Network Working Group J. Halpern, Ed.
Obsoletes: 5741 (if approved) L. Daigle, Ed.
Intended status: Informational
Expires: June 14, 2016 O. Kolkman, Ed.
Internet Society
Internet Architecture Board
December 12, 2015

On 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 output formats.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

This Internet-Draft will expire on June 14, 2016.

Copyright Notice

Copyright (c) 2015 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 ( 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. Code Components extracted from this document must include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Previously RFCs (e.g. [RFC4844]) contained a number of elements that were there for historical, practical, and legal reasons. They also contained boilerplate material to clearly indicate the status of the document and possibly contained "Notes" to indicate how the document interacts with IETF Standards-Track documents.

As the RFC Series has evolved over the years, there has been increasing concern over appropriate labelling of the publications to make clear the status of each RFC and the status of the work it describes. Chiefly, there is a requirement that RFCs published as part of the IETF's review process not be easily confused with RFCs that may have had a very different review and approval process. Various adjustments have been made over the years, including evolving text of "Notes" included in the published RFC.

With the definition of the different RFC streams [RFC4844], it is appropriate to formalize the definition of the various pieces of standard RFC boilerplate and introduce some adjustments to ensure 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 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 publication.

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 Standards-related documents.

The IETF is responsible for maintaining the Internet Standards Process, which includes the requirements for developing, reviewing and approving Standards Track and BCP RFCs. These, and any other standards-related documents (Informational or Experimental) are reviewed by appropriate IETF bodies and published as part of the IETF Stream.

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 purpose.

Refer to [RFC2026], [RFC5742], [RFC4844], [RFC6410], and [RFC7127] and their successors for current details of the IETF process and RFC streams.

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

(URL to be provided during AUTH48).

As noted above, this web page is maintained by the IAB with due consultation with the community. Initial proposed text to be used in that web page is included in Appendix C.

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 year.

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 [RFC0003]. 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:

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 is unchanged.
[<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 is unchanged.

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 IAB and RFC Series Editor review for clarity.

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 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 [I-D.rfc-editor-errata-process]. The exact wording and URL is subject to change (at the RFC Editor's discretion), but current text is:

"Information about the current status of this document, any errata, and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at<static-path>/rfc<rfc-no>.html"

3.6. Noteworthy

Note that the texts in paragraph 1 and 2 of the boilerplate indicate the initial status of a document. During their lifetime documents can change status to e.g. Historic. This cannot be reflected in the document itself and will need be reflected in the information refered to in Section 5.

4. Additional Notes

Exceptionally, a review and publication process may prescribe additional notes that will appear as labelled notes after the "Status of This Memo".

While this has been a common feature of recent RFCs, it is the goal of this document to make the overall RFC structure adequately clear to remove the need for such notes, or at least make their usage truly exceptional.

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 or is being considered for inclusion in RFCs:

Copyright Notice
A copyright notice with a reference to BCP78 [BCP78] and an Intellectual Property statement referring to BCP78 and BCP79 [BCP79]. The content of these statements are defined by those BCPs.
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. IANA considerations


8. RFC Editor Considerations

The RFC Editor is responsible for maintaining the consistency of the RFC series. To that end the RFC Editor maintains a style manual [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 to be documented in the style manual.

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 e.g. indices and interfaces.

[The rest of this section contains specific instructions towards editing this document and can be removed before publication]

This section of the document needs to be removed before publication.

This memo introduces a number of modifications that will have to be implemented in various tools, such as the xml2rfc tool, the nit tracker and the rfc-erratum portal.

The number "XXXX" is to be replaced with RFC number of this memo.

In section Section 5: For the final publication, it should be warranted that the ISSN is *not* split by a line break, for clarity.

9. References

9.1. 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.

9.2. Informative References

[ISO.3297.2007] 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.
[RFC0003] Crocker, S., "Documentation conventions", RFC 3, DOI 10.17487/RFC0003, April 1969.
[RFC1311] Postel, J., "Introduction to the STD Notes", RFC 1311, DOI 10.17487/RFC1311, March 1992.
[RFC2629] Rose, M., "Writing I-Ds and RFCs using XML", RFC 2629, DOI 10.17487/RFC2629, June 1999.
[RFC3979] Bradner, S., "Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology", BCP 79, RFC 3979, DOI 10.17487/RFC3979, March 2005.
[RFC4749] Sollaud, A., "RTP Payload Format for the G.729.1 Audio Codec", RFC 4749, DOI 10.17487/RFC4749, October 2006.
[RFC4844] Daigle, L. and Internet Architecture Board, "The RFC Series and RFC Editor", RFC 4844, DOI 10.17487/RFC4844, July 2007.
[RFC5143] Malis, A., Brayley, J., Shirron, J., Martini, L. and S. Vogelsang, "Synchronous Optical Network/Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SONET/SDH) Circuit Emulation Service over MPLS (CEM) Encapsulation", RFC 5143, DOI 10.17487/RFC5143, February 2008.
[RFC5378] Bradner, S. and J. Contreras, "Rights Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378, DOI 10.17487/RFC5378, November 2008.
[RFC5741] Daigle, L., Kolkman, O. and IAB, "RFC Streams, Headers, and Boilerplates", RFC 5741, DOI 10.17487/RFC5741, December 2009.
[RFC6410] Housley, R., Crocker, D. and E. Burger, "Reducing the Standards Track to Two Maturity Levels", BCP 9, RFC 6410, DOI 10.17487/RFC6410, October 2011.
[RFC7127] Kolkman, O., Bradner, S. and S. Turner, "Characterization of Proposed Standards", BCP 9, RFC 7127, DOI 10.17487/RFC7127, January 2014.
[RFC7322] Flanagan, H. and S. Ginoza, "RFC Style Guide", RFC 7322, DOI 10.17487/RFC7322, September 2014.
[I-D.rfc-editor-errata-process] Ginoza, S., Hagens, A. and R. Braden, "RFC Editor Proposal for Handling RFC Errata", Internet-Draft draft-rfc-editor-errata-process-02, May 2008.
[BCP78] Bradner, S. and J. Contreras, "Rights Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, November 2008.

At the moment of publication:

[BCP79] Bradner, S. and T. Narten, "Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology", BCP 79, April 2007.

At the moment of publication:

Appendix A. IAB members at time of approval

The IAB members at the time this memo was approved were (in alphabetical order):

Appendix B. Acknowledgements

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, and Joe Hildebrand.

Various people have made suggestions that improved the document. Among them are: Lars Eggert, Alfred Hoenes, and Joe Touch.

This document was produced using the xml2rfc tool [RFC2629].

Appendix C. Initial Formating Details

This section provides suggested starting text for the use of the IAB in order to simplify populating the web page to be used to maintain the list of required verbiage.

C.1. RFC Title Page Header

<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]>]        
Category: <category>
                                                            <month year>

Network Working Group                                          T. Dierks
Request for Comments: 4346                                   Independent
Obsoletes: 2246                                              E. Rescorla
Category: Standards Track                                     RTFM, Inc.
                                                              April 2006


An RFC title page header can be described as follows:

C.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 When in conflict, these following sections are authoritative.

C.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 RFCXXXX section 3.3.

For 'Standards Track' documents:
"This is an Internet Standards Track document."
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:

"it is published for informational purposes."
"it is published for the historical record."
"it is published for examination, experimental implementation, and evaluation."

C.2.2. Second Paragraph

See RFCXXXX section 3.4.

The second paragraph may include some text that is specific to the initial document category, as follows: when a document is Experimental or Historic the second paragraph opens with:

"This document defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet community."
"This document defines a Historic Document for the Internet community."

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 XXXX."

For IETF stream documents a similar reference is added: "Further information on [BCPs or Internet Standards] is available in Section 2 of RFC XXXX." for BCP and Standard Track documents; "Not all documents approved by the IESG are candidate for any level of Internet Standards; see Section 2 of RFC XXXX." for all other categories.

C.2.3. Third Paragraph

See RFCXXXX section 3.5.

Authors' Addresses

Joel M. Halpern (editor) EMail:
Leslie Daigle (editor) EMail:
Olaf M. Kolkman (editor) Internet Society EMail:
Internet Architecture Board EMail: