Internet Architecture Board (IAB) J. Halpern, Ed.
Request for Comments: 7841 L. Daigle, Ed.
Obsoletes: 5741 O. Kolkman, Ed.
Category: Informational May 2016
RFC Streams, Headers, and Boilerplates
RFC documents contain a number of fixed elements such as the title
page header, standard boilerplates, and copyright/IPR statements.
This document describes them and introduces some updates to reflect
current usage and requirements of RFC publication. In particular,
this updated structure is intended to communicate clearly the source
of RFC creation and review. This document obsoletes RFC 5741, moving
detailed content to an IAB web page and preparing for more flexible
Status of This Memo
This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
published for informational purposes.
This document is a product of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
and represents information that the IAB has deemed valuable to
provide for permanent record. It represents the consensus of the
Internet Architecture Board (IAB). Documents approved for
publication by the IAB are not a candidate for any level of Internet
Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741.
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
document authors. All rights reserved.
This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
(http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
publication of this document. Please review these documents
carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
to this document.
better clarity of expression of document status, aligned with the
review and approval processes defined for each stream.
This memo identifies and describes the common elements of RFC
boilerplate structure. It describes the content required for each
kind of information. Details of the exact textual and layout
requirements are left to a web page maintained by the IAB, with due
consultation with the community, for ease of maintenance. This
document obsoletes [RFC5741].
The changes introduced by this memo should be implemented as soon as
practically possible after the document has been approved for
2. RFC Streams and Internet Standards
Users of RFCs should be aware that while all Internet Standards-
related documents are published as RFCs, not all RFCs are Internet
The IETF is responsible for maintaining the Internet Standards
Process, which includes the requirements for developing, reviewing,
and approving Standards Track and BCP RFCs. The IETF also produces
non-Standards-Track documents (Informational, Experimental, and
Historic). All documents published as part of the IETF Stream are
reviewed by the appropriate IETF bodies.
Documents published in streams other than the IETF stream are not
generally reviewed by the IETF for such things as security,
congestion control, or inappropriate interaction with deployed
protocols. They have also not been subject to approval by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), including an IETF-wide
last call. Therefore, the IETF disclaims, for any of the non-IETF
stream documents, any knowledge of the fitness of those RFCs for any
Refer to [RFC2026], [RFC5742], [RFC4844], [RFC6410], and [RFC7127]
and their successors for current details of the IETF process and RFC
3. RFC Structural Elements
This section describes the elements that are commonly found in RFCs
published today. This document specifies information that is
required in these publications. Exact specification of the textual
values required therein are provided by an IAB web page
As noted above, this web page is maintained by the IAB with due
consultation with the community. Following such consultation, if the
IAB decides to make any changes to this material, the changes will be
announced in a similar fashion to other IAB statements. The initial
text to be used in that web page is included in Appendix A.
3.1. The Title Page Header
The information at the front of the RFC includes the name and
affiliation of the authors as well as the RFC publication month and
There is a set of additional information that is needed at the front
of the RFC. Historically, this has been presented with the
information below in a left hand column, and the author-related
information described above in the right.
<document source> This describes the area where the work originates.
Historically, all RFCs were labeled "Network Working Group".
Network Working Group refers to the original version of today's
IETF when people from the original set of ARPANET sites and
whomever else was interested -- the meetings were open -- got
together to discuss, design, and document proposed protocols
[RFC3]. Here, we obsolete the term "Network Working Group" in
order to indicate the originating stream.
The <document source> is the name of the RFC stream, as defined in
[RFC4844] and its successors. At the time of this publication,
the streams, and therefore the possible entries are:
* Internet Engineering Task Force
* Internet Architecture Board
* Internet Research Task Force
* Independent Submission
Request for Comments: <RFC number> This indicates the RFC number,
assigned by the RFC Editor upon publication of the document. This
element is unchanged.
<subseries ID> <subseries number> Some document categories are also
labeled as a subseries of RFCs. These elements appear as
appropriate for such categories, indicating the subseries and the
documents number within that series. Currently, there are
subseries for BCPs [RFC2026] and STDs [RFC1311]. These subseries
numbers may appear in several RFCs. For example, when a new RFC
obsoletes or updates an old one, the same subseries number is
used. Also, several RFCs may be assigned the same subseries
number: a single STD, for example, may be composed of several
RFCs, each of which will bear the same STD number. This element
[<RFC relation>:<RFC number[s]>] Some relations between RFCs in the
series are explicitly noted in the RFC header. For example, a new
RFC may update one or more earlier RFCs. Currently two
relationships are defined: "Updates" and "Obsoletes" [RFC7322].
Variants like "Obsoleted by" are also used (e.g, in [RFC5143]).
Other types of relationships may be defined by the RFC Editor and
may appear in future RFCs.
Category: <category> This indicates the initial RFC document
category of the publication. These are defined in [RFC2026].
Currently, this is always one of: Standards Track, Best Current
Practice, Experimental, Informational, or Historic. This element
3.2. The Status of This Memo
The "Status of This Memo" describes the category of the RFC,
including the distribution statement.
The "Status of This Memo" will start with a single sentence
describing the status. It will also include a statement describing
the stream-specific review of the material (which is stream
dependent). This is an important component of status, insofar as it
clarifies the breadth and depth of review, and gives the reader an
understanding of how to consider its content.
3.3. Paragraph 1
The first paragraph of the "Status of This Memo" section contains a
single sentence, clearly standing out. The sentence will clearly
identify the stream-specific status of the document. The text to be
used is defined by the stream, with a review for clarity by the IAB
and RFC Series Editor.
3.4. Paragraph 2
The second paragraph of the "Status of This Memo" will include a
paragraph describing the type of review and exposure the document has
received. This is defined on a per-stream basis, subject to general
review and oversight by the RFC Editor and IAB. The IAB defines a
specific structure defined to ensure there is clarity about review
processes and document types.
3.5. Paragraph 3
The boilerplate ends with a reference to where further relevant
information can be found. This information may include, subject to
the RFC Editor's discretion, information about whether the RFC has
been updated or obsoleted, the RFC's origin, a listing of possible
errata, information about how to provide feedback and suggestion, and
information on how to submit errata as described in [ERRATA]. The
exact wording and URL is subject to change (at the RFC Editor's
discretion), but the current text is:
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
Note that the text in paragraph 1 and 2 of the boilerplate indicate
the initial status of a document. During their lifetime, documents
can change status to, for example, Historic. This cannot be
reflected in the document itself and will need be reflected in the
information referred to in Section 5.
4. Additional Notes
Exceptionally, a review and publication process may prescribe
additional notes that will appear as labeled notes after the
This is no longer a common feature of recent RFCs. It is the goal of
this document to continue to ensure that the overall RFC structure is
adequately clear so that such notes are unnecessary or (at least)
5. Other Structural Information in RFCs
RFCs contain other structural informational elements. The RFC Editor
is responsible for the positioning and layout of these structural
elements. Note also that new elements may be introduced or obsoleted
using a process consistent with [RFC4844]. These additions may or
may not require documentation in an RFC.
Currently, the following structural information is available in RFCs:
Copyright Notice: A copyright notice with a reference to BCP 78
[BCP78] and an Intellectual Property statement referring to BCP 78
and BCP 79 [BCP79]. The content of these statements are defined
by those BCPs.
ISSN: The International Standard Serial Number [ISO.3297.2007]:
ISSN 2070-1721. The ISSN uniquely identifies the RFC series as
title regardless of language or country in which it is published.
The ISSN itself has no significance other than the unique
identification of a serial publication.
6. Security Considerations
This document tries to clarify the descriptions of the status of an
RFC. Misunderstanding the status of a memo could cause
interoperability problems, hence security and stability problems.
7. RFC Editor Considerations
The RFC Editor is responsible for maintaining the consistency of the
RFC series. To that end, the RFC Editor maintains an "RFC Style
Guide" [RFC7322]. In this memo, we mention a few explicit structural
elements that the RFC Editor needs to maintain. The conventions for
the content and use of all current and future elements are documented
in the style guide.
Adding a reference to the stream in the header of RFCs is only one
method for clarifying from which stream an RFC originated. The RFC
Editor is encouraged to add such indication in, for example, indices
8.1. Normative References
[RFC2026] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, DOI 10.17487/RFC2026, October 1996,
[RFC5742] Alvestrand, H. and R. Housley, "IESG Procedures for
Handling of Independent and IRTF Stream Submissions",
BCP 92, RFC 5742, DOI 10.17487/RFC5742, December 2009,
8.2. Informative References
Technical Committee ISO/TC 46, Information and
documentation, Subcommittee SC 9, Identification and
description., "Information and documentation -
International standard serial number (ISSN)", ISO Standard
3297, 09 2007.
Appendix A. Initial Formatting Details
This section contains the text the IAB used to initially populate the
web page used to maintain the list of required verbiage.
A.1. RFC Title Page Header
An RFC title page header can be described as follows:
<document source> <author name>
Request for Comments: <RFC number> [<author affiliation>]
[<subseries ID> <subseries number>] [more author info as appropriate]
[<RFC relation>:<RFC number[s]>]
For example, the header for RFC 6410 appears as follows:
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) R. Housley
Request for Comments: 6410 Vigil Security
BCP: 9 D. Crocker
Updates: 2026 Brandenburg InternetWorking
Category: Best Current Practice E. Burger
ISSN: 2070-1721 Georgetown University
A.2. Constructing a "Status of This Memo" Section
The following sections describe mandated text for use in specific
parts of the "Status of This Memo" portion of an RFC. For
convenience, the RFC Editor maintains example expansions of all
permutations of the paragraphs described in this document (at the
time of publication, at http://www.rfc-editor.org/materials/status-memos.txt). When in conflict, the following sections are
A.2.1. First Paragraph
The following are the approved texts for use in the first paragraph
of the "Status of This Memo" portion of an RFC. See Section 3.3 of
For 'Standards Track' documents: "This is an Internet Standards
For 'Best Current Practices' documents: "This memo documents an
Internet Best Current Practice."
For other categories "This document is not an Internet Standards
Track specification; <it is published for other purposes>."
For Informational, Experimental, Historic, and future categories of
RFCs, the RFC Editor will maintain an appropriate text for <it is
published for other purposes>. Initial values are:
Informational: "it is published for informational purposes."
Historic: "it is published for the historical record."
Experimental: "it is published for examination, experimental
implementation, and evaluation."
A.2.2. Second Paragraph
See Section 3.4 of RFC 7841.
The second paragraph may include some text that is specific to the
initial document category. When a document is Experimental or
Historic, the second paragraph opens with:
Experimental: "This document defines an Experimental Protocol for
the Internet community."
Historic: "This document defines a Historic Document for the
The text that follows is stream dependent -- these are initial values
and may be updated by stream definition document updates and recorded
by the IAB on the web page.
IETF Stream: "This document is a product of the Internet Engineering
Task Force (IETF)."
If there has been an IETF consensus call per IETF process, this
additional text should be added: "It represents the consensus of
the IETF community. It has received public review and has been
approved for publication by the Internet Engineering Steering
Group (IESG)." If there has not been such a consensus call, then
this simply reads: "It has been approved for publication by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)."
IAB Stream: "This document is a product of the Internet Architecture
Board (IAB), and represents information that the IAB has deemed
valuable to provide for permanent record."
If the document represents IAB consensus, this additional text
should be added: "It represents the consensus of the Internet
Architecture Board (IAB)."
IRTF Stream: "This document is a product of the Internet Research
Task Force (IRTF). The IRTF publishes the results of Internet-
related research and development activities. These results might
not be suitable for deployment."
In addition, a sentence indicating the consensus base within the
IRTF may be added: "This RFC represents the consensus of the
<insert_name> Research Group of the Internet Research Task Force
(IRTF)." or alternatively "This RFC represents the individual
opinion(s) of one or more members of the <insert_name> Research
Group of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)".
Independent Submission Stream: "This is a contribution to the RFC
Series, independently of any other RFC stream. The RFC Editor has
chosen to publish this document at its discretion and makes no
statement about its value for implementation or deployment."
For non-IETF stream documents, a reference to Section 2 of this RFC
is added with the following sentence: "Documents approved for
publication by the [stream approver -- currently, one of: "IAB",
"IRSG", or "RFC Editor"] are not a candidate for any level of
Internet Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 7841."
For IETF stream documents, a similar reference is added: "Further
information on (BCPs or Internet Standards) is available in Section 2
of RFC 7841." for BCP and Standard Track documents; "Not all
documents approved by the IESG are a candidate for any level of
Internet Standards; see Section 2 of RFC 7841." for all other
A.2.3. Third Paragraph
See Section 3.5 of RFC 7841.
IAB Members at Time of Approval
The IAB members at the time this memo was approved were (in
Thanks to Bob Braden, Brian Carpenter, Steve Crocker, Sandy Ginoza,
and John Klensin who provided background information and inspiration.
Thanks to the members of the RFC Series Oversight Committee (RSOC)
for assistance and review: Alexey Melnikov, Nevil Brownlee, Bob
Hinden, Sarah Banks, Robert Sparks, Tony Hansen, and Joe Hildebrand.
Various people have made suggestions that improved the document.
Among them are: Lars Eggert, Alfred Hoenes, and Joe Touch.