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    #1

    Wink Letters and Emails


    Guidelines to writing letters, faxes and emails

    Irrespective of whether you send a letter by post, fax or email, these guidelines still apply.

    Remember:
    keep to either the BE or AE standards. There are differences between British English and American English customs in letter writing (see the boxes below).
    use a salutation (greeting) in English. In most cases this will be Dear Mr. Jones, or Dear John. Occasionally in emails just use the first name:
    John, The exception is letters of recommendation that start: To whom it may concern.
    place the heading under the salutation.
    try to round off a letter with -ing forms when you expect a response. This stresses that you have an on-going relationship and that there is unfinished business. Some examples are: We are looking forward to receiving your comments on this report, by the end of April. We are considering your proposals and are looking forward to discussing matters with you on
    12 April.
    use the ending that matches the salutation. It is easy to make mistakes here, so follow the guidelines given in the boxes below

    write the month in letters or use the ISO standard for all-digit dates. Write the month in letters, such as 2 May 2004 (BE); May 2, 2004 (AE), or use the ISO standard for all-digit dates (ccyy-mm-dd) so that 2 May 2004 becomes 2004-05-02.

    Never:
    write a date as 02.05.04 in English. To Europeans, this probably means 2 May 2004; but most Americans will understand it as February 5, 2004.
    use a place name in front of the letter date. Do not write 'Birmingham, 2 May 2004' in English. Just write the date.
    use exclamation marks (!) in formal business letters. An exclamation mark in English is used to express astonishment or surprise.
    Use short forms like 'I'm' and 'don't' in business letters. These should only be used in informal, conversational writing and when reporting another person's exact words. Sometimes they are used in personal emails to stress closeness and informality
    capitalize 'you' and 'your' in mid-sentence in English. This is not being polite, it is just wrong.
    treat a business email differently from a business letter. Although many people try to avoid using the formal salutation (see 'Formal letters and emails', below), its use is recommended if the name of the recipient is not known. Though emails tend to be friendlier than letters, a salutation should always be used. A typical email starts with Dear Mary, or sometimes Mary, and ends Regards, A recent survey of 2000 business people in the UK found that 60% objected to the lack of salutations in emails and were irritated by the use of a casual tone. Emails have been used as evidence in court cases, and a safe rule is to avoid salutations like Hi' and endings like love and kisses in business emails from your organization.

    How to start and end letters and emails in BE:

    Formal letters and emails, where you are writing to an institution or an unnamed person:
    These start with the following salutations:
    Dear Sirs, (when you write to a company, organization, university)
    Dear Sir, (to an unnamed person, who you know is male)
    Dear Madam, (to an unnamed person, who you know is female)
    Dear Sir or Madam, (the safe option to an unnamed person, such as: Personnel Manager)
    Dear Editor; (of a newspaper)
    These always end:
    Yours faithfully,
    Normal business letters and emails, where you know the recipient's name:
    These start:
    Dear Mr. Jones, (to a named man. Never Use 'Mister')
    Dear Ms Jones, (to any named woman, without referring to her marital status. This is becoming more and more usual for any woman)
    Dear Mrs. Jones, (to a named woman who is married. Some women write (Mrs.) after their names in letters so that their correspondent knows that this is the expected salutation to use in their reply)
    Dear Miss Jones, (to a named woman who is unmarried)
    Dear Professor Jones, (used for all professors, including assistant- and associate professors. Avoid using the slangy Prof and always capitalize Professor)
    Dear Dr Jones, (can be used for someone holding a PhD or other doctoral degree)
    These always end:
    Yours sincerely,
    Note that in British English, you do not use a stop after abbreviations like Mr., Ms /miz/, Mrs., and Dr, as is the custom in American English.

    Letters and emails to colleagues, associates and friends etc.:
    These start:
    Dear Jim, (if a person signs his letter with Jim, use this in your reply. If you use Dear Mr. Jones, you signal coldness and distance to Jim)
    Dear Mary, (as for Dear Jim)
    Dear colleagues, (useful in group mailings, but you could be more personal)
    There are many endings. The ones below range from a business-like tone to close friendship:
    Yours sincerely, (Even though you start
    Dear Jim, you show that this is a business-like letter, fax or email)
    Regards, (although frequently used in emails and faxes, this is too informal for most business letters)
    Kind regards,
    Best wishes, (used to signal friendliness)
    Warm regards, (slightly 'hotter', frequently used for friends)
    Love, (only used for close friends)

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
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    #2

    Continue

    How to start and end letters and emails in AE:

    Formal letters and emails, where you are writing to an institution or an unnamed person:
    These start with the following salutations:
    Dear Sirs: (when you write to a company, organization, university)
    Dear Sir: (to an unnamed person, who you know is male)
    Dear Madam: (to an unnamed person, who you know is female)
    Dear Madam or Sir: (always the safe option for an unnamed person)
    These often end:
    Sincerely, / Sincerely yours,
    Note the use of the colon after the salutation in AE. Some American letters and emails of this type also omit the Dear in these types of salutations, and just open Madam or Sir:
    Another such salutation is Ladies and gentlemen: (to a company etc.) Many feel that Truly has become overused as an ending and should be avoided. Respectfully is very formal and is rarely used today.
    Normal business letters and emails, where you know the recipient's name:
    These start:
    Dear Mr. Jones: (to a named male, never use 'Mister' in a letter)
    Dear Mrs. Jones: (to a named female, who is married)
    Dear Miss Jones: (to a named female, who is unmarried)
    Dear Ms. Jones: (to a named female, with unknown marital status)
    Dear Professor Jones: (use for all professors: also assistant and associate professors: Write Professor in full, do not use the slangy Prof.)
    Dear Dr. Jones: (can be used for someone holding a PhD, or other doctoral degree)
    These often end:
    Sincerely, / Sincerely yours,
    Note that in American English, a stop is used after abbreviations like Mr., Ms. (pronounced /miz/), Mrs., and Dr, and a colon placed after the name (as an alternative, a comma is sometimes used). Some Americans use just Dear M Jones: to avoid the gender specific greeting Dear M/M. Jones: is also sometimes used for the same reasons in place of Mr. and Mrs. in letters and emails.

    Letters and emails to colleagues, associates and friends:
    These start:
    Dear Jim, (if a person signs his letter with Jim, use this in your reply. If you use Dear Mr. Jones, you signal coldness and distance to Jim)
    Dear Mary, (same comments as for
    'Dear Jim')
    Dear colleagues, (useful in group
    Mailings, but you could be more personal)
    The endings vary on a scale that indicates a business tone to close friendship:
    Sincerely, (Even though you start Dear Jim, you show that this is a business-like letter, fax or email)
    Regards, (although frequently used in emails and faxes, this is too informal for most business letters)
    Kind regards,
    Best wishes, (used to signal friendliness)
    Warm regards, (getting slightly 'hotter', frequently used for friends)
    Love, (only used for close friends)
    Note that a comma is very frequent after such salutations and endings.

    Source: Word for Word. By Stewart Clark, Graham Pointon. Publisher: Oxford university Press .

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