TN 3 (08-09)

NL 00610.090 English Quick Reference Guide

This guide only applies to English notices. For the Spanish notice quick reference guide, see NL 00610.100 in this section.



Reading Level Standard

  • Sixth to eighth-grade reading level

  • For notice readability guidelines, see NL 00610.020.

Clear Writing Guidelines

For information on writing in plain language, see NL 00610.030.

Notice Elements



  • Show addresses single-spaced with even margins in block format

  • Show the return address of the originating component 4” from the left side and 1½” minimum from the top of the page or as needed for placement in a double-window envelope

  • Show the mailing address at the left margin approximately 2½” from the top of the page or as needed for placement in a window envelope

  • Show a servicing office address in the referral paragraph, placed 3½” from the left side of the page

  • For information on margins and spacing for addresses, see NL 00610.070C.3.

Bullets and Lists

  • Do not use a bulleted or numbered list for only one item

  • Place bullets ¼” from the left margin

  • Place bulleted text ½” from the left margin

  • For more information on using bullets and numbered lists, see NL 00610.060D.

  • For information on using bullets as an emphasis technique, see NL 00610.060G.

  • For information on the margins and spacing for bullets, see NL 00610.070C.4.

Charts and Tables

  • Use charts and tables to increase clarity

  • For information on using tables and charts, see NL 00610.060E.

  • For information on margins and spacing for tables and charts, see NL 00610.070C.5.

Cover Letters

  • Automated or preprinted

  • Place on top of notice

  • For cover letter guidelines, see NL 00610.070E.

Emphasis Techniques

  • Use emphasis techniques if appropriate

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

  • Never use exclamation points

  • For additional information on emphasis techniques, see NL 00610.060G.


  • List each enclosure on a separate, single-spaced line

  • Place “Enclosure(s)” left-justified below the signature and title block

  • For information on how to list notice enclosures, see NL 00610.060K.

  • For information on margins and spacing for enclosure information, see NL 00610.070C.7.


  • Use Century Schoolbook or Times New Roman font

    • First-line heading - 18-point medium

    • Second-line heading - 18-point bold

    • Third-line heading - 14-point medium

    • Subordinate heading (subheading, caption) - 12-point bold


  • Black ink

  • 20 lb. white bond paper for one-sided notices

  • 50 lb. white bond paper for two-sided notices

  • For information on ink and paper guidelines, see NL 00610.070A.


  • Incorporate SSA Internet links in notices whenever possible

  • For information on incorporating Internet website information, see NL 00610.060H.




  • Top and bottom margins - ½” minimum

  • Left and right margins - 1” minimum

  • Do not justify the right margin

  • For additional information on margins, see NL 00610.070C.1.

Spacing of text

  • Single-spacing for text

  • Double-spacing between paragraphs, subordinate headings (subheadings, captions) and subsequent text, bullets, and blocks of information

  • For additional information on spacing of text, see NL 00610.070C.1.

Multiple - Page Notices

  • First page does not contain a page number

  • Page numbers shown on second and all subsequent pages, right-justified in the upper-right corner, using the format “Page x of x”

  • Center “See Next Page” or “See Other Side” at the bottom of the first page, two lines after the last line of text

  • Place a name, claim (or case) number, date, or other appropriate data left-justified in the upper-left corner on the second and all subsequent pages

  • Ensure that at least two lines of text follow a subordinate heading (subheading, caption) on a page

  • Do not break sentences between pages

  • Never show signature or signature title alone on the last page

  • For more specific multiple-page guidelines, see NL 00610.070D.

Referral Paragraph

  • Provide appropriate SSA and other contact information

  • For more specific information about using a referral paragraph, see NL 00610.060I.


  • Depends on notice type. For information about specific signatures used, refer to NL 00601.003.

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

  • For information on using signatures and signature titles, see NL 00610.060J.

  • For information on the margins and spacing for the notice signature, see NL 00610.070C.6.

Summary Sheets

  • Use for complex computations and actions

  • For information on using summary sheets, see NL 00610.060L.

  • For information on multiple-page notices, see NL 00610.070D.


  • Use upper and lowercase Century Schoolbook or Times New Roman - 12-point medium

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

  • Write out months (for example, January)

  • For further information about font guidelines for notice text, see NL 00610.070B.1.

Titles and Salutations

  • Using titles and salutations is optional. To include a title for an adult, use Mr. or Ms.

  • Titles are not shown in the mailing address

  • For information on using salutations, see NL 00610.060A.

  • For information on using titles, see NL 00610.060B.

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
NL 00610.090 - English Quick Reference Guide - 08/12/2009
Batch run: 06/01/2017