Business letters aregenerally written in a typical manner. Information is located at fixed placesin the letter. The parts of a business letter can be divided into two parts- The Obligatory/Compulsory/Basic Parts andthe Optional Parts. Any formalletter is incomplete without the obligatory parts. The optional parts areincluded in a letter depending on the relevance and contents of the letter.

TheObligatory/Compulsory/Basic Parts:

1)LetterHead/ Head Address/ Sender’s Address- Letter head containsthe name and postal address of the organisation, e-mail, web-site, telephonenumber, fax number, logo of the business. It is centrally positioned andprinted at the top of the page.

If plain paper is used,sender’s address will form the heading. It will contain full address with pincode of the sender. It is written at the right hand corner (as in semi-blockform).

2)Dateline-Thedate is written in the right hand corner below the letter head or sender’saddress (as in semi-block from). The date line has the day, month and year. Thedate line is necessary for future reference and legal validity, also for filingand sorting the letters. Date is writtenin various ways: American way- August 30, 2017 OR August 30th, 2017;British way- 30 August 2017 OR 30th August 2017; Indian way-30.08.2017 OR 30-08-2017 OR 30/08/2017. Indian way of date should not be usedas it may create confusion about day and month.

3)InsideAddress/ Receiver’s Address- The inside address iswritten on the left hand side in all forms. Inside address includes the name,designation and full postal address of the person or the company to whom theletter is to be sent. The prefix ‘To’is not used as the placement of the inside address itself indicates that it isthe receiver’s address. Lines of the inside address should not go beyond themiddle of the page.

4)Salutation-Salutationis the greeting or address to the receiver. It is placed below the insideaddress or attention line (if there). The nature of the salutation isdetermined by the inter-personal relationship of the sender and the receiverand it ranges from very formal to informal. Very formal- Sir/Madam, Formal-Dear Sir/Dear Madam/Gentlemen/Dear Mr Patil/Dear Ms Patil/Dear Customer, Informal- Dear Raj/Dear Rani. RespectedSir/Respected Madam is hardly used in correspondence today.

5)Bodyof the Letter- The most important part of the letter isthe body of the letter or the contents. The idea must be clear, languagesimple, facts and figures correct, the tone courteous and contents logicallyarranged. The message should make the right impact on the receiver so that theexpected response is got. It has generally three paragraphs- i)Introductory/Opening para introducesthe topic or refer to the previous correspondence, ii)Middle/Main para consists of the subject matter or main message ofthe letter, and iii)Concluding/Closingpara ends the letter by talking about action expected or future contactsetc.

6)ComplimentaryClose/ Subscription- Complimentary close or subscription is apolite way to end or say good bye. It is located at the left hand corner belowthe body of the letter in full block form and at the right hand corner in allother forms. The salutation and complimentary close should match.


Complimentary Close

Sir/Madam, Dear Sir/Dear Madam, Gentlemen, , Dear Customer, Respected Sir/Respected Madam

Yours faithfully/ Yours truly

Dear Mr Patil/Dear Ms Patil, Dear Raj/Dear Rani

Yours sincerely/ Yours cordially

7)Signature-Signaturecomes just below the complimentary close. A letter without signature has nolegal value. So, every letter must have the signature of the sender, full nameand designation. However, in electronically generated letters signature are notrequired or an electronic or a digital signature is used.

Inbusiness letters three types of signature blocks are used:

I)Simple SignatureBlock: This block is the most commonly used for routineletters.


Mr Mukesh P. Patil


Pragati College

Thisis used when the letter is written in the first person, using the pronoun ‘I’.

b)Pragati College


Mr Mukesh P. Patil


II)Per-Pro or PP (PerProcurationem) Signature Block: If a person is signingon behalf of the firm as he/she is holding special power or power of attorney;per pro or pp (per procurationem) which means on behalf of is used.


pp/ per pro Pragati College


Mr Mukesh P. Patil


III)For(Proxy) Signature Block: This is a temporary arrangement forroutine letters. A person, if signs in the absence of a senior authority on hisbehalf, then ‘for’ is used before the designation or the name of the company.


For the Principal/ Pragati College


MrMukesh P. Patil


The Optional Parts:

1)Reference Number- Referenceindicates letter number and the department from where the letter is being sentand the year. It helps in future reference. The details vary from company tocompany. It is written on the left hand corner after the heading. Ex.‘PCD/290/17-18’ (PCD- Pragati College Dombivli, 290- Letter Number, and 17-18-Academic year 2017-2018).

2)Confidential/Personal(Private)Notation- When the contents of the letter are confidentialand meant only for the person to whom the letter is addressed, this specialnotation is either written on the envelope or just below the reference numberand above the inside address. It is always written in capital letters withunderline. If the content of letter is about business, the notation CONFIDENTIALis written. If the content of the letter is not about business, but personal,the notation PRIVATE or PERSONAL is written. Some envelopes orletters carry the notation PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL which is wrong.

3)Attention Line- Attentionline is used when the letter is addressed to a firm under a general salutation-Dear Sir. If the letter writer wishes to draw a particular individual’sattention to it, he writes the attention line. It is written in the centre ofthe page below the inside address and above the subject line in all formsexcept the full block form. The word ‘Attention’ or the phrase ‘Attention of’is followed by a : (colon). It is followed by the name of the individual. Ex- Attention: Mr Sharad Parab or Attention of: Mr Sharad Parab

Theletter reaches the concerned person and does not get misplaced. In case thenamed person is absent, a delay results as no one else looks into the letter.

4)Subject/ Caption Line- Subject line helps to sort out the letters andthe receiver may come to know the purpose of the letter. It is written above orbelow the salutation. It may or may not have the word ‘Subject’ or ‘Sub’ beforeit. If there is not the word ‘Subject’, better to underline the subject line orhighlight it by printing it in bold.

5)Reference Line- Referenceline is written below the subject line. It refers to previous correspondence orany written document. In application letter it is written in response to the advertisement/reference.

6)Enclosure- Anydocument if sent with the letter has to be mentioned under the title enclosurewhich is written as ‘Encl.:’. It is better to mention the documentsaccompanying the letter rather than just the numbers. Enclosure is writtenbelow the signature block in the left side.

7)Post Script (P. S.)- Post script is located at the end of theletter. Post script begins with the prefix P. S. or N. B. (Nota Bene- NoteCarefully or Please Note) and then the matter follows. Post script is writtenwhen the sender forgets something. However, today it is considered bad mannersand shows carelessness on the part of the sender.

However,Sales Letters and Collection Letters may have this notation for attention or asa reminder. Ex- Sales Letter may have--- P.S. Remember 25% available only till 15th September 2017.Collection Letter may have--- P. S.If the cheque has already been sent, kindly ignore this letter.

8)Copy Notation- Copynotation is located just below the enclosure. There are three variations inthis notation:

I)C.C. Notation/ Carbon Copy Notation which indicates thatcarbon copies of the letter have been sent to several people whose names andaddresses are listed alongside the notation. A similar notation P. C./ Photo Copy is used whenphotocopied matter is sent.

II)Copy to notation is used when, instead of carbon copy, freshcopy of the letter is sent to others.

III) B. C./ Blind(Blank) Copy isused when, without informing the original receiver of the letter, a fresh copyis sent to other party. The B. C. notation appears on the office copy forrecord but not on the original letter.

9)Identification Line- Whenthe letter is dictated by one person and typed by another, then this notationis used. Their initials are typed in the end of the letter in the left margin(at the bottom of the page). The writer/dictator’s initials first in capitalletters and then the typist’s initials in small letters and they are separatedby a stroke (/) or a colon (:). Ex- MP/bb or MP:bb. If the third person checksthe letter, then his initials are placed in the middle. Ex- MP/pg/bb orMP:pg:bb. It is important to pinpoint responsibility for the letter sent incorporate houses in case of future investigation or legal matters.

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