Thursday, December 10, 2009

how to write a letter

Provide the context of the letter. Put all the information that the reader will want to know at the beginning of the letter, before you even begin to write the body. If you're writing to a close friend, you won't need much except the date, which will help your friend remember when it was received. If you're writing a business letter, on the other hand, the reader may not even know who wrote the letter (if an assistant threw the envelopes away before passing along the letters). The arrangement of this information depends on the type of letter you're writing, but as long as you provide it neatly and completely, you should be fine:

Your address, sometimes including contact information; some people prefer to write this out at the bottom of the letter, under the signature and printed name. This can also go at the top as a letterhead.
The recipient's name, address, contact information; in business letters, this can be referred to as the "inside address"; if you don't know the recipient's title (Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr.) on the side of caution--use Ms. or Dr. if you think it might apply;[1] use your country's address format; if the inside address is in another country, write that country's name in capital letters as the last line.
The date
A subject line, usually beginning with "Re:" (e.g. Re: Graduation application #4487)

2Start with a proper greeting. The opening should begin at the left side of the page, not the middle or up against the right side of the sheet. The most common opening is "Dear" followed by the person's first name and a comma. For a more casual greeting, you can write "Hello (name)," or "Hey (name)," but if the letter is formal, use the recipient's last name and a colon instead of a comma (e.g. "Dear Mr. Johnson:". Sometimes, if you don't know the recipient's name, you can write "To Whom It May Concern:" If you don't know the person's gender, write out his or her full name to avoid using “Mr.” or “Ms.” (e.g. Dear Ashley Johnson:).
3Write an opening paragraph. Tailor your opening to the recipient. For example, if the letter is casual, you can begin with, "What's up?" or "How's it going?" Otherwise, a simple "How are you?" is fine. If it is a business letter, be direct about why you are writing the letter. Summarize your intentions and be sure to write clearly so that the reader will understand you.
4Construct the body of the letter. This is the part that will really be unique to each letter. Most business letters should be no more than two pages long, but casual letters can be as long or as short as you want them to be. No matter who the recipient is, try not to ramble. Keep each paragraph engaging.
5Use the closing paragraph to indicate the type of response you are seeking. If you would like a letter in return, you can write, "Please write when you have a chance" or, if you prefer a phone call/email, write "Call me soon." or "Email me some time".
6Include a closing such as "Love always" ,"Cheers", "Sincerely", "Talk soon", or "Look forward to seeing you soon". Again, choose your closing based on the recipient and the level of formality. The closing can be aligned on the left or the right side of the page. In business letters, stick with "Regards," or "Respectfully," and sign your name underneath. Then print your name under the signature.

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