The date line is used to indicate the date the letter was written. However, if your letter is completed over a number of days, use the date it was finished in the date .
Before your readers catch a word of your message, they’ve already read your letter’s overall appearance. What does it say to them? Use the guidelines on this page to ensure a good impression.
Do you want your letter format to look traditional and conservative or friendly and contemporary?
Make your margins 1 to 1.5 inches left and right, top and bottom. Create a balanced, open look by centering the message vertically and adjusting the space between the parts of the letter.
Use sensible type sizes and styles.
Keep type size at 10–12 points.
Choose a user-friendly font. Serif type has fine lines finishing off the main strokes of the letter. (This is serif type.) Sans serif type has a block-letter look. (This is sans serif type.) Serif typefaces are easier to read and understand; sans serif typefaces work well for headings.
Avoid flashy and frequent type changes, as well as overuse of italics or boldface.
Use a quality printer and avoid any handwritten editing changes. Always print a clean final copy.
The 20- to 24-pound bond paper folds cleanly, takes ink crisply, and works well in most printers.
It’s standard and files easily. Other sizes may be used for personal correspondence, executive letters, or mass mailings.
Be careful with other colors. Light, subtle colors mean business. Bold colors scream, “I’m an ad!”
Letterhead pages, continuation sheets, and envelopes should match in paper weight, size, color, and design.
If you are asked to design or redesign your company’s letterhead stationery—or if you want to design a letterhead specific to your position—be sure to include the following:
the company’s complete legal name;
the company logo or slogan;
complete contact information—full mailing address, phone number (including area code), a fax number, and website address.
names of key people (perhaps in the left-margin sidebar).
Note: Make sure your design reflects your company’s mission and character.
With special attention to the use of unconventional practices and pic- torial signs in casual letter writing, this article shows how young Japa- nese women.
To begin a letter in Spanish, you need to address the recipient of your letter. Check out our list to see a couple of different options for greetings.
|A quien puedainteresar, / A quiencorresponda:||To whom it may concern,||formal|
|Dear Sir or Madam,||formal|
Estimado(a) Sr. / Sra. / Srta.
|Dear Mr. / Mrs. / Ms.,||formal|
|Hi, / Hi there, / Hey,||informal|
Now for the fun part - the content of your letter! In the following table, you'll find a list of phrases and words that you can use to write a form letter, like a business letter, or an informal email to a friend.
|Attached please find...||formal|
Lo/la estoy contactando sobre...
|I am reaching out regarding...||formal|
|I'm writing you because...||informal|
Me quería comunicar contigo sobre...
|I wanted to touch base regarding...||informal / formal|
Gracias por su asistencia con este asunto.
|Thank you for your assistance in this matter.||formal|
Quedo a la espera de recibir noticias suyas tan pronto le sea posible.
|I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.||formal|
Por favor déjeme saber si puedo ser de alguna otra ayuda.
|Please let me know if I can be of any further help.||formal|
Por favor no dude en contactarme si necesita más información.
|Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.||formal|
Gracias por su respuesta rápida.
|Thanks for your prompt response.||formal|
Tanto tiempo sin hablarnos.
|Long time no talk.||informal|
|It's been a while!||informal|
|How are you doing?||informal|
|How's everything going with you?||informal|
|Hope you're doing well.||informal|
Encantado(a) de ayudarte(le)
|Happy to help!||informal|
There are a variety of phrases and closings that you can use to end your letter. Check them out here:
|We'll / Let's keep in touch,||informal|
Quedo a la espera de sus noticias,
|Looking forward to hearing from you,||formal|
Quedo a la espera de su respuesta,
|Looking forward to your reply,||formal|
Espero saber de ti pronto,
|Hope to hear from you soon,||informal|
|Atentamente, / Cordialmente,||Sincerely, / Sincerely yours, / Yours sincerely, / Yours faithfully,||formal|
|Concariño, / Besos,||Love,||informal|
|Keep in touch,||informal|
|Thank you very much,||formal|
Now that you know the different parts of a letter and what to say in them, check out some example letters below!
Whether you're writing an email, or correoelectrónico, to a hotel to book your reservation or you're catching up with an old friend by snail mail, knowing how to write a basic letter, or carta, in Spanish will help you communicate better and feel more confident in your linguistic abilities.
In this article, we'll show you everything you need to know about writing a letter in Spanish.
Spanish speakers usually use a colon (:) to separate the greeting from the body of the letter, especially when writing formal letters, whereas English uses a comma (,).
Remember that Spanish has formal and informal forms of you:
Want to learn more about the differences between tú and usted? Check out our article on the Spanish you.
¿Cómo te va? ¡Tanto tiempo sin hablarnos! ¿Vas a ir a la boda de Matt y Kim? ¡Me encantaría verte!
How's it going? Long time no talk! Will you be going to Matt and Kim's wedding? Would be great to see you!
A quien pueda interesar:
Escribo para inquirir sobre el estado de mi solicitud de subvención. Adjunto encontrará una copia de la solicitud, junto a otros documentos informativos. Por favor no dude en contactarme si necesita más información. Quedo a la espera de recibir noticias suyas tan pronto le sea posible. Gracias por su asistencia con este asunto.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to inquire about the status of my grant application. Attached please find a copy of my application, along with other informational documents. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
This handout provides overviews and examples of how to use tone in business writing. This includes considering the audience and purpose for writing.
"Tone in writing refers to the writer's attitude toward the reader and the subject of the message. The overall tone of a written message affects the reader just as one's tone of voice affects the listener in everyday exchanges" (Ober 88).
Business writers should consider the tone of their message, whether they are writing a memo, letter, report, or any type of business document. Tone is present in all communication activities. Ultimately, the tone of a message is a reflection of the writer and it does affect how the reader will perceive the message.
How can I make sure my messages have the appropriate tone?
The writer should consider several things when preparing to write. The following questions will help you to determine the appropriate tone for your message.
You should take time to consider the purpose of your document in order to determine how you should express the message you wish to convey. Obviously, you want the message to reach your audience, and you will probably want the reader to take some action in response to your message.
When you consider the message and how you wish to express it, the tone of your message will become apparent.
Suzy is writing a job acceptance letter to an employer but is unsure of the tone she should take in the message. She has decided to accept the position. When she asks herself, "What is my intent upon writing?" she answers, "I want to accept the position, thank the company for the offer, and establish goodwill with my new co-workers." As she writes the letter she quickly assumes a tone that is appreciative for the offer and enthusiastic about beginning a new job.
Who am I writing to and what do I want them to understand?
Who is your audience? Whether it is an employer or a fellow worker, it is essential that you consider your reader before writing any document. Your message will be much more effective if you tailor the document to reach your specific audience. The message you wish to express must be written in a way that will effectively reach the reader.
The tone that you use to write the document directly affects how the reader will interpret what is said.
Bob is writing a cover letter for a position as a Sales Representative for a newspaper. He is unsure that he will be able to succeed at such a position, and uses phrases such as: "I hope that you will contact me..." "I know that my qualifications are not very impressive, but..."
The reader is likely to interpret these phrases to mean that Bob isn't really qualified for the position or that he doesn't really want the position.
Clearly, Bob is not assuming an appropriate tone. He must consider that:
If Bob were to consider these things he may rewrite his cover letter to include such phrases as: "You can reach me at 555-2233; I look forward to hearing from you." "My qualifications make me an excellent applicant for this position..."
The tone of the message has changed drastically to sound more confident and self-assured.
Fortunately, you can use the same kind of tone for most business messages. "The business writer should strive for an overall tone that is confident, courteous, and sincere; that uses emphasis and subordination appropriately; that contains nondiscriminatory language; that stresses the "you" attitude; and that is written at an appropriate level of difficulty" (Ober 88). The only major exceptions to these guidelines are when you need to write a negative business message, such as when you deny a job offer or a customer request.
Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when considering what kind of tone to use in your letters and how to present information in that tone:
You can feel confident if you have carefully prepared and are knowledgeable about the material you wish to express. The manner in which you write should assume a confident tone as well. As you prepare business documents, you want the reader to do as you ask or to accept your decision. In order to make the document effective, you must write confidently.
Consequently, a confident tone will have a persuasive effect on your audience. The reader will become more inclined to accept your position, and will notice the confidence that you have. Employers are inclined to hire individuals that appear confident and sure of their abilities.
This does not mean however; that you should appear overconfident. This can easily be interpreted as arrogant or presumptuous.
Not: You must agree that I am qualified for the position.
But: My qualifications in the areas of accounting and customer service meet your job requirements.
Be Courteous and Sincere
A writer builds goodwill for him or herself by using a tone that is polite and sincere. It is important to strive for sincerity in tone because without sincerity, politeness can sound condescending
Consider the words and phrases you use in your document and how your reader will likely receive them. If you are respectful and honest, readers will be more willing to accept your message, even if it is negative.
Not: You didn't read the instructions carefully, thus your system has shut down.
But: The system may automatically shut down if any installation errors occur.
Use Appropriate Emphasis and Subordination
You can help your readers to understand which of your ideas you consider most important by using emphasis and subordination. You can choose from a variety of strategies to emphasize an idea or to subordinate it.
To emphasize an idea, place it in a short sentence. A short and simple sentence will most effectively convey an important idea. You can provide further explanation, sufficient examples, or evidence in following sentences. To subordinate an idea, place it in a compound sentence.
Emphasis: Smoking will no longer be permitted in the building. The committee on employee health and safety reached this decision after considering evidence from researchers and physicians on the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Subordination: The committee on employee health and safety has finished considering evidence, and they have reached the decision that smoking will no longer be permitted in the building.
Ideas placed in the first paragraph of a document or message receive the most emphasis, followed by information placed in the last paragraph. You can subordinate an idea by placing it in middle paragraphs of your message because these paragraphs receive the least emphasis.
Use active voice to emphasize the person or thing performing an action and passive voice to emphasize the action that is being performed.
Active: Scientists have conducted experiments to test the hypothesis.
Passive: Experiments have been conducted to test the hypothesis.
Note: In most nonscientific writing situations, active voice is preferable to passive for the majority of your sentences. Even in scientific writing, overuse of passive voice or use of passive voice in long and complicated sentences can cause readers to lose interest or to become confused. Sentences in active voice are generally—though not always— clearer and more direct than those in passive voice. You can recognize passive-voice expressions because the verb phrase will always include a form of be, such as am, is, was, were, are, or been. The presence of a be-verb, however, does not necessarily mean that the sentence is in passive voice. Another way to recognize passive-voice sentences is that they may include a "by the..." phrase after the verb; the agent performing the action, if named, is the object of the preposition in this phrase.
You can also emphasize and subordinate information by letting readers know how you feel about the information.
The amount of space that you devote to an idea will help convey the idea's importance to the reader. Discuss ideas that you want to emphasize in more detail than you do ideas that you want to subordinate.
The language you use to describe your ideas can also suggest how important that idea is. Use phrases such as "most important," "major," or "primary" when discussing ideas you want to emphasize and phrases such as "a minor point to consider" or "least important" to discuss ideas you want to subordinate.
Emphasis: Our primary consideration must be cost.
Subordination: A minor point to consider is appearance
Repeating important ideas is good way to emphasize them as well. Be careful not to overuse this strategy; you will lose your readers' interest if they believe you are needlessly repeating information.
Our primary consideration must be cost - cost to purchase, cost to operate, and cost to maintain.
Any information that stands out from the rest of the text will be emphasized. Bolding, underlining, CAPITALIZING, indenting, and highlighting will convey emphasis to your reader. Do not use this strategy frequently or the design effect will be lost.
Use Nondiscriminatory Language
Nondiscriminatory language is language that treats all people equally. It does not use any discriminatory words, remarks, or ideas. It is very important that the business writer communicate in a way that expresses equality and respect for all individuals. Discriminatory language can come between your message and your reader. Make sure your writing is free of sexist language and free of bias based on such factors as race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and disability.
Not: After the girls in the office receive an order, our office fills it within 24 hours.
But: When orders are received from the office, they are filled within 24 hours.
Not: Executives and their wives
But: Executives and their spouses
Not: Connie Green performed the job well for her age.
But: Connie Green performed the job well.
Not: Dear Gentlemen:
But: To Whom it May Concern:
Not: Each student must provide his own lab jacket.
But: Students must provide their own lab jackets. Or Each student must provide his or her own lab jacket.
Stress the Benefits For the Reader
Write from the reader's perspective. Instead of simply writing from the perspective of what the reader can do for you, write in a way that shows what you can do for the reader. A reader will often read a document wondering "What's in it for me?" It is your job to tailor your document accordingly.
Not: I am processing your order tomorrow.
But: Your order will be available in two weeks.
Stressing reader benefits will help you to avoid sounding self-centered and uninterested.
Write at an Appropriate Level of Difficulty
It is essential that you write at an appropriate level of difficulty in order to clearly convey your message. Consider your audience and prepare your writing so that the reader will clearly understand what it is that you are saying. In other words, prepare your style of reading to match the reading abilities of your audience. Do not use complex passages or terms that the reader will not understand. Accordingly, do not use simple terms or insufficient examples if the reader is capable of understanding your writing. A competent writer will match the needs and abilities of their reader and find the most effective way to communicate with a particular reader.
What kind of tone should I use with a negative message?
It is especially important to consider tone when you are writing a negative message. In a negative message, such as a document that rejects a job offer or denies a request, be sure to assume a tone that is gracious and sincere. Thank the reader for their input or involvement and carefully state that you cannot comply with their wishes. Follow this response with an explanation as necessary.
It is best not to draw attention to the person performing the action that will likely displease the reader. Therefore, you may want to avoid using active voice when delivering negative messages. You might also avoid stressing the reader benefits unless there are clear benefits to the negative message. It can sound insincere to stress reader benefits in a negative message.
Not: Thank you for offering me the position as General Manager at Simon's Inc. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept the position. I did not think that the position you offered me would utilize my communication and customer-service skills to the degree that I wanted. Therefore, I have accepted a position as Assistant Director at a different company
But: Thank you for offering me the position as General Manager at Simon's Inc. I appreciate your prompt and generous offer. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept the position. I have accepted a different position that will allow me to utilize my communication and customer-service skills.
In some negative messages, you may need to address faults or issues concerning an individual. When writing messages such as this, maintain a professional tone that does not attack the individual but that makes your position on the issue clear.
Not: I do not understand why you made such discriminatory remarks.
But: Discriminatory remarks are not tolerated in this organization.
For more information about tone, see: Ober, Scott. Contemporary Business Communication. 2nd Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
A personal letter is a type of letter (or informal composition) that usually concerns personal matters (rather than professional concerns) and is.
This resource is organized in the order in which you should write a business letter, starting with the sender's address if the letter is not written on letterhead.
The sender's address usually is included in letterhead. If you are not using letterhead, include the sender's address at the top of the letter one line above the date. Do not write the sender's name or title, as it is included in the letter's closing. Include only the street address, city, and zip code.
The date line is used to indicate the date the letter was written. However, if your letter is completed over a number of days, use the date it was finished in the date line. When writing to companies within the United States, use the American date format. (The United States-based convention for formatting a date places the month before the day. For example: June 11, 2001. ) Write out the month, day and year two inches from the top of the page. Depending which format you are using for your letter, either left justify the date or tab to the center point and type the date. In the latter case, include the sender's address in letterhead, rather than left-justified.
The inside address is the recipient's address. It is always best to write to a specific individual at the firm to which you are writing. If you do not have the person's name, do some research by calling the company or speaking with employees from the company. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. Follow a woman's preference in being addressed as Miss, Mrs., or Ms. If you are unsure of a woman's preference in being addressed, use Ms. If there is a possibility that the person to whom you are writing is a Dr. or has some other title, use that title. Usually, people will not mind being addressed by a higher title than they actually possess. To write the address, use the U.S. Post Office Format. For international addresses, type the name of the country in all-capital letters on the last line. The inside address begins one line below the date. It should be left justified, no matter which format you are using.
Use the same name as the inside address, including the personal title. If you know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation (for example: Dear Lucy:). In all other cases, however, use the personal title and last/family name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation.
If you don't know a reader's gender, use a nonsexist salutation, such as their job title followed by the receiver's name. It is also acceptable to use the full name in a salutation if you cannot determine gender. For example, you might write Dear Chris Harmon: if you were unsure of Chris's gender.
For block and modified block formats, single space and left justify each paragraph within the body of the letter. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. When writing a business letter, be careful to remember that conciseness is very important. In the first paragraph, consider a friendly opening and then a statement of the main point. The next paragraph should begin justifying the importance of the main point. In the next few paragraphs, continue justification with background information and supporting details. The closing paragraph should restate the purpose of the letter and, in some cases, request some type of action.
The closing begins at the same vertical point as your date and one line after the last body paragraph. Capitalize the first word only (for example: Thank you) and leave four lines between the closing and the sender's name for a signature. If a colon follows the salutation, a comma should follow the closing; otherwise, there is no punctuation after the closing.
If you have enclosed any documents along with the letter, such as a resume, you indicate this simply by typing Enclosures below the closing. As an option, you may list the name of each document you are including in the envelope. For instance, if you have included many documents and need to ensure that the recipient is aware of each document, it may be a good idea to list the names.
Typist initials are used to indicate the person who typed the letter. If you typed the letter yourself, omit the typist initials.
When writing business letters, you must pay special attention to the format and font used. The most common layout of a business letter is known as block format. Using this format, the entire letter is left justified and single spaced except for a double space between paragraphs.
Another widely utilized format is known as modified block format. In this type, the body of the letter and the sender's and recipient's addresses are left justified and single-spaced. However, for the date and closing, tab to the center point and begin to type.
The final, and least used, style is semi-block. It is much like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead of left justified.
Keep in mind that different organizations have different format requirements for their professional communication. While the examples provided by the OWL contain common elements for the basic business letter (genre expectations), the format of your business letter may need to be flexible to reflect variables like letterheads and templates. Our examples are merely guides.
If your computer is equipped with Microsoft Office 2000, the Letter Wizard can be used to take much of the guesswork out of formatting business letters. To access the Letter Wizard, click on the Tools menu and then choose Letter Wizard. The Wizard will present the three styles mentioned here and input the date, sender address and recipient address into the selected format. Letter Wizard should only be used if you have a basic understand of how to write a business letter. Its templates are not applicable in every setting. Therefore, you should consult a business writing handbook if you have any questions or doubt the accuracy of the Letter Wizard.
Another important factor in the readability of a letter is the font. The generally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used. When choosing a font, always consider your audience. If you are writing to a conservative company, you may want to use Times New Roman. However, if you are writing to a more liberal company, you have a little more freedom when choosing fonts.
Punctuation after the salutation and closing - use a colon (:) after the salutation (never a comma) and a comma (,) after the closing. In some circumstances, you may also use a less common format, known as open punctuation. For this style, punctuation is excluded after the salutation and the closing.
Writing Effective Letters. Use this guidance as an adjunct to the Federal Plain Language Guidelines. Identify your audience. It is easy to identify your audience in.