Writing Business Letters - Tutorial 2: Parts of a Business Letter

In this short tutorial you will learn about the different parts of a business letter and for what they are used. You are already familiar with most of the parts, but may not know their names or all their functions.

Parts of a Letter

Parker Morgan Finnigan


PO Box 2345


[The part above is called the sender's address block]

29 October 2010

[This is, of course the date of the letter and it should be in long format]

Ms Janette Jameison

PO Box 34687


[This is the Receiver's address block]

Dear Ms Jameison

[Complimentary address or opening]


[Subject line - usually block letters and bold]

I refer to our previous correspondence requesting a copy of the contract between you and Acme Finance Corporation.

[The first sentence is called the opening sentence which we'll discuss in depth in a later tutorial]

If you do not provide us with a copy of the original contract, I'm afraid we will not be able to act on your behalf. We need the contract to accurately assess the claims you have made and to question legal staff from Acme Finance Corporation.

Please send us a copy of the contract at the earliest so we can get this matter under way.

Yours sincerely [Complimentary close]

Parker Johannson

Principal Legal Consultant


[Subscription block]

Supplementary Annotations

At the bottom of your letters you may have some or all of the following annotations:

Encl or Encl(3) [This advises that something is enclosed with the letter]

Att or (Att (3) [This advises that something is attached to the letter]

Both of these annotations are intended to advise mail room clerks that an enclosure or attachment was required to be inserted/attached before the letter was sent. Also, it advises the person receiving it at the other end that something is supposed to be enclosed or attached. If it isn't, then the recipient can call the sender and advise that the enclosure/attachment was missing from the envelope.

rh [If someone else types the letter for signature, his/her initials may appear underneath]

CC [This stands for 'carbon copy', but as nobody uses carbon copy paper anymore, should be changed to PC for photocopy]

BCC [Blind Carbon Copy - never shown on the original, only on the file copy indicates to whom copies have been sent without the knowledge of the original addressee. Should now perhaps be changed to BPC]

Handling File Referencing

File referencing can either quote the sender's reference or the recipient's reference and should indicate clearly which it is. Some people use a separate line for file references, often at the very first line of the letter above the address block. I prefer to place it with the subject line, but that's purely a personal choice.

By now you should be ofay with the parts of a letter and, if you read Tutorial One, how to format them. Tutorial Three advises how to write a good quality letter and has tips for opening and ending sentences.

Copyright 2005 Robin Henry