How to Say it When Writing a Letter
The Parts of a Letter
Personal letter writing has been trumped by modern technology. Gone are the days of penning a letter to someone who is not near – an email or text message now suffices. However, in the workplace, letter writing still plays an important business role.
Fundraising, public relations and sales are dependent on sharing information with customers, clients and potential users. These professionals use letters to communicate important information. While there are no hard and fast rules for personal letter writing, business letter writing is a specialized craft.
A business letter will have the following parts:
- Sender’s address – You only need to provide the sender’s address if it is not included in the letterhead you are printing your letter on.
- Date – For more formal letters, spell out the month: November 16, 2015.
- Recipient’s address – Include the recipient’s address in the letter at the very top. You should use the post office-approved address and put the same address on the envelope.
- Salutation – Address your recipient by his or her formal title. For example, Dear Allison, or Dear Mrs. Smith. Read more about salutations.
- Body content – Your letter should be written in block format, indents are not needed.
- Closing – A closing is the last line before your signature. Popular closings include “thank you,” “kind regards,” “very truly yours” and “sincerely.”
- Enclosures – If you are including any other material with your letter you should note it by including an enclosures line.
- Typist initials – If you are writing a letter on behalf of someone else you should include your initials at the bottom of the letter, for example: amg.
Each part should appear in a certain format and location on the page. Below are examples of popular business letters:
While the practice of writing personal letters has decreased in the digital age, personal letter writing is still appropriate in certain instances. There are times when nothing but a handwritten, mailed letter will do such as when you need to thank someone or inform them of bad news.
Some basics for personal letter writing include:
- A handwritten note – a handwritten note is more personal than a typed note.
- A signature – a real signature, not an ink stamp or printed signature.
- A complimentary close
- Your home address and the date
General Rules for Proper Letter Writing
Whether you are drafting a letter to someone you know personally, or to a business contact, you should keep these general best practices in mind:
- Include topic sentences and clearly explain the purpose of your writing
- Open your letter with a kind thought and avoid opening with negative news
- Write like you speak, but be sure to maintain proper grammar
- Proofread the letter and have someone else review it before sending
- Blue ink is preferred for signatures
When you put pen to paper or fingers to keypad, keep these tips in mind to help draft the perfect business letter or personal note.
- The BEST Cover Letter Ever: How to write it and Write it RIGHT, by Cara Sprunk
- The Writing Center, by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Formal Letter Writing, by usingenglish.com
- Letter Writing & Sample Letters, by letterwritingguide.com
- How to Write a Thank You letter, by fresnostate.edu
- What Is the Proper Way to Write a Letter Introducing Yourself, by Mary Wroblewski
- How to Write a Letter of Apology, by whitesmoke.com
- How to Write a Resignation Letter, by grammar.yourdictionary.com
- How to Write an Explanatory Letter for Your Will, by nolo.com
- How to End a Letter, by personalitytutor.com
- How to Write a Great Resume and Cover Letter, by extension.harvard.edu
- How to Write a Complaint Letter, by howcast.com
- How to Write an Effective Admissions Essay, by study.com
- How to Write a Good Resignation Letter, by Scribble
- How to Write a Letter to Santa, by WaysAndHow
- Creative Writing, by Full Sail University
- On Writing: 10 Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
- Writing Tools: 50 Essential strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark
- Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs, by Marcia Riefer Johnston & Scott Abel
- English Letter Writing, by Vipin Nair, available on iTunes for free
- Writing Letters, by Magmentis Ltd.
- 7 Apps That Will Help You Use Your iPad For Writing Projects, by Bakari Chavanu, available in the App Store for free