In English there are a number of conventions that should be used when writing a formal or business letter. Furthermore, you try to write as simply and as clearly as possible, and not to make the letter longer than necessary. Remember not to use informal language like contractions.
The return address should be written in the top right-hand corner of the letter. The Address of the person you are writing to is the inside address and it’s should be written on the left, starting below your address. Different people put the date on different sides of the page. You can write this on the right or the left on the line after the address you are writing to. Write the month as a word. Salutation or greeting like “Dear Sir or Madam”, if you do not know the name of the person you are writing to. It is always advisable to try to find out a name. If you know the name, use the title (Mr. , Mrs. , Miss or Ms, Dr, etc. ) and the surname only. If you are writing to a woman and do not know if she uses Mrs. Or Miss, you can use Ms, which is for married and single women.
Ending a letter is better with “Yours Faithfully” if you do not know the name of the person. “Yours Sincerely” is used if you know the name of the person. Sign your name and then print it underneath the signature. If you think the person you are writing to might not know whether you are male of female, put you title in brackets after your name.
The first paragraph should be short and state the purpose of the letter- to make an enquiry, complain, request something, etc. The paragraph or paragraphs in the middle of the letter should contain the relevant information behind the writing of the letter. Most letters in English are not very long, so keep the information to the essentials and concentrate on organizing it in a clear and logical manner rather than expanding too much.
The last paragraph of a formal letter should state what action you expect the recipient to take- to refund, send you information, etc. The following abbreviations are widely used in letters: ASAP = as soon as possible
cc = carbon copy (when you send a copy of a letter to more than one person, you use this abbreviation to let them know)
enc. = enclosure (when you include other papers with your letter)
pp = per procurationem (A Latin phrase meaning that you are signing the letter on somebody else's behalf; if they are not there to sign it themselves, etc)
PS = postscript (when you want to add something after you've finished and signed it)
PTO (informal) = please turn over (to make sure that the other person knows the letter continues on the other side of the page)
RSVP = please reply
That’s basically all you have to know to write a formal letter.
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