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Kurs: - Business English

Modul: Business Letters - Pisanje poslovnih pisama

Autor: prof. Gordana Matorkić

Naziv jedinice: Layout of a Business Letter



A business letter in English is laid-out in a proper way when it consists of eleven parts, but there are many firms which like to use their own style. A usual layout of a business letter means that the letter is not indented and that there are no commas.            

These are the parts of a business letter. 

The letterhead

You can write a letterhead at the top right corner of the letter. However, most firms have decided to use sheets of paper where letterhead has already been written. It is very useful because it contains information about a company –name and address, telephone, e-mail and fax number. 


References can be seen at the top left-hand corner of the letter.

The initials of the person who signed the letter and the initials of the person who typed it are given here. You may also add figures to identify the department which made the letter or a certain file where you can find the correspondence.  

The date            

All letters must bare a date and it is given below the references. There are two standard forms for writing dates:           

8 March 1999 and March 8 1999            

The omission of -st, -nd, and -th seems to be widely accepted, although British English sometimes prefers these endings.            

You should never write only the figures (e.g. 10/2/99). This can easily confuse the Americans because they are used to writing dates in the order of month, day and year. The English, however, prefer the order of day, month and year: 10 February 1999.  

The addressee            

The addressee is a person to whom the letter is sent and the name and the address of him/her are typed below the date, usually against the margin. You can sometimes add “For the attention of…”, which means that the letter is to be delivered to a particular person.  

The opening salutation            

When you write the receiver’s address then follows the opening salutation. When you do not know the name of the receiver you can write "Dear Sir(s)" or "Dear Madam". If you are writing to a company you can start with "Dear Sirs".             

In case you know the name of the person you are writing to, you should start with "Dear Mr Jones, Dear Miss Jones, Dear Mrs Jones" or "Dear Ms Jones", when you are not emphasizing the marital status of the woman. 

The subject of the letter            

The subject of the letter tells us what the letter is about, for example the number of an order or invoice. Sometimes the word “Re” is used, meaning “About”, “Concerning”. You can write it in block letters.  

The body of the letter            

This is the central part of a letter and it gives essential information. You should try to make it simple, clear and exact. It is much easier if you divide the text into paragraphs, so that each paragraph is confined to one topic.  

The closing salutation            

The closing salutation follows the way the opening salutation is created. If we begin the letter with "Dear Sir(s)/Madam" (the receiver is not known) , we end it with "Yours faithfully". If we begin the letter with "Dear Miss Smith" (the receiver is known), we end it with "Yours sincerely".   

The signature

You write the signature below the closing salutation. 

The sender’s name and the position in the firm            

You type them below the signature. Sometimes, there are initials "p. p." (pp) next to the sender’s name. This means that the letter is signed by someone else other than the writer (for example, a secretary can sign a letter on behalf of her boss). The letters “pp” represent a Latin phrase “per procurationem”. 


You can enclose something with the letter (a prospectus, a cheque, an order form, etc.) and then you write "Enc", short of enclosure, at the bottom of the letter, with or without the object we are enclosing. You should also indicate in the text of the letter that a certain object is being enclosed.


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