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US Official Letter Format

March 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 111

Unlike a typical UK official letter format, the US has a couple of variations, the full block format and modified block format.

The former simply means all elements of the letter, from the return address at the top down to the writer's name at the foot, are justified left. the latter, on the other hand, incorporates some elements to the right or centre, rather like the UK official letter format.

If in doubt, use the full block. It's simpler and seen as a wholly acceptable format for all official letters, largely because it is the more formal-looking of the two.

Sender's Address The address of the sender will be the first thing to appear on the letter. As you can see in the examples above, its positioning differs depending on the format:

Full block format (or FBF for the purposes of this article): Align left Modified block format (or MBF): Align right

Date In both formats, the date is the next element to appear after your address, and falls on the left hand side (after a line space).

The correct style for the date is month, date (comma) year.

Name And Address Of Recipient The recipient's address is set to the left of the letter in both formats, but do be aware of the need to ensure this is visible if using a window envelope. If you're sending the letter in a windowless envelope, just ensure that the recipient's address appears exactly as it will on the envelope.

Greeting/Salutation Leave a line space after the recipient's address and, to the left-hand side in both full block format and modified block format, align it to the left.

The correct style for both formats is "Dear Ms Smith:" or "Dear Sir/Madam:" (not a colon after the greeting.

Subject It's becoming common practice to include a subject in both official letter formats. Given the increase in popularity of this, my advice would be to do so. It adds value to the letter in that it's aesthetically pleasing and is helpful to the recipient to see, at a glance, what the letter is concerning.

Make the subject upper-case and in bold.

FBF: Align left MBF: Align left or centre.

Body The body of the letter should be broken into paragraphs with a line space (don't use indents). Also, keep sentences succinct and paragraphs short. Don't use flowery language. Address only the points you need to put across. Brevity is the key.

The body of the letter should be aligned left in both formats.

Closing, Sign-Off And Name Once the letter is written, add a line space and use either "Yours faithfully," or "Yours sincerely," before your signature.

There are several schools of thoughts as to when it's appropriate to use "faithfully," or "sincerely,".

Follow this rule:

"Yours faithfully," should be used when the name of the recipient is not known (so, in a letter with an introduction of "Dear Sir/Madam:").

"Yours sincerely," should be used when the name of the recipient is known (an introduction os "Dear Ms. Smith:").

Only in the event that you already know the recipient should you consider alternatives such as "Kind regards," or "With best wishes," appropriate. If in doubt, stick to "faithfully," or "sincerely,".

Also note that in either case, the "Y" of "Yours" is capped, and the "f" or "s" of "faithfully," or "sincerely," respectively is lower-case. Note the comma after both "faithfully," and "sincerely," too.

The positioning of the closing phrase differ depending on the format:

FBF: Align left MBF: Align right

Leave a few lines after this (3-5 should be fine), so there's enough room for a signature once the letter has been printed off. Then, type your name (don't upper-case it or make it bold - your name in the same, plain font of the main body of the letter will be fine).

And Finally After this, spell-check the letter, print it off, and sign it, preferably using blue or black biro.

Again, the sign off positioning changes depending on the format.

FBF: Align left MBF: Align right

Examples of the US letter format as described in this article well as instructions and an example of the UK letter format can be at my site Official Letter Format.

Source: EzineArticles
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