Business English 7.- Format and Mechanics of letters and E-mails Messages-Frequently asked questions about format

Format and Mechanics of letters and E-mails Messages

Frequently asked questions about format

Q: I don´t have letterhead stationery. Where should I put my address when I write a letter?

In block-left format, put the return address on the left. In modified block-left format, put it at the top right and line it up with the closing and signature. In both cases, the date follows. Leave a space before the “inside address”, with is the address of the person to whom you are writing.

 Q: which format of letter is more acceptable to use for everyday business letters, block or modified block?

Either format is acceptable. You can choose the format you want to use.

Q: it the body of my letter is very short, can I double-space to make it look longer?

No. never double-space in a letter. Leave more white space at the top and bottom of the page, so that your letter is in the center of the page.

Q: do I need to indent the beginning of each paragraph?

No. if a letter or message is typed, the paragraphs do not have to be indented. In handwritten letters, paragraphs are indented to show where a new paragraph starts. When letters are typed, we skip a space between paragraphs, so it is clear where paragraphs start and stop, and indenting is not necessary.

Q: how do I know when to start a new paragraph? Can I make each sentence a paragraph?

A paragraph is one or more sentences that all have a common topic. It depends on the purpose of the letter, but typical business letters usually have two to four paragraphs. The final paragraph sometimes has just one sentence that thanks the reader.

Q: I have a really hard time remembering the correct format. Is there any easy way to remember?

With enough practice, you will learn how to format business letter. Keep a copy of the sample letters nearby when you write. Also, you may find a template for letters in your computer software. For example, in some Microsoft Word programs, if you click on File, and the New, you will see a tab that says “Letters and Faxes”. If you choose a letter and click “enter”, you will have the correct format for a letter.

Q: I sometimes get e-mail messages with no capital letters. For example, the message says “how are you doing? I was wondering if you…” is this OK?

No. it´s not OK, especially when writing for work.

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Acerca de Yolanda Muriel
Arquitecta, ingeniera de edificación y Arquitecta técnica Barcelona, España

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