Text Processing Skills/Letters

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Formal personal correspondence can be letters or emails that you have written for your own purpose and not that of a business‟s. Examples of formal personal correspondence are:

  • Writing to the Post Office to advise them of a change of address.
  • Writing to the courts in regard to jury duty
  • Writing to the city council to find out about a building consent
  • Writing to your landlord to advise them of your intention to end your lease agreement

Technology has seen the way in which we communicate with each other change; you may be more likely to send an email than to write a letter. It is still important to be able to send a letter and the format in which you present the letter is important. The format we will be using is Business Letter Format. Business Letter Format Margins will depend on the length of the letter, but are usually 2.54 or 3cm. We recommend using a easy to read font like Times New Roman or Arial, in a font size not smaller than 10 point. An explanation of the parts of a letter is as follows and includes an example of a business letter layout: Date The date is always put on all correspondence Confidential (If required) The word confidential is only for confidential correspondence, and warns that the letter is not to be read by anyone other than the addressee. Current NZ Post addressing guidelines recommend that it is inserted above the address. Attention Line (If known) An attention line is not always necessary. Although the letter is addressed to the manager, the writer is aware that John Hansby will be dealing with the matter. The following example shows the placement of the attention line as recommended in NZ Post‟s addressing guidelines. Address The address is keyed in as it would appear on the envelope There should be a space between P and O The city may either be in uppercase or title case 3 spaces should be left after the city name. These addressing guidelines are required by NZ Post when Volume Post options are used. Salutation The salutation could be Dear Sir, Dear Mr Jones, Dear Ms Smith (formal) or Dear Bill (informal). When you do not know the name of the reader and your letter is formal you can use Dear Sir/Madam, or To whom it may concern. Course Resource 111,107, 10792 and 103 © Otago Polytechnic, Community Learning Centre Page 59 Subject Line This is an option frequently used to alert the recipient to the main content or purpose of the letter. It is usually typed in uppercase and may or may not be in bold text. „Re:‟ is not used at the beginning of the line. Body of the Letter Carefully plan the content of each paragraph. Complimentary Close The first line is usually Yours sincerely. This is used when you have used a name in the Salutation. Yours faithfully is only used with Dear Sir or Dear Madam (or similar). Leave five or six spaces for the writer to sign their name then add: The name of the person who has written/is signing the letter. The designation of the writer eg Secretary Ens or Encs is used only if there is an enclosure Copies (If required) If a copy of the letter is to be forwarded to someone else, a note to this effect is made at the foot of the letter. This may not appear on the original if the writer does not want the recipient to know that a copy is to be sent to someone else. Course Resource 111,107, 10792 and 103 © Otago Polytechnic, Community Learning Centre Page 60 Company Letterhead placed here. Ref COM. 15 (Enter 3x) Confidential Attention John Hansby The Manager NZ Cereals Ltd P O Box 1478 WELLINGTON 6015 (Enter 3x) Dear Sir (Enter 2x) CONTAMINATED PRODUCT (Enter 2x) Mrs Cynthia Young, a long-term customer of our grocery store, has returned a packet of “Breakfast Bites”, a sample of which is enclosed. You will see that it contains a large amount of contaminated material including mice droppings. I removed every packet of Bites from the shelves, apologized to Mrs Young and refunded her money. As you can imagine, this was very embarrassing for me, even though I was not responsible for the product and you will understand I am reluctant to sell your stock again. I look forward to your comments. Yours faithfully (Enter 5x) Abraham Love Manager (Enter 3x) Enc (Enter 3x) Copy Mrs Cynthia Young 26 Madison Avenue DUNEDIN 9012 Course Resource 111,107, 10792 and 103 © Otago Polytechnic, Community Learning Centre Page 61 Letter Structure The purpose of your letter should be clearly stated in the first paragraph. The content or information should be clear for the reader to understand, simple and direct, ensure that it is accurate. Punctuation is important make sure that you use sentences and paragraphs appropriately; this will make your letter easier to read. Check your spelling, always use a spell checker or ask someone to proofread your work. Tips for writing letters  Do not use slang words  Do not use abbreviations that are not relevant  Always include the readers name if you know it  Do not include any unnecessary information  Try to have one topic per paragraph  Do not use long sentences  Be polite Checklist Requirements Your letters must comply with the following:  The letter is addressed to the intended person.  The purpose of the letter is stated at or near the beginning of the letter.  Information presented in the letter is accurate, clear, relevant and ordered in a sequence which fits the context.  Content, vocabulary and tone fit the context, subject matter, and audience.  Punctuation is accurate in terms of full stops, capital letters, and commas.  Spelling is accurate; at least 90%.  Correct format is followed.  The form of address used fits the context and the relationship between the writer and receiver. Course Resource 111,107, 10792 and 103 © Otago Polytechnic, Community Learning Centre Page 62 Letters Exercise Create the following letter using Arial, size 12 font. Ensure that you set the letter out correctly. Letters Exercise Create A letter from Mrs May Burroughs, Bluespur Station, RD 4, Waimate to The Manager, Goodtaste Fashions Ltd, P O Box 2466, Christchurch While in Christchurch early in May I bought several garments at your store, leaving them for alteration and posting to me here at home. I received the parcel yesterday and was very disappointed to find that a mistake has been made in packing the blue tweed suit. The skirt of the suit is a smaller size than the coat and is definitely not the garment I tried on at your store. I am returning both skirt and coat to you under separate cover, to enable you to check the garments and look forward to receiving the correct skirt in due course. While in your shop I asked your assistant to let me know when the full range of spring ensembles is unpacked, as my daughter is getting married in August and I am anxious to obtain a suitable outfit in light wool for a morning wedding. I would be pleased if you would check that a note has been made of my request as time is growing short. Yours sincerely May Burroughs Letters Exercise Write to Mrs Burroughs and say how sorry we are she received the wrong skirt – the mistake was ours.