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Noting and Drafting in Central Government Offices

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Government office note format

Noting and Drafting in Central Government Offices (A complete & shortest guide for LDC, UDC, Assistant)

How do you write a office note ?

All office notes should be written on both sides of the paper, a quarter margins being left blank for the record of the orders passed by the officer to whom the note is submitted. They should be temporarily and courteously expressed and written, if possible in the third person and should be broken up into numbered paragraphs. It may be assumed that the paper under consideration will be read by the officer to whom it is submitted and that no paraphrase or reproduction or verbatim extracts of it are ordinarily necessary in the notes. A précis of its contents need be made only when the paper is of great length and complexity. 

Checklist to verify your office note before submission - 

When a note is submitted, it should as far as possible confine itself to:- 

  1.     The question at issue. 
  2.     Circumstances leading upto if, necessary. 
  3.     Rules and precedents bearing upon it 
  4.     Suggestions for action. 

    The raising of relevant side-issue is not prohibited but it will usually be found convenient to start a new file for such matters. In some cases, the perusal of the papers under consideration will be sufficient and nothing will be required beyond a brief suggestion for action.


    To facilitate the rapid disposal of cases and especially urgent cases, personal discussion be freely resorted to. A draft letter or telegram, as the case may be, should be prepared at any stage of a case, if it appears that the consideration and disposal of the case would be facilitated by submitting it in the form of a draft. Assistant Accounts Officers of the sections should not overlook the fact that there may be a case which either by its intricate nature or being urgent can be dealt by its intricate nature of being urgent can be dealt with adequately by the Branch Officer. In such cases, the papers should be submitted immediately "for orders." It is not essential that notes be written on all cases. 

Five major functions of govt office

    In important cases on which an officer has passed orders, either by approving the suggestions made in the notes or by a note of his/her own but has not actually suggested the phraseology to be employed, the draft should invariably be submitted to the officer before issue. The section last dealing with an office note should see that there is at least one blank page attached on which the officer can record his remarks


Definition of Note – 

i) Notes are written remarks recorded on a paper under consideration to facilitate its disposal. 

ii) It should consist of a précis of previous paper, the statement or analysis of the question or questions requiring decision, suggestions regarding the course of action and final orders passed thereon. 

iii) A note recorded by a Minister, the Prime Minister, the Vice-President or the President should be referred to as a ‘Minute’. 

iv) The name, designation and, where necessary, the telephone number of the officer signing a note should invariably be typed or stamped with a rubber stamp below the signature which should be dated. In recording the date, the month and the year should also be indicated. 

Guidelines on Noting & Drafting Structure– 

(a) All notes should be concise and to the point. Excessive noting should be avoided. 

(b) Notes and orders should normally be recorded on note-sheets. 

(c) Notes should not be recorded on the receipt itself except in very routine matters. 

(d) ‘Docketing’ means making of entries in the notes portion of a file about the serial number assigned to each item of correspondence (whether receipt or issue) for its identification. After Docketing, if the Branch Officer or any higher officer has made any remark on the receipt, it should be reproduced in the manner indicated below and then the note should follow. 

(e) A simple and direct style of writing should always be adopted. Use of complicated and ambiguous language should be avoided. 

(f) Verbatim reproduction of extracts from, or paraphrasing of the P.U.C or of notes of other Ministries recorded on the same file, should be avoided. 

(g) Even if apparent errors or misstatements have to be pointed out or if an opinion expressed therein has to be criticized, care should be taken to couch the observations in courteous and temperate language free from personal remarks. 

(h) A note will be divided into paragraphs of a convenient size. Paragraphs should be serially numbered and may also have brief titles, if necessary. 

(i) The dealing hand will append his or her full signature with date on the left below the note. An officer will append full signature on the right hand side of the note with name, designation and the date. 

(j) When passing orders or making suggestions, an officer should confine the note to the actual points rather than repeating or reiterating the ground already covered in the previous notes. If the line of action suggested in the preceding note, is correct, the officer should merely append signature. 

(k) Modification of notes – There should be no occasion to record a note in the first instance and then pasting it over. Such pasting is tantamount to mutilation of the record. It also gives an inelegant look to the files. Even where a note recorded in the first instance needs any modification on account of additional facts/errors having come to notice, a subsequent note may be recorded indicating the circumstances leading to recording of the fresh note, keeping the earlier note intact. In any case, there should be no occasion to conceal a note recorded in the first instance. It is also undesirable for an officer to make his subordinate change his note. (Detailed instructions on modification of notes are available in Para 33 of the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure.) 

(l) When a paper under consideration raises several major points which require detailed examination and respective orders on each point (or group of related points) it will be noted upon separately in ”Sectional” notes. Such sectional notes will each begin with a list of the major point(s) dealt with therein. 

(m) ‘Routine note’ means a note of a temporary value or ephemeral importance recorded outside the file, e.g., a record of casual discussion or a note on a point of secondary importance intended to facilitate consideration of the case by higher officers.  

(n) ‘Running summary of facts’ in relation to a case means a summary of the facts of the case updated from time to time to incorporate significant development as and when they take place. It is prepared to avoid repeated re-capitulation of the case through self-contained notes. Wherever a running summary of facts is available on the file, it should be referred to without repeating any part of the facts in the note. 


Types of Cases, Quantum of Noting and Functional Approach in Govt Office Note Format

 Most of the cases dealt with in Government of India can be divided into the following five categories: -

    1. Ephemeral cases 

    2. Routine/Repetitive cases 

    3. Action in Correspondence cases 

    4. Problem Solving cases 

    5. Planning and Policy cases 

The following approach could be adopted for noting on various categories of cases:- 

1. Ephemeral Cases: These cases are also known as “No-Noting” cases. The Section Officer or Desk functionary should record the reasons, in brief, why no action is necessary and file such cases at the dak stage itself. Such cases should be kept in the File “O” bundle and destroyed on 31st December of every year. These may also be returned in original to the sender recording requisite factual information. 

2. Routine or Repetitive Cases: In cases of repetitive nature, ‘a standard process sheet’ which means a standard skeleton note, should be developed indicating pre-determined points of check. In respect of other routine cases, a fair reply should be put up without any noting. 

3. Action-in-Correspondence Cases: These cases also do not require detailed noting. It would be sufficient if a brief note (a paragraph or so) were recorded indicating the issue under consideration and the suggested action. 

4.Problem Solving Cases: In these cases, a detailed note providing maximum information on each aspect will be necessary. Even then, the note should be concise and to the point, covering the following aspects:- 

  1.     What is the problem? 
  2.     How has it arisen? 
  3.     What is the ‘Rule’, ‘Policy’ or ‘Precedent’? 
  4.     What are the possible solutions? 
  5.     Which is the best solution? Why? 
  6.     What will be the consequences of the proposed solution? 

5. Policy and Planning Cases: These types of cases would not be large in number and are normally dealt with at sufficiently higher levels of the organization. They require a thorough examination with maximum amount of noting developed systematically. A note in such cases should be structured in the following manner: - 

    (i) Problem – State how the problem has arisen? What are the critical factors?

   (ii) Additional Information – Give additional information to size up the problem. The information would be available on the files and other papers in the Section. If sufficient information were not available to enable thorough examination, it should be collected before attempting a note.

    (iii) Rule, policy etc – Relevant rules, regulations, policy, standing orders, practices are required to be referred to, wherever available. Logical interpretation of such rules etc. bringing out their bearing on the problem has to be put across in a cohesive manner.

    (iv) Precedents – Precedent cases having a bearing on the issue under consideration should be put up. If there are varying precedents or any precedent differs in certain respects from the case under examination, the difference should be brought out so as to arrive at a correct decision. 

    (v) Critical analysis – the case should then be examined on merits answering questions such as ‘what are the possible alternative solutions/ which is the best solution? It should be ensured that views of other Divisions/Ministries etc. have been obtained where necessary. Attention should also be paid to other aspects like the financial and other implications, repercussions, and the modality of implementing the decision and the authority competent to make a decision. 

   (vi) Concluding paragraph – the concluding paragraph should suggest a the course of action for consideration. In cases where a decision is to be taken by a higher authority like Committee, Board, etc. the point or points on which the decision of such higher authority is sought should be specifically mentioned. 

Referencing in Govt Office Note Sheet- 

Referencing is the process of identifying a document, decision and facts mentioned in a note, draft or office copy of the communication issued. Referencing involves a series of activities indicated below: 

    1. Every page in each part of the file (viz. notes, correspondence, appendix to notes and appendix to correspondence) will be consecutively numbered in separate series, in pencil. Blank intervening pages, if any, will not be numbered. 

    2. Each item of correspondence in a file, whether receipt or issue, will be assigned a serial number which will be displayed prominently in red ink on the top middle portion of its first page.

    3. The paper under consideration on a file will be flagged ‘PUC’ and the latest fresh receipt noted upon, as ‘F.R’. In no circumstances, will a slip, other than ‘PUC and ‘FR’ be attached to any paper in a current file. If there are more than one fresh receipt in a case, these should be flagged as ‘F.R I’, ‘FR II’ and so on.

   4. In referring to the papers flagged ‘PUC’ or ‘FR’ the relevant page numbers will be quoted invariably in the margin. Other papers in a current file will be referred to by their page numbers.

    5. Recorded files and other papers put up with the current file will be flagged with alphabetical slips for quick identification. Only one alphabetical slip will be attached to a recorded file or compilation. If two or more papers contained in the same file or compilation are to be referred to, they should be identified by the relevant page numbers in addition to the alphabetical slip, e.g. ‘A’/23 n., ‘A’/17 C and so on.

    6. To facilitate the identification of references to papers contained in other files after the removal of slips, the number of the file referred to will be quoted invariably in the body of the note. The relevant page numbers, together with the alphabetical slip attached thereto, will be indicated in the margin. Similarly, the number and date of orders, notifications and resolutions, and, in the case of acts, rules and regulations their brief title together with the number of the relevant section, rule, paragraph or clause, referred to will be quoted in the body of the notes.

    7. Rules or other compilations referred to in a case need not be put up if copies thereof are expected to be available with the officer to whom the case is being submitted. The fact of such compilations not having been put up will be indicated in the margin of the notes in pencil. 

    8. The reference slips will be pinned neatly on the inside of the papers sought to be flagged. When a number of papers put up in a case are to be flagged, the slips will be spread over the entire width of the file so that every slip is easily visible.

Noting on inter-departmental references – 

Interdepartmental references broadly fall under two categories, namely: 

    1. Cases where reference is merely for ascertaining factual information; and

    2. Cases in which the reference seeks concurrence, opinion or a ruling from the Ministry referred to.  

(a) Where the reference requires information of a factual nature or other action based on a clear precedent or practice, the dealing hand in the receiving Department may straightaway record a note on the file.

(b) If the reference seeks an opinion, ruling or concurrence of the receiving department and requires detailed examination, such examination will normally be done separately and only the officer responsible for commenting upon the reference will record the final views on the file. This separate examination can be done through routine notes or on what is commonly known as “shadow files”’ which are opened subject-wise in the receiving department.

(c) When an officer records a note on a file after obtaining the orders of a higher officer, a remark that “this has the approval of------“ should be added in that note. 

(d) A copy of the note finally recorded on the main file will be retained with the routine notes/shadow file, before the main file is returned to the originating Department.

The inter-departmental note recorded on the file of the originating Department will bear the subject file number (shadow file number) to facilitate filing of papers and their subsequent retrieval for future reference. 

Single File System (SFS) - 

1) This will apply to matters, which have to be referred by the non-secretariat organization (NSO) to the department for seeking a sanction/order, i.e. a decision not within its delegated powers. 

2) The file cover of an SFS case should prominently show the name of the (originating) NSO and likewise indicate that it follows the SFS system.

3) The SFS file need not bear an I.D. No. or other formal method of sending, but will be sent as though it is from one officer to another in the same organization. 

4) The SFS file should be complete in all respects, so as to enable the department to take a decision expeditiously; hence the NSO will ensure that:

    a) Every point for decision/order is clearly brought out;

    b) All relevant connected papers are placed on the file, properly arranged and referred to;

   c) Draft orders/sanctions are put up, where they are required to be approved by the department for issue; and

    d) The availability of funds, etc., is certified where additional expenditure is involved in the proposal.

5) The officer last dealing with the SFS case in the NSO will mark it to the appropriate officer in the department, by name; policy files will, however, be referred to the department at appropriate levels to be determined by the department and the NSO concerned, through a general order. 

6) All SFS files will be invariably routed through the central registry of the department concerned. Their receipt will be entered in a separate register, which will also record, against the relevant receipt entry, the despatch of the file on its return to the NSO. 

7) As a rule, all notings in the department will be on the NSO file. However, where sensitive or delicate matters in the sphere of personnel, policy issues and finance are involved, the recording of notes in ‘duplicate’ files may be permitted by issuing general or special orders by the department. This will be done at a particular stage of the SFS case or at or above a particular level, with the final decision thereafter being suitably recorded on the SFS file. 

8) As a convention, the secretariat noting on an SFS file will start on a new page and the noting done sequentially-save in matters of the nature referred to in (7) above. 

9) Action to implement the government decision in SFS case, will be initiated in and by the NSO on the return of the file. Order so issued should specifically state that they have received the concurrence of Government in the department concerned. Copies of every sanction/order so issued by the NSO, will be endorsed without fail to all the officers concerned in the department. 

Arrangement of papers in a case while writing Govt Office Notes-

While submitting a case, the papers, folders, reference book etc., are to be arranged in the following order from top downwards:- 

  1.     Reference books; 
  2.     Notes portion of the current file ending with the note for consideration; 
  3.     Running summary of facts; 
  4.     Draft for approval, if any; 
  5.    Correspondence portion of the current file ending with the latest receipt or issue, as the case may be; 
  6.     Appendix to notes and correspondence; 
  7.     Standing Guard File, standing note or reference folder, if any; 
  8.    Other papers, if any, referred to e.g. extract of notes or correspondence from other files, copies of orders, resolutions, gazettes, arranged in chronological order, the latest being placed on the top; 
  9.     Recorded files, if any, arranged in chronological order, the latest being placed on the top; 
  10.     Routine notes and papers arranged in chronological order and placed in a separate cover.

Linking and De-linking of files

1. If the issues raised in two or more current files are so inter-connected that they must be dealt with together simultaneously, the relevant files will be linked in the manner indicated in (2) below. Such linking may also be resorted to if a paper on one current file is required for reference in dealing with another current file unless a copy of the paper can be conveniently placed on the first file. 

2. When files are to be linked, strings of the file board of the lower file (but not its flaps) will be tied round the upper file. The strings of the file board of the upper file will be tied underneath it in a bow so that each file is intact with all its connected papers properly arranged on its file board or flap. 

3. On receipt back after completion of action, the linked files will be immediately de-linked after taking relevant extracts and placing them on the relevant files, where necessary. 

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