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Letter format

Sender

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.


Date

It is not common in an English letter to write the name of the place. The date is in the upper left-hand corner of the letter. The date can be written in different ways:

November 4, 2019 (The most common)
4th November 2019
November 4th, 2018
4 November 2019


Margins

Use at least 1 inch on all four sides. 1 inch corresponds to 2.54 centimetres. (If you go to 'Layout' then 'Margins' in Microsoft Word you can set this up.)


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 on the envelope and on the letter. Then enter the name of the person you wish to contact and on the second line the name of their company.

The number of the house goes before the name of the street. The street names are not abbreviated, the words ‘Street’, ‘Avenue’, ‘Lane’ and ‘Park’ begin with a capital letter. For example, ’2 Park Lane’ and ’33 Florence Avenue’. A post box is called P.O. Box. The name of the area is followed by the postcode and the name of the country.

 

Example in the letter:
Dr Ben L. Black
London University
1550 Church Lane
London EC2
UNITED KINGDOM


Example on the envelope:
Dr Ben L. Black
London University
1550 Church Lane
London EC2
United Kingdom


Salutation

In this section, you are going to focus on the recipient. The most frequent form of female address is 'Ms', while the masculine form is 'Mr'. Any academic degree, such as 'Dr', replaces both male and female titles. If you know the name of the recipient, it is advisable that you mention it as well.

Rules for greetings:

  • In British English no full stop is needed after the abbreviations Mr/Ms/Dr etc. but in American English the full stops are used for example 'Mr. Black'.
  • Aucune virgule n'est utilisée après l'adresse.

Examples:
Dear Sir / Madam
To Whom It May Concern

Dear Ms
Dear Ms White
Dear Mrs
Dear Miss

Dear Mr = Cher Monsieur
Dear Mr Black
Dear Sirs

Dear Ben

Dear Dr Black

Although professional communication has become more informal over the years, first names are not used in letters. A first name can only be used if you are related or familiar with the recipient. Remember that the letter can be read by other people and it is always best to avoid using pet names.


Subject

The title of the subject of the letter is only recorded in an English letter after the salutation. There is no need to place the title of the subject in the letter, but you can underlinethe words if you wish. Do not put a full stop after this heading.

Example:
Graduation


First paragraph

Start the first paragraph with a capital letter. In this paragraph, you give information about the situation you are in; what motivated you to write the letter.

Try to avoid starting sentences with ‘I’, it is acceptable to start with ‘I’ in an English letter, but it is not really attractive.

Contracted words are not allowed, “I’m” and “They’re” should be written as "I am" and "They are." A blank line follows each paragraph before you write the next paragraph.


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:
I am looking forward to your reply.


Closing

At the end of the letter, you write a greeting. After the sign off, you do not put comma. You write your full name and do not use initials. The women put ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’ in front of their name, otherwise it is assumed that the sender is a man. Under your name, you write your function or department with a capital letter.

If you know who you are addressing the letter to:

Yours sincerely

(Signature)

Ms Janneke de Groot

Account manager

If you do not know who you are addressing the letter to:

Yours faithfully

(Signature)

Ms Janneke de Groot

Account manager


Attachments

If you send documents with the letter, you must mention them in your letter. You indicate the inclusion of these documents with the word ‘Enclosure’ below the signature line.

Example:
Encl. (1)
or
Enc. - Example