Template for Writing Manual Chapters

011 FW 2
Exhibit 1, 011 FW 2, 01/18/18
Amended By
Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022
Originating Office
Policy and Regulations Branch


(1) Use this template [SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR A DOWNLOADABLE WORD VERSION] to format and write Service Manual chapters. The Policy and Regulations Branch (PRB) in the Division of Policy, Economics, Risk Management, and Analytics (PERMA) will format the headers and footers of your document before it goes to the Director’s office for signature.

(2) The template mixes formatting requirements with instructions and tips for writing. After you outline the topics and requirements you need to present, use this format to replace our words with yours.

Series: Series Title
Part No. XXX: Part Title
Chapter No. XX: Chapter Title
New or Supersedes: If the chapter is new, type “New.” If it will replace an existing chapter, part of a chapter, a memorandum, or a Director’s Order, indicate what it will supersede and the date of the old document.

Use a table of contents.



1.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?

1.2 What is the scope of this chapter?

1.3 What is the overall policy?

1.4 What are the authorities for this chapter?

1.5 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter?

RESPONSIBILITIES1.6 Who is responsible for the requirements in this policy?

1.7 How do you format the sections in a chapter?

1.8 What are some good ways of showing requirements without long paragraphs of narrative?

PLAIN LANGUAGE1.9 Where can employees find more information about plain language?


1.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This question is required. Explain why you are writing the chapter. The first numeral is the chapter number, and the second numeral is the section number, e.g., 1.1 is Chapter 1, Section 1. Type the text in 11 point Arial font and use single spacing between the lines in the paragraph/section. Double-space between sections.

1.2 What is the scope of this chapter?

A. This question is required. Most policies apply to all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) employees.

B. Some policies only apply to a particular segment of employees or an aspect of a topic.

(1) Applicable to a segment of employees: For example, if the policy only applies to Fish and Wildlife Officers in the National Wildlife Refuge System, explain that under the scope question.

(2) Applicable to a certain aspect of a topic: For example, if you need to write a safety chapter that has requirements just for watercraft that are 17 feet or smaller, explain that under the scope question.

1.3 What is the overall policy? This section is optional. Include it only if you think it will clarify the Service’s overall policy. If there is no way you can condense the overall policy into a relatively brief section, you can skip this question. If you have specific objectives, you could pose the question, “What are the objectives of this policy?”

1.4 What are the authorities for this chapter? Include this section if another, earlier chapter in the Part does not cover authorities. For example, in some Parts, the first chapter will list the authorities for all the chapters in the Part. Do not list all laws, regulations, and policies related to the subject—only list those that authorize us to make the requirements (it may be one authority). Do not describe or interpret each of the authorities—just list them in alphabetical order with citations in parentheses, as shown in the examples below:

A. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1500–1508).

B. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321–4347).

1.5 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter? This section is optional. If your overall policy section (see section 1.3) includes several technical terms, you may need to move this section up before it. This section is only necessary if you must define technical terms that people would not understand otherwise, or if you use common terms in an unusual way. Do not define terms that you do not use elsewhere in the chapter. Do not establish policy in a definition—the requirements should be in other sections dedicated to them, not the definitions section, which not everyone will read.  

A. Term 1 means…

B. Term 2 means…


1.6 Who is responsible for (insert policy name)? This section in optional. If different offices, divisions, or positions have different responsibilities under the policy, this is where you describe them. Use a table like Table 1-1.

Table 1-1: Sample Table Showing Responsibilities for Manual Chapters

These employees...Are responsible for...
A. The DirectorApproving or declining to approve Servicewide policy.
B. The Assistant Director – Management and AdministrationOverseeing the management of Service directives.
C. Regional DirectorsReviewing draft chapters and providing program offices with comments.
D. The Chief, Policy and Regulations Branch (PRB), under the Division of Policy, Economics, Risk Management, and Analytics

(1) Ensuring that Service Manual chapters are easy to read,

(2) Working with program offices to develop and manage chapters, and

(3) Publishing Service Manual chapters online after the Director approves them.

E. The Chief, Division or Office of the Program Writing the Chapter

(1) Working with PRB to develop the chapter,

(2) Working with the Office of the Solicitor to review the content of a chapter for legal sufficiency,

(3) Sending the draft chapter through the Director to the Directorate for review and comment, as necessary (see 011 FW 3),

(4) Incorporating comments from the Directorate and preparing a final chapter for surname, and

(5) Keeping the chapter up to date.


1.7 How do you format the sections in a chapter? This is where you begin to write the requirements. Ask yourself what questions the people who need to understand it will ask. Put these questions in a logical order. The following letters and numbers show how we break down subsections below the initial section of a chapter:












1.8 What are some good ways of showing requirements without long paragraphs of narrative?

A. Tables. Tables are a great way to describe “if – then” scenarios or to present information where the reader needs to easily compare information. Be sure your tables are compatible with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. See the Federal Section 508 website or contact your servicing Section 508 Coordinator for more information about building accessible tables.

(1) We reference tables like this: See Table 1-2.

Table 1-2: Sample Table Used for an “If-Then” Scenario

If you are processing this type of permit application...Then send the draft via email here within 30 days of receiving the application...
(1) Authorized intentional takings of the least purple finchChief, Division of Finches, in Headquarters
(2) Authorized intentional takings of the least purple finch by a corporationAssistant Director – Migratory Birds
(3) Incidental takings of striped warblers by any entity during otherwise authorized activitiesAssistant Regional Director – Migratory Bird Permitting

(2) Here is an example of a “Do’s and Don’ts” table. This type of table may be helpful for some policies, but be sure you are not just repeating elements that are already in the responsibilities table that appears earlier in the chapter. See Table 1-3.

Table 1-3: Do’s and Don’ts When Writing Service Manual Chapters

(1) Talk to the Directives Officer in PRB to share information about your plan for writing and to gather information about the process.(1) Don’t start writing in a vacuum. Talk to colleagues and the experts in PRB to gather as much information as possible about what employees need to know about your topic.
(2) Outline your ideas in a logical manner before you begin writing. This will help you develop your table of contents.(2) Don’t start using the template without organizing the information you want to present first. Sort it out before you begin and consider developing an outline.
(3) Read about plain language in 116 FW 1 and do your best to use language that anyone can understand.(3) Don’t worry too much when you begin writing the first draft about how it sounds. Get the information down on paper. You can revisit and revise your chapter, and PRB will help you polish the language.

B. Figures. You can use figures to describe complex ideas or illustrate your point. When using a figure, center the title above the figure and number it in the same way you number tables (e.g., Figure 1-1). Be sure that you include alternate text for a figure so that it is Section 508 compliant.


1.9 Where can employees find more information about plain language?

A. There are several available sources for information about plain language. Following are just a few:

(1) 116 FW 1, Plain Language in Fish and Wildlife Service Documents;

(2) Federal Plain Language website;

(3) The Service’s Plain Language website; and

(4) The Department’s Plain Language website.

B. The Directives Officer in PRB is also available to help you. Part of the review and clearance process (011 FW 3) involves the Directives Officer editing your policy. The Directives Officer edits for plain language, which includes grammar, style, and clarity.

PDF/downloadable template/other resource