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Page Title: Principles of Letter Writing
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preparation  of  official  correspondence  including naval  letters,  business-form  letters,  endorsements, speedletters,  messages,  memoranda,  and  Navy directives.  For  guidelines  on  official  cor- respondence  and  for  more  detailed  information on standard Navy correspondence practices, you should review the material covered in chapter 3, module 1, of  Ship’s  Serviceman  3  &  2,  and  you should consult the  Department  of  the  Navy  Cor- respondence  Manual,   SECNAVINST   5216.5C. Classified  Information On  rare  occasions,  you  may  encounter  cor- respondence that contains classified information. Under  these  conditions,  be  sure  to  consult  the Department of the Navy Information and Person- nel  Security  Program  Regulation  (Navy  Security Manual),   OPNAVINST  5510.1,  for  the  proper procedures governing the handling and control of classified information. The Navy Security Manual is supplemented by the  Guide  for  Handling  and Control   of   Classified   Matter,   OPNAVINST 5510.40,  which  contains  guidelines  for  develop- ing  uniform  systems  for  the  handling  and  controll- ing  of  classified  information. Principles of Letter Writing Before  you  can  produce  an  effective  letter,  you must give some thought to planning and organiz- ing  what  you  intend  to  say.  The  first  step  you should take is to determine exactly what you want your letter to accomplish. Preparing a statement of the subject of your letter will help you to clarify the purpose of your letter and will give you some guidelines on what you should include and what you  should  omit.  Some  common  purposes  of naval  letters  are  as  follows: .   To request permission or authorization to act .   To request that action be taken .    To  request  information .   To supply information or instructions that were not requested .    To  reply  to  a  request  for  permission  or authorization  to  take  an  action .    To  reply  to  a  request  that  an  action  be taken o  To  reply  to  a  request  for  information ORGANIZING   THE   LETTER.—   The various parts of your letter should be organized with the reader’s viewpoint in mind. Use only the references  that  are  necessary  and  keep  in  mind that  addressees  may  not  have  access  to  certain references. Use enclosures only if you need them to  clarify  or  explain  the  basic  contents  of  your letter  in  greater  detail,  Arrange  the  paragraphs  in a logical order. Each paragraph should discuss an idea, or several closely related ideas, covering a single  topic,  or  subtopic,  of  the  general  subject. The important things for you to remember are to o  envision the body of your letter as a suc- cession  of  units, l   arrange the units in what seems to you to be  the  most  satisfactory  order, l   complete each unit before you move on to the  next  one,  and l    maintain  continuity  by  providing  a  tran- sition  from  one  unit  to  another. CHOICE    OF    WORDS.—    Use simple language. The best words are those that are precise in meaning, suited to the intended reader, and are as  short,  simple,  and  direct  as  possible.  Avoid using a long word merely for the sake of sounding more important or more dignified. Usually, such attempts  will  only  result  in  your  sounding  preten- tious,  stuffy,  and  hard  to  understand.  Not  only should  you  avoid  using  long  words  where  short ones would be better, but you should also avoid using more words than you really need. Tell your story  as  briefly  as  possible—the  reader  will appreciate it. COMPLETING  THE  LETTER.—  Review your draft before you type it in the smooth. Make sure your letter tells the story with tact, simplicity, and   clarity.   Make   certain   that   sentences   are grammatically correct, and accept criticism from your  superiors  as  a  guide  for  self-improvement. When  you  assign  a  file  number  to  your  letter, select  an  identification  code  that  is  appropriate to both the purpose of the letter and the files in your own office. Finally, ensure that the letter is mailed  to  a  correct  address.  Correct  names, addresses,  and  applicable  ZIP  Codes  are  con- tained in the  Standard  Navy  Distribution  List (SNDL), part I—“Operating Forces of the Navy” 3-20

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