Don't be afraid to volunteer to take a piece of traffic for relay or delivery; no one will bite your head off if you mess up and most VHF traffic nets are training nets, meaning that most of the people on the net are knowledgeable about and/or interested in traffic handling and are willing to help "newbies." Don't be afraid to send traffic, either. Think of the National Traffic System as Western Union without the fees. Traffic handling is fun!!!

There is a set way to take traffic as set forth by the ARRL. In fact, they produce special forms just for that purpose. Books of these forms may be purchased here and a PDF version is available here. More experienced traffic handlers use a scrap of paper or type the message into a word processing program on their computer (such as Notepad). No one way is better, use whatever feels comfortable.


How to write up a message to prepare for sending
When you're finished, take the message to a local VHF traffic net, and, after another station enters it into "the system," in a couple of days you may get a message back either over the air or as a phone call from a fellow ham who will relay the message to you.

Example of a finished message:

106 Routine G KC8OJN 6 Martinsburg, WV Jan 23 
Nick Siebold, KC8OJN
1013 Chestnut Drive
Martinsburg, WV   25401
(304) 555-1212//
Greetings from West Virginia X
73

Nick KC8OJN
When you read this message to someone over the air, leave couple seconds in between words so that the receiving station can get everything written (or typed) down. If the receiving station needs clarification on how a word is spelled, read back the word using the phonetic alphabet. The message above should sound like this when read over the air:
"Message number one-zero six...routine...gulf...kilo-charlie-eight-oscar-juliet-november...
figure six...Martinsburg...West...Virginia...January figures two-three...Nick...Siebold...
I spell sierra-india-echo, bravo-ocsar-lima-delta...figures one-zero-one-three...chestnut...
drive...Martinsburg...West Virginia...figures two-five-four-zero-one...figures three-zero-four, 
five-five-five, one-two-one-two...break for text" (release the PTT and wait for the receiving 
station to confirm that he has copied the preamble down correctly, then resume) "Greetings...
from...West...Virginia...initial x-ray...figures seven-three...break and sign it Nick...
kilo-charlie-eight-oscar-juliet-november...end...no more (or 1, 2, 3, etc. more if you have more 
messages to send)"
The counting of words:
In the example above, "Greetings from West Virginia," counts as 4 words; "X" (read as "Initial X-ray") and "73" (read as "Figures seven-three") count as one word each, for a total of six words. Count everything between (but not including) the phone number and the signature. Figures, letter and mixed groups, and single letters count as one word. Mixed groups are letters and numbers together, such as 498A (read as, "Mixed group Four-Nine-Eight-Alpha").

How to receive a message
After you have volunteered (or been selected by the NCS) to take a piece of traffic, grab a traffic form or a piece of paper and a pen and copy down everything that the sending station says. When he reads the signature, ends the message, and turns the frequency over to you, if you have copied everything down correctly, say "Copy your number (message number), (your callsign) back to net." If you need a fill, need the sender to send again but slower, or if you count the words of the text and it doesn't match the check that the sending station read, feel free to ask for corrections or help here.

How to deliver a message
Now comes the part that most people dread: picking up the phone and delivering the message to the recipient. DON'T WORRY!!! Just follow these steps and you should make it through unscathed.

For further (and possibly better) explanations of how to send, receive, and deliver, traffic, please read and/or download the information on the following pages:
National Traffic System Methods and Practices Guidelines
Public Service Communications Manual, Section 2, Chapters 1-11
FSD-218

You may also want to purchase The ARRL Operating Manual