”UNCLASSIFIED”, “(U)”, and “Unclassified”

  • “UNCLASSIFIED” in the banner marking indicates the absence of CUI and classified information.
  • “(U)” as a portion marking indicates the absence of CUI and classified information.
  • “Unclassified” when not used in a marking, indicates that the information being referred to is not classified, but does not indicate whether or not the information is controlled (CUI) or not.


Prior to the CUI Program, the term “unclassified” was used to describe information that did not meet the standards to be classified under Executive Order 13526. In classified environments, the banner marking of “UNCLASSIFIED” was placed at the top and bottom of pages to indicate the absence of classified information in documents. In portions of documents, a “(U)” indicated that a portion did not contain classified information.

In the absence of Government-wide guidance regarding the handling and marking of sensitive but unclassified information, Executive branch departments and agencies started applying additional indicators to convey the status of sensitive but unclassified information in classified documents. Markings such as “U//FOUO” and “U//LES” became commonly used in commingled documents (documents that contain both sensitive but unclassified, as well as classified information).

As agencies implement the CUI Program and modify marking standards to comply with those in 32 CFR Part 2002, the use of legacy markings, such as FOUO and LES, to describe sensitive but unclassified information will be phased out.

As part of this transition to the CUI Program, agencies should convey – through policy and training – that the term Unclassified (or Uncontrolled Unclassified Information, as described in 32 CFR Part 2002) refers to information that: is neither CUI nor classified, but is still subject to agency public release policies.

Reference: CUI Marking Handbook

Questions and answers: Marking

by Mark Riddle

Markings during phased implementation

  1. When can I start using the CUI markings and following the requirements of the CUI Program?

Continue reading “Questions and answers: Marking”