Formal business letters

This is a discussion thread · 6 replies
Guest:
Hello,

My boss has just made me feel terrible for a "mistake", however this is what I have been taught since high school and no-one has told me otherwise.

I work at a university and wrote a business letter to students commending them on their results. I fixed the letter that the Head of School gave me to read "Yours Sincerely" as opposed to "Yours sincerely" as this is what I have always been taught. Bear in mind I had the same English teacher for the last three years of high school and I practically considered him a God, so I took his word to be true.

I have since gone on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Communication/Bachelor of Business and have not once been corrected on this.

I have searched the internet with no support for my former teacher.

In addition (although this was not changed in the letter), if using a full title such as [Yours sincerely] "Associate Professor Christopher Bloggs", would you use [Dear] Mr Smith" or [Dear] "Jonathan"? I would presume the former, but the Head of School opted for the latter.

Much appreciated,

Kim
Hi Kim,

Below is a typical explanation, with which I fully agree. Only the first word of the closing, whatever it may be, should be capitalized. Opinions vary somwhat in other matters. For instance, according to some authorities, strict BrE usage for business letters requires 'Yours faithfully' if the greeting is 'Dear Sir' etc, and 'Yours sincerely' if the addressee is named ('Dear Mr. Brown').

In regard to your other question: on the grounds that it is a 'business letter', 'Mr. Smith' would be preferable, while on the grounds that it is addressed to your students, 'Dear Jonathan' would be acceptable, I suppose.

'Complimentary Closing

The complimentary closing should convey the level of formality and degree of personal feeling that the writer has for the reader.

The complimentary closing appears two lines below the last line of text. Its alignment varies with the format of the letter:

In block letters, the complimentary closing
appears flush with the left margin.

In modified and semiblock letters, the
complimentary appears right of center or may
be flush with the right margin.

Complimentary closings for business letters include:

Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Thank you,

Complimentary closings for informal letters include:

Best wishes, Kindest regards, Regards,

Best regards, Cordially,

Complimentary closings for very formal letters (those addressed to dignitaries and high officials) include:

Yours sincerely, Respectfully yours, Respectfully,

The word "truly" has become a cliche and should be avoided in letter closings.'
Veteran Member88,967
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Thanks for your prompt reply.

While I know it didn't make grammatical sense, there are so many other exceptions in the English language that I didn't even consider it to be untrue.

Now, another question relating to this:

My co-worker rewrote all the letters while I was on holiday (luckily she knows my password to my computer, so it wasn't as big a task as my boss made it out to be). She wrote:

"Yours sincerely"

[Joe Bloe]

Should there be a comma after sincerley? I have always put one there.

Also, should there be absolutely no punctuation in address blocks in letters? This was again, something my English lecturer taught us.

Thanks very much for this!
New Member01
Hi Kimberlina,

Thanks for joining English Forums.

There should indeed be a comma after the closing, as in the examples I supplied.

As for punctuation in the address block: I have never heard that rule expressed; however, I would think it applies only to the ends of lines, since many addresses would need internal commas, to separate apartment blocks from streets and cities from states, for instance:

Mr. Wilkins Micawber
Windsor Terrace, City Road
London, England

Mr. Micawber's English Emporium
1-55-6 Akuwa-higashi, Seya-ku
Yokohama-shi 246-0023
Japan
SystemAdministrator: A system administrator takes care of the inner workings of the entire system. These users have the ability to promote, ban and modify other users.Teachers: Users in this role are certified teachers. This may include DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, TEFL qualified professionals. Email a scan of your qualification to an admin, if you wish to be considered.
Anonymous:
Kim,

I, like yourself, have always been taught to capitalize just the first word of a closing. If you need hard evidence for your boss, perhaps the MLA (Modern Language Association) Handbook will have a section regarding the subject at hand. Pick up a copy to show him/her.

Best wishes,

Mike
Anonymous:
Actually there does not have to be a comma in the closing as long as there is not one in the salutation. This is called open punctuation.
Anonymous:
This is craziness, and part of the reason why no one seems to know how to speak proper English anymore. For example, one grammar rule that has been broadcasted over ever grammar site states that only the first word of a closing be capitalized. This does not apply to "Thank You," which should always be capitalized in a closing. As I was searching for backup for my assertion, I came across your post. Do the research and tell your boss (tactfully) that he is wrong. So many people are convinced that their grammatical errors are correct, even myself, so don't take anyone's word for it, not mine or your boss'. Look it up!
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