To be prompt is to be polite. Judging by the time many people take to reply to a letter or invitation, they must forget that all correspondence should be answered the day it is received.
First impressions are said to be the most lasting, and to stand foremost in the mind. This should always be remembered in letter-writing. You have probably opened a letter, not knowing from whom it came, and somehow the appearance, the general outlay, was such that you at once came to the conclusion that the writer had been well educated in the art of letter-writing, or perhaps the reverse. At any rate, without reading it you had summed up in your own mind the style of letter you would expect, and the type of person who had written it.
It is essential that a letter should be well worded and correctly phrased. Punctuation in a letter is as important as in an essay. Each subject should be given a new paragraph, and items associated with each other should come together. Always answer all questions asked. There is nothing more annoying than to write to a person and find that when the reply comes, all the questions have not been answered. Never begin a letter with the personal pronoun I and remember that all slang is vulgar.
The choice of note-paper is varied, and it is no longer necessary always to use white, though this is the usual practice for business letters. Avoid very bright colours, and remember that simplicity is the key note to good taste. Envelopes should match the paper and be the correct size so as to avoid ugly folds. Printed note-paper always looks better than plain, and should always be used for business. The name of the person to whom you are writing should be put on the top left-hand side of the continuation sheets, and the date repeated on the other side and on the same line. The number of the pago should be in the centre. Always leave equal margins at either side, and keep the lines straight.
If plain note-paper is used, the address should be written on the top right-hand side of the first sheet, with the date immediately below. Each line should be started a little nearer to the right, and so arranged that if a ruler were put from the first letter of the first line to the first letter of the last line, the letters beginning the intermediate lines would just touch the ruler. Underneath this the letter is begun.
And then addressing them as Dear Sir. Messrs. Is plural. Business letters should always end with: I remain, Yours faithfully, on separate lines, or just Yours faithfully ; Yours sincerely is used for personal letters, and Yours affectionately for intimate friends.
Signatures should always be legible and never accompanied by a title. In the case of a lady, she may add Mrs. or Miss in brackets after her signature if the recipient does not know her and would therefore be ignorant as to whether to address her a3 Miss or Mrs.
The address on an envelope should be carefully displayed so that it may look well balanced. It should be arranged in the same way as in the letter, and be started half-way down so as to allow room for the stamp and post-mark. Mr. is only used when the name of a trade is mentioned bolow: i.e.. Mr. John Nameless,
Greengrocer, Hastings, Sussex. Esq. Is used for all other purposes. Never use abbreviations in a letter or on the envelope. The name of the county should be -written in full. It is a guide to the postal authorities.
When writing to friends, try to express yourself as you would if you were actually speaking. This makes a letter far more interesting and less formal. News – letters are always welcome, but be sure that you write about things of real interest to the reader.
Invitations, if received in the third person, should be replied to in the third person, and if written in the first person, answered in the first person. Never delay in replying, as it is not only extremely rude, but may seriously inconvenience your hostess.