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Letter writing: Salutation, body & ending of the letter

Begin the letter on the left. In informal letters, it is common to address people by their first names: (e.g. Dear Alice). In more formal letters, titles and surnames can be used to address people: (e.g. Dear Ms Sullivan). Use Dear Sir(s), Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Madam to address people whose name you don’t know. Some people use the first name and surname (Dear Penny Hopkins) when writing to strangers or people they do not know well. Do not use a title like Mr together with a first name.

In American usage, Gentlemen is used instead of Dear Sirs. After the opening salutation, Americans may put a colon, especially in business letters (Dear Mr Parker:), or a comma.

After ‘Dear X’, put a comma or nothing at all. In American English, a comma is preferred in personal letters, and a colon in business letters. Leave an empty line after ‘Dear X’ and start again on the left, or start again on the next line, a few spaces from the left. Do the same for each paragraph. Letters to strangers often begin with an explanation of the reason for writing.

Letters which begin Dear Sir or Dear Madam usually finish Yours faithfully. Formal letters which begin with the person’s name (e.g. Dear Susan Fernandez) usually finish Yours sincerely. Informal letters may finish, for example, Yours, See you, or Love. Note that Love is not usually used by one man to another. In formal letters, many people put a closing formula before Yours …, especially when writing to people they know: Common expressions are With best wishes and With kind regards. In American usage, Yours faithfully is not used. Common endings are Sincerely, Sincerely yours or Yours truly followed by a comma.


Sign with your first name (informal) or full name (formal). Don’t write any title (Mr/Ms/Dr/etc). In a formal typewritten letter, add your full typewritten name after your handwritten signature. Friendly business letters are often signed with the first name only above the fully typewritten name.

Americans are often addressed and sign their names with the first name in full, followed by the initial of a middle name (Allan J Parker).

In informal letters, afterthoughts that are added after the signature are usually introduced by P S (Latin post scriptum).

Source: http://business english, letter writing, how to write a letter,
Category: Business English | Added by: Teacher_Koce (2014-04-05)
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