How to write a business letter based on DeeAnene Kirschman

Most business people are accustomed to seeing information in certain ereas of a typical letter, so your letter will read much better if you use a common form.

There can be up to sixteen key parts of a letter, including the letterhead. And, although you probably won’t use all of them in every letter you write, their correct placement is essential in making your document look professional:

Letterhead: This is company or personal stationery

Date: This is the date on which the letter was written, not when it was typed or sent. The date is at the top of the page, at least two lines below the letter head symbol or sender’s address.

Inside Address: Your readers name and address appear just as they do on the envelope. This should be flush left, and at least two lines below the date. If you don’t know the reader’s name, use his or her professional title.

Attention Line: This is only used when your letter is addressed to a company as a whole, but you want someone specific to handle it. It should be flush left in the inside address, and can be either above the inside address, or immediately following the company’s name. Job title is not included.

Salutation: This is your first personal greeting to your reader’s name when you know it, and spell the name correctly. The salutation should be flush left, and placed two lines below the inside address.

Subject line: The subject line consists of a few words that briefly describe the content of your letter. It is not absolutely necessary to include it; in fact, it is often omitted in current business writing. But, it does serve as a courtesy to the reader. And, it is also a useful reference for you if you need to find it quickly.

As an option you can omit Re: and simply use capital letters.

Body: This is the actual message of your letter. It begins tow lines below the salutation, or subject line. Place the paragraphs flush left, or indent them (depending on format), and use single-spacing.

Closing: This is where you sign off your letter. It it is sometimes referred to as a complementary close because it is designed to close the letter in a polite, professional manner. The degree of formality you should use depends on the status of your reader.

Signature (company and signer) Line: This is the name and job title of the person writing the letter. It should only be used when you are writing on behalf of the company.

Reference Initials: This reference anyone involved in the preparation of the letter. There can be up to three different sets of initials: those of the person signing the letter, followed by the dictator’s, if different, and those of the typist. Reference initials are not as they once were: but, if you do use them, use all capital letters for the singer and/or dictator, and lowercase letters for the typist:

Enclosure: This indicates that you have included additional paperwork in your correspondence. You can use the word, enclosure. It is placed two lines beneath the reference initials. By adding an enclosure line, you are not only providing a courtesy to your reader, but you are ensuring that the extra information you are sending does not get overlooked. Filename Notation: This references a file name, and is placed two lines beneath the last notation. You don’t need to ingloud the word Reference in this information.

Delivery Notation: This is used when your document requires special handling. It is placed two lines below the last notation.

Carbon Copy (cc) Line: This line tells your reader who else is being sent a copy of your letter. You can preface the information with either cc, or with the word, distribution, if the letter is being sent to more than three or four readers. It is placed flush left and is tow lines below the last notation.

Postscript: Written as P.S. at the vwry bottom (flush left) of your letter. It is placed two lines below the last notation. The post script is simply extra information that is unrelated to the main information in your letter. It should be only one brief sentence and should be followed by the sender’s initials.

Continuation Page: this is any page after the first page of a document. Whatever you do, do not put the word continued on the first page-your reader will deduce that fact when they turn to page two. Information included in this portion is as follows: the address’s name, the date, and the page number. You should put this information at the top left corner of each page, flush left.

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