Parts of a Business Letter
LETTERHEAD: This, of course, is printed and supplied by your employer. It is used only for the first page of
DATELINE: The date on which the letter is being prepared is typed a few lines below the letterhead.
INSIDE ADDRESS:The address of your reader is typed as it will appear on the envelope.
ATTENTION LINE:This is not always required. It should be used when the letter is addressed to a company, organization, or department as a whole, but you want it to be handled by a specific individual within that unit. It should be underlined or typed in capitals.
SALUTATION:While "Dear Sir," "Dear Madam," "Dear Madam or Sir," "Gentlemen," "Gentlemen and Ladies" are acceptable in cases of extreme formality, you should otherwise use an individual's name whenever it is known. When the reader's name is nor known, the person's title is the next best term in a salutation.
SUBJECT LINE:Like the attention line, this is often omitted, but its inclusion is a courtesy to your reader. By alerting him to the content of your message, you enable him to decide whether the letter requires immediate attention. It should be underlined or typed in capitals.
BODY:This is the actual message of your letter.
COMPLIMENTARY CLOSING:This is a polite, formal way to end a letter; standard forms are "Yours truly" or "Truly yours," "Sincerely yours," "Respectfully yours," and so on. Excessively familiar closings should be avoided, except in special situations. "Best wishes," for example, could be used when the reader is well known to you. Expressions such as "Fondly" or "Love" should, obviously, be reserved for private correspondence.
COMPANY SIGNATURE:Another item often omitted from less formal correspondence, it should be used when the signer of the letter is writing as a spokesperson for the company, not as an individual Since this information appears in the letterhead, some companies omit it altogether.
SIGNER'S IDENTIFICATION:Typed four lines below the previous item to allow space for the signature, this includes the signer's name and any relevant titles.
REFERENCE INITIALS:Consisting of the signer's initials in capitals followed by a slash or colon followed by the lowercase initials of the person preparing the letter, this item serves as a reminder of who prepared the letter.
ENCLOSURE REMINDER:Consisting of the word "enclosure," or the word "enclosure" followed by a list of the enclosed items, this is a practical courtesy to prevent your reader from discarding important matter with the envelope.
CC" NOTATION:Also a courtesy, this tells the reader who has been sent a copy of the letter.
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