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Business letters

This section describes the required features of a business letter. These features are shown from top to bottom in Exhibit 2-1.

  • Heading. Also called the letterhead, this part of a letter is placed along the left margin and starts about two inches (or 13 lines) from the top of the page. It includes your organization’s name, full address, and telephone number. Most businesses have pre-printed letterhead stationary.

  • Date. Place the date two lines below the heading. When writing dates, start with the full name of the month, then the day in numerals followed by a comma, and then the year—for example, November 16, 2002.

  • Inside address. This identifies the letter’s recipient. You should place the inside address two lines below the date. Always address the reader as “Mr.” or “Ms.,” and specify the reader’s position or title after their name. If you don’t know the name of the person to whom you are writing, address it to the relevant department or a specific position within that department.

  • Salutation. The salutation should be placed two lines below the inside address. It should include the recipient’s name followed by a colon—For example, “Dear Ms. Lee:”. A good rule of thumb is to address the reader as if you were speaking to him or her in person. If you don’t know the reader’s name, the proper salutation is “To whom it may concern.”

  • Letter body. This part of the letter contains your message and begins two lines below the salutation. Most letters are single spaced with a double space between each paragraph for clarity.

  • Closing. The closing should be two lines below the body of the letter. Traditional letter closings include “Sincerely” and “Cordially.” Ideally, the closing should reflect your relationship with the reader.

  • Signature block. This part of the letter contains your signature and your typed name. To make room for your signature, leave three blank lines between the closing and your typed name. If you include your company’s name in the signature block, it should be in capital letters.

    Figure 2-1. A sample business letter



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