Module 9: Formatting Hardcopy Letters and Memos
February 9 2012
- Letters go to people outside the organization.
- Memos internal messages sent to people within your organization.
- Format the parts of a document and the way they are arranged on the page.
- When you are considering how best to deliver your message, remember the principle of all good design: Form
How Should I Set Up Letters?
- Letters are written in block and modified block.
- 2 more common letter formats are block, sometimes called:
modified block or semi-block.
lock Format on Letterhead (mixed punctuation; collection letter) FIGURE 9.3
Indented Format on Letterhead (mixed punctuation; employee evaluation letter)
How are the Two Formats Similar?
Organizations include their return address in their letterhead. Written documentation is for the record, so the date is essential.
Readers are addressed by name in the salutation.
Subject and reference lines direct readers' attention to your purpose.
A standard complimentary close (Sincerely, Best, Regards) comes before your signature.
Correct punctuation is essential for credibility.
Continuation pages maintain coherence.
“Enclosure” tells the reader that you have included additional material, like a duplicated document or a
- Salutation greeting
- When you are responding to a letter or memo, use a salutation that mirrors the original sender’s signature,
which reflects how the person wants to be addressed.
- When writing to people in special groups or to someone who is a friend as well as a business acquaintance, you
may want to use a less formal close. (ex. Best, Regards, Ciao).
- Mixed punctuation a colon follows the salutation and a comma follows the close.
- Open punctuation omit all punctuation after the salutation and the close.
- Subject line Tells the readers what they are about to read.
Required in hardcopy memos and all emails, they are optional in letters.
place it after the salutation.
Good subject lines are specific, concise, and appropriate for your purposes and the response you
expect from your reader.
When you have good news, put it in the subject line.
When your information is neutral, summarize it concisely in the subject line.
When your information is negative, use a negative subject line if the reader may not read the message, or
needs the information to act, or if the negative is your error.
When you have a request that will be easy for the reader to grant, put either the subject of the request or
a direct question in the subject line.
When you must persuade a reluctant reader, use common ground, a reader benefit, or a directed subject
line (Module 13) that makes your position on the issue clear.
- Reference Line refers the reader to the number used on previous correspondence, or the order or invoice
number that this letter is about.
- Both block and modified block formats use headings, lists, and indented sections (known as telegraphing,
highlighting, bulleting or dot-jotting) for emphasis.
- Block is the format most frequently used for business letters; readers expect it; and it can be typed quickly, since
everything lines up at the left margin.
- Modified block format creates a visually attractive page by moving the date and signature block into what would
otherwise be empty white space.
- Differences Between Letter Formats
Block Modified Block
Date and signature block Lined up at left margin Lined up ½ or / over 3o the right Paragraph indentation None Optional
Subject line Optional Rare
- Letterhead pre-printed stationery with the organization’s name, logo, address, and phone number.
Modified Block Format Without Letterhead (open punctuation; claim letter)
What if my letter is more than a page?
- When your letter runs 2+ pages, use a heading on the second page to identify it.
- Even when the signature block is on the second page, it is still l