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Letter writing

An effective letter must be clearly organized and carefully thought out. The following tips should make your task easier.

Address and date

Put your address at the top on the right. Put the smallest item first: house number, then street, then town. Post code and telephone number come last. Dont put your name with the address. Put the date directly under the address. A common way to write the date is to put the number of the day, followed by the month and year (e.g. 22 December 2007). In formal letters and business letters, put the name and address of the person you are writing to on the left side of the page, starting on the same level as the date or slightly below. Different styles are common in formal letters on paper which has the address readyprinted at the top of the page. For example, the date may be put on the left, and the address of the person written to may come at the end of the letter. In American usage, dates are written differently (month before day).

Begin the letter on the left. In informal letters, it is common to address people by their first names: (e.g. Dear Alice). In more formal letters, titles and surnames can be used to address people: (e.g. Dear Ms Sullivan). Use Dear Sir(s), Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Madam to address people whose name you dont know. Some people use the first name and surname (Dear Penny Hopkins) when writing to strangers or people they do not know well. Do not use a title like Mr together with a first name. In American usage, Gentlemen is used instead of Dear Sirs. After the opening salutation, Americans may put a colon, especially in business letters (Dear Mr Parker:), or a comma.

Body of the letter

After Dear X, put a comma or nothing at all. In American English, a comma is preferred in personal letters, and a colon in business letters. Leave an empty line after Dear X and start again on the left, or start again on the next line, a few spaces from the left. Do the same for each paragraph. Letters to strangers often begin with an explanation of the reason for writing.

Subscription or Leave-taking
Letters which begin Dear Sir or Dear Madam usually finish Yours faithfully. Formal letters which begin with the persons name (e.g. Dear Susan Fernandez) usually finish Yours sincerely. Informal letters may finish, for example, Yours, See you, or Love. Note that Love is not usually used by one man to another. In formal letters, many people put a closing formula before Yours , especially when writing to people they know: Common expressions are With best wishes and With kind regards. In American usage, Yours faithfully is not used. Common endings are Sincerely, Sincerely yours or Yours truly followed by a comma. Signature Sign with your first name (informal) or full name (formal). Dont write any title (Mr/Ms/Dr/etc). In a formal typewritten letter, add your full typewritten name after your handwritten signature. Friendly business letters are often signed with the first name only above the fully typewritten name. Americans are often addressed and sign their names with the first name in full, followed by the initial of a middle name (Allan J Parker). In informal letters, afterthoughts that are added after the signature are usually introduced by P S (Latin post scriptum).

Personal Letter Writing Tips

Personal letters should be written in a familiar and intimate style, depending upon the degree of intimacy you have with the person addressed. Use short and simple sentences instead of formal and elaborate ones. In a personal letter, you can use conversational idioms and colloquial expressions. You can also use contracted forms like dont, wont and Im. A personal letter should express the personality of the writer. It should be like a friendly heart-to-heart talk and the reader should hear your voice as he/she goes through the letter. Dont devote all the space to yourself. You must write about common interests and about people your reader is interested in. One of your main aims in writing a personal letter should be to please the person to whom it is addressed, and for this reason you must show genuine interest in him. If, however, you have a particular purpose in writing the letter you should make sure that it is not obscured by the other details you might put in to make the letter interesting to your reader.

Addressing the envelope

When you address the envelope, follow the style you used in the letter. If you typed the letter, type the address on the envelope. The style should match. If you wrote the letter by hand, write the envelope by hand. Be sure your writing is legible. Here are a few more guidelines: On the envelope, put the first name before the surname. People usually write a title (Mr, Mrs etc) before the name. You can write the first name in full (Mrs Susan Fernandez) or you can write one or more initials (Mrs S Fernandez). British people now usually write addresses, titles, initials, dates and opening and closing formula without commas or full stops. American usage is different. In American English, commas are sometimes used at the ends of lines in addresses; full stops may be used at the ends of addresses. Center the recipient's name and address in the lower middle quadrant. Don't use Mr, Mrs, or Ms when you write your own name on the return address. Use only standard abbreviations for streets, states, and countries. To insure speedy delivery or return, include the zip code in both the recipient's address and your return address.

Example of a formal letter and envelope

Examples of Formal Letters - 2

202, MG Road Kochi June 29, 2009

The Macmillan Co. of India Ltd. 21, Patullo Road Madras-2 Dear Sirs I shall be obliged if you will send me the following books by VPP at your earliest convenience: 1. The Morning of the World, by Graham Cooper 2 copies 2. In Search of Peace, by Neil Richards 3 copies 3. The Ape and You, by Brian Darwin 1 copy Yours Sincerely John Mathews Content Courtesy - Macmillan Co.of India

Examples of Informal Letters 2

My dear Margaret, Here it is summertime, and the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming and the bees making honey, and we havent been fishing yet. Well, there is only one more month till July, and then we will go, and no mistake. I thought you might write and tell me about the high water round Pittsburgh sometime ago, and whether it came up to where you live or not

I would like very much to hear from you oftener; it has been more than a month now since you wrote. Write soon and tell me how you are, and when school will be out, for we want plenty of holidays in July, so we can have a good time. I am going to send you something nice the last day of this week. What do you guess it will be? Lovingly, Papa (This is a letter written by American short story writer O. Henry to his daughter Margaret.)