Salutation is an honorary title for the receiver. Usually we would like to use “Dear Mr. XXX, Dear Madam June, Dear Miss XXX, Dear Bruce, Dear Professor Grand”. Salutation depends on the intimacy degree between sender and receiver. The most formal and unfamiliar way is to use “Dear sir” (British English) or Dear Gentleman (American English); it is used in official letters for government and officer; it also can be used in business letter if it’s the first time for communication. If sender is very familiar with receiver, he/she can call his family name. The most informal salutation is to call receiver’s first name directly, which is used by relatives or friends. But we should know that if you call receiver’s second name, there is no need to call his/her first name, and that if you call receiver’s first name, you needn’t add “Dr” or “Mr.”
Besides, if you are not sure the woman you write to is married or not, you can use “Ms.” instead of” Mrs.” or “Miss.”
British people are used to adding a comma while American people prefer quotation mark (comma is also used when letter is wrote to relatives or friends).
Salutation should be written below the address of receiver with one or two line left.
It’s the main part of the letter. The same with Chinese letters, body should be brief, accurate and clear with a prominent topic.
If the body is too long and there are several pages, sender should write down the page number and receiver’s name on each page.
Body starts from with one or two lines below the salutation.
6. Complimentary close
Complimentary close is written at the lower right corner or lower left corner of the letter. It shows sender’s great courtesy. You can write words like “Best wishes”.
Sender should write down his/her name, such as Sincerely,; Sincerely yours,; Yours sincerely,; Friendly yours,; Truly yours,; Yours truly,; Cordially yours,; Yours cordially,. If the letter is typed or written on the computer, sender should also type his/her name above the signature.
8. Other parts
Besides the seven parts illustrated before, some English letters may include other parts.
- Enclosure. Usually it’s written as Enc for short. “Enc…Certificate” means that sender has attached something to certificate something else.
- Postscript. When sender finishes the letter, he/she may suddenly realize that there are something important missing and want to make up for it. In that situation, he/she can write P.S. to add the things left. However, this part should be brief. It is located at the bottom of the letter right below the signature and starts from the beginning of each line.
- Carbon Copy to….it’s written as CC to show that this letter will also be sent to some other people
These three parts are just complementarities for the letter structure instruction. PS is usually used for private letters. Formal letters should avoid the use of PS so as not to give receiver an impression of carelessness. Enc and CC are usually used in business letters.
The above is the instruction for English letter structure. Read carefully, and you will benefit from it a lot!