Every educated person should know how to write a clear and readable letter. Everyone has sometimes to write business letters of some sort, and may have to face the problem of writing an important letter that will vitally affect his/her interests in life. The art of letter writing is, therefore, not mere ornamental accomplishment, but something that every educated person must acquire for practical reason.
Letters are nothing but messages. There are several different kinds of letters (such as friendly letters, business letters, etc.), each of which has its own particular form. There are certain matters of form which apply to all types of letters.
There are six points of form to be attended to, namely:
1. The Heading consisting of
(a) the writer's address and
(b) the date
The heading informs the reader where you wrote the letter and when. The 'where' should be the writer's complete postal address. The position of the heading is at the top right-hand corner of the first page. The address above and the date just below it.
2. The courteous Greeting or Salutation:
The form of Greeting will depend upon the relation to which you stand to the person whom you are writing.
For example to members of your family, it will be
Dear Father, My Dear Mother, Dear Uncle, Dear Madhu, etc
For friends it includes their name starting with 'Dear', like Dear Sarika, etc.
To business people, it will be termed as
Dear sir/Madam, or Dear sirs etc.
Here, usage of the word 'Dear' is purely formal as it is a mere polite expression.
The position of the salutation is at the left-hand of the first page, at a lower level to the heading.
3. The Communication or Message-The body of the letter.
This is, of course, the letter itself. Here are few hints before writing the body of the letter,
(a) Divide you letter into paragraphs, to mark changes of subject-matter.
(b) Use simple and direct language and short sentences.
(c) Try to be complete.
(d) Write neatly
(e) Use proper punctuation marks at their respective places.
4. The subscription, or courteous Leave-taking, or Conclusion:
A letter must not end abruptly; simply with the writer's name. It would look a little bit rude. So certain forms of polite leave taking should be mentioned like,
Yours sincerely, Your sincere friend, Yours faithfully, etc.
The subscription or leave taking phrase, must be written below the last words of the letter. Writing it to the right side is a traditional method. And the first letter of the subscription should be a capital.
5. The signature:
This must come below the subscription.
Note : In letters to strangers, the signature should be clearly written, so that the reader may know whom to address in reply; while for a woman Miss. or Mrs should be prefixed in brackets.
6. The Superscription on the envelope:
The address on the envelope should be written clearly.
8-45, General Bazar
Hyderabad 500 004
7 December 2009
I shall be much obliged if you send me, as soon as possible, the books which I ordered a week ago.