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A letter is a written or printed message addressed to a person or persons, usually sent by post or messenger.

It is an addressed document of legal, formal or informal kind for various purposes.


  • 1. Formal Letters - Tone is formal such as Business Letters.

  • 2. Semi-Formal Letters - Tone and style is formal and meant for relatives. Invitation Letters.

  • 3. Informal Letters - Tone and style is relaxed. It is written to relatives, friends, etc. Friendly letters do not require an inside address and the writer’s printed name. Closing is also informal.

  • 4. Form Letters - Preprinted. Administration form, Application Form, etc.

Business Letters

A business letter is a written communication addressed to a person or organization, by a

person or organization for specific business purposes.

Format of writing a Business letter


Open punctuation. Begins from left side. Indenting is not required. One line is left between paragraphs.
Open punctuation.
Begins from left side.
Indenting is not required.
One line is left between paragraphs.
Less formal than Full Block Format.
Indented paragraphs. (Five spaces).
Closed punctuation.
Date, Complimentary Close, Signatures, Name and Designation are on the right side
of the margin.
If Letter Head is not used the heading is on the right side of the margin.
Reference is in line with the date on the left side.
Recipient's address is on the left margin.
Subject line is written leaving usually five spaces.
Subject line may include or omit the word subject. May or may not be underlined.


Unindented paragraphs. Date and Complimentary Close are on the right side. Reference is on left side in line with the date. Inside address, subject and enclosure are on left side of the margin.


Indentation Double space between paragraphs. Date, Complimentary Close and Signatures are right of center. Inside address, subject and enclosure are aligned to the left of margin. Open punctuation.


Unindented paragraphs. Salutation and Complimentary Close are omitted. Full Block Style. Open punctuatation. Not widely used. Subject Line is in Capital Case and the word subject is omitted. Printed Name is in Capital Case.

Parts of Business Letter

  • 1. Heading or Return Address - heading or return address is specially designed at the top of the sheet. It bears all the necessary information about the organization’s identity.


The Ohio Academy of Science

1500 West Avenue 223 Columbus CH 43212-2817 Phone or Fax (6124) 455-2226

  • 2. Date - Date of writing. The month should be fully spelled out and the year written with all four digits October 12, 2005. The date is aligned with the return address. Ex:

January 10, 2001


Inside Address - In a business or formal letter you should give the address of

the recipient after your own address. Include the recipient's name, company, address and postal code. Add job title if appropriate. Separate the recipient's name and title

with a comma. The Inside Address is always on the left margin.


Mr. John M. Smith Chief Executive Officer Smithville Corporation 123 Rasy Street Smithville 21324

  • 4. Salutation - The type of salutation depends on your relationship with the

recipient. It

normally begins with the word "Dear" and always includes the person's last name. If you do not know the name or the sex of your receiver address then begin it to Dear Madam/Sir or Dear Sales Manager or Dear Human Resources Director. Greeting in a business letter ends in a colon. It is also acceptable to use a comma.


Dear Mr. Smith!

  • 5. Body – It is best to keep an initial business letter short. Business people are busy and

do not have time to read long letters. In a one-page letter, you will usually only need

three or four paragraphs, single spaced. Use a double space in between paragraphs.

6. Complimentary Close - This short, polite closing ends always with a comma. It is either at the left margin or its left edge is in the center, depending on the Business Letter Style that you use. The traditional rule of etiquette in Britain is that a formal letter starting "Dear Sir or Madam" must end "Yours faithfully", while a letter starting "Dear " must end "Yours sincerely".



  • 7. Signature and Writer’s identification - The signature is the last part of the letter.

You should sign your first and last names. The signature line may include a second line for a title, if appropriate. The signature should start directly above the first letter of the signature line in the space between the close and the signature line. Use blue or black ink.


3. Inside Address - In a business or formal letter you should give the address of

Techniques on making a nice business letter:

  • 1. Attention line – Type the name of the person to whom you're sending the letter.

If you type the person's name in the Inside Address skip this.


Attention: Mr. John Hall Attention of Operations Manager

  • 2. Subject line – is use so that the reader immediately knows what your letter is

about. Use “Subject:” or “Re”, Subject line must be between Salutation and body.

  • 3. Heading for Extra Pages – when the letter is more than a page long, the

addressee’s name, date and the page number are typed (about an inch down) at the top of each page after the first. In the block and semi-block forms, the heading is evenly space across the top.

Ex: Mr. William Prince

Mr. William Prince December 8, 1999 Page 2

December 8,1999


  • 4. Dictator-Transcriber initials If someone typed the letter for you, he or she would

typically include three of your initials in all uppercase characters, then two of his or hers

in all lowercase characters.






  • 5. Enclosure This line tells the reader to look in the envelope for more. Type the

singular for only one enclosure, plural for more. If you don't enclose anything, skip it.


Enclosures: 3

Enclosures (3)

  • 6. Carbon or Xerox copy when other people are to receive a copy of the letter their

names are noted either by their ranks or by alphabetical listings. The abbreviation “cc” is used for “carbon copy(to)”, “c” for any other kind of “copy (to)”. This final device is also typed on the left side and separated by a space from when precedes:

cc: Mr. R C. Haley, Plant Manager All Department Heads

Stereotypes to Avoid in Letter Writing

A stereotype is a lack of originality of making a phrase, that creates negative effect on the readers because it is not clearly understood or expressed. If you notice in old days when a letter is impersonal and more formal, legal language dominated stereotype not only accepted but expected.

To determine what is stereotype we must observe the following:

  • 1. Does it sound personal and informal?

  • 2. Does it contribute to the substance of the message that is it specific?

  • 3. Does it contribute to the letter’s positive tone?

Substitutes for Stereotypes

According to our records: “Records” usually means one document( report ,order ,invoice etc). Prefer being specific.

Ex: The Wilson Contract states or The service agreement expired on August 26.

Acknowledge receipt of: Too formal and impersonal. Say for example.

Ex: We appreciate your sending us a sample of your new additive.

Along this line or Along these lines: It is not understood and inexact. Write as if you were speaking.

Ex: On this point or As far as our testing program is concerned.

At the present writing: Prefer being direct and concise . Say what you mean.

Ex: “Now”, Right Now” or, if appropriate, “This morning.”

Attached please find, Enclosed please find: write as if you were speaking to the reader.

Ex: “We are attaching(enclosing)” or “It is a pleasure to attach(enclose)”.

Be so good as to, Be so kind as to(send): it sound formal and insincere, express the idea that it sound more natural. It is more sincere if you say

Ex: “Please(send)” or “we will appreciate your(sending)”

Feel, Felt: as in “We feel” “It is felt”. “Feel” is a verb indicating consciousness, touch or emotion. If you want to tell your reader what your analysis say

Ex: “We believe” or “Our opinion is”

Hoping: A very weak way to end a letter meaningfully. If you say “I hope” or “We hope”. Be specific for example:

Ex: “I / We hope that you approve our report”.

Kind:(as in “Thank you for your kind letter”) letters are not kind only thoughts or statements are. Say for example.

Ex: “thank you for writing” or “We appreciate your answer”

Pending receipt of( as in “We shall reserve our decision pending receipt of your final report) it is formal and pompous. Change it to.

Ex: “We will be glad to tell you our decision after we have read your final report.”

Please refer to( as in “Please refer to my letter of October 12”): This impresses readers because it is not emphasize at the beginning of a letter, where such sentence is often found. For example

Ex: I am writing again to remind you of the program we have arranged for you and for your staff on October 26.