By order of the Secretary of the Air Force
The Tongue and Quill is dedicated to every man and woman in today's 21st century Air Force who will ever sling ink at paper, pound a keyboard, give a briefing, or staff a package to support today's mission.
As United States Air Force employees, it is important we communicate clearly and effectively to carry out our mission. This handout, AFM 37-136, Preparing Official Communications, will provide the necessary information to ensure clear communications--written or spoken.
To all you enthusiastic users worldwide, keep up the good fight!
from the preface
The Tongue and Quill is like Strunk & White
for Air Force personnel. The major sections are
- The Concept - A philosophical framework of communications
- The Basic Steps - Six Steps for Better Communication
- The Tongue - Getting it out of your mouth for Air Force speaking
- The Quill - Speaking on paper for Air Force writing
- The Coordination Game - Basic fundamentals for coordinating
- The Mechanics of Writing - a Desktop Reference Guide for Air Force writing
- The Index
It includes the proper way to address letters to general officers, ambassadors, kings, priests, governors, the President, and the Postmaster General, among others. It has fifteen different types of written communication. It has how to use (correctly) every piece of punctuation, how to footnote, how to properly capitalize which words. There's a guide to public speaking (that's the "Tongue" part). If you dig deeply enough, you'll even find an exhortation against the unnecessary use of military jargon and acronyms, especially in communication intended for civilian eyes. It is peppered liberally with hysterical and cynical quotations from people like Will Rogers and George Bernard Shaw, as well as selected clippings of The Far Side.
If it weren't for this book, the weight of the paper that passes through an Air Force office daily would quickly cripple the most able-bodied sergeant; the second lieutenants would panic, the captain would delegate, and the office would implode before the colonel even knew what was happening. He would send a memo off to another office about it, and that office would implode... this document saves paper, cuts jargon, and makes everyone in the Air Force who has read it a better writer and speaker.
To my knowledge, this book is available free of charge to all Air Force personnel.