What classified documents look like

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  • Cover labels for classified government documents are bright blue, red, and orange.
  • Each cover instructs regulators to “protect unauthorized disclosure” for “national security.”
  • On Monday, FBI agents seized 11 classified documents from former President Donald Trump.

Secret information hidden by the government comes in colorful cover sheets. At least that’s according to documents obtained by the Federation of American Scientists as part of the Project on Government Secrecy.

On Monday, FBI agents seized 11 classified documents from former President Donald Trump at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

Only confidential information contained in the documents has a government-issued security clearance. Trump has said the documents were declassified as soon as he left office, but experts say there is no evidence he followed the procedures to do so.

In order of importance to national security, the levels of protected documents are Secret, Secret and Top Secret.

Top secret cover sheet is blue, top secret is red and top secret is orange. Unclassified information uses a green cover.

Older versions of these cover sheets appear in black and white.

A person who puts secret documents in a bag

Red cover sheet

US Department of Defense


The cover sheets are intended to protect classified information from “inadvertent disclosure” under the National Archives Act of Federal Regulations.

The sheet must be attached to the document until it is reassigned or destroyed, and the sheets can be reused.

At the top of each document’s cover is a warning that “those in possession of this information must protect against unauthorized disclosure in the interest of the national security of the United States.”

Coverage forms are listed in US General Services Administration Standard Forms 705, 704, and 703. According to the GSA site, the forms were last revised in August 1985.

Government officials can order the cover sheet through the US GSA, on their website.

The U.S. GSA assigns labels to U.S. assets that have classified government information on them, such as computer disks, computers and CDs, according to the National Archives.



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