Message Format #2
The address in a message is easy, but it's often not done correctly. Be sure to get the complete information from the person for whom you're sending the message. If the message to addressed to someone in the military, the MARS system, into which your message may be refiled, requires the serviceperson's Social Security Number and full military address. Some programs also need the sender's full address, so it wouldn't hurt to include that in the signature. An accurate address is a necessity -- and makes prompt delivery a lot more likely.
The text of the message is, of course, of a non-commercial nature. It should be limited to 25 words or less. It doesn't include any elements of the preamble, address, or signature. The text is set off from the rest of the message by using the word "break" (BT on CW, RTTY, AMTOR, or PACKET) before sending the text and just after the text before the signature. Separators in the text are X's, read as "initial X-ray" when sending the message but never read to the recipient of the message. Just pause a little at the end of each word group when you're delivering a message.
When counting the text for the check, each word, initial group (QTH), mixed group (407TH), figure group (2332), city, state, name, etc. is ONE count. Phone numbers in the text are split into three parts -- area, prefix, and four-digit suffix -- and counted as THREE text counts. The separators (X-rays) get a count of one, too. Words which belong apart from another word (well-being) are separated and counted as TWO. Words which are natural compounds and are written together (makeshift) stay together and are counted as ONE.
If a text contains one or more ARL numbers from the Standard ARL Numbered Radiogram List, the check always reads "ARL #." Where # is the number of words in the text including the ARL and ARL numbers in the count. For example, "ARL Sixty One and Love to All" would be counted as six. The check would be "ARL 6." ARL numbers are always spelled out in the text. It's "ARL SIXTY ONE" not ARL 61. Of course, when the message is delivered, the delivering station should always translate the ARL numbers for the recipient, even if it's a ham.
The signature should be a complete as needed for the recipient. If it's to a family member or close friend, "Dad" or "Julie" would suffice. If not, both first and last names are recommended. If the message is from an official, be sure to include the person's title. If the signature includes other data, such as a membership number, Email address or service number, take special care to get the info right. One digit makes a difference.
When you've finished sending or relaying a message, you say, "End of message; No more." Of course if you have more to send, you'd say "End of message, three more" or however many you have left to send to this receiving station.
Handling traffic isn't difficult. Operating aids such as the pink card (FSD-218) and the ARRL Net Directory will answer most of your questions about traffic and the NTS. If not, look for your STM on one of the section nets. 73 --- K9LGU/ STM WI