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The Importance of Letter Writing. — One of the most valuable services of composition, is letter writing. Many famous authors tell us that their fluency and perfection of expression are due in part at least to care and practice in casual correspondence. There is nothing that many of us find so irksome, perhaps, as writing letters, and yet there is nothing that will pay us better in the end than the frequent and conscientious composing of good letters. (We write letters because we want to write them, or because we have to write them, but they should always be regarded as opportunities to test our powers of expression. YEven the brief business letter may be made a masterpiece in its kind, for in it we are called upon to say a very definite thing in a perfectly understandable and concise manner. That this is a real test of power is easily and abundantly proved by the many poor business letters one receives. It is a good task to set oneself to write a letter every day just for the practice of it, even though one has nobody to write to but Santa Claus or the Chimney Sweep.
Letters are divided into three general classes: —
1. Informal or friendly letters, such as are written to relatives and friends.
2. Semiformal or business letters, such as we write to people on matters of business; and
3. Formal or social letters, consisting of invitations, acceptances, regrets, announcements, etc.
NS verhill, Mass.,
an. 3C, 1913.
Messrs. A. J. [... and Co.,
In reply to your letter of the 22d inat., I should like to say that your proposition is satisfactory, and I accept the offer of re-imbursement most gratefully. shall be in the city by Feb. 15th and shall call upon you immediately to affix my signature.
rusting that there will be nderstanding in our negotiking you again, I am
no further mi ations and th
THE PARTs of A LETTER
The typical letter is built up as follows:–
The Address (this may be placed last — see 8 below – instead of here).
The Participial Closing (optional).
The Complimentary Closing.
The Address — (see 2 above).
These various parts and the relative positions they hold can best be understood by a careful study of the letter on
page 448. 1.
The Heading consists usually of two lines, as in the
illustration. In cases of long addresses, however, three lines may be necessary. Where this is so, the first two lines should indicate places, and the third line, time or date. Thus : —
But never: —
for this would be incoherent. This all applies, however, to headings which we are obliged to write ourselves on plain paper. Large firms which do a great deal of correspondence, have their letter heads printed, and put both place and time on a single line; as: — 138 MAPLE AvH., HAVERHILL, MAss., ------ , 19 ---. The dotted line is for the insertion of month, day, and year.
2. The Address follows the rules just laid down in regard to the number of lines. In some cases three are required; in others two may be sufficient. The address of the person or persons to whom the letter is to be sent is most important, and should never be omitted, especially in business letters. It may be placed at either of the two points indicated. It is a little better perhaps to place it in position No. 2, for in looking over correspondence files it is found with less difficulty.