to mis-use the postagram service.
[underlined] D.O. Letters [/underlined]
6. D.O. letters should be used with discretion. They must be kept on official files, not private ones. Omnibus letters should be avoided. The rank, name, initials and decorations of the author should be typed above the address.
[page break]
[underlined] Precis – Service Correspondence (continued) [/underlined]
- 2 -
[underlined] Air Ministry Letters [/underlined]
7. There are two kinds of Air Ministry letter – Air Council letters and Departmental letters. Air Ministry letters are to be regarded as orders and are to be acted on in the same way as A.M.O.’s.
[underlined] Memoranda [/underlined]
8. No standard from. The rules of good Service writing apply to any memorandum; it must be logically argued and clearly expressed.
[underlined] Reports [/underlined]
9. Though there is no standard form, a report should show clearly who is making it and upon what subject; why he is making it and how and where he obtained his information. It should also be clear what the writer recommends, if a recommendation is called for.
[underlined] Paragraphing [/underlined]
10. The standard system is shown at Appendix “C”. The title and main or section headings are written in block capitals; group and paragraph headings in ordinary type, with the first letter of each word (except conjunctions, articles, etc.) in capitals. Parts or sections are numbered with large Roman numerals; paragraphs with Arabic numerals; sub-paragraphs with little (a), (b), (c), etc; sub-sub paragraphs – which should be avoided if possible – with little Roman figures.
[underlined] Abbreviations [/underlined]
11. Only recognised abbreviations are to be used. They may be found in R.A.F. Pocket Book, Appendix II, and in A.M.O. 886/1941 (See Appendix “D”). Abbreviations are not to be used in formal writing.
[underlined] Style [/underlined]
12. Use a simple and direct style of writing, involving simple words and short sentences.
(a) Avoid metaphor, simile, humour and quotation.
(b) Avoid “padding”, such as “It is a matter for consideration whether …………… “
(c) Use superlatives sparingly if they are to retain their force.
(d) Use a short word in preference to a long one.
(e) Never use a word if you have any doubt as to its exact meaning.
(f) Do not use the personal pronouns too often.
Make sure that your writing is CLEAR, CONCISE, CORRECT and CONVINCING.
[page break]
[underlined] Precis – Service Correspondence (continued) [/underlined]
- 3 -
[underlined] PART II – HANDLING OF A FILE [/underlined]
[underlined] Central Registry [/underlined]
13. Object – to centralise the receipt, identification, classification, circulation, despatch and custody of correspondence with the maximum economy in time and labour.
[underlined] Degrees of Secrecy [/underlined]
14. Five security gradings. Top Secret, Secret, Confidential, Restricted. [deleted] and Open. [/deleted] Similar terms adopted by U.S. forces.
(a) [underlined] Top Secret [/underlined]. Certain secret documents, information and material, the security aspect of which is paramount and whose unauthorised disclosure would cause exceptionally grave damage to the British Commonwealth of Nations, shall be classified TOP SECRET.
(b) [underlined] Secret [/underlined]. Documents, information or material, the unauthorised disclosure of which would endanger national security, cause serious injury to the interests or prestige of the nation, or any governmental activity thereof, or would be of great advantage to a foreign nation, shall be classified SECRET.
(c) [underlined] Confidential [/underlined]. Documents, information or material, the unauthorised disclosure of which, while not endangering the national security, would be prejudicial to the interests or prestige of the nation, any governmental activity, an individual, or would cause administrative embarrassment or difficulty, or be of advantage to a foreign nation, shall be classified CONFIDENTIAL.
(d) [underlined] Restricted [/underlined]. Documents, information or material (other than TOP SECRET, SECRET or CONFIDENTIAL) which should not be published or communicated to anyone except for official purposes, shall be classified RESTRICTED.
(e) [underlined] Open [/underlined]. Any document not referred to above.
[underlined] Filing of Correspondence [/underlined]
15. Carried out in Registry. If no suitable file exists, branches are responsible for ordering the opening of new files. “Request for Allocation” slips used for obtaining new file titles. Care should be taken to select accurate and appropriate titles to ensure that only one subject and one aspect of a subject is dealt with on a file. Main or policy files to be opened for each subject. These files only to contain correspondence and minutes relating to policy matters. Sub-files are to be opened for routine correspondence on the subject and for each different aspect of the subject.
[underlined] Numbering of Files – Branch Number Method [/underlined]
16. Suitable for H.Qs. of small formations and units. Blocks of numbers allotted to branches. The files belonging to branches are indicated by the suffixes AIR, ARM, DEF, etc. Sub-files of the policy file are denoted by the addition of the number 1, 2, 3, etc. between the main number and the branch suffix.
[underlined] Numbering of Files – General Number System [/underlined]
17. Suitable for A.M. and large H.Qs. Based on a subject index. File numbers allotted from a consecutive series of numbers without regard to the subject of the file or with a policy or sub file.
[page break]
[underlined] Precis – Service Correspondence (continued) [/underlined]
- 4 -
[underlined] Prefixes [/underlined]
18. For both general number and branch systems prefix added to denote office of origin. Also T.S., S., C., or R. is placed immediately before the number to indicate Top Secret, Secret, Confidential and Restricted correspondence.
[underlined] Cross Reference [/underlined]
19. Files to be cross-referred to others containing information about the subject matter.
[underlined] Closing of Files [/underlined]
20. Advisable to bring forward 3 months after action complete, to ensure subject is dead. Officer ordering file to be “Put away” to sign and date bottom right-hand corner of cover. Survey in accordance with A.M.O. A.903 of 1942 to be carried out half-yearly.
[underlined] Passing of Files [/underlined]
21. Columns on cover to be completed. Minutes and enclosures to be initialled and dated by the officer to whom they are passed. If files required for future action they are to be marked for bringing forward in red ink.
[underlined] Method of Using a File [/underlined]
22. Enclosure placed on right-hand side of file and numbered serially. If the enclosure comprises more than one document, each to be denoted by the letters A, B, C, etc.
23. Minute sheet to be placed on left-hand side of files, marked with the file number and given a serial number. Minutes to be numbered serially with Arabic figures placed centrally on the page. Minutes should appear in chronological order; they are signed at right-hand bottom corner; signature to be followed by the appointment of the sender. Date is to be placed at bottom left-hand corner of the minute.
[underlined] Amendments to this Precis [/underlined]
[page break]
TYPE [/underlined]
[underlined] Within the Scope of the Lecture [/underlined]
1. Official Letters A.P. 837, para. 86
(a) Formal A.P. 837, paras. 87-93
(b) Informal A.P. 837, paras. 94-97
2. Postagrams (A.P. 837, paras. 113-121
(A.M. Staff Handbook Part II, para. 97
3. Demi-official letters A.P. 837, paras. 122-125
4. Air Ministry letters (A.P. 837, paras. 126-130
(A.M. Staff Handbook Part II, paras. 50-66.
(a) Air Council A.P. 837, para. 127
(b) Departmental A.P. 837, para. 128
(c) Informal A.P. 837, para. 129
5. Memoranda No standard form.
6. Precis or Summaries Notes on Precis Writing. A.P. 837, paras. 198-203.
7. Skeleton Examples of Formal, Informal, D.O. Letters and Service Papers. Appendices “B” and “C”. A.P. 837, paras. 87-112
8. Reports No standard form, but see A.P. 1300, Part I, Appendix IV. A.P. 837, para. 1689. K.R. & A.C.I., para. 47.
9. Minutes on a File. A.P. 837, paras. 77-85
[underlined] Outside the Scope of the Lecture [/underlined]
10. Signal Messages Lecture Precis: “Message Writing.” A.P. 837, paras. 149-178.
11. Appreciations A.P. 1300, Part I, Appendix I.
12. Orders and Instructions
(a) A.M.O’s, C.R.O’s, G.R.O’s, D.R.O’s, Standing Orders K.R. & A.C.I., para. 865 A.P. 837, paras. 261-267.
(b) Administrative Instructions A.P. 1300, Part I, Appendix II.
(c) Operation Orders -ditto-
(d) Warning Orders -ditto-
[page break]
1. [underlined] Formal Letter [/underlined]
“Officers Advanced Training School,
Royal Air Force College,
[underlined] SUBJECT [/underlined]
I have the honour to request …………………………………………………………..
2. Text of second paragraph …………………………………………………………….
3. Text of third paragraph ………………………………………………………………..
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant
Air Commodore, Commandant,
[underlined] Officers Advanced Training School [/underlined]
[inserted] APPOINTMENT & ADDRESS [/inserted]
2. [underlined] Informal Letter [/underlined]
“From:- Officers Advanced Training School
To:- Headquarters, No. 28 Group
Ref:- OATS/
[underlined] SUBJECT [/underlined]
1. Text of first paragraph …………………………………………………
2. Text of second paragraph …………………………………………….
Air Commodore, Commandant,
[underlined] Officers Advanced Training School [/underlined].”
[page break]
- 2 -
3. [underlined] Demi-Official Letter [/underlined]
“From Air Vice Marshal Sir ……………………………., C.B., D.S.C.,
Address …………………………………….
Reference:- OATS/-----------------/D.O.
Text of first paragraph …………………………………………..
2. Text of second paragraph …………………………………...
(Bottom left-hand corner of FIRST PAGE)
[inserted] NAME + ADDRESS [/inserted]
[page break]
TITLE [/underlined]
[underlined] MAP REFERENCE [/underlined]:-
[underlined] APPENDICES [/underlined]:-
“A” –
“B” –
[underlined] PART I – MAIN OR SECTION HEADING [/underlined]
[underlined] Group Heading [/underlined]
1. Text of para. ----------------------------------
2. Text of para. ----------------------------------
(a) Text of sub-para. ---------------------------
(b) Text of sub-para. ---------------------------
[underlined] Group Heading [/underlined]
3. [underlined] Para. Heading [/underlined] Text of para. -----------------------------------------
4. [underlined] Para. Heading [/underlined] Text of para. -----------------------------------------
(a) [underlined] Sub-para. Heading [/underlined]. Text of sub-para. ---------------------------
(b) [underlined] Sub-para. heading [/underlined]. Text of sub-para. ------------------------------
(i) Text of sub-sub para. ---------------------------------------
(ii) Text of sub-sub-para. --------------------------------------
5. Text of para. --------------------------------------------------
[page break]
1. The list below – which is taken from A.M.O. A.886/1941 – shows the abbreviations of Royal Air Force ranks which may be used.
2. Ranks occurring in the text of messages are to be written as shown in Column 3, while on all other occasions either those from Column 2 or Column 3 may be used.
3. The abbreviations are:-
[heading] [underlined] Column 1 – Column 2. – Column 3. [/underlined] [/heading]
(a) [underlined] Officers [/underlined]
Marshal of the Royal Air Force – Mshl. of R.A.F. – M.R.A.F.
Air Chief Marshal – Air Ch. Mshl. – A.C.M.
Air Marshal – Air Mshl. – A.M.
Air Vice-Marshal – Air Vice-Mshl – A.V.M.
Air Chief Commandant, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Air Ch. Cdt. – A.C.Cdt.
Air Commodore – Air Cdre. – A.C.
Air Commandant, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Air Cdt. – A.Cdt.
Group Captain – Gp. Capt. – G.C.
Group Officer, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Gp. Off. – G.O.
Wing Commander – Wg. Cdr. – W.C.
Wing Officer, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Wg. Off. – Wg. O.
Squadron Leader – Sqn. Ldr. – S.L.
Squadron Officer, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Sqn. Off. – Sq. O.
Flight Lieutenant – Flt. Lt. – F.L.
Flight Officer, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Flt. Off. – F.O.
Flying Officer – Flg. Off. – F.O.
Section Officer, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Sec. Off. – S.O.
Pilot Officer – Plt. Off. – P.O.
Assistant Section Officer, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Asst. Sec. Off. – A.S.O.
(b) [underlined] Airmen and Airwomen [/underlined]
(i) Warrant Officers, Royal Air Force and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Warrant Officer – Wt. Off. – W.O.
(ii) Non-commissioned officers, Royal Air Force and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Flight Sergeant – Flt. Sgt. – F.S.
Sergeant – Sgt. – [blank]
Corporal – Cpl. – [blank]
(iii) Aircraftmen and Aircraftwomen.
Leading Aircraftman – Ldg. Acm. – L.A.C.
Leading Aircraftwoman – Ldg. Acwm. – L.A.C.W.
Aircraftman 1st Class – Acm. 1st Cl. – A.C.1.
Aircraftwoman 1st Class – Acwm. 1st Cl. – A.C.W.1.
Aircraftman 2nd Class – Acm. 2nd Cl. – A.C.2.
Aircraftwoman 2nd Class – Acwm. 2nd Cl. – A.C.W.2.
[page break]
1. What are the four essentials of service writing?
2. How would you number or letter a sub-division of a sub-paragraph?
3. How many paragraphs can come under one heading?
4. To what type of letter does the phrase “Your obedient Servant” belong?
5. Where would you find the address of the recipient of a formal letter?
6. In what form would you write an application for permission to live out?
7. In what form would a flight commander write to his squadron commander on a purely routine matter?
8. What is the usual significance of an “Air Ministry Letter”?
9. When would it be appropriate to write a draft letter?
10. To what security category would an officer’s personal file belong?
11. What are the regulations for handling secret files?
12. Who is responsible for opening a few [sic] file?
13. Should the squadron photographic officer keep his own files?
14. Which of the two standard filing systems would be used by a large headquarters?
15. Where would the fault lie if a registry on the branch number system contained a tremendous number of files each with only a few enclosures?
16. To what system does the file number 614S/15/3/AIR belong?
17. What is the significance of each part of the number?
18. To what system does the file number FC/2384 belong?
19. What is entered in the space headed “Reference to other papers” on the file cover?
20. What do the initials in the fourth transit column indicate?
21. How do you take B.F. action?
22. Who signs the “P.A.” space on the file cover?
23. How do you indicate that you have read a minute?
24. What is the relation between the number of a minute and the number of a relative enclosure?
25. What could you presume from the fact that a document in a file was marked 5D?
26. When can you sign a document and put your own rank and appointment?
27. By whose authority are D.R.O’s published?


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