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In informal letters we write :
Dear Mr. Browne: or My dear Mr. Browne:
or, with more informality, we use the comma instead of the colon:
Dear Mr. Browne, or My dear Mr. Browne,
or, most informally,
My dear Cousin,
Although the punctuation of the salutation varies a good deal, it is a safe rule to use the comma as the informal, and the colon as the formal, mark of punctuation.
56. The Body of the Letter. The main part of the letter, or the body, should begin on the line below the salutation. The following arrangement is a good one:
Messrs. Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 46 East 14th St.,
New York City.
Wendell R. Barrow.
If it is true that "there is nothing in which the character of the superior man or woman expresses itself more than in letter writing," we should be at our best when we write letters. We should remember that we can never tell who
may read our letters, or how long they may be preserved. Apologies in letters are tedious if not exasperating. These we may avoid in two ways: by replying to letters promptly, and by making our replies as good as we possibly can. A business letter should be answered at once. If we feel hurried, let us save time by using few words, not by writing rapidly. A letter should be easily legible. An attractive manuscript is a good beginning of the courtesy that is indispensable in correspondence.
A letter, like a talk, may be one composition or it may consist of several compositions. If it deals with one subject only, it should, like any other composition, have an orderly arrangement of thought and grow in interest to the end. If, like most conversations, it consists of several compositions, the writer should attend to each of them in turn; it is also desirable that such a letter should grow in interest. In all letters there is need of careful paragraphing.
Every letter, too, should have an appropriate beginning and an appropriate ending. The writer who thinks for himself does not need to begin a letter exactly as some one else has begun one; and the writer who wishes to do finished work will not stop awkwardly or abruptly with the announcement that "the dinner bell has rung." Such writers will avoid these expressions :
1. I take my pen in hand to inform you. 2. I thought I would drop you a line. 3. It is late, so I must close. 4. Yours received and in reply will say.
57. The Conclusion of a Letter. In the conclusion of a letter there are the complimentary close and the signa
The complimentary close, like the salutation, should be in
harmony with the relations existing between the writer and his correspondent.
The most common business forms are:
Yours truly, or Truly yours,
Yours very truly, or Very truly yours.
A form especially appropriate in addressing an honorable body, or a person older than the writer, though used also as a regular business form, is:
Yours respectfully, or Respectfully yours.
Specimens of forms which serve as appropriate endings for letters of friendship, and sometimes for letters of business, are:
Sincerely yours, Faithfully yours, Cordially yours, Fraternally yours, or Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully, etc.
As the letter in section 56 shows, the place for the complimentary close is on the line below the last words of the body of the letter. It should be noted, too, that in the forms given above, the first word only begins with a capital, and the last word is followed by a comma.
The signature goes on the line below the complimentary close, and a little to the right. It should give the reader all the information he needs for making a suitable reply. As a rule it is well to write the first name in full. A stranger may be puzzled to know whether J. D. Brown is a man or a woman; whereas he could tell at a glance if it were Jennie D. Brown or John D. Brown. In writing to a stranger, a woman should sign her name in one of the following ways:
3. S. E. Lathrop
1. Emma L. Brown
(Mrs. James A. Brown) 2. (Miss) Sarah E. Lathrop
To His Honor,
4. (Mrs.) Mary W. Bliss
163. Write a subscription for The Youth's Companion. Exchange papers and, as examiner, give especial attention to the arrangement of the letter.
Honorable William A. Bent,
(Miss Sarah E. Lathrop, Macon, Ga.)
164. Give headings, salutations, and conclusions that you might use in writing to (1) a teacher; (2) a physician; (3) an intimate friend; (4) the city council; (5) the chairman of the board of selectmen; (6) the mayor; (7) the superintendent of schools; (8) a member of your family; (9) an unmarried woman whom you have not met; (10) an unmarried woman whom you know slightly; (11) a man much older than yourself.
NOTE. In addressing important officials like the mayor or the governor, there is no prescribed form of salutation. It is only necessary to show due respect and formality. For example, one way of addressing a mayor is :
The Mayor of San Francisco.
58. The Folding of a Letter. A letter should be folded with the first page inside.
If the paper is of the ordinary business-letter size, fold it first from the bottom nearly to the top. Then make a fold from right to left a little narrower than the width of the envelope, and finally make a third fold from left to right. The letter is now ready to go into the envelope.
165. Answer for Messrs. T. Y. Crowell & Co., the letter from Mr. Barrow (p. 90). Fold your letter.
166. In class, criticize in writing the letter you have written, using these headings: (1) the appearance of the letter, including the kind of paper used and the size; (2) the beginning, including the heading, the address, and the salutation; (3) the bodywhether it is a complete answer to the request; (4) the conclusion, including the complimentary close and the signature; (5) the folding.
59. The Direction of the Envelope. It is customary to arrange the name and address of the person to whom the letter is written in three or four lines. The name is written across the middle of the envelope, and so placed as to leave about the same amount of space on each side. If the envelope is long, there should be more space on the left of the name than on the right. As in the case of the heading, each line begins a little to the right of the one above it.
Note carefully the content, the arrangement, and the punctuation of the following envelope addresses:
The punctuation marks are of no value unless they mark abbreviations or separate words. Does not their omission