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Read the explanation of the structure of a business letter made by a business school teacher to a student. Read the dialogue, take a sheet of paper and write down the names of the parts of a letter and lay them out according to the explanation.

T.: Well then, your company's name and address is printed at the top of the letter. This is called the letterhead. And the person you are writing to is the reader.
S.: I see. So the letterhead's at the top of the letter, and the reader's name and address is on the left.
T.: That's right. The references are below the reader's name and address.
S.: Oh yes. "Ref" is short for "reference", I suppose.
T.: Yes. The references are usually the initials of the writer's name and the secretary's name. In this letter JB stands for Joy Bradley and SY stands for Simon Young. Now, what is there on the right?
S.: The twenty - third of January, twenty fourteen. It's the date.
T.: Yes. The date's on the right. Now, on the left, the opening salutation is under the references.
S.: The opening salutation is "Dear Ms. Meiners", isn’t it?
T.: Yes. And the body of the letter - this is what you really want to write is below the opening salutation .
S.: So the body of the letter is between the opening salutation and the closing salutation.
T.: Yes. "Yours sincerely" is the closing salutation.
S.: And then there is the signature, the writer's name, and the writer's position in the firm.
T.: That's right. The signature is above the writer's name and the name is above the writer's position in the firm. What's Simon Young's position?
S.: He's a sales assistant.
T.: You are absolutely right.
S.: What does "Encl" at the bottom mean?
T.: It stands for "enclosure". It means something is enclosed with the letter.
S.: Oh I see. The catalogue is enclosed with this letter.
T.: Right. Now you know the structure of a business letter.


Work in pairs. Look at the business letter given below and make up a dialogue with the partner similar to that which is in exercise 1. While making a dialogue, use some additional information below about the structure of a business letter.


Heading is used to convey a positive image of the company. It includes the company’s address, phone and often email. It is not necessary to include this information again into the body of the letter. Sometimes the writer will provide a direct phone number or personal email address if the action statement calls for direct communication.


Full date must be included in the letter. The date can be extremely important because the letter is a formal document, often used in contract situations. The letter is usually dated the same day on which it is mailed, but whatever agreements are included in the letter, it is considered effective as of the date of the letter.


The formal greeting always starts with “Dear” followed by the person’s title and last name, and ending with a comma or a colon (US). This requires finding out whether the recipient is properly addressed as Mr., Ms. or Dr. Attempts to avoid the issue (i.e. substituting the title for the person’s first name, using impersonal phrases like “Mr. or Ms” or “To Whom it May Concern”, or eliminating the salutation entirely) indicate that the writer doesn’t actually know the recipient of the letter at all, making the letter a “form” letter, a much less formal document.


Context Paragraph

The first paragraph of the letter will define the context, providing a clear statement of the letter’s topic and purpose. Avoid starting a letter with flowery language that doesn’t explain what the letter is about. In social letters or in letters written for businesspeople, it is not appropriate to begin a letter with a question about the family or a comment about recent weather or world events. U.S. businesspeople generally prefer to find out right away why the letter has been written.

Content Paragraphs

The typical letter uses one to three paragraphs to provide the information relevant to its purpose. Each paragraph should cover a single topic or point. In the case of a long letter that covers multiple pages, it is appropriate to break the information into sections with internal headers or bullets to provide clarity.

Action Paragraph

The final paragraph of the letter provides a clear, straightforward statement of the action that will be taken by the writer, requested by the reader, or expected by a third party.


Two spaces below the final paragraph of the letter, a traditional closing line, generally “sincerely,” “respectfully,” or “faithfully”, ends the letter. If the situation calls for a warmer tone, the closing might be “cordially,” “best wishes,” or “regards.”


A four-line space allows room for a written signature immediately below the closing, then the sender’s full name is typed, with the full business title (sometimes with the department or division as well) on the next line. The signature on a business letter signifies that the writer is taking responsibility for fulfilling any commitments being made. Thus, even when the sender and recipient know each other well, a full signature is used.

When writing on behalf of a team or department, type the group’s proper name immediately above the written signature of the team’s representative.


English formal language is an essential part of business writing communication. The observing of its rules is vitally important for a businessman. Look at some of them and try to replace informal words with their formal equivalents.

1. get a. request

2. want b. due to

3. ask for c. provide (someone with)

4. need d. notify, inform

5. tell e. delayed

6. because of f. remittance

7. give g. obtain, receive

8. payment h. require

9. have i. settle your account

10. ask j. further

11. more k. possess

12. pay l. enquire

13. late m. would like, wish

Date: 2016-04-22; view: 313

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