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U.S. Navy Filing Manual Online


The purpose of the Navy Filing Manual, Fourth Edition, 1941, was to provide a uniform, efficient, and time saving method for recording, filing and finding correspondence. The manual describes how Navy records were stored and retrieved from during World War II and beyond. Although the catagories evolved over time with various editions of the manual and updates, the essential elements of this system remained in use from 1925 until the 1960s. You should also note that the various Navy bureaus were permitted to elaborate on these groups and at times published their own more detailed versions of the manual. Millions of pages of records are stored and accessed using this system in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

In this online version of the manual we have attempted to keep the flavor of the original layout while taking advantage of the Web's universal accessibility. The original manual consists of 292 pages of listings by group, followed by 280 pages of the same information sorted as an alphabetical index. The computer search capability has made the index largely redundant and has not been included in this online version.

This text was captured with the use of optical character recognition software. This creates errors that are compounded while encoding for the Web. Be especially alert for missing lines, "l" and "1" confused, "O" and "0" confused. Please report any typos, or particularly annoying layout issues with the Mail Feedback Form for correction.

Our thanks to IKON Office Solutions ( for scanning services.

Note that a single page easy to search version of the same content is also available if you have fast internet access.

Richard Pekelney, Webmaster


Form NSO 124


Fourth Edition


Navy Department Seal




AUGUST 27, 1941.

1. The Secretary of the Navy, on July 5, 1923, directed that the Navy Filing Manual as compiled by the Board appointed for the purpose be adopted for use and placed in effect throughout the entire Naval Service with the exception of the United States Marine Corps. The original edition of the Navy Filing Manual was followed by the issuance to the naval service in 1931 of the second edition, and in 1939 of the third edition of the manual.

2. This fourth edition of the Navy Filing Manual, in which are incorporated additions and changes made since the issuance of the third edition in 1939, supersedes all previous editions of the manual and shall be placed in effect in the Naval Service upon receipt. The fourth edition of the Navy Filing Manual is issued in loose-leaf form to provide a more ready and convenient means for inserting subsequent additions and changes therein or for deleting obsolete matter there-from, and to obviate the necessity for frequently issuing completely revised editions of the manual.

3. The Navy Filing Manual shall be regarded as a manual issued by the Office of the Secretary, in accordance with Article 74 (1) (h), U. S. Navy Regulations, 1920, and changes therein shall be accomplished in accordance with Article 74 (2).

4. The provisions of the Navy Filing Manual shall be carried out under the direction of the Chief Clerk of the Navy Department, and to assist him in carrying out these provisions there shall be a Navy Filing Manual Permanent Committee composed of civil employees thoroughly experienced in and familiar with the requirements of record and file work, one of whom shall be designated as Senior Member.

5. The Office of the Secretary and the Bureau of Ships shall each nominate not more than two civil employees, and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Bureaus of Navigation, Ordnance, Aeronautics, Yards and Docks, Supplies and Accounts, and Medicine and Surgery, shall each nominate not more than one civil employee, to serve as members of the Navy Filing Manual Permanent Committee upon their appointment as such by the Secretary of the Navy.

Secretary of the Navy.



The first edition of the United States Navy Filing Manual was approved by the Secretary of the Navy July 5, 1923, and ordered put into use by all naval activities.

This fourth edition of the Navy Filing Manual has been put in loose leaf form so as to permit periodic replacement of obsolete pages without reprinting the entire book. In the future the Service will be notified by supplement of additions or corrections to be made in the Manual. As the blank spaces at the foot of each page are utilized that page will be reprinted and furnished as soon as possible, but in no case will these pages be reprinted until all spaces are used. As no further editions are contemplated it is essential that you maintain your Manual currently.

The many notes appearing under the subheadings in the F, N, and S groups have been to a large extent eliminated and appear as general notes in the preface to the F and N groups.

Following the general instructions will be found the complete listing of various groups and classifications under which the subject and name title groups are outlined. The careful perusal of these will add greatly to a proper understanding of the contents of the Manual. Study of the 7 "Subject Groups" and the 24 "Name Title Groups" listed in the index of classifications should give sufficient background when coupled with the following "Rules" to furnish a working knowledge of the Filing Manual. In the use of the index the symbols appearing therein should be used as a guide to the group and classifications under which the subject appears and should be used in conjunction therewith. It is specifically requested, however, that any questions arising on the use of the Manual be referred to the Office of the Secretary, Navy Department, Washington, D. C.

File numbers are formed for the various classifications of the filing system by-
(a) A subject number: A5.
(b) A name title number: NC.
(c) A subject number and a subdivision thereunder: A5-7.
(d) A name title number and a subdivision thereunder: NC2.
(e) Two subject numbers: A1-4/L1-1.
(f) Two name titles: NY3/LL.
(g) A name title and a subject number: BB55/S8.
(h) A subject number and a name title number: L11-3/NY3
(i) A third group may be added after a/where size of file warrants further subdivision. While the use of more than two groups is permissible it is recommended that file numbers be confined to two groups.
(j) Personnel correspondence. (See notes in LL, MM, OO groups.)

RULE 1.-A "slant" (/) shall be used to separate the individual standard file numbers which are used to make up the combined number. Example: BB55/S82-1.

RULE 2.-Arbitrary symbols used by the writer for his own convenience solely and which mean nothing to the receiver shall invariably be inclosed in parentheses. Arbitrary symbols must follow after the combined standard file number except those used for arbitrary sub-



numbers which may follow any one of the standard file numbers used in the combination. Example: BB55/S82-K4).

RULE 3.-When a file number (see art. 2043 (12), U. S. Navy Regulations) is used as a reference, the whole number shall be quoted.

RULE 4.-The file numbers for correspondence regarding a particular vessel (or class of vessels) may be made up of the same title file number of the vessel (or class) and the subject title file number. Example: Subject: U. S. S. North Carolina's boats, file No. BB55/S82.

RULE 5.-The file numbers for correspondence regarding a particular shore station (or class of shore stations) may be made up of the name title file number of the shore station (or class) and one or more subject title file numbers. Example: Subject: Norfolk Navy Yard, repairs to floating crane, file No. NT5/N31-15.

RULE 6.-File numbers for correspondence on various materials (fabricated or not fabricated) that has to do with tests, specifications, procurement, etc., and not with installation or repairs and alterations after installation, are formed by adding the leaflet specification number or class number to JJ. (See JJ Classification, Material.)

RULE 7.-The file number of correspondence regarding geographical locations may include the file number representing the title "Geographic location" (QG) followed by the name of the place spelled out. Special provisions have been made for foreign countries, states, grand land, and water divisions. The Hydrographic Office, Washington, D. C., is exempt from this rule. Example: Subject: Typhoon, Gulf of Aden; file No. H4-9/QG, Gulf of Aden.

RULE 8.-Arrangement of file numbers. The file number for the standard title U. S. S. North Carolina is BB55; similarly, S82 represents "boats," By combining these two in any sequence the writer indicates that the subject of the letter is the "U. S. S. North Carolina's boats," which should be sufficiently definite and descriptive to permit locating the letter, if later referred to by file number only, in any Navy file irrespective of its file-arrangement plan.

There are two possible combinations of the two standard titles mentioned above. The sequence of their corresponding symbols making up the file number is immaterial, as the two titles arranged in either order give a definite and positive indication of the subject of the letter. The sequence actually selected would depend upon the writer's file arrangement, i. e., the manner in which its division, subdivisions (and possible further subdivisions) are arranged.

DivisionSubdivisionFile No.
U. S. S. North CarolinaBoatsBB55/S82
BoatsU. S. S. North CarolinaS82/BB55

Serial numbers should not be enclosed in parentheses but when used they should be placed on the line immediately below the file number and preceded by the word "serial." Example:
 Serial 1234"

The use of the serial numbers only in referring to previous correspondence gives rise to much difficulty in locating this correspondence. It is strongly recommended in such instances that the subject and/or file number of the communication be given, unless for reasons of security it is inadvisable to reveal these facts.

A close cooperation of the administrative and technical forces with the filing forces saves loss of time to both. The holding of papers on desks, insufficient information in requests for files, the retention of file jackets beyond a reasonable time, all tends to block the smooth working of the files and prevents the current posting of correspondence on these


cases, thus slowing up the efficient handling of correspondence. If a piece of correspondence is erroneously classified, the technical or administrative officer receiving it should return it to the file section for correction.

It is especially important that mail and file sections impress upon writers of official outgoing letters, the necessity of placing file numbers on all copies and indicate the bureau or office preparing same before sending them to a file room for recording.

The writer of a letter is in the best position to know the salient points thereof, and should be able to place a comprehensive "subject" at the head of a letter. If the subject is misleading or too brief it frequently results in wrong classification. In a very large percentage of official correspondence, the closing paragraph sums up what action is wanted and combined with an intelligent subject gives a good classification.

When administrative inspections are held it is recommended that the inspection officer check the Piling Manuals in possession of the unit inspected to see that all changes as issued by the Navy Department have been made therein.

A common failing of filing forces is to lose sight of the general significance of correspondence, tying it up with a specific case. Care should be taken that correspondence that has a precedential or general application be so classified, or a copy be so classified, or a cross index made.

In the alphabetical section bold face type is used only to designate names of vessels.


FAircraft material.
HHydrography, meteorology, navigation and astronomy.
NShore establishments materials.
SShips material.

AB-AZAuxiliary ships.
CMMine layers.
CVAircraft carriers.
DD-DMDestroyers and light mine layers.
DMSMine sweepers.
EA-EZU. S. Government Executive Departments and Foreign Governments.
GA-HZGovernment establishments, independent, etc.
IXUnclassified vessels, naval.
KA-KWMarine corps organizations.
LA-LVCivilian personnel.
MA-MZEnlisted personnel.
NA-NZShore establishments.
OA-OZOfficer personnel.
PC-PYcPatrol vessels.
QA-OZMiscellaneous name titles.
SMMine laying submarines.
VB-VTHeavier-than-air aircraft.
YA-YYDistrict Craft.
ZK-ZZLighter-than-air aircraft.


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