ELEMENTS OF A LETTER
As a professional, you should know the standard ways to handle each element of a letter. This section describes the elements the top to the bottom of a letter. Heading In personal letters, include both your address and the date, positioned according to the requirements of the format you have chosen. Use these guidelines:
• Spell out words such as Avenue, Street, Enst, North, and Apartment (but, use Apt. if the line is too long).
• Put an apartment number to the right of the street address. If, however, the street address is too long, put an apartment number on the next line.
• Spell out numbered street names up to Twelfth.
To avoid confusion, put a hyphen between the house and street number (1021-14th Street).
• Either spell out the full name of the slate or use the Ll.S. Postal Service zip code abbreviation. If you use the zip.code abbreviation, note
that the state abbreviation has two capital letters and no periods, and the zip code number follows two spaces after the state. For example:
4217 East Eleventh Avenue
Austin, TX 78701
Date Dates can have one of two forms: May I, 19XX, or 1 May 19XX. In American correspondence, the former prevails. In Europe and the American military, the latter is used more frequently. Use these .guidelines:
• Spell out the month.
• Do not use ordinal indicators, such as 1st or 3rd.
Inside Address Readers are sensitive about their names, titles, and firms, so the inside address requires special care. Use these guidelines:
• Make sure that you use the correct personal title (Mr., Ms., Dr., Professor) and business title (Director, Manager, Treasurer) .
• Write the firm’s name exactly, .adhering to its practice of abbreviating or spelling out such words as Company and Corporation.
• Place the reader’s business title after his Or her name or on a line by itself, whichever best balances the inside address .
• Use the title Ms. for a woman, unless you know that she prefers
• to be addressed in another way.
Ms. Susan Ward ell
Director of Planning
Acme Bolt and Fastener
23201 Johnson Avenue
Arlington, AZ 85322
Attention Line Attention lines are ‘generally used only when you mot name the reader (“Attention Personnel Manager”; “Attention Pay- 1 Department”). Use these guidelines:
• Place the line two spaces below the inside address.
• Place the word Attention against the left margin. Do not follow it by a colon.
Salutation The salutation always agrees with the first line of the inide address. A colon always follows the salutation. Use these guidelines:
• If the first line names an individual (Ms. Ann Burdick), say “Dear Ms. Burdick:”
• If the first line names a company (Dougherty Contracting), repeat the name of.the company (“Dear Dougherty Contracting:” or just “Dougherty Contracting:”), or use the simplified format with a subject line.
• If that the line names an office, address the office, use an attention line, ~r use a subject line.
Personnel Director .
Firari & Firari, Accountants
1535 Goodrich Avenue
Lewiston, ME 04240
Dear Personnel Director: (or)
Attention Personnel Director (or)
Subject: Application for Finance Analyst
If you know only the first initial of the recipient, write “Dear B. Smith” or else use an attention line
• If a job advertisement, for example, lists only a post office box, use a subject line.
Box 4721 ML
The Daily Planet
Gillette, WY 82716
Subject: APPLICATION FOR OIL RIG MANAGER
Subject Line Subject lines are common in business letters. Use these
• Follow the word Subject with a colon.
• For emphasis, you may either completely capitalize or underline the subject.
Body Single-space the body. Generally try to balance the body on the page. It should the page’s imaginary middle line (located 112 inches from the top and bottom of the page). Use several short paragraphs rather than one long one. Use 1-inch margins in the right and left.
Complimentary Close and Signature Use simple closings, such as “Sincerely” or “Sincerely yours,” to end business letters. Use these
• Capitalize only the first word of the line.
• Place a comma after the close (or whatever company policy specifies).
• Place the company’s name immediately below the complimentary close (if necessary).
• Allow space for the handwritten signature.
• Place the writer’s title or department, or both, below his or her typed name.
Optional Lines . A number of optional lines provide notations below the typed signature.
• Place the typist’s initials in lower-case letters, flush left.
• Add an enclosure line if the envelope contains. additional material. The line may start either with” Enclosure:” or the abbreviation .
Place the name of the enclosure (resume, bid contract) after the colon, or put the number of enclosures in parentheses – enc: (2).
• If copies are sen. to other people, place “cc:” (for carbon copy) at the left margin and place the names to the right. Note: some authors use “c” ()r “copy to” when they do not actually make a carbon copy.
Succeeding Pages For succeeding page of a letter, place the name of the reader, the page number, and the date in a heading:
The standard business envelope is 9 1/2 by 4 3/16 inches. Place the stamp in the upper right-hand comer. Place your address, the same one that you used in the letter, in the upper left-hand comer. Traditionally, the recipient’s address has been placed at the top left of the lower- right quadrant of the envelope. However, the U.S. Postal Service now uses optical character recognition (OCR) machines, which have a “read area” . As a result, you may place the address anywhere in the read area. The Postal Service recommends that you place apartment numbers to the right of the street address ,or, if it is too long, on the line below. If for some reason the zip code number cannot be placed to the right of the state, place it on the next line at the left margin. The Postal Service prefers but does not require that you type the address in all capital letters. Bar coding is now used by many businesses. If an envelope has a bar code, no other printing should appear in the bar code read Postal Service’s recommended method for formatting an envelope for OCR.