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1.1. Introduction:

            Now that you have received currents, entered them in the Personal Register and opened a file, a decision needs to be taken to communicate to the person/organisation who has sent the communication to us. You might have noticed that the file is put up to the competent authority for taking an appropriate decision. It means that the file is put up with a note bringing out all relevant points to facilitate taking the decision. It also indicates the responsibility of the dealing hand that he / she should prepare a note, which facilitates for a quick decision. We will discuss how a note is to be prepared and the skills required for noting in this Unit.

1.2. Objectives

On completion of this Unit, you will be able to:

            1. Define Note and Noting
            2. Describe the skills required to prepare a note
            3. Explain the need for using simple words in noting
            4. Explain the need for editing our sentences
            5. List out the important points in preparing an office note
            6. Explain the term functional approach to noting
            7. Draft a note with given material

1.3. Note and Noting

Why record a Note?

The working of the government office is a continuous affair. The officers may come and go, but the policy of the government has to remain uniform in a given set of circumstances. It is therefore, necessary to have a written record of the reasons for adopting a particular course of action in a case so as to ensure identical treatment to a similar case coming up in future.

The “Note” thus helps in maintaining consistency and continuity to the actions and decisions of the government.

The “Note” also provide a very useful guide to the officers who may have to handle the same or similar cases in future in as much as they reveal the line of thought and logic behind the decision taken earlier.

Note: Definition

“Note” means remarks recorded on a case or paper under consideration to facilitate its disposal and include précis of previous papers, analysis of questions requiring decision, suggestions regarding the course of action and the orders passed thereon.

A “Note” contains facts and figures, rules, law, procedures, and precedents, if any, as also views of other sections/departments, which might have been consulted.

It helps the decision taking authority in taking a decision. It should normally comprise a brief resume of the case, the analysis/statement of the points at issue, rule position, best course of action, orders if any already passed on the subject.

Noting: Definition

        “Noting” means preparing a note for taking a decision on a case.

Whenever “Noting” is done certain points should be kept in mind by the dealing assistant. Would you like to write down some of the important points in preparing a note?

                    Activity - Participants Activity (Please see the workbook)

Every note should contain: 1) Content and 2) Reasons for, 

            1. Statement of the case or problem
            2. Relevant facts and figures
            3. Procedure prescribed and precedents, (if any)
            4. Law/Rules etc. on the subject and their application
            5. Views/advice of others (Government/Departments/sections etc. if any, consulted)
            6. Possible course of action
            7. Implications (legal, social, administrative, financial etc) of the various options available
            8. Suggested course of action (with reasons for such action)

Reasons for:-
            1. Facilities / ensures comprehensive examination
            2. Provides written record of decision taken and justifications thereof
            3. Constitutes proof of approval/orders by the competent authority
            4. Forms a precedent for future cases
            5. Ensures consistency of approach
            6. Provides historical and evidential material

How it should be:-

1. Recorded on a Note sheet

2. Even at least one word should be carried over to the next page, instead of ending the note at the extreme bottom of the page.

3. At least one blank courtesy sheet should be added for further Noting.

4. Concise (comprehensive)

5. Precise (business like and to the point)

6. Objective and unbiased

7. In third person

8. Polite (temperate language, even when pointing out obvious mistakes / wrong statements)

9. Simply worded (logically sequenced and with good readership appeal)

10. Factually correct (facts only)

11. Non-repetitive. To draw attention to something already discussed or available, instead of reproducing again, proper references on the margin or body of the note be made.

12. Referenced. This will also help in achieving in economy of words and comprehensiveness.

13. Short, numbered paragraphs of few sentences each dealing with specific issue raised on the subject.

14. Finally signed with date by the dealing hand on the left-hand bottom without wasting much space in between the note and signature.

            1. Verbosity i.e., use of too many words
            2. Long and complicated sentences
            3. Reproduction of rules and regulations
            4. Bias
            5. Pasting or replacing the existing notes

1.4. Noting skills

        Whenever you put up a note you should take care about the following:

1.4.1. Commands and Essentials

        Check-up           - FACTS
        Supply               - MISSING FACTS
        Refer                  - RULES/REGULATIONS
        Quote                 - PRECEDENTS
        Suggest              - ALTERNATIVES
        Assess                - IMPLICATIONS

Depending upon the type of the case, you have to go for either maximum i.e., a lengthy note or otherwise. Following are some of the instances you should note while noting.


            S.NO:        NATURE OF CASE          NECESSITY OF NOTING
                1.          Strategic/Operational             -   Maximum
                2.          Problem Solving                    -   Maximum
                3.          Correspondence handling      -    Minimum
                4.          Routine Cases                        -    Minimum
                5.          Unnecessary Cases                 -   No noting

You have seen the commands and essentials in noting above. Now let us discuss more about writing a note. Whenever you put up a note examine the case with the following questions, which will help you.

1.4.2. Searching Questions – One Dozen

            1. What is the problem?
            2. How has it originated the case?
            3. What is the nature of the case?
            4. Is it worth detailed examination?
            5. Can it be broken into major and ancillary parts?
            6. Does any part involve any other agency?
            7. Is there any rule/policy/guideline/precedent available?
            8. What are possible alternative solutions?
            9. Which is the best solution? Why?
            10. What should be its implication?
            11. If not worth detailed examination, is there standard process sheet?
            12. Who will finally take the decision?

1.4.3. Use the simple word

It is not always the shorter word that is better understood. For example, more people understand the word
            “Negligent” than the word “derelict”
            “Think” is usually a better word than “deem”

Sometimes two or three words are required to take the place of one showy word. And there is nothing wrong with that. Your aim is to make your writing easy to read and understand not to save space on the page. We should try to EXPRESS rather than IMPRESS. Here are a few examples of simpler replacements of the showy words:

                S.No:    Showy                     Simple
                1.         Constitutes         -    Makes up
                2.         Component        -    Part
                3.         Utilization         -    Use
                4.         Mandatory         -    Required
                5.         Cogitate             -    Think about
                6.         Penultimate       -    Last but one
                7.         Obviate              -    Make unnecessary
                8.        Proximo               -    Next Month

1.4.4. Précis writing

            Every one of us in our school and college days have done this précis Writing as part of grammar while learning languages. Do you remember it? Noting is nothing but writing a précis of the case written in a lengthy communication by the sender. After the discussion we had above about how to write a note, we don’t think it is necessary to give more information about précis writing except to draw your attention to the above paragraphs.

            Instead of giving that, we would like you to attempt to do it on your own. We request you to go back to your grammar books and refresh yourself.


                Activity - Participants Activity (Please see the workbook)

1.5. Edit your writing

        More often than not, deadwood is noticed in our notes and drafts that we put up. Not that it is not there in everyday English –rather it is very much there; nor is it grammatically wrong. Consider the following sentence.

        “The reason the attendance figure today is so low is due to the fact that the RTC has followed the policy of keeping the buses off road to avoid confrontation with the agitating students”.

Can you spot the deadwood? Here it is:

            ü The reason (can be omitted)
            ü Figure (can be omitted)
            ü Due to the fact that (can be replaced with the word “because”)
            ü Followed the policy of keeping (can be replaced with the word “kept”)

The sentence should, therefore, appear as:

     “The attendance, today, is so low because the RTC has kept the buses off road to avoid confrontations with the agitating students”.

       Similarly, it is commonly seen that we write, “Find enclosed herewith whereas either “find enclosed” or “find herewith” should be sufficient. Hence, there is need to edit our writing. Our purpose is not necessarily to achieve brevity; it is to help our readers by removing deadwood that they have to hurdle over.  Would you like to do a small exercise in this regard?

            Activity -  Participants Activity

1.6. Non sequiturs

        No doubt it is important that you edit your writing to get rid of deadwood and redundancies. But our aim is not to save space; it is only to help the reader. As such, in order to edit let us not omit any vital information. How do we achieve that? You should be aware of the Non Sequitur, which is a Latin term. It means, “it does not follow”. Let us say there are so many steps in your presentation, which you are doing through your note, and you miss some of these steps. What would be the result? The result would be that the reader may be your officer would not be able to understand what you intend to achieve with the note.   Now look at the following:

Non sequitur

        The new building of the District Training Center at Hasanparthi of Warangal district has now been completed and we have requested the RTC for regular bus service from its main terminals.”


        “The new building of the District Training Center at Hasanparthi of Warangal district has now been completed. We shall start operating from there latest by the end of next month. Besides our own staff, most of the trainees will be required to reach the Centre from all parts of Warangal. Since Hasanparthi is not very well connected, we have requested the RTC for regular bus service from its main terminals”

        You should therefore understand that while preparing a note the steps require to be followed should not be overlooked and it is essential to follow all the steps for better clarity and understanding.

        Now that we have discussed about the sequiturs, see if you can supply the material that is missing in the following:

           Activity - Participants Activity (Please see the workbook)

1.7. Check your sentences

        There is no need to mention that using the right words go a long way to make our notes easy to read and understand. Words make up sentences and in fact, the sentences are the basic thought units of writing. Their length and general structure should, therefore, be given maximum attention.

        You might have noticed that many of us, probably most of us, tends to ignore sentence length as a factor in readability. Study made in this area shows that readers have difficulty with long sentences used in the notes and correspondence portions in the files. The question that you propose to ask immediately is what is the best sentence length? There is no formula. But still the moment the number of words in a sentence is about to cross twenty or so, we must pause. Then we should examine whether we can start a new sentence to make the presentation more effective.

        This need not lead you to infer that all sentences should be short. Too many short sentences can also present difficulty in reading and understanding like too many long ones. In terms of sentence length, the objective is to strive for variety, that is, a good mixture of short, medium, and lengthy sentences. Now look at the following:

        “The minimum essentials of an Annual Report of a department are an organizational chart, annual action plan and performance appraisal reports and beyond these essentials the content of the report becomes an interesting challenge to the bureaucratic imagination. The elements selected for report, the order in which they appear and the way they are presented are finally approved, but most reports will contain these elements: cover title page, table of contents, major achievements and the financial constraints”.

You can see that the two sentences above contain four Distinct ideas. Let us separate them:

        “The minimum essentials of an Annual Report of a department are an organization chart, annual action plan and performance appraisal reports. Beyond these essentials, the content of the report becomes an interesting challenge to the bureaucratic imagination.

       The elements selected for the report, the order in which they appear and the ways they are presented are finally approved.

        However, most reports will contain these elements: cover, title page, and table of contents, major achievements and the financial constraints.”

    If you look both the above, you will realize that to write effectively one has to visualize himself/herself as taking readers by the hand and leading them through a territory they are not familiar with. A help that must be provided is the bridge that connects one idea with another.

Now look at the following sentences:

“It would be a mistake, in our opinion, to ignore complaints from the consumer. We should not push the ‘panic button’ every time we receive an irate letter”

What is missing in these sentences? Would you like to identify?

            Activity - Participants Activity (Please see the workbook)

1.8. Guidelines for Noting

        Now that we have familiarized ourselves with important points to be remembered in noting, let us see the guidelines for use in preparing an office note.

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


b. A simple and direct style of writing should always be adopted. Use of involved language should be avoided


c. Notes and orders should normally be recorded on the note sheets


d. Notes should not be recorded on the receipt itself except in very routine matters


e. Verbatim reproduction of extracts from, or paraphrasing of the currents or of notes of other sections recorded on the same file, should be avoided


f. Wherever a running summary of the facts is available on the file, it should be referred to without repeating any part of the facts in the note


g. Notes should always be worded in a courteous and temperate language, free from any personal remarks, even when some apparent errors have to be pointed out in the notes recorded in another section.


h. Any remarks recorded by the immediate superior officer, or other senior officers on the receipt should first be reproduced before the note is recorded


i. An officer should confine his/her note to the actual points he / she proposes to make. He / she should not repeat or reiterate the ground already covered in the previous notes. If he agrees to the line of action suggested in the preceding note, he/she should merely append his signature.


j. 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.


k. The dealing hand has to append his/her full signatures with date on the left bellow the note. An officer will append his/her full signature on the right-hand side of the note with designation and the date


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


1.9. Functional Approach to Noting

        You should always note that “Noting” should be restricted to the minimum. It should be systematic and functional. The following approach could be adopted for noting on various categories of cases.

Routine of repetitive cases

       You will be seeing in all offices lot of routine and repetitive nature of correspondence. In such cases a standard skeleton note should be developed indicating pre-determined points of check. This will not only help the dealing hand to look into all aspects without waste of much time and also without missing any of the points. In respect of other routine cases a fair draft should be put up without any noting

Correspondence handling cases

These cases do not require detailed noting. It would be sufficient if a brief note is recorded indicating the issue and consideration and the suggested action for.

Ex: The Current is a letter from the headquarters asking for information regarding __________________. The information is available from the ________________. A draft reply is put up for approval.

Problem solving cases

    These are the cases actually dealing with the problems of public or others. Details need to be examined. In these cases, a detailed note will be necessary. Even then the note should be concise and to the point, covering the following aspects:

        i. What is the problem?
        ii. How has it arisen?
        iii. What is the rule, policy, or precedent?
        iv. What are the possible solutions?
        v. Which is the best solution? Why?
        vi. What will be consequences of the proposed solution?

The points mentioned below should also be useful in such cases

Policy and planning cases.

        These types of cases would not be large in number in any organization. They would, however, require a thorough examination, particularly because important decisions are to be taken at top management level. A note in such cases should be structured in the following manner

i. Problem: state the problem. How it 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 is not available to enable thorough examination, it should be collected before attempting a note.


iii. Rule, policy etc: The relevant rule position in accordance with the Government orders or Codes and manuals to be brought out clearly as far as it relates to the issue under consideration.


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 like what the possible alternative solutions are / which is the best solution. It should be ensured that views of other sections 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 decisions and the authority competent to take a decision


vi. Concluding para: The concluding para should suggest a course of action for consideration. In cases where a decision is to be taken by higher authority like committee, board etc the point or points on which the decision of such higher authority is sought should be specifically mentioned.

Modifications of notes

i. Whenever a senior officer finds it necessary to correct or to modify the facts stated in a note put up to him/her, he/she should do so by recording his/her own note giving his/her views on the subject, he/she should not require the note recorded by his/her junior to be modified or replaced.


ii. Notes recorded on a file should, in no circumstances be pasted over, because pasting over (i) amounts to mutilation of official records and (ii) gives an inelegant look to the file

Oral discussion: Minutes

     All points emerging from discussions between two or more Officers in a meeting and the conclusions reached will be recorded as minutes of the meeting. Confirmation of the outcome of the meeting i.e., the minutes is to be signed by all the participating officers.

Oral instructions by higher officers

        Normally, it is incumbent on the superior officer to give his/her direction in writing regarding the manner of dealing with a case. In some occasions due to paucity of time at the disposal, the instructions have been given orally. 

        The oral instructions thus given may be confirmed in writing at the earliest opportunity. If such instructions are not from the immediate superior, it is to be brought to his / her notice. In case the orders not confirmed in writing at a later date, it is necessary that the person putting up the note should indicate the action taken by him / her on such oral orders and bring it to the competent authority and take his / her post approval.

1.10. Summing up

        We have discussed about why do we need noting in an office? It is to facilitate to take decisions on an issue or issues concerning public or otherwise.

        We learnt what is “Note and Noting”. We discussed various aspects of preparing a note. Following are the important things that should be kept in mind while preparing a note.

Noting skills

        Ø Commands
        Ø Searching Questions
        Ø Use of simple words
        Ø Précis writing
        Ø Edit your writing
        Ø Non-sequiturs
        Ø Check your sentences
        Ø Guidelines for Noting
        Ø Functional Approach to Noting

        What is the purpose of the note? The most important question to be addressed to ourselves, in preparing a note and taken care of it throughout the noting.

1.11. Self-Assessment

            Activity - Participants Activity (Please see the workbook)

1.12. Journey to next Unit

            In this unit, we have discussed about note and noting. Once a decision is taken on the note put up, it is to be communicated to the person or organization on whose instance the file has been started. Various types of communications are used to convey the decision. Sometimes this depends on the level of the officers, sometimes on the nature of the case. Whatever is the nature, a communication needs to be drafted first.

            How to draft? Drafting not only the communication, but the note should also be drafted. We would discuss about drafting in the next unit of this module.

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