What Is a Fax Header and What Information Should It Include?
When faxing documents, especially urgent or sensitive business information, your recipients should immediately recognize your fax without decoding the source of the fax number.
The fax header, which appears at the top of a fax transmission, contains pertinent sender information, making this possible. Fax recipients use this information to reach the sender if there are transmission errors or need clarification on any issue regarding the faxed documents.
Let’s define a fax header and explain what information goes into a fax header layout.
What Is a Fax Header?
A fax header is the section of a fax containing information revealing:
- The sender’s identity (name, company, and fax number)
- The recipient’s fax number
- The date and time of the fax transmission
This fax header information prints at the top of each page and provides fax recipients with the contact details they can use to reach the sender.
Details That Should Be Included in a Fax Header
When learning how to use a fax machine, most people overlook the fax header because it prints automatically at the top of each page. But this shouldn’t be the case as the benefits of fax headers are mission-critical, especially when the information is sensitive or time-bound.
To make your fax headers effective, ensure you include these fundamental details:
When you send a fax, there’s no guarantee your recipient will see the fax right away, even when your fax machine prints the confirmation page. Your recipients may be out of the office, or they may delay checking incoming faxes. If you’re faxing across different time zones, your fax may reach recipients after business hours, and they may not see it until the next day.
But when your fax recipients finally see your fax and check the transmission date on the fax header page, they’ll act quickly to compensate for the lost time.
That’s why you should include the sending date of your fax in the header, so your recipient knows the urgency of the information you’re faxing. This is particularly important when dispatching action items with a completion deadline.
Also, adding the fax date serves as evidence in case there’s a legal or financial liability resulting from a fax information delay. For instance, say you fax a purchase order to a vendor who fails to read the fax in time and delays supplies. The date on your fax header may be enough evidence to exempt you from the associated financial damages.
Naturally, the first thing people check upon receiving a new email or SMS is the sender’s identity. The same goes for fax transmissions. When you put your name on the fax header, your recipient will treat it with heightened urgency and interest. This is particularly important if you have ongoing business engagements.
When a fax comes in with the sender’s name on the fax header, recipients can usually guess the type of information in the fax. This prepares them to read the fax and act on the information.
Putting your name on the fax header also comes in handy when faxing new contacts. It reduces the chances of your transmission being counted as junk fax by the recipient and ending up in the trash. For instance, say a prospective investor gives your their fax number and requests you to fax them your business proposal. Chances are they’ll remember your name or your company’s name.
So, when you fax someone for the first time and include your name on the fax header, they’ll likely prioritize your fax over other nameless faxes.
Adding the recipient’s fax number on the fax header may seem counterintuitive, but it can save you a lot of headaches in case of a failed transmission. When manually keying in the recipient’s fax number, you may mistype the address and send it to the wrong destination.
Having the recipient’s fax number on the header can save the day if such an incident happens. With the destination address on the header, the recipient of a misdirected fax can easily forward it to the intended address. In these cases, you’ll be glad you had the recipient’s fax number on the header.
Even so, internet faxing is a better way to avoid such errors. One of the benefits of using internet faxing is the ease of crafting and sending faxes error-free. Even faxes with confidential info or lots of attachments.
Fax Header vs. Cover Sheet: Should You Use Both?
When you write a fax cover sheet, you dispatch it ahead of the fax document to give your recipient a quick summary of the information in the incoming fax. The cover sheet serves the same function as fax headers. But you can customize it to preview more details and issue a confidentiality disclaimer.
Some of the details you include in a cover sheet are:
- Date and time of fax transmission
- Your company or personal contact details
- Recipient’s fax address and name
- Number of pages of the incoming fax
- An optional message to the recipient summarizing information in the fax
The main difference between a fax header and a cover sheet is that you can include more information in the cover sheet than in the header. Fax header customization doesn’t give you as much leeway as a cover sheet. While it’s not necessarily mandatory, all or most of your professional faxes should include both a header and a cover sheet.
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