Kamis, 27 Januari 2011

part of a Letter

The mechanical construction of a letter, whether social, friendly, or
business, falls into six or seven parts. This arrangement has become
established by the best custom. The divisions are as follows:
1. Heading
2. Inside address
(Always used in business letters but omitted in social and friendly letters)
3. Salutation
4. Body
5. Complimentary close
6. Signature
7. Superscription

The heading of a letter contains the street address, city, state, and
the date. The examples below will illustrate:
2018 Calumet Street or 1429 Eighth Avenue
Chicago, Ill. New York, N.Y.
May 12, 1921 March 8, 1922
When the heading is typewritten or written by hand, it is placed at the
top of the first letter sheet close to the right-hand margin. It should
begin about in the center, that is, it should extend no farther to the
left than the center of the page. If a letter is short and therefore
placed in the center of a page, the heading will of course be lower
and farther in from the edge than in a longer letter. But it should
never be less than an inch from the top and three quarters of an inch
from the edge.
In the business letterhead appear the name of the firm, its address, and
the kind of business engaged in. The last is often omitted in the case
of widely known firms or where the nature of the business is indicated
by the name of the firm.
In the case of a printed or engraved letterhead, the written heading
should consist only of the date. The printed date-line is not good. To
mix printed and written or typed characters detracts from the neat
appearance of the letter.
In social stationery the address, when engraved, should be about three
quarters of an inch from the top of the sheet, either in the center or
at the right-hand corner. When the address is engraved, the date may be
written at the end of the last sheet, from the left-hand corner,
directly after the signature.
In social correspondence what is known as the inside address is omitted.
In all business correspondence it is obviously necessary. The name and
address of the person to whom a business letter is sent is placed at the
left-hand side of the letter sheet below the heading, about an inch from
the edge of the sheet, that is, leaving the same margin as in the body
of the letter. The distance below the heading will be decided by the
length and arrangement of the letter. The inside address consists of the
name of the person or of the firm and the address. The address should
comprise the street number, the city, and the state. The state may, in
the case of certain very large cities, be omitted. Either of the
following styles may be used--the straight edge or the diagonal:
Wharton & Whaley Co.
Madison Avenue & Forty-Fifth Street
New York, N. Y.
Wharton & Whaley Co.
Madison Avenue & Forty-Fifth Street
New York, N. Y.
Punctuation at the ends of the lines of the heading and the address may
or may not be used. There is a growing tendency to omit it.
The inside address may be written at the end of the letter, from the
left, below the signature. This is done in official letters, both formal
and informal. These official letters are further described under the
heading "Salutation" and in the chapter on stationery.
Social Letters
The salutation, or complimentary address to the person to whom the
letter is written, in a social letter should begin at the left-hand side
of the sheet about half an inch below the heading and an inch from the
edge of the paper. The form "My dear" is considered in the United States
more formal than "Dear." Thus, when we write to a woman who is simply an
acquaintance, we should say "My dear Mrs. Evans." If we are writing to
someone more intimate we should say "Dear Mrs. Evans." The opposite is
true in England--that is, "My dear Mrs. Evans" would be written to a
friend and "Dear Mrs. Evans" to a mere acquaintance. In writing to an
absolute stranger, the full name should be written and then immediately
under it, slightly to the right, "Dear Madam" or "Dear Sir." For
Mrs. John Evans,
Dear Madam:
Mr. William Sykes,
Dear Sir:
The salutation is followed by a colon or a comma.
Business Letters
In business letters the forms of salutation in common use are: "Dear
Sir," "Gentlemen," "Dear Madam," and "Mesdames." In the still more
formal "My dear Sir" and "My dear Madam" note that the second word is
not capitalized. A woman, whether married or unmarried, is addressed
"Dear Madam." If the writer of the letter is personally acquainted with
the person addressed, or if they have had much correspondence, he may
use the less formal address, as "My dear Mr. Sykes."
The salutation follows the inside address and preserves the same margin
as does the first line of the address. The following are correct forms:
White Brothers Co.
591 Fifth Avenue
New York
White Brothers Co.
591 Fifth Avenue
New York
"Dear Sirs" is no longer much used--although in many ways it seems to be
better taste.
In the case of a firm or corporation with a single name, as Daniel
Davey, Inc., or of a firm or corporation consisting of men and women,
the salutation is also "Gentlemen" (or "Dear Sirs"). In letters to or by
government officials the extremely formal "Sir" or "Sirs" is used. These
are known as formal official letters.
The informal official letter is used between business men and concerns
things not in the regular routine of business affairs. These letters are
decidedly informal and may be quite conversational in tone.
The use of a name alone as a salutation is not correct, as:
Mr. John Evans:
I have your letter of--
Forms of salutation to be avoided are "Dear Miss," "Dear Friend,"
In memoranda between members of a company the salutations are commonly
omitted--but these memoranda are not letters. They are messages of a
"telegraphic" nature.
In the matter of titles it has been established by long custom that a
title of some kind be used with the name of the individual or firm. The
more usual titles are:
"Mr.," "Mrs.," "Miss," "Messrs.," "Reverend," "Doctor," "Professor," and
"Honorable." "Esquire," written "Esq." is used in England instead of the
"Mr." in common use in the United States. Although still adhered to by
some in this country, its use is rather restricted to social letters. Of
course it is never used with "Mr." Write either "Mr. George L. Ashley"
or "George L. Ashley, Esq."
The title "Messrs." is used in addressing two or more persons who are in
business partnership, as "Messrs. Brown and Clark" or "Brown & Clark";
but The National Cash Register Company, for example, should not be
addressed "Messrs. National Cash Register Company" but "The National
Cash Register Company." The form "Messrs." is an abbreviation of
"Messieurs" and should not be abbreviated in any way other than
"Messrs." The title "Miss" is not recognized as an abbreviation and is
not followed by a period.
Honorary degrees, such as "M.D.," "Ph.D.," "M.A.," "B.S.," "LL.D.,"
follow the name of the person addressed. The initials "M.D." must not be
used in connection with "Doctor" as this would be a duplication. Write
either "Dr. Herbert Reynolds" or "Herbert Reynolds, M.D." The titles of
"Doctor," "Reverend," and "Professor" precede the name of the addressed,
as: "Dr. Herbert Reynolds," "Rev. Philip Bentley," "Prof. Lucius
Palmer." It will be observed that these titles are usually abbreviated
on the envelope and in the inside address, but in the salutation they
must be written out in full, as "My dear Doctor," or "My dear
Professor." In formal notes one writes "My dear Doctor Reynolds" or "My
dear Professor Palmer." In less formal notes, "Dear Doctor Reynolds" and
"Dear Professor Palmer" may be used.
A question of taste arises in the use of "Doctor." The medical student
completing the studies which would ordinarily lead to a bachelor's
degree is known as "Doctor," and the term has become associated in the
popular mind with medicine and surgery. The title "Doctor" is, however,
an academic distinction, and although applied to all graduate medical
practitioners is, in all other realms of learning, a degree awarded for
graduate work, as Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), or for distinguished
services that cause a collegiate institution to confer an honorary
degree such as Doctor of Common Law (D.C.L.), Doctor of Law and
Literature (LL.D.), Doctor of Science (Sc.D.), and so on. Every holder
of a doctor's degree is entitled to be addressed as "Doctor," but in
practice the salutation is rarely given to the holders of the honorary
degrees--mostly because they do not care for it.
Do not use "Mr." or "Esq." with any of the titles mentioned above.
The President of the United States should be addressed formally as
"Sir," informally as "My dear Mr. President."
Members of Congress and of the state legislatures, diplomatic
representatives, judges, and justices are entitled "Honorable," as
"Honorable Samuel Sloane," thus:
Honorable (or Hon.) John Henley
Honorable (or Hon.) John Henley
My dear Mr. Henley:
Titles such as "Cashier," "Secretary," and "Agent" are in the nature of
descriptions and follow the name; as "Mr. Charles Hamill, Cashier."
When such titles as "Honorable" and "Reverend" are used in the body of
the letter they are preceded by the article "the." Thus, "The Honorable
Samuel Sloane will address the meeting."
A woman should never be addressed by her husband's title. Thus the wife
of a doctor is not "Mrs. Dr. Royce" but "Mrs. Paul Royce." The titles of
"Judge," "General," and "Doctor" belong to the husband only. Of course,
if a woman has a title of her own, she may use it. If she is an "M.D."
she will be designated as "Dr. Elizabeth Ward." In this case her
husband's Christian name would not be used.
In writing to the clergy, the following rules should be observed:
For a Cardinal the only salutation is "Your Eminence." The address on
the envelope should read "His Eminence John Cardinal Farley."
To an Archbishop one should write "Most Rev. Patrick J. Hayes, D.D.,
Archbishop of New York." The salutation is usually "Your Grace,"
although it is quite admissible to use "Dear Archbishop." The former is
preferable and of more common usage.
The correct form of address for a Bishop is "The Right Reverend John
Jones, D.D., Bishop of ----." The salutation in a formal letter should
be "Right Reverend and dear Sir," but this would be used only in a
strictly formal communication. In this salutation "dear" is sometimes
capitalized, so that it would read "Right Reverend and Dear Sir";
although the form in the text seems preferable, some bishops use the
capitalized "Dear." The usual form is "My dear Bishop," with "The Right
Reverend John Jones, D.D., Bishop of ----" written above it. In the
Protestant Episcopal Church a Dean is addressed "The Very Reverend John
Jones, D.D., Dean of ----." The informal salutation is "My dear Dean
Jones" and the formal is "Very Reverend and dear Sir."
In addressing a priest, the formal salutation is "Reverend and dear
Sir," or "Reverend dear Father." The envelope reads simply: "The Rev.
Joseph J. Smith," followed by any titles the priest may enjoy.
The form used in addressing the other clergy is "The Reverend John
Jones," and the letter, if strictly formal, would commence with
"Reverend and Dear Sir." The more usual form, however, is "My dear Mr.
Brown" (or "Dr. Brown," as the case may be). The use of the title
"Reverend" with the surname only is wholly inadmissible.
In general usage the salutation in addressing formal correspondence to a
foreign ambassador is "His Excellency," to a Minister or Chargé
d'Affaires, "Sir." In informal correspondence the general form is "My
dear Mr. Ambassador," "My dear Mr. Minister," or "My dear Mr. Chargé
In the placing of a formal note it must be arranged so that the complete
note appears on the first page only. The social letter is either formal
or informal. The formal letter must be written according to certain
established practice. It is the letter used for invitations to formal
affairs, for announcements, and for the acknowledgment of these letters.
The third person must always be used. If one receives a letter written
in the third person one must answer in kind. It would be obviously
incongruous to write
Mr. and Mrs. John Evans regret that we are unable to accept
Mrs. Elliott's kind invitation for the theatr on Thursday, May the fourth
as we have a previous engagement
It should read
Mr. and Mrs. John Evans regret that they are unable to accept
Mrs. Elliott's kind invitation for the theatre on Thursday, May the fourth
as they have a previous engagement
In these notes, the hour and date are never written numerically but are
spelled out.
If the family has a coat-of-arms or crest it may be used in the centre
of the engraved invitation at the top, but monograms or stamped
addresses are never so used.
For the informal letter there are no set rules except that of courtesy,
which requires that we have our thought distinctly in mind before
putting it on paper. It may be necessary to pause a few moments before
writing, to think out just what we want to say. A rambling, incoherent
letter is not in good taste any more than careless, dishevelled
clothing. Spelling should be correct. If there is any difficulty in
spelling, a small dictionary kept in the desk drawer is easily
consulted. Begin each sentence with a capital. Start a new paragraph
when you change to a new subject. Put periods (or interrogation points
as required) at the ends of the sentences. It is neater to preserve a
margin on both sides of the letter sheet.
In the body of a business letter the opening sentence is in an important
position, and this is obviously the place for an important fact. It
ought in some way to state or refer to the subject of or reason for the
letter, so as to get the attention of the reader immediately to the
It ought also to suggest a courteous personal interest in the
recipient's business, to give the impression of having to do with his
interests. For instance, a reader might be antagonized by
Yours of the 14th regarding the shortage in your last order
How much more tactful is
We regret to learn from your letter of March 14th that there was
a shortage in your last order.
Paragraphs should show the division of the thought of the letter. If you
can arrange and group your subjects and your thoughts on them logically
in your mind, you will have no trouble in putting them on paper. It is
easier for the reader to grasp your thought if in each paragraph are
contained only one thought and the ideas pertaining to it.
The appearance of a business letter is a matter to which all too little
concern has been given. A firm or business which would not tolerate an
unkempt salesman sometimes will think nothing of sending out badly
typed, badly placed, badly spelled letters.
The first step toward a good-looking letter is proper stationery, though
a carefully typed and placed letter on poor stationery is far better
than one on good stationery with a good letterhead but poor typing and
The matter of correct spelling is merely a case of the will to consult a
dictionary when in doubt.
The proper placing of a letter is something which well rewards the care
necessary at first. Estimate the matter to go on the page with regard to
the size of the page and arrange so that the centre of the letter will
be slightly above the centre of the letter sheet. The margins should act
as a frame or setting for the letter. The left-hand space should be at
least an inch and the right-hand at least a half inch. Of course if the
letter is short the margins will be wider. The top and bottom margins
should be wider than the side margins.
The body of the letter should begin at the same distance from the edge
as the first line of the inside address and the salutation.
All paragraphing should be indicated by indenting the same distances
from the margin--about an inch--or if the block system is used no
paragraph indentation is made but double or triple spacing between the
paragraphs indicates the divisions. If the letter is handwritten, the
spacing between the paragraphs should be noticeably greater than that
between other lines.
Never write on both sides of a sheet. In writing a business letter, if
the letter requires more than one page, use plain sheets of the same
size and quality without the letterhead. These additional sheets should
be numbered at the top. The name or initials of the firm or person to
whom the letter is going should also appear at the top of the sheets.
This letter should never run over to a second sheet if there are less
than three lines of the body of the letter left over from the first
In the formal official letter, that is, in letters to or by government
officials, members of Congress, and other dignitaries, the most rigid
formality in language is observed. No colloquialisms are allowed and no
The complimentary close follows the body of the letter, about two or
three spaces below it. It begins about in the center of the page under
the body of the letter. Only the first word should be capitalized and a
comma is placed at the end. The wording may vary according to the degree
of cordiality or friendship. In business letters the forms are usually
restricted to the following:
Yours truly (or) Truly yours (not good form)
Yours very truly (or) Very truly yours
Yours respectfully (or) Respectfully yours
Yours very respectfully.
If the correspondents are on a more intimate basis they may use
Faithfully yours
Cordially yours
Sincerely yours.
In formal official letters the complimentary close is
Respectfully yours
Yours respectfully.
The informal social letter may close with
Yours sincerely
Yours very sincerely
Yours cordially
Yours faithfully
Yours gratefully (if a favor has been done)
Yours affectionately
Very affectionately yours
Yours lovingly
Lovingly yours.
The position of "yours" may be at the beginning or at the end, but it
must never be abbreviated or omitted.
If a touch of formal courtesy is desired, the forms "I am" or "I remain"
may be used before the complimentary closing. These words keep the same
margin as the paragraph indenting. But in business letters they are not
The signature is written below the complimentary close and a little to
the right, so that it ends about at the right-hand margin. In signing a
social letter a married woman signs herself as "Evelyn Rundell," not
"Mrs. James Rundell" nor "Mrs. Evelyn Rundell." The form "Mrs. James
Rundell" is used in business letters when the recipient might be in
doubt as to whether to address her as "Mrs." or "Miss." Thus a married
woman would sign such a business letter:
Yours very truly,
Evelyn Rundell
(Mrs. James Rundell).
An unmarried woman signs as "Ruth Evans," excepting in the case of a
business letter where she might be mistaken for a widow. She then
prefixes "Miss" in parentheses, as (Miss) Ruth Evans.
A woman should not sign only her given name in a letter to a man unless
he is her fiancé or a relative or an old family friend.
A widow signs her name with "Mrs." in parentheses before it, as (Mrs.)
Susan Briggs Geer.
A divorced woman, if she retains her husband's name, signs her letters
with her given name and her own surname followed by her husband's name,
Janet Hawkins Carr.
and in a business communication:
Janet Hawkins Carr
(Mrs. Janet Hawkins Carr).
A signature should always be made by hand and in ink. The signature to a
business letter may be simply the name of the writer. Business firms or
corporations have the name of the firm typed above the written signature
of the writer of the letter. Then in type below comes his official
position. Thus:
Hall, Haines & Company (typewritten)
_Alfred Jennings_ (handwritten)
Cashier (typewritten).
If he is not an official, his signature is preceded by the word "By."
In the case of form letters or routine correspondence the name of the
person directly responsible for the letter may be signed by a clerk with
his initials just below it. Some business firms have the name of the
person responsible for the letter typed immediately under the name of
the firm and then his signature below that. This custom counteracts
illegibility in signatures.
In circular letters the matter of a personal signature is a very
important one. Some good points on this subject may be gathered from the
following extract from _Printers' Ink_.
Who shall sign a circular letter depends largely on
circumstances entering individual cases. Generally speaking,
every letter should be tested on a trial list before it is sent
out in large quantities. It is inadvisable to hazard an
uncertain letter idea on a large list until the value of the
plan, as applied to that particular business, has been tried
There are certain things about letter procedure, however, that
experience has demonstrated to be fundamental. One of these
platforms is that it is best to sign the letter with some
individual's name. Covering up the responsibility for the letter
with such a general term as "sales department" or "advertising
department" takes all personality out of the missive and to that
extent weakens the power of the message. But even in this we
should be chary of following inflexible rules. We can conceive
of circumstances where it would be advisable to have the letter
come from a department rather than from an individual.
Of course the management of many business organizations still
holds that all letters should be signed by the company only. If
the personal touch is permitted at all, the extent of it is to
allow the writer of the letter to subscribe his initials. This
idea, however, is pretty generally regarded as old-fashioned and
is fast dying out.
Most companies favor the plan of having the head of the
department sign the circular letters emanating from his
department. If he doesn't actually dictate the letter himself,
no tell-tale signs such as the initials of the actual dictator
should be made. If it is a sales matter, the letter would bear
the signature of the sales manager. If the communication
pertained to advertising, it would be signed by the advertising
manager. Where it is desired to give unusual emphasis to the
letter, it might occasionally be attributed to the president or
to some other official higher up. The big name idea should not
be overdone. People will soon catch on that the president would
not have time to answer all of the company's correspondence. If
he has, it is evident that a very small business must be done.
A better idea that is coming into wide vogue is to have the
letter signed by the man in the company who comes into
occasional personal contact with the addressee. One concern has
the house salesman who waits on customers coming from that
section of the country when they visit headquarters sign all
promotion letters going to them. The house salesman is the only
one in the firm whom the customer knows. It is reasoned that the
latter will give greater heed to a letter coming from a man with
whom he is on friendly terms. Another company has its branch
managers take the responsibility for circular letters sent to
the trade in that territory. Another manufacturer has his
salesmen bunched in crews of six. Each crew is headed by a
leader. This man has to sell, just as his men do, but in
addition he acts as a sort of district sales manager. All trade
letters going out in his district carry the crew leader's
There is much to be said in favor of this vogue. Personal
contact is so valuable in all business transactions that its
influence should be used in letters, in so far as it is
practicable to do so.
The signature should not vary. Do not sign "G. Smith" to one letter,
"George Smith" to another, and "G. B. Smith" to a third.
A man should never prefix to his signature any title, as "Mr.," "Prof.,"
or "Dr."
A postscript is sometimes appended to a business letter, but the letters
"P.S." do not appear. It is not, however, used as formerly--to express
some thought which the writer forgot to include in the letter, or an
afterthought. But on account of its unique position in the letter, it is
used to place special emphasis on an important thought.
In the outside address or superscription of a letter the following forms
are observed:
A letter to a woman must always address her as either "Mrs." or "Miss,"
unless she is a professional woman with a title such as "Dr." But this
title is used only if the letter is a professional one. It is not
employed in social correspondence. A woman is never addressed by her
husband's title, as "Mrs. Captain Bartlett."
A married woman is addressed with "Mrs." prefixed to her husband's name,
as "Mrs. David Greene." This holds even if her husband is dead.
A divorced woman is addressed (unless she is allowed by the courts to
use her maiden name) as "Mrs." followed by her maiden name and her
former husband's surname, as: "Mrs. Edna Boyce Blair," "Edna Boyce"
being her maiden name.
A man should be given his title if he possess one. Otherwise he must be
addressed as "Mr." or "Esq."
Titles of those holding public office, of physicians, of the clergy, and
of professors, are generally abbreviated on the envelope except in
formal letters.
It is rather customary to address social letters to "Edward Beech,
Esq.," business letters to "Mr. Edward Beech," and a tradesman's letter
to "Peter Moore." A servant is addressed as "William White."
The idea has arisen, and it would seem erroneous, that if the man
addressed had also "Sr." or "Jr." attached, the title "Mr." or "Esq."
should not be used. There is neither rhyme nor reason for this, as "Sr."
and "Jr." are certainly not titles and using "Mr." or "Esq." would not
be a duplication. So the proper mode of address would be
Mr. John Evans, Jr.
John Evans, Jr., Esq.
The "Sr." is not always necessary as it may be understood.
Business envelopes should have the address of the writer printed in the
upper left-hand corner as a return address. This space should not be
used for advertising.
In addressing children's letters, it should be remembered that a letter
to a girl child is addressed to "Miss Jane Green," regardless of the age
of the child. But a little boy should be addressed as "Master Joseph
The address when completed should be slightly below the middle of the
envelope and equidistant from right and left edges. The slanting or the
straight-edge form may be used, to agree with the indented or the block
style of paragraphing respectively.
Punctuation at the ends of the lines in the envelope address is not
generally used.

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