Structure of Business Letter: We will discuss about business letter format, parts of a business letter, business letter template, and form of business letter. We’ve given 12 parts of business letter in bellow.
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The physical appearance of a letter is very important of grasp the attention of the receiver. The appearance of a letter often reveals the character of the writer and the organization he belongs to.
The structure of a letter constitutes the different parts of a letter. The arrangement of the different parts of a business letter is fixed by custom and makes a world of differences in the impression it conveys.
The structure of a business letter usually includes the following parts:
- Inside Address
- Attention Line
- Body of the Letter
- Complimentary Close
- Identification Marks
Each of these elements has a definite place and position in a letter as shown below:
The different parts of a business letter are discussed in detail below:
Most business organizations use printed letterheads for correspondence. The letterhead contains the company name, address, telephone number, telegraphic address, web-site, symbols and trademarks etc.
Generally the name and address are printed on the top middle of the page and any other information is indicated in the margins. To give a balanced appearance to the letter, a maximum one fifth of the total space should normally be used for the letterhead.
An example of letterhead is given below:
- 2. Date:
Some letterheads contain a printed line indicating where the date should be typed, in others, the typist choose the right place for it.
It should be typed or written two spaces below the last line of the letterhead. The date, month and year should be indicated in upper right hand corner,
An example of writing date is given below:
- 3. Reference:
Reference is an important and essential part of a modern business letter.
Reference number enables both the sender and the receiver of the letter to find out it easily if emergency arises.
Some letterheads contain two lines to indicate references, as:
If you are writing a reply letter, give the correspondent’s reference number against the first line and your reference number against the second line.
Some companies prefer to indicate the reference number of the correspondent in the body of the letter, as:
The first method is some advantageous. The reference number of the organization you are writing to should be written exactly as indicated in its letter. The small and capital letters and the punctuation marks should be reproduced correctly.
- 4. Inside Address:
The inside address contains the name and address of the firm or the person to whom the letter is to be sent. The inside address should be exactly as it is on the envelope so that it might not create any confusion in the mind of the clerk.
Inside address should be written two spaces below the date and two spaces above the attention line, but if there is no attention line, it should be written two spaces above the salutation in the left margin.
It may be typed in indented form or in block form. In the indented form, the first line begins at the margin and the subsequent lines begin two spaces away from the beginning of the previous line; a comma follows each line and a full stop is put after the last line
The block form has all lines beginning at the margin and no punctuation is used at the end of any line.
Both the styles are shown below:
5. Attention Line:
The attention line or the phrase “for the attention of” is used when the writer of a letter addressed to an organization wishes to direct it to a particular person or official.
Attention line appears two spaces below the inside address and two spaces above the salutation anal are generally underlined.
An example of writing attention line is given below:
- 6. Salutation:
The salutation is the complimentary greeting with which the writer opens his letter. It is placed two spaces below the attention line or if there is no such line, two spaces below the inside address.
The choice of salutation depends upon the personal relationship between the writer and the reader and on the form of inside address.
If a letter is written to a firm, a company, a board, a club, a society, an association, an agency or a post box or a newspaper box number, use ‘Dear Sirs’. While writing to an officer by designation, write ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’ as the case may be.
If the organization you are writing to consists only women, use the salutation ‘Dear Madams’. ‘Sir’ is used when the officer you are addressing occupies a high position in an organization or when he is a person of great status in the society or when you to be very formal.
If you are writing to an officer by name the salutation will be ‘Dear John’ or ‘Dear Sir’ followed by his or her surname.
If the correspondent is a close friend of yours, you may address him or her by first name as ‘My Dear John’ or ‘My Dear Michel’. Sometimes sales and circular letters are addressed as ‘Dear Customer’ ‘Dear Member’ ‘Dear Reader’ ‘Dear Subscriber’ etc.
- 7. Subject:
Subject line is used to let the reader know immediately what the message is about.
It is introduced by the word Subject: or Sub: or Re. (Re is a Latin preposition meaning of which is “in the matter of” or “in the case of; it is not the short form of any English word). The usual practice is to type this line in a double space between the salutation and the first line of the body of the letter.
However, some organizations prefer to put the subject line between the attention line and the salutation.
Examples of both are given below:
- 8. Body of the Letter:
This is the most important part of a letter. It contains the message or the information to be communicated and is placed two spaces below the subject line or often below the salutation.
This main purpose of any letter is to convey a message and the main purpose of the message is to produce a suitable response in the reader. This is done mainly through the body of the letter.
Therefore, it is very important to organize and arrange the materials very carefully. The qualities or essentials of writing a letter must be applied in this part.
There is an old German proverb that “a good beginning is half the battle (won)”. It is also applicable in writing successful business letters.
The opening paragraph should be attractive enough to attract the reader’s attention. In the first paragraph, previous reference, if any, must be mentioned and in the second paragraph the main message should be stated.
The subject matter of the letter should be written in unambiguous, sincere, simple and correct words. In the last paragraph it should be stated clearly what action you expect the reader to take.
It must be natural and logical, must be final and complete. It must be gentle but firm, friendly but forceful. And it should be stated from “You Viewpoint”.
Therefore, the entire body of the letter should reflect a positive approach and a friendly attitude and it must contain definite sales appeal.
- 9. Complementary Close or Subscription:
The complimentary close or subscription is a polite way of ending a letter, same as we say good-bye at the end of conversation.
It appears two spaces below the last line of the letter, either at the left side or at the right side of the letter, depending on the style of the letter.
There are a variety of styles of expressing a complementary close, such as “Yours faithfully’, “Yours truly”, “Yours very truly”, “Yours respectfully”, “Yours sincerely”, “Sincerely Yours” and so on.
There must be a close relation between the salutation and the complementary close. Important points to be noted here are:
- Only the first letter of the closer is capitalized.
- At the end of the closure there may or may not be a comma depending on the style adopted.
- Better to avoid a closing phrase containing a present participle like “Hoping to hear from you soon” or “Thanking you”.
- 10. Signature:
The signature is the signed name of the writer. It is the assent of the writer to the subject matter of the letter and is usually hand written and contains the writer’s name, status, department, firm etc. Signature is placed just below the complimentary close.
The name of the writer is generally typed four spaces below the closing line, providing enough spaces for the signature.
In case of partnership business, any partner can put his or her signature below the name of the firm. The firm may also delegate the authority of signing letters to an officer by executing a legal instrument called the ‘Power of Attorney’ in his favor.
Such an employee will put ‘per pro’ or ‘PP’ before the name of the firm and sign below it. Per pro is the abbreviated form of “per procurationem”, a Latin phrase meaning of which is agency or on behalf of For example:
- 11. Identification Marks:
Identification marks are put in the left margin to identify the typist of the letter and are put one or two spaces below the signature. Generally, the initials of the officer who dictated the letter are put first.
For example, if the letter is dictated by Mr, John and type by Mr. Michel, the identification marks may be put in either of the following ways: TRM/ MR and TRM: LG
- 12. Enclosure:
If there is something to be attached to the letter, it must be indicated against the enclosure line which is typed two spaces below the identification marks.
Generally the abbreviated form Encl. is typed against which the number of enclosure is indicated.
For example: encl. 2
If however, the documents attached are important, they are specified and written as below:
A specimen of a letter containing most of its elements is given bellow:
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Step in Writing an Effective Business Letter in Communication.