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I. Letter Layout
There are some important parts in a typical standard letter: the sender's address, date, the receiver's name, title and address, salutation, body of letter, complimentary close, signature and name and title of sender.
The sender's addressis usually placed in the top right-hand corner of the page. It provides all necessary information about the sender: the name and address of the institution, organization or the name, position, title and address of the sender, the telephone, telex, fax numbers, e-mail or any other details that may be required, such as reference numbers, codes, etc. Here are some samples:
Department of Physics, Prof. Manfred R.G. Wutting
Rostov State University Dept. of Materials and Nuclear
5 Zorge St. Engineering
Rostov-on-Don, 344090 University of Maryland
Russia College Park, MD. 20742-2111
To avoid difficulties in writing Russian names and surnames the following information may be of use:
ё – io, yo, ie: Semionov, Semyonov, Semienov;
ж – zh: Zhukov;
з – z, s: Kuznetsov, Vosnesenskiy;
й – i, y: Aliseichik, Bykovskiy;
x – kh, h: Malakhov, Astahov;
ц – ts: Tsvetkov;
ч – ch: Chugunov;
ш – sh: Timoshenko;
щ – sch: Paschenko;
ы – y: Bykov;
ю – yu, iu: Yurkov, Mavliukov;
я – ja, ya: Slepian, Yakovlev.
The dateshould be placed below the sender's address usually one or two spaces lower. The most common form of writing the date is March 20, 2005 or 20 March, 2005 both in the UK and the USA. The British ways to write the date are 20th March, 2005 and March 20th, 2005. A comma should be put between the day of the month, and the year, to separate the numerals and prevent confusion.
The receiver's addressincludes the name, title and full address of the recipient. It is placed in the left-hand side of the letter, two spaces below the date.
Susan Jackson Prof D.P. Petrovskiy
291 Redfern Avenue 28 Ul. Zorge, Apt. 58
Dayton, Texas 76109 Rostov-on-Don, 344090
Robert S. Canster
36 North St.,
London S. W. 10 2DB
The initials of the first name are placed in front of the surname: Prof. M.B. Linith.
The words street, road or avenue may be abbreviated St., Rd., Ave.: West St., Highland Rd., Charles Ave.
If the street has a number, it must be written out: 24 Second Ave., 135 Fifty – fourth St.
The zip code or zone number is a geographical abbreviation. Be sure to put it in all addresses in countries that use it. In the United States the zip code uses five numbers; some countries use numbers and letters. Do not put a comma between the end of the address and the zip code.
383 Madison Avenue 200 Euston Road
New York, N. Y. 10017 London NWI 2DB
Abbreviations for U.S. states and possessions are either traditional or postal. Traditional abbreviations are usually followed by a period.
Postal abbreviations have two capital letters with no space between them and are not followed by a period. Use traditional abbreviations for Canadian addresses.
The salutation, which begins two spaces below the receiver's address, is written with the margin on the left. In Great Britain the salutation is followed by a comma, in the USA – by a colon only in formal letters.
The salutation is never followed by an exclamation mark or by a dash. The salutation that you use is determined by the purpose of the letter, by the position that your correspondent holds. The word Dear is capitalized when it is the first word of the salutation. A title, such as Prof. or Dr., is used only with the surname.
In writing letters the following salutations are used: Dear Sir, Dear Madam, Dear Ms. Smith (if the letter-writer is not sure whether the woman is married or unmarried), Dear Mr. Smith, Dear Mrs. Smith (to married woman), Dear Miss Smith (to unmarried woman); Dear Dr. Smith, Dear Prof. Smith, Dear Colleague. When writing to a university, institution or organization the official salutations Dear Sirs, Dear Madam are used as well as To Whom It May Concern.
The body of a lettershould begin two spaces below the salutation. The body of a letter is, of course, the most important part because it contains the message for the recipient and should fulfill some requirements. Each paragraph should deal with one subject, in a brief, concise and accurate way. It should exclude all matters not relevant to the purpose of the letter. It is best to avoid long paragraphs. The style of letter writing requires certain accepted phrase patterns.
Short letters are usually double-spaced (two lines); longer letters are single-spaced (one line) with double spaces between the paragraphs.
The letter is ended with a closing salutationor a complimentary close,which is separated from the body of the letter by a double-spaced line. It always begins with a capital letter and is punctuated with a comma:
We finish a letter with Yours truly, Yours sincerely or Truly yours, Sincerely yours, if the letter began with a person's name or Yours faithfully or Faithfully yours if it began Dear Sir(s) or Dear Madam.
It is customary for colleagues, especially among scientists, to write Yours sincerely rather than Yours truly or Yours faithfully.
The complimentary close of a letter may begin as follows:
I look forward to the meeting in Boston
With best wishes
Looking forward to your reply
I hope to hear from you soon
Thank you for your time/effort/help/consideration.
The signatureis written directly beneath the complimentary close. It is indented a little to the right:
Director, Thompson Institute
In many cases the letter is signed without giving the name of the institution or organization:
Associate Professor of Mathematics
The first name can be written in full or with an initial: Peter B. Chase, Nina K Petrova, I. Smirnov, J. Smith.
Components of a Letter
Sample of a formal letter and an envelope
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