The personal letter deals with personal information and is conversational in tone. Both the language and structure are informal. Social notes, whose form is similar to that of a personal letter, are written to extend, accept, or decline an informal invitation, or to express appreciation for a gift or entertainment.

      The business letter is a formal, well-organized piece of writing and is serious in tone. The message should be concise and the structure should follow one of several formats, as illustrated. These letters should be typed, but could be hand-written neatly in ink.


      The HEADING (A) consists of three lines at the top of the letter that contain the sender"s complete address and the date. Abbreviations should not be used. Sometimes only the date is used in the heading of a social note.

      The INSIDE ADDRESS (B), used only in a business letter, consists of the name and address of the person and/or organization to which the letter is written. It always begins at the left margin and is four lines below the heading, if typed. If the addressee has a title, this should be placed after his name and separated from it by a comma.

    The SALUTATION (C) of the letter starts on the left margin two lines below the inside address for a business letter or five lines below the heading of a personal letter, if typed. All words in the salutation are capitalized, and the last word is followed by a comma in a personal letter or a colon in a business letter.

    Sample salutations are:

      Greetings Friend, Dear Bob, Hi Bob,

      Dear Mr. Jones: Dear Sir:
      Ladies and Gentlemen: Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Jones:

    The BODY (D) of the personal letter starts two lines below the salutation. Paragraphs are indented five spaces in the modified block form, which is used for all handwritten letters. In the block form, used only in typed business letters, all parts of the letter begin at the left margin. Single spacing is used within paragraphs, and double spacing is used between paragraphs.

    The first word of the CLOSING (E), which is placed several lines below the body, lines up with the first word in the heading and is the only word capitalized. A comma follows the closing.

    Possible closings include:

      Your friend, Missing you, Sincerely,
      Confused, Affectionately,Cordially,

      Sincerely yours, Yours truly,Respectfully yours,

    The SIGNATURE (F) below the closing should always be handwritten, even if the letter is typed. In a business letter, the name of the sender is typed below his signature.




    A Guide to Communication:The Grosse Pointe Public Schools Style Sheet
    © The Grosse Pointe Public School System, 2000