Below are some tips and guidelines for how you should create your own full block letter and complete Exercise 6.11.
- Company Name (ie; Big Time Construction – The name acts as part of the letterhead; create an appropriate name for the contracting company sending this letter. To make the letterhead jazzy, you can make the name larger, make it bold, or you can use a different font or even use an image.)
- Address (ie; 2211 Simpleton Road)
- City, State Zip Code (Bradford, Ohio 46789 – Be sure the comma is after the city, not the state. For the state use the postal abbreviation or spell out the name of the state. For Ohio, the postal abbreviation is OH, not oh, Oh, Oh. and so forth. Chapter 9 in your textbook contains a list of postal abbreviations for all 50 states.)
- Company Phone Number (ie; (937) 555-1111)
- September 29, 2015 (Spell the month out without abbreviations; put the comma after the number.)
- Individual’s Full Name (ie; Regina Rabbit – This part of the letter is called the “inside address,” which means this is the person who will get the letter. For practice, act as if you are sending this letter to an individual at a specific company.)
- Individual’s Title (ie; Vice President of Marketing)
- Individual’s Company (ie; Acme, Inc.)
- Company Address (ie; 121 Coyote Blvd., Suite 102)
- City, State Zip Code (ie; Dayton, OH 45402)
- Dear Ms. Rabbit: (This part of the letter is called the “salutation.” The greeting “Dear” is still considered business appropriate. Address women as Ms., not Mrs. or Miss. If you don’t know the gender of the person, use the full name. Use a colon after the name. Some formats use a comma, but for this class, use a colon.)
Below are some tips for each paragraph of the Exercise 6.11 assignment; you’ll find these tips follow the template and example.
- We are happy to announce that the renovation of the lobby is not behind schedule. By Monday, October 9, we should be ready to open the west end of the lobby to limited traffic. (First of all, eliminate all the uses of “we” throughout the letter. Don’t just substitute the company name or I; instead focus on what the reader will get. Don’t talk about feelings, so “happy” has to go. The word “not” is negative; eliminate it! Now, ask yourself, what does the reader want to know and need to know? In the second sentence, this writer has “should” on himself, not a pleasant sight, I should say…. Okay, enough with the bad humor, the sentence contains the word “limited,” another negative word. Instead, the reader probably wants to know WHEN the lobby will open and WHO can use the lobby by that date.)
- The final phase of the renovation will be placing a new marble floor in front of the elevators. This work will not be finished until the end of the month. (Now you can add detail. Describe the marble floor with precise words. You can also use actions instead of the word “be” in both sentences. Remember the lessons from week 2 about using precise words and action verbs? Review these to give you hints on what to write for this paragraph. You’ll also find a link that provides you with a a list of action verbs. You might want to print out the list. Finally, that negative word “not” appears. Remember the reader. He or she wants to know the finish date of the lobby.)
- We will attempt to schedule most of the work during the evening so that normal business will not be disrupted. (Doesn’t “attempt” seem unclear? Also, you’ll learn next week that many words beginning with “dis” are negatives, and you don’t want to use negatives if you don’t have to; instead, focus on what the reader can do. Try writing a sentence that begins with “You can….”)
- Please exercise caution when moving through the construction area. The floor will be uneven and steps will be at unusual heights. Watch your step to avoid accidental tripping or falling. (To me, this seems like a lot of emphasis on negatives. Yes, negatives exist, but you can de-emphasize negatives. You can also just your reader know–simply, clearly, and briefly.
Finally, here is how you close your letter:
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- Sincerely, (You don’t need to use other closings, like “Yours truly.”)
- Your Name
- Your Title (Make up a title for yourself, maybe CEO!)
- 1-2 lines of white space between the date and the inside address
- 1 line of white space between the inside address and the salutation
- 1 line of white space between the salutation and the first paragraph in the letter
- 1 line of white space between paragraphs in the body of the letter
- 1 line of white space between the end of the last paragraph and the closing
- 3-4 lines between the closing and your name, enough space so you can hand sign your name.
You can determine the spacing between the bottom of the letterhead and the date. If the letter is short, some writers like to add more spaces to put the actual content of the letter more in the middle of the page.
Some more formatting instructions:
- Single space paragraphs without indenting.
- Line up all elements (with the exception of the letterhead which can be centered) with the left margin.
- Use “ragged right” margins; no right side justification.
- Use 1.00 inch margins on the side, but if necessary adjust the top and bottom margins to fit the letterhead and closing better on the page.
- Since you’ll be typing your own letterheads, adjust the top margin to .50 or less so the letterhead does not take up more than two inches of paper space. If you close goes to a second page, adjust the bottom margin to get it to fit on one page. It’s okay for letters to have more than one page; you just don’t want to have only the closing on a second page.
- Finally, print your letter and examine it closely. You’ll probably find issues in print that you didn’t see online.
Headings and subject lines are optional in letters, and are not necessary for exercise 6.11.
Module 9 in your textbook contains examples of letters in various formats. Figure 9.2 shows the format we will use in this class, though we will not use the headings as shown. You’ll also see an example in the ENG1131 English Handbook.
Remember, the first time you type this format will be hardest, but you’ll be using it for the rest of your professional life.