It is optional to include the word "UNCLASSIFIED" in the banner line of hard copy papers that are UNCLASSIFIED and do not have any additional control markings. When there is material classified at more than one level in a document, the overall classification marking in the banner line must be the highest level. For example, if a document was initially classified as Secret and later re-reviewed as Top Secret, then the correct banner line should read "UNCLASSIFIED TOP SECRET". If you omit the word "UNCLASSIFIED", the system will assume that you are trying to conceal information at the highest level possible.
The use of the term "UNCLASSIFIED" on an electronic mail (email) message is also optional. However, as with hard copy documents, if you omit this word when sending an email it will be assumed that you are trying to conceal information at the highest level possible. Also, like hard copy documents, only one banner line can be used on a single email.
There are two ways to mark a paper or electronic record as UNCLASSABLE: by typing the letters "UNCLASSIFIED" in the header or footer area of the document, and by using the tagline function. Typing the letters "UNCLASSIFIED" in the header or footer area of the document is recommended as a safety measure to prevent information contained in those areas from being missed during review.
(U) The CLASSIFICATION AUTHORITY BLOCK will identify the person who generated the document, the classification source, and the declassification instructions. (TS) When marking a document electronically, the rules are the same. Classification marks are strictly for training purposes! Do not mark documents or materials as classified that should not be classified/marked.
The CLASSIFICATION AUTHORITY block provides information about the origin of the classification authority. There are two types of classification authorities: natural persons and organizations. A natural person can be an individual or living thing such as a plant or animal. An organization is defined as a legal entity such as a corporation or government agency. Organizations may have many employees but only one leader called a president or chairperson. Natural persons are usually individuals while organizations can be companies or governments with many members.
A classification authority may designate others to classify or declassify documents under their control. For example, a government department might appoint officials within the department who are allowed to classify documents related to their duties. These designated people are called classifiers. Similarly, a government official could delegate this power to other employees by appointing them to be classifiers. In both cases, it is the policy of the department or office that appointed them that determines how they will be used.
Natural persons and organizations can also be referred to as cachers or declassifiers.
Classification markings indicate if there are any particular access, distribution, or safeguarding requirements. A "(U)" should not be used to replace the original part markers when declassifying a document. Classification marks merely indicate that information is classified and the level of protection necessary. They do not itself confer authority to classify information or determine how it can be handled.
If an agency uses only one classification mark, it is assumed that all classified material falls under the same classification category. This means that material must be treated in a similar manner and assigned a similar level of security.
An agency should use different classification marks for each type of material they classify. For example, military secrets may be marked "Secret," while economic sanctions may be marked "Confidential."
Using different classification categories allows an agency to assign a specific level of protection to each type of material while still maintaining some degree of uniformity for their entire inventory.
Knowledge of the purpose of a classification code can help you identify information that should not be classified and can also aid you in determining what standard of confidentiality should be applied when handling sensitive materials.
Each inside page containing classified material is labeled with the overall (i.e., highest) classification at the top and bottom. The top and bottom of each unclassified inner page are labeled "Unclassified." Interior pages that are reserved for official use should be indicated at the bottom. All classified information must be declassified or downgraded before being released.
The first thing to do when determining how to classify a document is to decide what needs to be kept secret. If all you need to hide is something less than 'Top Secret,' such as 'Secret' or 'Confidential,' there are several ways to do this without using a code label. For example, you could put the word 'Private' in front of it, mark it up with strikethroughs, or add the initials 'PT' after your name when you sign it. There are many other methods but these should get you started.
After deciding what level of secrecy is required, follow this process: 1 Classify the document; 2 Mark the outside page if necessary; 3 Number the pages from back to front; 4 Sign your name at the bottom of the last page.
This procedure ensures that no information is missed and everyone who has a need for this material can find it.
If you are unsure about how to classify something, we recommend starting with the highest level possible.