Noting and Drafting Explained!
If you’ve recently found out that you’ve been selected for a government job, then you should know that noting and drafting is the backbone of government services.
Whether you’ve never entered a government office before or not, you’ve come to the right place to learn about official noting and drafting.
The thing with noting and drafting is that even though it’s a part of daily government functioning, it can be intimidating for somebody who has never done it before. The problem with learning from manuals and handbooks is that they only give you definitions and fail to deliver on application.
Moreover, if you ask somebody how to write noting and drafting, the information you’ll receive will be broken and incomplete. Here, you’ll find theoretical knowledge merged with practical experience to give you the most effective guide for learning or improving your noting and drafting skills.
This guide has been divided into three parts. The first talks about how to prepare yourself for noting and drafting, the second about how to write noting and drafting and the third about editing your work. If you follow each of these steps, you’ll be able to handle any and every case that ever comes your way.
Preparation Before Noting and Drafting
Before you write a single word or even wonder about how to write noting and drafting, you must do the background work. You must know the facts about the case and what you hope to achieve in the end. If you don’t have the right context, even the simplest of cases can turn into a complicated mess.
Now let’s talk about how to prepare for noting and drafting separately.
What to Do Before Noting
Noting is the more difficult element of the combination of noting and drafting. A note is usually initiated by an Assistant. The most important goal of a note is to assist the decision making process. Noting does that by bringing out and analysing the most important facts of the case in question. However, before we delve into writing the noting, let’s consider how a case actually begins.
If you’re an Assistant, you’ll either receive a dak or a file. Regardless of what you receive, you’ll be required to initiate an action.
If you receive a dak, then you need to figure out where to place it in the file. Where a dak is placed on a file depends on the subject that it covers. Sometimes, a dak will warrant a new file altogether. So, you’ll also have to analyse whether you need to open a new file for it. This analysis is simple because all you’ll need to do is figure out if the subject of the dak is already covered in a previous file. If it is, then the dak goes into that file but if it isn’t, then a new file must be opened. Once the dak has been given its proper place, you can start the background work on the case.
If you’ve received a file, then you need to find out the issue pertaining to that file. In the majority of cases, you’ll either find a request for action or request for clarification on the noting part of the file (if you don’t know where to find noting in the file, refer to this article).
Here’s the process that you should ideally follow.
Step I: Schedule
The first thing you must do is check if there is an Urgency Grading on the file or the dak. An important or time bound case should naturally be given priority. RTIs especially should be given primacy. At this stage, you should also give yourself a mental deadline for putting up the noting.
Step II: Collate and Comprehend
Once you know how much time you have, you should start paying attention to all the factors involved in the case. Understanding the case or the problem is the key here. A thorough analysis of the problem must be done. In the process, you may also feel the need to collect more information about the case. Anything and everything relevant to the case and problem must not only be collected but also placed on the file and referred to in the noting.
Step III: Check Precedence
Whether you take this step before or after step II is entirely dependent on the case and your preferences. Checking precedence is also important as it maintains consistency in disposal of similar cases. At the same time, looking at similar cases and how they were dealt with in the past will definitely give you a better understanding of the case.
Step IV: Discuss
If you have studied the case well, you should have a plan of action or solution for it by now. However, before you proceed to the next stage, you should ideally discuss it with your seniors. After all, they will be the first people to read your noting.
Getting their advice can make life easier for you. Furthermore, there’s no substitute for experience and the senior officer may point you towards a better solution than what you may have pinpointed. If your senior does point out a more efficient solution, you should make sure that you incorporate it in your noting later.
Follow this process and you shouldn’t have much trouble writing a noting.
What to do Before Drafting
While noting may be the more challenging between noting and drafting, its drafting that carries with it more risk because it is always for the final decision and not deliberation. So, before you start drafting a communication, it will help if you consider the following elements:
Element I: The Sender
The key thing to remember is that you are writing on someone else’s behalf. This means that, before you start writing, you have to capture the mindset of the actual sender and formulate your writing on that basis. Gathering information like designation of the sender and the receiver, address, etc. will help you write from the perspective of the officer who will be approving and finally signing the draft.
Element II: The Form
Now that you’re in the right frame of mind to begin writing, you must decide upon the form of communication. There are different forms of communications that are put to use in different situations. To decide which one you should you will need details like what is the level of formality and who is the target audience amongst other things.
Element III: The Purpose
The purpose of sending the communication will help you decide what to include and what not to include in the draft. The questions that can help you decide are:
- Is it a query?
- Is it for information?
- Is it meant to convey orders?
- Is it meant to give guidelines?
Once you have all this information you can move on to actually writing the draft.
Writing Noting and Drafting
Now that you have done the background work associated with noting and drafting, you can come to the question of how to write noting and drafting. Before, we actually go into the steps involved in formulating a note or a draft, let’s understand the difference between the process of writing a note and writing a draft.
The difference arises from the fact that they are expected to perform different functions. While noting focuses on thorough examination of a case from every angle, drafting is concerned with accurately conveying a message. While noting does and should have many points of view, a draft should only have one. Now let’s talk about the steps involved in writing noting and drafting one by one:
If you’ve been following the above steps, you should have a case file with all the information that is relevant to the case by now. You should also have a good understanding of your case and a viable solution with a deadline. Armed with this information, you’re ready to begin writing a noting. Follow these steps to write your noting:
Step I: Check the Type of Case
There are different types of cases in the Government setup and each of them is unique in its own way. What you write in your noting will depend entirely on the type of case that you have at hand. Problem solving and policy planning cases require the most detailed noting. A comprehensive noting for problem solving cases should answer the following questions.
- What is the problem?
- How has the problem arisen?
- What are the rules and the policies relevant to the case?
- What are the viable options?
- What is the best solution and how will it solve the problem?
Step II: Check Previous Notings
The type of the case you’ve been handed will determine how much noting will be required. Once you’ve figured this out, it’s time to actually start writing the noting. In order to get started, looking at previous notings pertaining to similar cases is highly recommended.
Doing this will give you context, while at the same time making you more confident of your knowledgebase. However, it’s best that you borrow only inspiration from old notings and not copy the whole note. If you never do it yourself, you will never be able to improve your official noting and drafting skills.
If you know who the sender is, what form should be used, and what type of information you want to convey, writing a draft is quite easy. Since every type of office communication has a set format, all you have to do is fill it with the right information and content. Still, there’re some things that you need to remember while writing a draft. These are.
- The one and only purpose of a draft is to clearly, unambiguously, and politely convey the intended message.
- To make the message very clear, avoid using complicated and heavy words.
- The draft should be as concise as possible which is why you should avoid using unnecessary words.
- Work with pre made templates on a computer to speed up the process. All you have to do is insert new details in an already set format.
Congratulations! By now you should at least have the first raw copy of your noting or drafting. But wait, it’s not over yet. The battle is still not won. You must edit and review your work before you can finally put it up on the file.
How to Review Noting
Reviewing noting involves reviewing three aspects of your noting i.e. language, content and finally formatting. There are many important guidelines covering all these aspects. Here are the most important ones.
Language Based Guidelines
The three things to remember here is that your language should be concise, clear, and polite. This means that the length of the noting should be in accordance to the case. Tendencies of using too many words or words that are too complicated should be checked. And finally, you should always be polite in your noting, even if you observe a mistake or inconsistency in someone else’s work.
Content Based Guidelines
When you are reviewing the content of your noting simply check if the questions that you asked before you started writing, have been answered or not. Furthermore, there should not be any repetition in your noting. Pay special attention to remove literal repetitions. If you need to draw attention to some document, simply place it on the file and refer to it in your noting. Also, make sure that facts and references stated in your noting are accurate.
Formatting Based Guidelines
When you have checked and improved the language and content of the noting, it is time to check the formatting. This is the final stage. After this you’ll be ready to put up your note. Here, you should check if proper margins have been left and the text has been broken up into paragraphs. Pay attention to things like file values, serial numbers, and proper flagging along with any other element that comes under formatting.
How to Review Drafting
You might think that since the draft is already a rough and preliminary sketch which will be whetted by your seniors, you don’t have to brother with editing it. However, that’s not true. Yes, the content of your draft may be changed by the officer but formatting is your responsibility. Here are some guidelines to review a draft before you put it up to your seniors.
- Make sure that your draft has the margins as suggested in the prescribed format. Typing the draft in double spacing ensures that there is enough room for any additions in the draft.
- Always give your draft an apt subject along with an appropriate Security and Urgency Grading to ensure its proper handling.
- If there are enclosures that need to be sent along with the communication, mention them on your draft.
- There may be situations where you may want to put up more than one draft. In that case flag your draft “DFA I”, “DFA II” and so on.
Before finally putting up your draft, the one thing you can ask yourself is whether you’ve been able to convey what you intended to clearly or not. If you think you have, good job and well done!
Just like you must be able to talk before you can sing and walk before you can fly, you need to master the basics before becoming an expert of noting and drafting.
Following an in-depth step by step procedure like the one described above will help you master each and every component of noting and drafting. When you practice these components again and again, you’ll begin to notice intricacies. Further practice will make the entire process second nature to you to a point where you don’t even have to think about noting and drafting to do noting and drafting!