Letters are one of the oldest means of communication. Like essay-writing it is also an art. It is an expression of imaginative faculty of the writer.
The practice of developing this art has its origin in the need of conveying messages and expressing out views on some particular subject to a person leaving away from you. Owing to increasing number of literate and business-minded persons in the world, this art has achieved greater importance. This art can be mastered only by constant practice.
2. Types of Letters
There are two types of letters:
1. Formal Letter. The letters written to relatives, friends, acquaintances or strangers are called Personal or Private Letters. The language of this type of letters should be simple and direct.
2. Informal Letters. The letters written to shopkeepers, traders, editors of newspapers, etc, fall under this category these letters should be brief, clear and to the point. Lengthy letters have no appeal to the business minded persons who are too busy to pay more attention to them. Hence they should be brief and to the point.
The applications written to officers or by one officer to another relating to office matter come in this category. Such letters are also informal letters. They are written in set form. They should be legible, clear and to the point.
3. Parts of Letters
All kinds of letters have the following six parts:
1. The Heading or the Address of the writer. It consists of two parts-(i) the date. It should be written in the top right hand corner of the first page of the letter, (u) the address. It is written just above the date in this way. But now this style has been obsolete. Now the date and address aire written at the top left of the letter. Both the styles are acceptable.
20, Bara Khamba Road
January 26, 2005
Note : The date may be written in either of the following two ways :
(i) The 26 January, 20*x, (ii) January 26, 20*x
2. The Salutation. Different kinds of letters begin with different forms of salutation. It is written on the left hand side of the letter, just, below the heading. It differs with the different type of relationship with the person to whom the letter is being written.
3. The body of the Letter or the Message. This is the most important part of the letter. Its style depends upon the kind of the letter that is being written. But the following points shoud be kept in mind:
(i) It should be written in a neat and legible hand.
(ii) The language used should be simple and direct. The sentences should be short.
(iii) The several points in the letter should be arranged in a logical order.
(iv) It should be divided into paragraphs.
(v) Great care should be taken to avoid punctuation mistakes for a wrong punctuation, sometimes, alters the whole meaning of a sentence.
(vi) It should contain only what the writer means to convey, neither more nor less. In a business letter especially, this part should contain all the details of the matter required.
4. The Subscription or the Complimentary close. Different letters have different subscriptions. It consists of the leaving words in a polite manner just at the end of the letter- The position of the subscription should be below the last words of the letter and to the right side of the last page. The first word of the subscription must begin with a capital letter; e.g.-
5. The Signature. In the letters written to strangers, the signature should be very clearly put down. It should come below the subscriptions. It is also now written at the left side at the end of the letter.
6. Address. It is written on the allotted space on the envelop or at the back of the post-card. The first line should, tell the name etc. of the addressee. In address American style is used nowadays.
H. R. Sharma, Esquire, Professor of English D.A.V. College, Indore.