Class 11 English Core Writing and Grammar – Business/Official Letters

CBSE Class 11 English Letter Writing – Business/Official Letters

Letters are written communications. Writing letters is an art and it is mastered through practice. The importance of letter writing cannot be over emphasised. Letters develop social discourse, strengthen business relations and win over the officers and employers.

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Letter-writing can be divided into two main kinds:
(a) Formal Letters
(b) Informal Letters
Formal Letters include business letters, applications for jobs, letters to editors, letters to Principal/Officers and letters of complaints to authorities.
Informal Letters are written to friends, relatives, acquaintances and teachers. These include private and personal matters such as condolences, congratulations, invitations, etc. Note. The syllabus specifies the following letter types:
(a) Letters to Editors
(b) Letters to School or college authorities
Since both these types are Formal Letters, we shall concentrate only on these two types of Formal Letters.

A formal letter has seven parts:

  1. The Address of the sender including the Date
  2. The Inside Address
  3. The Salutation
  4. Subject Heading
  5. The Body of the Letter
  6. The Subscription
  7. The Signature

Each part begins on the left hand side margin. The block format is used and there is no indentation. One line may be left to indicate the beginning of a new part/paragraph.
1. (a) The Address of the Sender. The complete address of the sender is written on the top of the page, preferably on the left side, without punctuation marks, e.g.,
237 Jyoti Apartments
Ashok Vihar
New Delhi-110048
(b) The Date is written just below the Sender’s Address. In formal letters dates can be written as under:

  1. 10 July 2011 or
  2. July 10, 2011

The former is the British style while the latter is the American style. In our country mostly people follow the British style, but these days some people have started using the American style. Students should avoid writing dates as 10.7.11 or 10/7/11 as it may be understood as October 7, 2011 or 10 July, 2011.

2. The Inside Address. The inside address is written below the date line after leaving some space, e.g.,
M/s Kapoor Brothers
Paper Merchants
Chawri Bazar
However, the word M/s (Messers) should not be used:

  1. before the name of firms trading under an impersonal name, such as ‘The Golden Carriers’, ‘The Karnataka Small Scale Industries’.
  2. before the name of firms beginning with a singular proper noun, such as Gupta Sales Corporation, Anil Hardware Stores, etc.
  3. before the names of limited companies, such as Hindustan National Glass Ltd., etc.

3. The Salutation or Greeting. The writer uses appropriate words for the receiver according to his/her relation. The salutation comes just below the address of the recipient. Its first and last word should be written with a capital letter. A comma (,) may be put after the salutation, e.g.,

  1. In Business Letters we write
    Dear Sir, Dear Sirs,
  2. In official letters, applications or letters to the Editors we write
    Sir/Dear, Sir/Respected Sir or Madam/Dear Madam,

Dear Sir/Sirs is used while addressing a firm. Dear Sir/Dear Madam is used while addressing some single official.

4. Subject Heading. Mention the heading of the subject below the salutation in the middle. The subject should be mentioned briefly. This helps in speedy compliance/ disposal.

5. The Body of the Letter. It is the most important part of the letter. It contains the actual message to be conveyed. It may be broken into various paragraphs, each paragraph dealing with only one idea. Begin with a new paragraph each time you say something new. A formal letter must have at least three paragraphs in the body of the letter

  1. Introductory para,
  2. Main body of the letter and
  3. The concluding para.

6. The Subscription. It is also called the complimentary close. It is simply a polite way of leave taking. It should agree in style and tone with the salutation. If you have used ‘Sir/Madam’ in your salutation, the subscription is Tours faithfully’. However, if the person addressed is known to the writer and is addressed as Dear Sir/Madam, Tours sincerely1 may be used.

  1. Do not write ‘Tours truly”, as it is no longer accepted. ‘Tours” doesn’t have an apostrophe. And remember, “Thanking you” is grammatically wrong and should not be used.
  2. Beginning with “To” and ending a letter with “from” is now considered obsolete.
  3. The format of a letter is on the left side.

7. The Signature. The signature is put below the subscription. In formal letters, the name and designation should follow the signature.

(a) Reference Number (Ref No.) It appears between the writer’s address and date. Here you may give file No., letter No. and number and dates or particulars of previous correspondence etc.
(b) Enclosures (Enel). A mention of the enclosed papers and documents, if attached separately, is made on the left hand side below the signature.
(c) Copies (c.c). In case it is necessary to send a copy of the letter to a third person, this is indicated by (c.c.) followed by the name and address. It appears below the enclosures. In order to write good Business/Official letters follow the following guidelines:

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