General Medical Officer (GMO) Manual: Administrative Section


Department of the Navy
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery


Writing is expressing thoughts on paper. Your writing represents you when you can’t be there in person. If your writing is flawed, your reader will believe your thinking is flawed.

The Department of the Navy’s Correspondence Manual and the Government Printing Office (GPO) Style Manual (1984) provide required standards for writing. Always write to the level of your audience and don't try to impress your reader with unusual or difficult to understand words and phrases. Write in clear, concise, short sentences. When finished, have someone read your correspondence. Be grateful for comments, corrections, and suggestions that can be applied to your written material.


Obtain a copy of SECNAVINST 5216.5, the Department of the Navy Correspondence Manual, and read section B entitled "Organized Writing". Just about every writer of official correspondence has a copy close at hand. Aboard ship, the chief or senior enlisted in sick bay can get one for you. When ashore, ask the department secretary for a copy or ask your supply officer. This reference is free.

How To Write In Navy Format

There are many different types of naval correspondence, but they are all based on a standard format. The format for a naval letter and an example is shown below.

SampleLetter.gif (74104 bytes)



  1. SECNAVINST 5216.5, Department of the Navy Correspondence Manual.
  2. Government Printing Office Style Manual, 1984. Available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, stock number 021-000 00120-1.

Reviewed by HMCS(FMF) Johnny West, MED-911, BUMED, Washington, D.C. (1999).


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