Mark, K9CF posed a good question to me in an email, so I thought I might reply here, so that we could generate some discussion.
It is true that "recommended practice" for NTS messages is to at least try to limit amateur radiograms to 25 words. This is what "fits" on the standard ARRL message form.
While message length is a consideration for the person originating the traffic to follow recommended practice, changing message format or editing message length is NOT an option for the relaying station. If you agree to relay a piece of NTS traffic from any source the rule is to:
MOVE THE MESSAGE FORWARD EXACTLY AS RECEIVED.
It is true that 25 words is the recommended practice for amateur radiograms in the NTS, but appropriate exceptions may include, but are not limited to:
Messages relayed through NTS which originate from another service, such as MARSGRAMS, are relayed as received. MARSGRAMS normally contain up to 50 words.
Official messages from a served agency, originating on the agency's form, such as local situation reports, resource requests, etc. are always sent as received.
Reports listing net statistics, lists of participating stations, traffic handled, etc., may contain more than 25 words.
As a message originator, the ARRL Public Service Communication Manual recommends that you limit amateur radiograms to 25 words. You should whenever practical to do so. When operationally necessary the message may indeed be longer, but keep in mind that any radio message should conform to accepted standards of ACCURACY, BREVITY, CLARITY.
Avoid unnecessary words, but once the message is in the system, your duty is to MOVE THE MESSAGE FORWARD, AS SENT.
73 de KE4SKY
Virginia RACES State Training Officer