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Way to start a letter

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Way to start a letter
June 24, 2019 1st Anniversary Wishes 2 comments

In this guide, we'll show you how to start a cover letter perfectly and captivate the hiring manager enough to want to immediately call you in for an interview.

How to start a letter, what type of letter you should write, what letter format you should choose—everyone should be familiar with these basics of letter writing. Here’s the information you need to know, along with some helpful examples.

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What Type of Letter Should You Write?

There are no hard-and-fast rules. What letter format you choose depends on your audience. For a friend or close relative, a casual, handwritten message is usually the best way to go. However, for business contacts or people you don’t know well, a typed formal letter is almost always the most appropriate choice.

Before You Start a Letter

Formal letters begin with the sender’s name and address. Some companies use special paper, called letterhead, that includes contact information.

The next line of a formal letter and the first line of an informal letter is the date. Write it two lines after your address or at the top of a casual letter.

Additionally, formal letters need the name and address of the recipient two spaces after the date. Incorporating all this information ensures that your letter can be used as a reference to contact you after the recipient discards the envelope.

How to Start a Letter

Finally, you’re ready to greet the person (or business) to whom you’re writing. Skip a space from any addresses you’ve included. Casual letters are easy; you can start with “Hello” or another customary greeting. Formal letters begin with “Dear” followed by the name of the receiver. If you don’t have a contact at a certain company, search online for a name, a job title, or department. For example, you might try “Dear Manager” or “Dear Human Resources Department.” As a last resort, use the generic salutation “To Whom It May Concern.” A comma follows all greetings.

The Body of the Letter

The content of your letter will vary, so let’s focus on some general guidelines.

Do. . . keep it focused. Business letters should have a clear objective. Even personal letters shouldn’t ramble. Proofread. Errors can cause misunderstandings.

Don’t. . . use contractions in formal letters. And definitely avoid writing anything you’ll regret being recorded for posterity.

How to End a Letter

Leave a blank space between your closing paragraph and the complimentary closing. A complimentary close is a polite way to send your regards to your receiver. One of the most common closers is “Sincerely,” and it’s generally a safe bet. If you have a warmer relationship with the recipient, you can sign off with “Warm regards” or “Cordially.” There are dozens of options, so you’ll have to do a little research to determine which is best for you. Commas follow all complimentary closings. Remember, only the first letter of the phrase is capitalized. Leave another couple of spaces for the last step—your signature! Type your full name underneath it in formal letters.

With sincere gratitude, Signature Dr. Malcolm J. Carl, Jr.

What’s P.S.?

P.S. stands for postscript. It’s something you add at the last minute after the letter is complete. Typically, you don’t add postscripts to formal letters; if you need to add something, you’ll have to revise the whole document to include the new information.

The Envelope

In the United States, the maximum weight for a first-class letter is 3.5 ounces. If your letter is more than three pages or you’ve written it on heavy paper, you’ll have to weigh it to make sure it meets the requirements. The size and shape of the envelope matter too. It has to be rectangular and less than roughly 6×11 inches or you run the risk of the post office returning it.

Sending a Letter

After you’ve determined that the envelope is the right kind, the hardest part is over. Now, you just have to mail it. (If it’s a personal letter, you can always deliver it yourself. In that case, just write the intended recipient’s name on the outside of the envelope. A bonus of hand-delivery?: You can use any size or shape envelope that you want!) In the top left-hand corner, write your name and address or attach a mailing label. In the center of the envelope, carefully write the address of the recipient. Besides the state abbreviation and zip code, international letters should include the country for both the destination and return address. Postage rates vary. Check the USPS website for current prices or use a forever stamp for US destinations. Double-check that everything is correct on the outside of the envelope. If it is, fold your letter and insert it inside neatly. Don’t seal it until you’re sure that you’ve included every page you intend to send.

Doesn’t it feel good sending a letter that you know you’ve carefully prepared? Certainly, a well-written letter has the best chance of accomplishing its purpose. But what about a cover letter for a job application? Cover letters have their own set of best practices. Read everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter before you send out your next resume!

The salutation is an important part of a letter. There two ways in which business letters usually start: they make reference to a previous contact, for example.

How to Start a Professional Letter

way to start a letter

Writing letters can be stressful to a lot of people…. and even more so when you have to do it in French! Today we will make writing letters in French a lot easier with this simple guide on how to write a letter in French. 

In this lesson, you'll learn the words, phrases, and expressions for starting and ending your letter plus tips and examples.

You get an extra lesson on how to write emails in French, too! 

I. Greetings/ Salutations for French Letters

To start writing a letter in French, you need the proper salutation and the correct title of the person you are writing to.

Salutations for French Personal Letters

For personal correspondence, you can choose between the following scenarios and salutations.

If you know the person, you can use the following:

Cher Monsieur

Dear Sir

Cher Monsieur ______

Dear Mr. ______

Chère Madame

Dear Ma’am

Chère Madame ______

Dear Mrs. _______

Chère Mademoiselle

Dear Miss

Chers amis

Dear friends

Mon cher Pierre

My dear Pierre

Ma très chère Louise

My dearest Louise

For personal correspondence where you do not know the person you are writing to, you can choose from the following:

Monsieur

Sir

Monsieur ______

Mr. ______

Madame

Ma’am

Madame ______

Mrs. _______

Mademoiselle

Miss

Messieurs

Sirs

Salutations for French Formal Letters

For business letters, salutations are very formal and include the recipient’s title as needed. You may use the following salutations:

Monsieur, Madame

Sir, ma'am

Messieurs

Sirs

Monsieur

Sir

Madame

Ma'am

Mademoiselle

Miss

Monsieur le Directeur

Director

Monsieur le Ministre

Minister

II. How to close your letter

Just like the salutations, you will also need to use the correct closing at the end of your letter.

Closing Expressions for French Personal letters

For personal letters to acquaintances or friends that still require a level of formality, you may close it using the following expressions:

Je vous envoie mes amicales pensées.

Works like "Best wishes" but literally means "sending my friendly thoughts to you"

Recevez, je vous prie, mes meilleures amitiés. 

Yours sincerely.

Je vous adresse mon très amical souvenir.

Kindest regards.

Cordialement (à vous)

Cordially (yours)

Votre ami dévoué(e) 

Your devoted friend

Chaleureusement

With warm regards; Warmly

Bien amicalement

Sincerely; In friendship

Amitiés

Best wishes, All the best

Bien à vous, Bien à toi 

Best wishes

À bientôt !

See you soon!

Affectueusement

Fondly

affectueuses pensées

With fond thoughts

Please note that the translations are not exactly the same, but they more or less express the same thought.

For informal letters to close friends and family, you may be very liberal in showing your fondness to the person by using the following informal closing:

Bisous

Kisses

Grosses bises

Gros bisous

Je t’ embrasse (bien fort)

Big kisses

Bizoux

Kisses

Take note that the above closing expressions are similar to saying "hugs and kisses" or "XOXO" in English. You simply cannot use it to close a letter to, let's say, your boss or the hiring manager in the job you're eyeing. 

See also: French text slang and instant messaging shortcuts

Closing Expressions for French Formal or Business Letters


Cordialement*

Cordially

Bien à vous*

Yours truly

Meilleures salutations

Best regards

Salutations distinguées 

Sincerely

Je vous prie d’agréer, <insert the same title you used in your greetings> l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.

Please accept,______, the expression of my highest consideration. 

Je vous prie d’agréer, <insert the same title you used in your greetings> l’expression de mes meilleures salutations.

Please accept,______ , the expression of my best regards.

*These two are not too formal, and could be used for less formal situations.

Again, please take note that the above translations are more or less the equivalent expressions in English.

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III. Some example French letters

Let’s take a look at two sample letters below. The first one is a personal letter and the second is a business letter.

Example 1: Personal Letter

Chère Mademoiselle,

C’est avec plaisir que je vous écris. L’envie me prend soudainement de vous conter l’une de mes nombreuses aventures...

Je vous envoie mes bien amicales pensées. À bientôt !

Dear Miss,

It is with pleasure that I’m writing to you. The urge suddenly takes me to tell you of one of my many adventures …

Best wishes. See you soon!

Example 2: Business Letter​

Monsieur,

Je me permets de vous écrire concernant l’offre de poste...

Je vous prie d’agréer, Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.

Sir,

Allow me to write you about the job offer...

Please accept, sir, the expression of my highest consideration.

IV. Additional Tips in Letter-Writing

Of course, starting and ending a letter written in French is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are more tips in writing letters in French.

  • In writing formal letters, always use “vous” and never “tu”.
  • For personal letters, you may use “tu” but only with people you are in tu terms with.
  • A properly worded and formatted letter will make your content sound credible. So take note of the correct form.
  • Write the return address at the top left of the page. Start with your name followed by your organization (for business letters) and then your address.
  • The recipient’s address will be placed below it to the right side.
  • Under it, place the town or city where the letter is being sent followed by the date.

See also: The ultimate guide to using tu vs. vous in French

Bonus: How to write an email in French

Let's face it, writing an email in French is another hurdle you must surpass. Whether you're writing an email to your boss, a colleague, or someone you barely know, you gotta make sure everything's in place before you hit the send button.

No worries to you because we're going to discuss here how to write emails, too!

  • Always start your email with a greeting such as "bonjour" or "bonsoir". Unlike letters, you don't need to useCher / Chère, but if you know the person you're writing to and feel comfortable, go ahead and use it.
  • You can say, "Bonjour monsieur /madame" when emailing someone you're not yet acquainted with.
  • If you know the job title of the person you're writing to, you can include it in your salutation. For example, Monsieur le Directeur (Mr. Director) or Madame la Directrice (Madam Director).
  • When emailing someone you are in informal terms with, you can simply start your email with "Salut + the name" followed by some pleasantries. For example: Salut, Marianne ! J'espère que tu vas bien (Hello, Marianne! I hope you're doing well.)
  • Be mindful of the correct usage of tu and vous. 

How to end formal emails

Like in English, there are also a set of email phrases and expressions commonly used when signing off in formal emails. Aside from the usual "merci" or "merci beaucoup", here are some ways to end an email in French:

Bien cordialement

kind regards

Cordialement

Cordially, used like "best regards"

Bien à vous

Yours truly, yours sincerely

Merci par avance

Thanks in advance

Merci par avance pour votre compréhension

Thanks in advance for your understanding

Je reste à votre disposition pour tout renseignement complémentaire

Feel free to contact me for any further information

Download a PDF format of this article!

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 Conclusion

Letter-writing is still a necessary skill despite the many new forms of communication available today. I hope this short guide will help solve your woes on how to write letters in French. Hopefully, you learned something about writing emails in French, too!

For the complete lesson on French letters including audio guides and exercises, grab your copy of My French Routine, a complete learning series that you could use to learn French independently from beginner level to advanced.

This particular lesson is part of My French Routine Volume 6: For Advanced Level. Check it out below.

Quick reminder

Take note of proper spacing when writing punctuations in French. When writing a sentence with a question mark or an exclamation point, there should be a space before and after it. For example: Bonjour ! Ça va ?

The same applies to writing colons and semi-colons, as well as quotation marks. 

 

Did you know?

La nétiquette refers to the French practice of writing good online correspondence especially emails. 

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5 Perfect Opening Lines for Your Cover Letter

way to start a letter

Figuring out how to start a cover letter can be intimidating. Fortunately, the formula for opening a successful cover letter is easy to follow. Your introduction should convey authenticity and enthusiasm, and highlight the qualifications that make you a great fit for the role.

If you’ve been staring at a blank screen trying to formulate the perfect cover letter introduction, or if you find yourself resorting to overused phrases like “I am writing to express my interest…” or “Hello, my name is…,” try one of these seven opening techniques (with examples that show you how to do it).
 

Create a Resume on Indeed

 

 

1. Convey enthusiasm for the company

If you are genuinely attracted to the company’s brand or have used their products or services before, this is a great opportunity to say so. Employers value authentic enthusiasm because it often translates to highly motivated and successful employees.

Example: “I was excited to see that Company ABC is hiring an event manager skilled at increasing brand awareness and driving growth with high-traffic events—especially since I’ve attended several of your company’s speaking events myself. With my 5+ years of experience coordinating successful events in the corporate space, I am confident I’m a great fit for the role.”

 

2. Highlight a mutual connection

If you were referred to this job by a former colleague, the beginning of your cover letter can be a place to mention that connection. It grabs the hiring manager’s attention because they’ll want to see why someone they know and respect recommended you for the role. Here are some tips on doing it tactfully:

  • Avoid using extreme words like “greatest” or “best”
  • Show excitement and gratitude
  • Keep it brief and let the recommendation speak for itself

Example: “I was excited to learn of this job opportunity from my former colleague, Alex Johnson. He and I have worked closely together for many years, most recently on a complex data analysis project at XYZ Company. He thought that I would be a good match for this position on your team.”

Read more: How to Include a Referral in Your Cover Letter
 

3. Lead with an impressive accomplishment

Write a stand-out opening paragraph that leads with an impressive achievement and features quantifiable results. Here, it’s important to connect the dots between how you added real business value during your previous experience with how you can apply it to the new role.

Example: “Last month alone, I more than doubled Company X’s Instagram followers and ran two successful Facebook ad campaigns that generated $25K+ in revenue. I’d love to bring my expertise organically expanding social reach and delivering ROI to the social media manager position at Company ABC.”

 

4. Bring up something newsworthy

Kick off your cover letter with evidence that you’ve done your research – and a little bit of flattery. If the company you’re applying for was recently in the news, mention it in the opening line and tie it into why you admire the company. To avoid sounding insincere with your compliments, bring up a specific event, fact, notable statistic or award the company recently won!

Example: “When I saw that Company ABC was featured in Fortune Magazine last month for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing waste in the workplace—all while experiencing triple-digit revenue growth—I was inspired. With my track record of reducing costs by 30%+ and promoting greener workplaces, I’m excited about the possibility of taking on the account executive role to expand your company’s growth and work towards a more sustainable future.”

 

5. Express passion for what you do

Passion is one of the greatest driving factors behind success. And since hiring managers are looking for candidates who can be advocates for their company and come with a strong work ethic, starting off by expressing your passions and motivations is a real attention grabber.

Example: “I’ve been passionate about writing since I was the editor in chief of my middle school newspaper. Throughout my 10+ years of experience, I’ve channeled this passion into a personal blog with 20K+ monthly readers, featured articles on Forbes and Teen Vogue that have garnered over 40K views, and a writer’s workshop I founded for inner-city teens.”

 

6. Tell a creative story

Even though you probably won’t be submitting your cover letter to a creative writing contest, don’t be afraid to inject some humor, charisma and creativity – as long as it’s appropriate for the specific job and company. Hiring managers don’t want to read a novel, but they are looking for something that catches (and keeps!) their attention. Do some research on the company culture, examine the tone of the job posting and use your own judgement when going the creative route.

Example: “I looked up at the clock and gasped. It was exactly two hours before a critical meeting with one of our biggest clients – and my boss had just asked me to completely redo our entire sales pitch. Under this time crunch, I reworked our pitch from the ground up, collaborating with teams across several departments to deliver a completely new presentation on time. The best part? Our client loved the pitch, and we closed the sale within 30 minutes.”

 

7. Start with a belief statement

Impress the hiring manager by opening up with a short and impactful belief statement that mirrors the organization’s values and goals – without making it seem like you copy and pasted the mission statement from their website.

Example: “As a teacher, I believe every student deserves the opportunity to learn at their own individual pace, let curiosity direct their learning, and participate in hands-on activities that encourage growth, especially in STEM.”

Keep learning:

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A letter should start by addressing the intended recipient or audience and then introduce the topic of the letter in a way that makes the reader.

How to Start and End a Business Letter or Email

way to start a letter

Business English

Top 5 Business Letter Greetings Mostly Used in 2018

Does “Hey” sound too informal? Is “Dear” overly official? It can be a real challenge to start an email, especially when you’re writing a business letter to someone you don’t know well.

If you think that business letter greetings aren’t so significant and there is no need to focus on them, put these thoughts aside. In fact, the beginning of your email sets the tone of your further correspondence. Besides, a proper opening line can help you make a killer first impression on your recipient. It may also motivate them to keep reading.

Barbara Pachter, a business-etiquette expert, considers that a lot of people pay special attention to how they are addressed. In case your greeting offends someone’s feelings, it will undoubtedly affect a person’s opinion of you.

The best way to write an email is to keep your business letter greetings and closings as simple as possible. Of course, it will depend on who you are writing to, but generally, it’s someone you barely know. To help you find a perfect salutation, we’ve gathered the best examples of business letter greetings in 2018. Besides, we added some opening lines that are better to avoid.

The best business letter greetings

“Hi [Name], …”

When it comes to business correspondence, “Hi [Name]” is a clear winner and one of the most used salutations in 2018. Experts say it’s a simple, direct and effective way to address someone, whether you know them or not.

Although it sounds quite informal, “Hi” is one of the best official business letter greetings. By adding the person’s last name, you will keep the appropriate formal tone.

“Hi Mr. Houston, …”

It can also be successfully used in a cold communication when you don’t know a recipient’s name. Feel free to ask a person whether they prefer to be called by their first name or last name.

“Hello [Name], …”

For those who want to add a more formal tone to an email, here is an alternative — “Hello [Name]”. Among formal email greetings, this one bridges a gap between “Hi” and “Dear” providing the right balance between professionalism and a touch of familiarity.

“Dear [Name], …”

Business letter greetings and salutations that start with “Dear” have been used for centuries to address a person. However, nowadays it sounds rather old-fashioned. It’s not wrong to use “Dear” in your email, but it can come off as a too formal greeting.

Use this salutation when you’re addressing someone or sending business documents such as a cover letter to show your respect, professionalism, and politeness. In this case, you can use “Dear” followed by a person’s title (Mr., Ms.) and their last name:

“Dear Mr. Houston, …”

If you don’t know the gender of your recipient, use a full name without a title:

“Dear Alex Houston, …”

Avoid titles that specify marital status — instead of “Mrs.”, use “Ms.”

“Greetings, …”

This is an excellent alternative to “Hi [Name], …” in case you send a business letter to a general email box or don’t know who your recipient is. On the other hand, we recommend doing your best to find out that information.

“Hi, everyone …”

If you’re writing to a group, use this kind of salutation. By the way, it’s one of the most popular official business letter greetings used to address more than one person.

Keep away from salutations like “All”, which sounds rude, or too gender-specific “Ladies” and “Gentlemen”.

Improve your business writing skills — read our latest article “How to Start a Letter and Write a Great Hook”.

The worst business letter greetings examples

“Hey!”

Starting the email with “Hey!” or “Hey [Name], …” is a great way to begin a conversation with friends. But when it comes to the workplace, using these casual salutations as the business letter greetings in English is rude and even disrespectful. It’s not professional, especially if you’re writing to a stranger.

“To whom it may concern, …”

It’s the worst sample of business letter greetings you could ever imagine. Upon receiving an email with this kind of salutation, your recipient may think: “This letter doesn’t concern me.” Besides, most people can take it for a cold email and close immediately.  

Even if you have no idea what your recipient’s name is, conduct research to figure it out. For example, you’re applying for the job but don’t know who it’s better to address. In this case, you should find out a name of the company’s hiring manager. Can’t find anything online? Just call the company’s representative and ask.

“[Misspelled Name], …”

The golden rule of business communication is never to misspell your recipient’s name. Many people are instantly getting annoyed if their name is miswritten.

To be on the safe side, always double-check the spelling of the person’s name. You can find their name in the signature block or check the ‘To’ line. People often use their first or last names in the address.

“Hi [Nickname], …”

If you’ve conducted your research and found out that the person’s name is Benjamin, for example, don’t be too familiar to shorten his name to Ben. Addressing a person with his nickname can become one of good business letter greetings only if you’ve already met a recipient or you’ve got a reply with a nickname written after Best regards, Ben.

“Dear Sir/Madam, …”

Why should your recipients be interested in your email if you have no idea who they are? In fact, such formal salutations as “Dear Sir/Madam” show that you’re not interested in recipients and thus, what they need or look for.

Final words

The language of business is constantly changing trying to stay in tune with the modern trends. While a little old-fashioned “Dear” is fading into insignificance, “Hi” and “Hello” are at the top of the list of formal business letter greetings. Keep your business communication on a professional level by choosing the win-win salutations.

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WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Writing Letters: formal & informal English

Today we are going to write our first letter/mail in Swedish to make the course more practical again. We are going to learn how to start the letter, which sentences.

way to start a letter
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