Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to Write a Business Letter - the Eight Component Parts

In learning how to write a business letter, you need to know and understand the eight parts that should be included in any business letter. Here they are:

The return address: This is the writer's address. If you are writing on behalf of a company or organization, this information will be part of its printed letterhead. If you are writing a business letter on your own behalf, you must type in this information, usually centered at the top of the page.

The date: It usually goes at the left margin, several lines below the last line of the return address. Always put in the date, as it is important to the history of correspondence on this topic.

The inside address: This is the name and address of the person to whom you are writing. Beginning two lines below the date, it includes first and last name, company name, street address, city, province or state, postal or zip code. If the person is in another country, include the country in the last line. Although some writers omit the title (such as Mr., Mrs., Ms or Dr.), it is still considered polite to include this.

The salutation: Two lines below the last line of the inside address, begin your letter with the salutation, or Dear... line. When you know the recipient very well, it's now considered acceptable to address him or her by first name. Otherwise, write Dear Mr. Ross or Dear Ms Roberts; when in doubt err on the side of formality and use the last name. In North America, punctuation after the salutation is a colon, while U.K. writers generally use the comma. Both are considered correct.

The Body: This is the content, or the message of the letter. I'll reserve detailed discussion of the body content for another article, but for maximum impact, it should be clear, concise and correct.

The complimentary close: This comes two lines after the last line of the letter, and might be yours sincerely, sincerely, yours truly, yours faithfully or even regards.

The signature: Leave four to six blank lines after the complimentary close for the writer's handwritten signature.

The name and title of the writer: Beneath the handwritten signature is the typed name of the writer. Sometimes the person's title is included in a separate line, but this is optional.

In learning how to write a business letter, you should become familiar with these parts and always use them, because correct formatting of your business letter makes it easier to read and also adds to your credibility.

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