Welcome everybody to our third session! We are half-way through the course, and this time the subject is...


Formal or semi-formal letters and messages are judged by three factors :

The Looks : You probably know that people react to physical presentation. We appreciate a nice packaging in a product, and written messages are a kind of product as well.
Very often we sell our work or our ideas in a letter.

Here are a few tips...
  • ... the letter or message has to have a nice "frame" (presentation, margins),
  • ... it does NOT have to be too long or difficult to read,
  • ... each paragraph has to be short, and
  • ... the length of the sentences has to vary (short sentences and longer ones).

A Classic Format:

"Begin at the beginning... and go on till you come to the end
and then stop."

Lewis Carroll

A classic business letter has 6 parts :

HEADING (The writer's address)

INSIDE ADDRESS (The recipient's name and address)

SALUTATION -- ("Dear ...")

BODY ------------------------------




CLOSING ----- ("Best regards," "Sincerely," etc.)


In email messages, it is not necessary to include
the heading and inside address, but it is customary to add
the writer's data at the end.


The Filling :
As we discussed in our first chapter, the most important points to consider here are the message's PURPOSE, the READER, and the writing STYLE.
However, we are especially going to explore this topic in our future sessions.


The Catch For Reaction : When we write a business letter, of course the desired effect is to be answered back.

A few more tips :

  • Use simple, direct language. English is simpler than Spanish. For example, active voice creates a friendlier tone than passive voice, which sometimes sounds impersonal.
  • Avoid rigid phrases, such as "Enclosed herein is the invoice..."
  • If possible, use your reader's name instead of "Dear Sir or Madam".
  • Use the pronouns "you, your, yours" more often than "I, me, my, mine".
  • End positively to create goodwill.

Consider the following fragment :

"A receipt must be enclosed (passive construction) with the goods before we can process (focus on the writer's company) a full refund."

A revised version of this sentence focuses on the reader. :

"So that you can receive (focus on the reader) your refund promptly, please enclose a sales receipt (active or direct construction) with the goods."

"First of all, a man must see before he can say."

Henry David Thoreau

The combination of the three elements:
appearance, content and character

Follow the link below to learn about two letter models.

The "bad-news" letter, and the "good-news" letter

And test your understanding of today's lesson with this exercise...

Session 3's
G E N E R A L - P R A C T I C E !

Well, this is the end of our class today. Let me know how you are doing. I'll wellcome your comments.
Until next week,

Your electronic teacher


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