National Traffic System

How to Write Formal Traffic ...

Writing Formal traffic is easy. Follow the steps listed below and you'll be sending and receiving traffic in no time at all:


FONE 111 222 3333



The first part of a message is called the Preamble, which contains the message number, handling instructions, message status, originating station call sign, word count, city and state of origin, and message date.

MESSAGE NUMBER ... This number identifies the message as originating from the station identified after the handling instructions. Most hams start January first with number 1 and add sequentially through December 31. The number 21 indicates that this is KT4ST's 21st originated message this year.

HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS ... Some messages contain handling instructions. These instructions tell the station receiving the message how to handle it. The HXG instruction tells the receiving station: Delivery by mail or landline toll call not required. If toll or other expense involved, cancel message and service originating station. Handling instructions are optional and most stations do not use them.

MESSAGE STATUS ... This identifies the type of message being sent. All traffic sent during Non-emergencies should be sent as Routine . The other status types are W-Welfare, P-Priority, and EMERGENCY.

ORIGINATING STATION ... This is the Call Sign of the station originating the traffic. If you write a message to send to someone else, YOU are the originating station.

WORD COUNT ... The word count is the number of words in the TEXT portion of the message. When writing a message do not use a period, separate thoughts with an X. Count the X as a word. In the above message, there are fourteen words and one X, for a total word count of 15.

CITY and STATE of ORIGIN ... The City and State of origin is the location where the message originated. If you live in Main City, GA and you go to Central City, GA and originate a message, The Origin will be Central City GA. There is no comma placed between the city and the state.

MESSAGE DATE ... The Message Date is the date that the message was originated. It is written as Month (three letters) then day.

The next part of the message is the ADDRESSEE. The Adressee is the intended receipient of the message. Always include a full address and phone number, if possible.

TEXT comes next. This is the information part of the message. Try to keep the Text part of a message to 25 words or less.

The last part of the message is the SIGNATURE. The Signature tells the receipient who the message is from. This could be the same as the Originating Station, but it doesn't have to be. If your friend wants to send a message to his wife, then he is the signature on the message. Try to keep the Signature part of a message to three lines or less.

The message is now ready for relay to a receiving station for either further relay or delivery. When sending a message, remember to Always separate the parts as follows:

Send the preamble then pause for a second or two, then send the Addressee. Do not send a Break (BT) between the Preamble and the Addressee.

Send the prosign (AA) after each line of the addressee, then send a Break (BT) before starting to send TEXT.

Send the TEXT, then send a Break (BT) before the Signature. Send the Signature, (AA) after each line if needed. Then send the prosign (AR) This means you have completed the message. Finally, send either an "N" or a "B". The "N" means there are NO more messages to follow. The "B" means there are still other messages to be sent. An optional number may be sent after the "B" to indicate how many more messages are left.

After you have sent the message, the receiving station may ask for fills. Fills are bits of information that the receiving station may have missed while you were transmitting, due to static or other types of interference. The following is a list of some of the standard fills.

WA ... Word After __________

WB ... Word Before _________

BN ... Between _______ and ________

AB ... All Before _________

AA ... All After _________

CFM .. Confirm __________

I have sent you the above message, and at the end you send: WB SOON (BK). My answer will be WB SOON AGAIN (BK) meaning the word before Soon is Again. If you want to confirm that something you copied is correct, send CFM, then the word or words to confirm. (example CFM 123 Main Street).

Once all fills have been taken care of, the receiving station should send QSL NR(the message number) which means they have received the message and are now ready to relay or deliver it.

For further information on the National Traffic System (NTS), consult the Public Service Communications Manual which is available through the ARRL, either on the web or through written correspondance.