NCOER Bullet Guidance

Specific bullet examples are mandatory for excellence or needs improvement ratings. Comments must be entered in “bullet” narrative format adhering to:

o short, concise, to the point
o ideal bullet is one line, but no more than two
o no more than one bullet to a line
o must double-space between bullets
o best bullets start with action verbs or possessive pronouns (his/her)
o avoid using NCO’s name or the personal pronouns he/she
o the first bullet in each rating should be the strongest and the bullet that justifies the
excellence rating
o each bullet will be preceded by a small ‘o’
o bullets should be ‘past’ tense (evaluation is of ‘past’ performance)

It does not matter whether there is one space or no space after the small ‘o’; or start a second
line under the bullet or under the first letter of the first line as long as all bullets are consistent
throughout the NCO-ER.

o a specific bullet can be used only once (decide which responsibility the bullet fits best)
o bullets that relate directly to the NCO’s abilities, responsibilities, or reflect something
specific that he or she did, convey a very clear picture to selection boards – they tell a story.

Generic bullets (comments that could apply to almost all NCOs) do have value as they show the
NCO’s adherence to Army values, however, they should be used along with personalized

bullets to give a complete picture.

o do not use exclamation points, excessive capitalization, underlining, or italics in bullet
o using the abbreviation “etc.” is not acceptable in a bullet comment.
o use upper and lower case letter when using code and exercise names, specify the exercise and
communicate what the rated NCO did to make him or her invaluable.
o excellence bullets should be clearly articulated as something above the ordinary, something
quantifiable, and accomplished during the rating period. Measure the accomplishment against a
quantifiable or qualitative standard.

Bullet comments are optional when success ratings are given. This was designed to stress that
success ratings mean the NCO meets the standards. The best success bullets identify what the
rated NCO did during the rating period and deal with specifics related to the NCO’s duties and
responsibilities. Good NCOs deserve to have their permanent file reflect what they
accomplished. Reports with five success box checks and no bullet comments from the rater are
hard to interpret by boards. The question arises as to whether the NCO really meets the
standards or if the NCO is borderline between success and needs improvement. This makes it
difficult for board members and personnel managers to get a true picture of the NCO. Raters
should consider the potential effect of submitting an NCO-ER with no bullets or a success box
check with a negative bullet. Ensure that the rating you want to portray is easily understood.

o When writing bullets to support ‘Needs Improvement’ ratings, the bullets should tell what
happened, what the deficiency was, what went wrong. Generic bullets used to support ‘Needs
Improvement’ ratings often look like the rater had a deficiency in communicating with the NCO
and it’s often hard to determine the problem.

o Enclosure 1 contains examples of bullets extracted from NCO-ER Updates for “excellence”,
“success”, and “needs improvement” ratings. Review these bullets and take note of the
excellence bullet comments that contain specific and measurable results.