You wouldn't be the first business professional to ponder how best to handle a confidential facsimile transmission. Label it “confidential” and you might unwittingly invite curiosity and an invasion of someone's privacy. Skip it and the consequences could be even worse. Address both matters by prominently labeling your fax as “confidential” on the fax cover sheet. Then insert some teeth into the eyes-off warning by writing a confidential footer message at the bottom of the sheet.
Create a new document in your word processing program with 1-inch margins. Insert your business logo, if applicable, at the top of the page.
Center the word “Confidential” in bold letters at the top of the page. Capitalize the letters for emphasis. Underneath, and centered, place the words “Fax,” “Fax cover sheet” or “Fax transmittal” for quick recognition.
Write “Date:” “Time:” and “Number of pages, including cover sheet:” on the left side of the cover sheet. Space twice and write “Addressee:” “Fax number:” and “Phone number:” on separate lines. Space twice again and write: “Sender:” “Fax number:” and “Phone number:” on separate lines. Including fax and phone numbers is a smart way to cover your bases, especially if the fax gets lost, misplaced or never arrives. If a number is incorrect or two numbers are transposed, you can correct the error on future fax transmissions.
Personalize your fax cover sheet with a section that is suited to your business needs. For example, if you regularly send faxes to the same person or department, you can make a box with the headline “Routing information” or “Next steps.” Or, keep your options open by creating a “Comments” section so you can hand-write a note or instructions, such as, “Please phone me immediately to verify receipt of this fax.”
Write a footer message at the bottom of the fax cover sheet. Similar to a confidential warning that you see on some e-mails, this message should convey that the fax: is confidential; is intended only for the addressee; and contains information whose “disclosure, copying, use or distribution” is prohibited. It also should request that the sender be notified of an erroneous receipt – another good reason to supply a phone number at the top of a fax cover sheet.