TN 3 (08-09)

NL 00610.070 Notice Appearance Guidelines

Notices must look professional with clear, readable print and no blurred, smudged, or handwritten characters. Use the following guidelines to produce notices that are consistent in appearance.

A. Ink and paper guidelines

Use the following ink and paper guidelines when creating your notice:

  • Notices are printed in black ink.

  • Use 20 lb. white bond paper for one-sided printing.

  • Use 50 lb. white offset book paper for two-sided printing.

B. Font guidelines

Use the following guidelines for the proper font point size and style for specific sections of the notice:

1. Font guidelines for text

Use uppercase and lowercase Century Schoolbook or Times New Roman 12-point medium.

  • Avoid using all uppercase letters unless required for correct grammatical form or to meet postal standards.

  • Do not use italics.

  • Do not bold or underline more than two consecutive lines of text.

  • Use Arabic numerals instead of numbers written out in word form, unless the number starts a sentence.

  • Write out months (do not show them as numbers), for example, January.

2. Font guidelines for headings

The first page of each notice consists of first-, second-, and third-line headings, as described in NL 00610.050C.

  • First-line heading—Century Schoolbook or Times New Roman, 18-point medium

  • Second-line headingCentury Schoolbook or Times New Roman, 18-point bold

  • Third-line headingCentury Schoolbook or Times New Roman, 14-point medium

  • Subordinate headings (subheadings, captions)—Century Schoolbook or Times New Roman, 12-point bold
    EXAMPLE:

    • Social Security Administration

    • Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance

    • Notice of Award

    • If You Disagree With the Decision

C. Margin and spacing guidelines

A margin is the blank space between the text and the edge of a printed page.

Line spacing is the amount of vertical space between lines of text in a paragraph. Line spacing is specified in various ways depending on the program or software being used. In typography, line spacing is designated as a percentage or multiple of the type point size, or as a point measurement. Point measurement can be expressed as the additional amount of space that separates the bottom of one line from the top of the subsequent line (for example, 2-point, 3-point), or as the total amount of line spacing from the bottom of one line of text to the bottom of another line of text (for example, 12-point, 14-point). In many word-processing and publishing programs, line spacing is handled automatically with users specifying single- or double-spacing between lines.

1. Notice margins and spacing — general

Use the following guidelines for notice margins and spacing.

  • Use a minimum of 1 inch for right- and left-side margins and ½ inch at the top and bottom of the page. Do not justify the right margin.

  • Type the body of the notice flush to the left margin with no indentation at the beginning of paragraphs.

  • Generally, single-space, or use 2 points between the lines for notice text.

  • Double-space between paragraphs and to separate subordinate headings (subheadings, captions) from text and blocks of information.

2. Margins and spacing for headings

Use the following guidelines for margins and spacing for notice headings.

  • All headings and captions are flush with the left margin.

  • Use a minimum margin of ½ inch from the top of the page for the first-line heading.

  • Single-space first-, second-, and third-line headings.

  • Double-space subordinate headings (subheadings, captions) from subsequent text.

3. Margins and spacing for addresses

All lines of an address must be single-spaced with even margins and no indentations (block address).

  • Return address: Place the originating component’s address in block format approximately 4 inches from the left side of the page and a minimum of 1½ inches from the top of the page, or position as necessary for placement in a double-window envelope (if applicable).
    NOTE: A return address is not shown on Disability Determination Services (DDS) determination notices.

  • Date and claim number (or case number): Place the date and claim or case number directly below and in line with the return address. Use single-spacing or double-spacing to separate the date from the return address.

  • Mailing address: Place the mailing address at the left margin approximately 2½ inches from the top of the page, or position as necessary for placement in a window envelope (if applicable).

  • Servicing office address in the referral paragraph: Place the servicing office address in the referral paragraph 3½ inches from the left-side of the page.

4. Margins and spacing for bullets

Use the following guidelines for margins and spacing of bullets in notices.

  • Double-space bullets ¼ inch from the left margin and bulleted text ½ inch from the left margin.

  • Position “AND” or “OR” (between bullets) ¾ inch (approximately 10 spaces) from the left margin.
    Example:

You may choose to:

  • Receive a telephone call from your local Social Security office

OR

  • Receive your letters by certified mail.

5. Margins and spacing for tables and charts

Use the following guidelines for margins and spacing for tables and charts.

  • Use a multiple-column format for tables and charts.

  • Left-justify all chart and table headings and contents.

  • Left-justify any subordinate heading (subheading, caption) that precedes the chart or table following guidelines in NL 00610.070C.2. in this section.

Example:

Your Payment Will Change as Follows

From

Through

Amount Due Each Month

December 2008

February 2009

$30.00

March 2009

Continuing

$ 0.00

6. Margins and spacing for notice signature

Place the notice signature and title block approximately 4¼ inches from the left side of the page and on the fifth line after the end of text.

7. Margins and spacing for enclosure information

If applicable, show “Enclosure(s):” and a list of the enclosures left-justified below the signature and title block. Show the label “Enclosure(s):” and each enclosure included with the notice on a separate single-spaced line.

D. Multiple-page guidelines

The guidelines for multiple-page notices are shown below.

  • Do not use first-, second-, or third-line headings on the second and subsequent pages of the notice. These headings are shown only once on the first page of the notice.

  • The first page of a notice does not contain a page number. Show page numbers on the second and subsequent pages, right-justified in the upper-right corner using the format “Page x of x.”

  • Center “See Next Page” at the bottom of the first page of multiple-page simplex-printed notices, at least two lines after the last line of text on the page.

  • Center “See Other Side” at the bottom of the first page of multiple-page duplex-printed notices, at least two lines after the last line of text on the page).
    NOTE: “See Other Side” is not used in automated notices.

  • Use a name, claim (or case) number, date, or other appropriate data (for example, employer identification number) on the second and all subsequent pages to identify and visually tie the pages of the notice together.

    1. Left-justify the entry and place it in the upper-left corner on the second and all subsequent pages.

    2. If you use two entries, show the second entry on a second line. Left-justify and single-space the second entry directly below the first entry.

  • When text under a subordinate heading (subheading, caption) is split between two pages, ensure that at least two lines of text follow the subordinate heading on the page; otherwise, begin the subordinate heading on the next page.

  • Avoid breaking sentences between pages.

  • Avoid showing the signature and title alone on the last page of the notice.

  • Include summary sheets for notices that involve complex computations or a series of actions. For more information on summary sheets, see NL 00610.060L in this section.

E. Cover letter guidelines

Cover letters should be either automated or preprinted. Ensure that cover letters adhere to the same standards as notices. Place the cover letter on top of the notice so it is the first thing the reader sees when opening the notice.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0900610070
NL 00610.070 - Notice Appearance Guidelines - 08/12/2009
Batch run: 08/13/2009
Rev:08/12/2009