Most letters commonly
include the following eight parts:
- a heading
- a date line
- an inside address
- a salutation
- a body
- a complimentary close
- a signature
- and when necessary, end notations
Some letters also include one or more of the following: an attention
line, a subject line, an enclosure line, and a copy line.
When using letters as your means of correspondence, make sure you include
the necessary parts in a clear, correct and professional manner.
The heading contains an address, a phone number, and an email address.
Often headings are set up using a specific company logo. In these cases,
the heading may also include the company name.
1234 South Main Street
AnyTown, AK, 12345
Use letterhead or a formal heading for the first page, but do not
Use blank paper for subsequent pages carrying over the name of the
recipient, the page number and the date in the upper left-hand corner.
Ms. Susan Thompson
July 12, 20XX
When the letterhead is pre-printed, place the date two lines below
the letterhead. When using blank paper rather than a letterhead, your
address and the date form the heading. Order the date line as follows:
month (spelled out to avoid confusion), day and year.
The inside address consists of the following, in order: the
recipient's name, position, organization and business address.
You can include titles such as Professor, Dr. or Honorable if you
know them, but if you're unsure, use Mr. or Ms. (unless you know that
the recipient prefers Mrs.).
If the position title easily fits on the same line as the name, put
it there. Add a comma after the name and before the position title.
In the address, be sure to spell out the full name of the organization
exactly the way that the organization does: for example, United Postal
Services calls itself UPS.
Be sure to include the complete mailing address: street number and
name, city, state, and zip code.
Attention lines are optional; use them when you can't address your
letter to a particular person because you don't know the name of the
person who holds the position in the company.
Place the attention line two lines below the inside address. E.g.
Attention: Director of Personnel
Depending on the nature of your correspondence, the recipient may
find it helpful if you specify the subject of your letter.
The subject line is optional and usually contains either a project
number (for example, "Subject: Project 007") or a brief phrase that
describes or defines the subject of the letter (for example, "Subject:
Price Quotes for Internal Security Systems Analysis").
Place the subject line either two lines below the inside address
or two lines below the attention line.
Attention: Director of Personnel
Subject: Order 12345
In many cases, you'll omit the attention and subject lines, and instead
place the salutation two lines below the inside address. The following
chart lists appropriate salutations for various situations.
| Dear Dr. Anderson:
Dear Technical Director:
| The Preferred options:
If name is known
When position only is known
| To Whom It May Concern:
|| Use this salutation only if you absolutely have to. This can
appear impersonal and it may help to go with an attention line instead.
| Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:
Dear Sir or Madam:
| Avoid using this salutation; it sounds too much like the beginning
of a speech.
Avoid if possible; sounds a bit old fashioned.
To avoid more awkward forms of salutation, simply place an anonymous
call to the place you will be sending the letter and ask the name of
Begin the text of your letter two lines spaces below the salutation.
The body text usually includes
(1) a brief introductory section-generally five lines or fewer-that
identifies you, your subject and your purpose;
(2) one or more body paragraphs that contain the details of your
(3) a conclusion that sums up the contents and encourages action.
Keep body paragraphs short (usually nine lines or fewer) and
design the text to make key information easily accessible (bullets,
lists, headings, etc.).
When setting up the body of a letter, single-space text within the
body of the paragraphs and double-spaced between paragraphs.
The most common closings are "Sincerely" ,"Cordially" or "Respectfully".
Place the closing two line spaces below the last line of text
Choose a closing that parallels the level of formality used in your
In two word closings such as "Sincerely yours", and "Yours truly",
capitalize the first word only.
Place a comma after the complementary closing.
Type your full name on the four line spaces below the complimentary
close. Sign your name, in ink, above the typewritten name. If applicable,
include your title or position under your typed name.
An identification line, enclosure information or copy information
may all appear after the signature.
The identification line lists the initials of the people who wrote
or dictated the letter (in capital letters), signed it (lower case),
and transcribed or typed it (lower case). Use / marks between initals.
E.g. ABC/xyz indicates that ABC dictated the letter and xyz typed
The enclosure line informs the reader of any provided enclosures.
If you are providing enclosures, you can write "Enclosure" or "enc."
(without quotation marks) at the bottom of the page flush with the
left margin. You should also indicate the number of enclosures ("Enclosure:
2." or "enc.2.").
Use cc (carbon copy or courtesy copy) indicates other possible recipients
of the letter.
See examples of the most common
types of letters -->