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German letter format

Sender / infoblock

The name of the sender is not mentioned in the header, but the address is. The address is at the top right of the letter. You write the name of the country in English. Do not write an address if the details of the address are already in the company's letterhead.

Example:
188 Halifax Road
Birmingham B3 1TR
The United Kingdom
Phone: +44(0)121 123 4567
Email: [email protected]

Make sure that the email address does not change into a hyperlink (usually coloured blue with clickability). This happens if typing the e-mail address is followed by a 'space' or 'enter'. Avoid this by moving the cursor with the mouse or with the arrow keys. If the email address changes to a link, click on ‘Undo’ in the 'Edit' menu.


Place and date

The place and date are written in the top right-hand of the letter. The date can be written both numerically and alphanumerically. In business letters the place name is not normally used.

Examples:

(with leading zeros)







Margins

For a German letter the margins should be: 2.41 cm on the left-hand side and 2 cm on the right. These margins can easily be set in a word processor.


Guidelines postal companies

Postal companies provide guidelines for the shipment to take place as soon as possible. These are the wishes of the postal company and are not obligatory, but to avoid delays in shipping it is better to keep to these guidelines. For sending post abroad:

Leave two spaces between the postal code and the name of the city in the Spanish address.

The country name is written in all capital letters, this only applies to ‘de retour’ (return) addresses that are visible on the outside of a postal item. It concerns labels, addresses on envelopes and addresses in letters that can be seen through a window envelope.

Country names are not automatically read if they are after the city name. That is why it is better to write them on a new line.


Addressee

Indicate the person whom the letter is addressed to both on the envelope and on the letter. Also state the department and/or the name of the addressee.

Under the company name you write the full name of the person to whom the letter is addressed, so do not use any initials. Prior to the name you write ‘z. H.’ for example, ‘z. H. Herrn ‘ or' z. H. Frau '. The abbreviation 'z. H.' is from 'zu Händen', this stands for 'to the attention of'. A P.O. Box is called a ‘Postfach’ in German.

Please note: Make a note of the country name on the envelope in English. In the letter you write the country name in German, unless you use a window envelope, then you have to write the country name in English in the address.

 

Example in the letter:
Liesl GmbH
z. H. Herrn Bernard Jörg
Karlstraße 25
47533 Kleve
DEUTSCHLAND


Example on the envelope:
Liesl GmbH
z. H. Herrn Bernard Jörg
Karlstraße 25
47533 Kleve
GERMANY


Subject

The subject is written without any accompanying text. To make the subject of the letter stand out, you can underline it or make the text bold.

Example:
Angebot


Salutation

Here you focus on the addressee. If the name of the addressee is unknown, write: 'Sehr gehehrte Damen und Herren,'. If you know the name, write the full name without using initial and preceded by 'Sehr geehrter Herr' or 'Sehr geehrte Frau'. Always end the phrase with a comma.

Example:
Sehr geehrter Herr Jörg,


First paragraph

Begin this paragraph with a lowercase letter. In this paragraph, you will provide information about the situation you are in, the reason that leads you to write the letter. Try to avoid starting sentences with 'I', this can seem rude. Use the abbreviations «jl.» (In recent years), «d. J. »(this year), or« v. J. »(last year).

Example:
auf Ihr Schreiben vom 23. Mai d. J.

You write the form of polite address 'Sie' and its derived forms ('Ihre') with a capital letter. Other forms of address may now be written with a lower-case letter.


Following paragraphs

Write the rest of your letter here.


Closing paragraph

Here you indicate again what you expect from the recipient. If it's a request or a complaint, thank them for their efforts in dealing with it.

Example:
Wir sehen hoffentlich bald Ihrer Antwort entgegen.
or
Wir hoffen auf eine baldige Antwort.


Closing

To conclude the letter you write a greeting without a comma. After the greeting follows the company name, followed by your signature if you are writing the letter on behalf of the company you can add ‘i.A.’ (im Auftrag) which means ‘on behalf of’. Write your own name in full and underneath your position or department.

Example:

Mit freundlichem Gruß

i.A. (Signature)

Ms Janneke de Groot

Sekretariat

or

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

(Signature)

Ms Janneke de Groot

Account manager

Very official letters can also be concluded with 'Hochachtungsvoll'.


Attachments

If you send documents with the letter, please mention them at the bottom of the letter. These documents are called 'Anlagen'. From the entry in the letter, the recipient must be able to determine how many documents are attached and what they concern.

Examples:
Anlage: Erklärung
or
Anlage: 1