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Message Handling Tips

Radiogram forms

  • Punctuation marks are not used in the text with few exceptions, like "X," used to denote a period. Other punctuation marks are spelled as with "QUERY" for a question mark.

  • What about names like "St. Louis"? The consensus is that it would be two words, the first being a "letter group", spelled phonetically as "Sierra Tango" (no punctuation).

  • The signature at the end of a Radiogram is not included in the "count" in the preamble.

  • Radiograms will normally indicate the time in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) using the 24 hour clock, or will not have the time listed (time and handling instruction are optional).

  • Although you will usually see handling instructions (HX) on an ARRL Radiogram, they are actually optional. If someone is reading the preamble of a Radiogram and skips over the handling instructions, it is likely that there weren't any.

  • The "time filed" Radiogram entry is also optional.

  • When there are handling instructions, you should read the "HX" plus the other letter. Example: HXC (Hotel X-Ray Charlie)

  • If this is a numbered Radiogram, the letters "ARL" plus a number would be put in the Preamble under Check. It is also to be noted that sometimes Radiograms contain several numbered messages. They can also have extra sentences in them. This must all be in the Check box in the Preamble.

  • When reading the Check Box in the Preamble of a Numbered Radiogram, the preferred way is to read ARL as just letters, no saying of "letter group", and no phonetics. The same is true for when ARL is read in the text.

  • Read the message so that it makes sense. That does not always mean a group of five words. And, yes, there can be more than 25 words in a Radiogram.

ICS-213 forms

  • There are numerous versions of the ICS-213 form, but they all contain the same basic elements. The message is TO someone and that person has a POSITION or title. The message is FROM someone, who also has a POSITION or title. The message has a SUBJECT and was created on a specific DATE at a certain TIME. Then there is the MESSAGE itself. Following the message is a SIGNATURE and that person's POSITION. While these elements may be arranged in different ways or two elements may be in the same box, they are functionally still identical. If you know how use one version of the form, you should have no trouble using any of the others. (Exception: The "ARRL ICS-213" form has additional elements, but we do not anticipate using this form any time soon.)

  • All ICS-213 messages are local and therefore the "TIME:" field indicates the local time, using the 24 hour clock.

  • Punctuation marks will be read as they are so named: Example: A "." (period) will be read "period"; A "," (comma) will be read "comma" and so on.

Both forms

  • Always spell out homonyms such as "to", "too", and "two".
  • When reading acronyms or abbreviations, such as ARES, CDC or FBI, say "letter group" and then say each letter phonetically.

  • When reading a combination of letters and number, such as ESF8, say "mixed group" and then say each letter phonetically.

  • Sometimes you will find a typo in a message. You may make note of it, but do not correct it. Always read the message exactly as it is written, and write it down exactly as you hear it on the air. (Reason: Sometimes it's not a typo, but rather the distinctive jargon used by the sender and receiver. Rather than second-guess which it is, we always send the message unaltered.)

  • When reading an amateur radio call sign, it is recommended that you say it phonetically.

  • When reading the body of a message, the style I favor is to read a single line slowly, inserting phonetics and any other clarifications, and then repeat the line at a conversational speed before moving on to the next line.

  • It is best to spell out difficult or unusual words, such as "beseiged" or "chiggers".

  • Spell out all proper names as most can have more than one spelling, such as "Philip" and "Phillip", or "Stephen" and "Steven".

  • When reading a message over the air, remember that the person at the other end is writing it down. Go slowly, and give them time to write long or complicated words.

  • Using the terms, "words after" or "all after" is appropriate any time parts of a message are not understood.
    Possible exception: The receiving operator did not get various parts of the street address. It is easier to just say: "I need a fill of the address". It is faster and easier to ask for the entire address than to try to communicate all the fills needed.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q: If the intended recipient of a message is not on the air and no phone number is given, how does one deliver it?
    A: There is no answer that fits every situation, but generally speaking, by any means necessary.

  • Q: Why is there a "From" and also a "Signature" section? Aren't they the same thing?
    A: The two sections serve different purposes. The "From" indicates the office where the message originated, while the "Signature" indicates the authority that makes the message official. While the two sections may contain the same information, they don't always.

  • Q: Why is there no place on the message forms for the sending and receiving operators, and possibly relay operators?
    A: In the context of the message, they are not important. That information would, however, be noted in the operators' logs.

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