Layout 1 (sender's address, dates, inside address, order of addresses, style and punctuation of addresses, 'for the attention of, salutations, the body of the letter, complimentary closes, signatures); layout 2 (letterheads, references, per pro, company position, enclosures); layout 3 ('private and confidential', subject titles, copies); addressing envelopes.
The letter shown on the next page is from a private individual in Denmark to a company in the UK. It shows some of the features of a simple business letter.
1.1.1 Sender's address
In correspondence that does not have a printed letterhead, the sender's address is written on the top right-hand side of the page.
In the UK, in contrast to the practice in some countries, it is not usual to write the sender's name before the sender's address.
The date is written below the sender's address, sometimes separated from it by a space. In the case of correspondence with a printed letterhead, it is also usually written on the right-hand side of the page (see 1.2).
The month in the date should not be written in figures as they can be confusing; for example, 11.1.93 means 11 th January 1993 in the UK but 1 st November 1993 in the USA. Nor should you abbreviate the month, e.g. Nov. for November, as it simply looks untidy. It takes a moment to write a date in full, but it can take a lot longer to find a misfiled letter which was put in the wrong file because the date was confusing.
6th May 20….
London SE23 1JF
Body of the letter
For the attention of the Sales Manager
Dear Sir or Madam,
Please would you send me details of your quadrophonic sound systems which were advertised in the April edition of Sound Monthly?
I am particularly interested in the Omega range of equipment that you specialize in.
Many firms leave out the abbreviation 'th' after the date, e.g. 24 October instead of 24th October. Other firms transpose the date and the month, e.g. October 24 instead of 24 October. These are matters of preference, but whichever you choose you should be consistent throughout your correspondence.
Inside (or receiver's) address
This is written below the sender's address and on the opposite side of the page.
If you know the surname of the person you are writing to, you write this on the first line of the address, preceded by a courtesy title and either the person's initial(s) or his/her first given name, e.g. MrJ.E. Smith or Mr John Smith, not Mr Smith.
/'mista/; the unabbreviated form m/stershould not be used) is the usual courtesy title for a man.
Mrs (with or without a full stop; pronounced /'misiz/; no unabbreviated form) is used for a married woman.
Miss (pronounced / Courtesy titles used in addresses are as follows:
Mr (with or without a full stop; pronounced mis/; not an abbreviation) is used for an unmarried woman.
Ms (with or without a full stop; pronounced /miz/ or /maz/; no unabbreviated form) is used for both mamed and unmarried women. Many women now prefer to be addressed by this title, and it is a useful form of address when you are not sure whether the woman you are writing to is married or not.
Messrs (with or without a full stop; pronounced /'mesaz/; abbreviation for Messieurs, which is never used) is used occasionally for two or more men (Messrs P. Jones and B.L. Parker) but more commonly forms part of the name of a firm (Messrs Collier & Clerke & Co.).
Special titles which should be included in addresses are many. They include academic or medical titles: Doctor (Dr.), Professor(Prof.); military titles: Captain (Capt.), Major (Maj.), Colonel (Col.), General (Gen.); aristocratic title: Sir (which means that he is a Knight; not to be confused with the salutation Dear Sir and always followed by a given name -Sir John Brown, not Sir J, Brown or Sir Brown), Dame, Lord, Baroness, etc.
Esq (with or without full stop; abbreviation for Esquire and pronounced /es'kwaia/) is seldom used now. If used, it can only be used instead of Mr and is placed after the name. Don't use Esq and Mr at the same time: Bruce Hill Esq, not Mr Bruce Hill Esq.
All these courtesy titles and special titles, except Esq, are also used in salutations. (See 1.1.7)
If you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, you may know or be able to assume his/her title or position in the company, (e.g. The Sales Manager, The Finance Director), in which case you can use it in the address. (See the letter at 3.3.3.)
Alternatively you can address your letter to a particular department of the company (e.g. The Sales Department, The Accounts Department). (See the letter of 3.3.2.)
Finally, if you know nothing about the company and do not want to make any assumptions about the person or department your letter should go to, you can simply address it to the company itself (e.g. Soundsomc Ltd., Messrs Collier& Clerke & Co.}.
Order of inside addresses
After the name of the person and/or company receiving the letter, the order and style of addresses in the UK, as recommended and used in this book, is as follows:
Name of house or building
Number of building and name of street, road, avenue, etc.
Name of town or city and postcode
Name of country
34-41 Craig Road
Bolton BL4 8TF
Some European addresses may place the numbers of the building after the name of the street. It is also common to substitute the name of the country with an initial before the district code number. Look at the two examples below: