CO ~ DO
^ DO 1< CO
OSMANIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
Call No . 4*/'7f//f7r& Accession No.
This book should be returned on or before the date last marked below.
McGRAW-HILL PUBLICATIONS IN BUSINESS EDUCATION
F. G. NICHOLS, Consulting Editor
English for Secretaries
F. G. NICHOLS, Consulting Editor
Banks STORE ACTIVITY MANUAL
Bredow HANDBOOK FOR THE MEDICAL SECRETARY
Brewster and Palmer INTRODUCTION TO ADVERTISING
Faunce and Nichols SECRETARIAL EFFICIENCY
Faunce and Nichols EXPERIENCE MANUAL WITH
HazeUon THE TECHNICAL SECRETARY SERIES:
THE MEDICAL AND SURGICAL SECRETARY
THE MILITARY STENOGRAPHER
THE NAVAL STENOGRAPHER
THE AVIATION SECRETARY
SECRETARY TO THE ENGINEER
Hogadone and Beckley MERCHANDISING TECHNIQUES
MacGibbon FITTING YOURSELF FOR BUSINESS
Monro ENGLISH FOR SECRETARIES
Newton How TO IMPROVE YOUR PERSONALITY
Riemer BASIC SHORTHAND DICTATION
Robinson BUSINESS ORGANIZATION AND PRACTICE
Skar and Palmer BUSINESS LAW
Strand SALESMANSHIP FOR VOCATIONAL AND PER-
Theiss and Hwiter PRACTICAL ACCOUNTING
Whiteaker BUSINESS MATHEMATICS
The Fundamentals of Correct Writing
Applied to Correspondence
KATE M. MONRO
Coauthor of "The Secretary's Handbook" "The Handbook of Social
Correspondence" "Corrective Exercises in English" "English
for American Youth" "The Book of Modern Letters"
McGRAW-HILL BOOK COMPANY, ING.
NEW YORK AND LONDON
ENGLISH FOR SECRETARIES
COPYRIGHT, 1944, BY THE
McGRAW-HiLL BOOK COMPANY, INC.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OP AMERICA
All rights reserved. This book, or
parts thereof , may not be reproduced
in any form without permission of
THE MAPLE PRESS COMPANY, YORK, PA.
English for Secretaries is presented as a textbook on letter
writing and on English usage as ^required in cor-
respondence. It is intended especially forf&i/d^jte in busi-
ness schools and colleges who are preparing to % *l?efcome
secretaries and planning to fill positions of responsibility
that require a broad education as well as a definite knowl-
edge of the special skills necessary for success in their chosen
A secretary must, of course, be able to write effective
letters, correct in form and details and attractive in ap-
pearance. This book, therefore, provides explanations of
many types of letters, business, semibusiness, official, and
social all of which a secretary may be called upon to write
for her employer. It also includes numerous models and
exercises which obviate the need for a workbook.
Since a basic requirement of good letter writing is a knowl-
edge of such fundamentals as capitalization, punctuation,
and grammar, rules for the use of these tools, with exercises
and illustrations, are supplied so that students needing such
aid may turn to these chapters for frequent drill and
A secretary must also be proficient in spelling, pronuncia-
tion, and the accurate use of words. For this purpose a
chapter is devoted to dictionary study for which copious
exercises are provided.
As the subject is limited to the secretarial field, instead of
being extended in an attempt to cover the broader range of
business English, the author hopes that this book may prove
especially valuable to students in secretarial courses and
that it may furnish authority for disputed questions that
often arise in business correspondence.
The author wishes to acknowledge the courtesy of the fol-
lowing companies in permitting the use of material: Sidney
Edlund and Company for an article by Sidney and Mary
Edlund; Harper & Brothers for a letter from Letters of
James Russell Lowell; D. C. Heath and Company for a
letter from Correlated Dictation and Transcription, by H. L.
Forkner, A. O. Osborne, and J. E. O'Brien; Houghton
Mifflin Company for a letter from Life and Letters of Walter
Hines Page; Printers' Ink for material from an article entitled
"Sales Letter Style"; Transcription Supervisors' Association
of New York for their "Personality Chart"; and, for letters,
Bonwit Teller, Inc.; The Business Education World;
Hotel Dennis, Atlantic City, N. J.; The Waldorf-Astoria,
The author also wishes to record her appreciation of
valuable suggestions received from the following individuals:
Edgar C. Earle, of the Katharine Gibbs School; Dr. Helen
Reynolds, of New York University; Frances Sheridan,
of Haaren High School, New York; Robert Lawrence
Stevenson, of The United States Trust Company; and
especially Sarah Augusta Taintor, author and teacher,
whose encouragement made this book possible.
KATE M. MONRO.
Editor's Introduction be
CHAPTER Part One
I. The Secretary 1
II. The Form of the Business Letter 13
III. Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order, Acknowledg-
IV. Letters of Claim and Adjustment 66
V. Letters Relating to Sales 75
VI. Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 84
VII. Letters of Application, Reference, Recommendation,
VIII. Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters, Per-
sonal Letters and Notes 119
IX. Outlines, Pr6cis, the Writing of Minutes, the Prep-
aration of Manuscripts for Publication, Proofreading 1 36
X. Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 147
XL Punctuation 169
XII. A Review of English Grammar. . .- 211
XIII. Use of the Dictionary. . . . : 258
XIV. Sources of Information . 284
TT HAS been said that " words are the stenographer's
-* stock in trade." In this comment sentence structure
might have been added. At the secretarial level one could
include also basic principles of good letter writing. It is doubtful
whether any other calling demands a more thoroughgoing
grounding in the structural elements of good English.
Therefore, it is not necessarily a criticism of general English
courses to say that they do not provide this groundwork
for those who will enter the secretarial field. To do so
doubtless would deprive such courses of emphases quite as
important for other students.
The general business English course may be made to
provide the specialized training needed by secretaries; but
this course when taken by all business students should not be
too highly specialized, since the occupational needs of
accountants, sales-people, personnel directors, executives,
and others doubtless are quite different from those of
the secretary. To concentrate on the English needed by the
latter would be to neglect aspects of English needed by the
former. To provide for each specialization in a general
course would unduly extend the course and force each
group to specialize beyond the requirements of its occupa-
Thus it seems clear that the kind and degree of specializa-
x Editor's Introduction
tion required for secretarial work should, in most cases, be
provided as an integral part of secretarial training, and not
in general English or business English courses. It is from this
point of view that this text has been written.
Basic principles of English are presented in attractive
form. Adequate practice is required. Such practice is
provided within the framework of good letter writing, thus
assuring carry-over into the work of the secretary on her job.
The author recognizes the obvious fact that in writing
business letters a secretary needs technical knowledge be-
yond the normal needs of others. She also is aware of the
less obvious need for this training in the transcription of letters
dictated by others. Rarely does a dictated letter reach the
secretary in exactly the form in which it should go out. In
the stress of dictation little slips are made by many dictators,
and occasionally even big ones by the best of dictators. It is
the secretary's job to polish each letter off so that as it goes
out it is not only factually accurate and technically cor-
rect, but also structurally attractive. Often excellence in this
aspect of secretarial work is the most effective means of
attracting the notice of executives on whom promotions
Enrichment of vocabulary is quite as important as is the
mastery of shorthand or of secretarial techniques. Therefore,
word study is stressed throughout this text.
While basic English and vocabulary work are given the
prominence they deserve, the fundamentals of good letters
in the usual fields of business correspondence are presented
effectively for study and practice, along with other written
matter with which the secretary has to deal, including the
writing of abstracts, outlines, manuscripts, minutes, and
Editor's Introduction xi
* U<x v .^< k *
The success of g^ novice in this field may depend largely on
the mastery of material such as this text includes. Such
mastery requires intensive study and practice; hence, the
obvious importance of a specialized text that makes both
FREDERICK G. NICHOLS.
The Appeal of Secretarial Work. Secretarial work ap-
peals strongly to students, particularly to girls. Its popularity,
no doubt, springs from a desire to select a vocation that is
varied and challenging, whose outlook appears less drab
and monotonous than that of many other lines of work, and
whose future presents unusual opportunities for both social
and business contacts and for rapid advancement.
The chief explanation for the appeal of this work probably
may be found in the diversity of the occupations with
which a secretary may ally herself. She may become social
secretary to an individual, executive secretary, medical
secretary, secretary in a law office, in a business office, or in
a civic or charitable organization. Not only may these
positions be of interest in themselves, but for the alert,
progressive person they may lead to wider opportunities
in the firm with which the secretary is connected, in larger
corporations, or in a business of her own. With so many
subdivisions of industry, finance, social service, and educa-
tion to choose from, the prospective secretary should be
able to select at least one that would prove attractive
2 English tor Secretaries
Definition of Secretary. The word secretary, derived
from the Latin secretariat, means confidential officer. In fact,
the foremost requisite of the secretary is that she should
enjoy the confidence of her employer and that he should
trust her to be his representative. Although the distinction
between secretary and stenographer is not always clearly drawiV
it is generally assumed that the secretary is distinguished by
the importance of the duties^ shejperforms. She holds such a
title because her knowledge, skill, and personality set her
above the clerical grade.
The Duties of a Secretary. The duties of a secretary
are, of course, affected by the organization of which she is a
part. They are also affected by the personality and by the
responsibilities of her employer. Since, then, both the type
of her work and the characteristics of her chief proscribe
her duties, it would seem impossible to list these with any
hope of accuracy. Many attempts to do so have failed
because they were studies of activities of office workers in
general rather than of secretaries. However, an analysis of
the duties of the private secretary made by Professor Frede-
rick G. Nichols 1 of Harvard University, under the sponsor-
ship of the American Institute of Secretaries, avoids these
pitfalls and presents a scientific investigation. This analysis
was constructed by selecting from a variety of sources, such
as printed articles, literature on the subject, and reports of
investigations, a list of thirty-five duties. This list was sent to
secretaries and employers who were asked to "indicate the
rank order of these duties by assigning to each a number
according to its importance." The following list shows the
result of this analysis.
1 NICHOLS, F. G. The Personal Secretary. Cambridge, Harvard University
The Secretary 3
MAJOR SECRETARIAL DUTIES COMBINED JUDGMENT OF
SECRETARIES AND EMPLOYERS
1 . Take dictation 1 1 . Organize files and systems
2. Transcribe shorthand notes 12. Take care of personal accounts
3. Handle callers 13. Consult reference books
4. Write original letters 14. Make appointments
5. Organize facts 15. Do banking for employer
6. Answer letters 16. Write up minutes of meeting
7. Organize office routine 17. Supervise clerical workers
8. Note information on letters 18. Dictate letters
9. Handle incoming mail 19. Take care of follow-up files
10. Read and release letters for 20. Operate card index
mailing 21. Prepare reports
Education of the Secretary. Since a secretary's educa-
tion must fit her for such duties as those already listed, she
must be proficient in certain specific subjects, such as
typing, stenography, filing, and the use of business machines
and equipment, as they are part of her trade. But, in addi-
tion to these, she must be grounded in the fundamentals of
English grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spell-
ing. Because of the fact that for such fundamentals there is
definite, established usage, ignorance of them or carelessness
in the application of them brings discredit upon both the
secretary and her employer. Since one of the most important
duties of a secretary is letter writing, which requires cor-
rectness in these essentials, no person without a knowledge
of them can rise above the level of a clerical worker.
A secretary not only must know such requirements of
technical English, but she must know how to write clear,
concise, fluent sentences. This is usually an acquired skill,
developed from acquaintance with good usage and from
practice in writing. That one can learn to write only by
writing is a truism that every secretary finally comes to
4 English for Secretaries
appreciate. Because this is so, the prospective secretary
must, like any other apprentice, practice her trade until
she has mastered it and has learned to express herself
The acquisition of an extensive vocabulary is another
essential of the secretary's education. By a colorful adjective,
by a precise use of words, by an arresting phrase, she may
lift her letters above the ordinary level and make them
convey the exact shade of meaning intended. It goes with-
out saying that reading furnishes one of the best means of
increasing one's vocabulary. Although books, magazines,
and newspapers are read primarily for enjoyment, recrea-
tion, and ideas, their by-product will be an improved
Closely linked with the ability to use English effectively
is a knowledge of a foreign language, an asset to a secretary
not only in itself, but also as an aid to her understanding of
English words. To cite but one example, the secretary who
has studied Latin will be able through her knowledge of
prefixes to distinguish between such words as biennial and
semiannual, emigration and immigration, interstate and intrastate.
Since a secretary may often have to act as librarian in an
office library and since she often may be required to collect
material for speeches for her employer and to make abstracts
and reports, she should know the facilities afforded by the
public library and be able to make effective use of the refer-
ence books found there.
Because receiving callers and representing her chief in
many capacities are likewise duties that the secretary is
likely to be called upon to perform, she should consider an
acquaintance with accepted social forms not simply a social
asset, but also a practical part of her education. How to
make introductions, how to write and answer both formal
The Secretary 5
and informal notes, how to acquit herself creditably at
social functions or to supervise them, how to speak in a clear
and pleasing voice should be part of her training.
Probably no student can achieve perfection in all the
requirements suggested in the preceding pages, but such
educational standards may well be her aim, the attainment
of which would produce the ideal secretary.
Steppingstones to Secretarial Positions. That the
graduate of a secretarial course seldom steps immediately
into a full secretarial position without having acquired some
experience to supplement her education is reasonable and
understandable. The following table 1 lists occupations that
have been found most important in providing this experience.
Number of Secretaries
Who Have Held
Occupations Such Positions
Assistant to private secretary 20
Statistical clerk 22
Dictating machine operator 15
Personnel clerk 14
File clerk 13
Tentative Conclusions 1
1. The office position most frequently used as a steppingstone to a
secretarial position is stenographer.
2. Stenographic experience, while not necessarily essential to the
achievement of secretarial status, is most likely to lead in that direction.
3. Some private secretarial positions are filled by inexperienced
graduates of secretarial schools.
1 Adapted from Nichols, Frederick G. The Personal Secretary. Cambridge,
Harvard University Press.
English for Secretaries
RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF PERSONAL TRAITS AS RANKED
BY SECRETARIES AND EMPLOYERS
Relatively Important Traits &)d$4 <
Intelligence S & E 1 Courtesy S & E
Accuracy S & E Alertness E 3
Personality S & E Faithfulness E
Judgment S & E Resourcefulness E
Efficiency S & E Adaptability E
Loyalty S & E Memory E
Adaptability S* Executive ability E
Relatively Unimportant Traits
Executive ability S
Independence S & E
Responsibleness S & E
Concentration S & E
Cooperativeness S & E
Systematic S & E
Even temper E
Organizing ability S
1 So rated by both secretaries and employer*.
* So rated by secretaries only.
So rated by employers only.
S & E
S & E
S & E
Organizing ability E
The Secretary 7
Personal Traits. Although her duties are affected by
the nature of her employment business, social, civic, or
professional and also by the character and responsibilities
of her chief, there are certain personal traits that are desir-
able for all secretaries. Again in The Personal Secretary
Professor Nichols gives the result of his systematic analysis of
this subject based upon a questionnaire submitted to
employers and to secretaries. The summary of his investiga-
tion is tabulated on the opposite page and analyzed below.
As ranked by both secretaries and employers, the following personal
traits are essential to successful functioning in a private secretarial
Intelligence Keen; high native intelligence; orderly mind.
Accuracy Not in details alone, but in everything she does.
Alertness To sense true import of situations; to anticipate needs;
Memory For details, names, faces, places, etc.; exceptionally
Personality Appearance, health, manner, etc.
Courtesy Innate; habitually courteous; especially in dealing with
people outside the organization; the kind that creates good will.
Tact In dealing with people under trying circumstances subordi-
nates, coordinates, superiors, and employer's clientele.
Poise Self-control under stress. Not easily disturbed or thrown off
"""" balance by the unexpected.
Adaptability Ability to adjust to her employer's attitudes and whims
without becoming subservient.
8 English for Secretaries
Judgment In handling people and situations. Deciding how and when
to do things. Able to distinguish personal and business affairs of her
Efficiency Not only in handling details, but in handling more difficult
tasks without waste of time or energy.
Alertness To sense true import of situations; to anticipate needs;
Resourcefulness Ability to meet emergencies; never at a loss to know
what to do or say in difficult situations.
Adaptability Ability to adjust to her employer's attitudes and whims
without becoming subservient.
Loyalty Able to give high degree of loyalty to her chief and his business.
Faithfulness Especially in carrying out instructions and in looking
after her employer's interests.
Executive Ability Not only in directing detail work but in acting directly
for, or in place of, her chief.
Initiative Does not have to be told what to do; goes ahead with her
A. Examine the following personality chart to discover the qualities
that the Transcription Supervisors' Association of New York City deems
important for a business girl.
I. APPEARANCE EXPLANATION
A. Wearing apparel
1 . Coat or suit 1 . Of conservative cut and color.
2. Dress 2. Of conservative cut and color. Modish
but not extreme as to length of skirt
and sleeve and as to depth of neckline.
Even as to hemline.
3. Accessories 3. Immaculate. Free from rip and tear.
Feminine. ^ P^^- *- -^^ J ^
4. Hat 4. Modish and becoming but not rakish
5. Shoes 5. Clean. Straight of heel. Conservative.
(Fragmentary heels and toes in poor
B. Personal grooming
A. Toward the job
6. Appropriate to the costume. Unob-
7. Girdle, brassiere, etc., when necessary.
1. Clean, vital, neat, suitably coiffcd for
daytime wear. Of natural color.
2. Clean and clear.
3. Following the natural lines.
4. Free from stain.
5. Well tended. Free from nicotine or
other stain. Restrained tinting per-
missible if desired.
6. Restrained. Suited to daytime wear
and to one's natural coloring.
1. Body erect. Shoulders back.
2. Toes in. Step light and springy.
3. Quiet. Avoidance of swinging in wide
arc on walking.
Pleasant. Well modulated.
Clearly enunciated. Restricted to ac-
cepted usage. Absence of slang or collo-
1. Acquired by balanced diet, rest, and
2. Giving capacity for sustained effort.
3. Self-possession and control under ordi-
nary circumstances and under pressure.
1. Indicating an intelligent curiosity.
2. At all times.
3. Ability to view the job as dissociated
from personalities in it. Ability to
accept criticism and praise construc-
10 English for Secretaries
B. Toward fellow workers
1. Courtesy 1. Under any and all provocation.
2. Considerateness 2. Of the opinions, preferences, idio-
syncrasies, and limitations of others,
with disregard for idle gossip.
3. Cooperativeness 3. With subordinates and superiors.
V. CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES
1. Trustworthiness 1. In one's entire professional relation-
ship with fellow workers. In one's wil-
lingness to "follow through" a piece of
work to its satisfactory conclusion.
2. In the handling of confidential infor-
3. Punctiliousness 3. In the carrying out, without super-
vision, of company rules and regula-
B. Discuss the following topics. Then, by reading some of the books
listed at the end of this chapter or other books, compile sufficient infor-
mation on one of these topics to write a theme of about three hundred
words on that subject. Introduce examples to illustrate your point of
1. Three qualities indispensable for a successful secretary
2. The secretary's appearance
3. The manners of an ideal secretary
4. Three ways in which a secretary may increase her fund of general
5. Educational requirements for an office secretary, a social secretary,
a medical secretary, or a secretary in some other specialized branch
6. The secretary's voice and speech
7. The attitude of the secretary toward her work
8. The attitude of the secretary toward the people with whom she
9. Recognizing one's own limitations
10. Adapting oneself to the peculiarities of one's employer
11. Why a secretary should understand the business in which she is
The Secretary 1 1
12. The advantages and disadvantages of secretarial work in regard
to opportunities for advancement, working hours and conditions, salary,
13. How a secretary can develop her personality
14. How a secretary may keep herself physically fit, although her work
may be largely sedentary
15. Why more clerical workers are discharged because of character
and personality difficulties than because of lack of ability
16. Why the failure to secure and hold a job rests upon personality
17. Why it i$ that "every business student needs to study not only what
to do and how to do it, but also how to tell it"
18. Why skill unaccompanied by a high degree of intelligence and a
good background of general information usually ends in a blind-alley
19. Routine duties, such as handling the mail, filing correspondence,
answering the telephone, supervising an office, meeting callers
ALSOP, G. F., and McBaiDE, M. F. She's Of to Work; a Guide to Successful
Earning and Living. New York, The Vanguard Press, 1941.
FAUNCE, F. A., and NICHOLS, F. G. Secretarial Efficiency. New York,
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1939.
HOVING, WALTER. Tour Career in Business. New York, Duell, Sloan &
Pearce, Inc., 1940.
McGiBBON, E. C. Fitting Towself for Business; 'What the Employer
Wants beyond Skills. New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company,
Loso, F. W., HAMILTON, C. W., and AGNEW, P. L. Secretarial Office Prac-
tice. Cincinnati, South- Western Publishing Company, 1937.
MAULE, FRANCES. The Girl with a Pay Check; How She Lands It Holds It,
Makes It Grow. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1941.
MAULE, FRANCES. The Road to Anywhere; Opportunities in Secretarial Work.
New York, Harper & Brothers, 1941.
NICHOLS, F. G. The Personal Secretary; Differentiating Duties and Personal
Traits. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1934.
PERRY, SHERMAN. Let's Write Good Letters. Middletown, Ohio, The
American Rolling Mill Co., 1942.
12 English for Secretaries
ROBINSON, E. M. Training for the Modern Office. New York, McGraw-Hill
Book Company, Inc., 1939.
SLADE, M. L., HURLEY, M. H., and CLIPPINGER, K. L. Secretarial Train-
ing. Boston, Ginn and Company, 1934.
TAINTOR, S. A. Training for Secretarial Practice, 3d ed. New York, McGraw-
Hill Book Company, Inc., 1932.
TORSON, GLADYS. "Ask my Secretary . . . " the Art of Being a Successful
Business Girl. New York, Greenberg, Publisher, Inc., 1941.
The Form of the Business Letter
A MOST business houses have their own stationery
with letterheads varying in form and paper varying in
size, they may prefer different arrangements for their letter
pictures. It is, therefore, advisable for each company to
standardize its letter forms and to have them clearly under-
stood by typists and secretaries. Such uniformity promotes
speed and efficiency and makes for better appearance.
No absolute rules for forms for all letters can be laid down,
but certain general principles should be mastered. Then
variations may be made without violating accepted styles.
THE PARTS OF A BUSINESS LETTER
c . Reference line (supplied if needed)
2. Inside address
a. Name of correspondent (with title or position)
b. Address of correspondent
c. Attention line (supplied if needed)
4. Subject line (supplied if needed)
5. Body of letter
6. Complimentary closing
a. Name of firm (unless individual responsibility is intended)
b. Name of individual (written)
c. Name of individual (typed)
d. Title of individual
14 English for Secretaries
8. Miscellaneous details at close of letter
a. Identification and stenographic reference
b. Enclosure notations
c. Copy notations
d. Mail notations
Letterheads. Letterheads are representatives of their
organizations. They carry to correspondents necessary in-
formation: the name, the address, the telephone number,
and the character of the company. They may also include
the cable address, names and titles of offices, the location
of branches, pictures of commodities, and other data con-
The information given in the letterhead with its style of
engraving or printing, together with the color, shape, size,
and quality of the stationery, affects the correspondent
favorably or unfavorably before he begins to read the letter
message. Business houses, therefore, regard these details as a
kind of advertisement well worth the expenditure of much
thought and money.
Written Headings. When the stationery used bears no
letterhead, the heading should be written in the following
order: (1) the street, (2) the city and the state, (3) the date.
These items should be placed at the upper right-hand side of
the sheet at least an inch and a half from the top of the
paper, with a right-hand margin of about one and one-
quarter inches for a full-page letter and wider margin for
a short letter. Block or indented form may be used. With
the block style, open punctuation, i.e., no punctuation at the
ends of lines, is more common; with the indented, either
open or closed punctuation may be used, with the open
growing in popularity.
The Form of the Business Letter 15
Bring to class examples of letterheads and examine these, keeping in
mind the following questions and suggestions:
1. Are they attractive? Why?
2. Do they contain too much information to be attractive?
3. Are they suitable for the type of company or for the commodity
4. Do they suggest dignity, exclusiveness, reliability, distinction, or
some other quality? If so, how?
5. What class of patrons are they designed to attract? Give reasons
for your answer.
6. Compare the placement of date lines.
7. Compare letterheads for their attractiveness, their impression on
the correspondent, and their appropriateness for the company they
8. What abbreviations do you find in letterheads?
9. Where is the date line usually found?
10. What variations do you find in the placement of the date line?
1 1 . What two purposes does a letter heading serve?
12. What have you observed regarding the punctuation used in
printed or engraved letterheads?
The Date Line. The date line, which is part of the
heading, is usually placed in letters of ordinary length five
lines or more below the letterhead so that the last figure of
the date is one and one-quarter inches from the right-hand
margin. In a shorter letter with wider margins, the date line
is written nearer the center. Some firms prefer the date line
centered two or three spaces below the letterhead. Any of
these placements is acceptable, with the first method having
the preference. The month should be spelled out in full,
January 1, 1943, not Jan. 1, '43 or 1/1/43. Occasionally, to
give the letter picture an unusual appearance for better
balance, the date line is placed on the left of the page above
and in line with the inside address. This form, however, is so
16 English for Secretaries
uncommon that a secretary should not use it unless given
special directions to do so.
Examples of Acceptable Written Headings
Block form with open punctuation:
40 East Tenth Street
New York, N. Y.
January 5, 19
Indented form with open punctuation:
20 Maple Street
July 4, 19-
Indented form with closed punctuation (used more in
social than in business correspondence) :
Grove City College,
Grove City, Pa.,
July 5, 19-.
Other data are sometimes substituted for the name of the
Nantucket Cottage Hospital
Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
R. F. D. 3
Sebago Lake, Maine
Post-Office Box 45
Headings sometimes contain even more definite informa-
tion, such as a room number or the name of a special build-
ing or department. In such cases three lines are used:
The Form of the Business Letter 17
Room 121, The Franklin Building
27 Cedar Street
New Haven, Conn.
The Reference Line. For convenience some organiza-
tions use a line containing a file reference or a request that
the recipient refer in his answer to a particular department
or person. In answering, the recipient should comply with
this request and include the reference. This line may be
written in any of the following positions:
1317 Sixth Street, S.E.
January 3, 19
File No. K-5968
Third Central Bank
Third and Central Streets
In your reply please refer to M. P. Fen ton
Third Central Bank
Third and Central Streets
In replying, please refer to Adjustment Dept.
Third Central Bank
Third and Central Streets
Gentlemen: Your reference: R. T. Cox (3-12)
18 English for Secretaries
THE INSIDE ADDRESS
The inside address consists of the name and the address of
the individual or the company to whom the letter is to be
sent. In business letters it is placed from three to six spaces
below the date line, depending on the length of the letter,
and about one and one-quarter inches from the left-hand
edge margin. In shorter letters the margin is, of course,
wider. Both sides of the letter should have approximately
the same margin. The inside address, which should be three
lines or more, is usually written in single spacing regardless
of the style used in the body of the letter, but it is correct
to use double spacing if the body of the letter is also in
Punctuation. The punctuation of the inside address
should be consistent with the heading if this is a typed or a
written heading, not a printed or an engraved letterhead.
If open punctuation is used in such a heading, it must be
used in the inside address. If closed punctuation is used in
the heading, the name of the addressee and the street in the
inside address must be followed by commas, the state by a
period. The latter form is much less frequently used than
Abbreviations in the Heading and in the Inside
Address. In general, abbreviations should be avoided in
headings. There are, however, a few cases in which the
abbreviated form is allowable or preferred.
1 . The name of any state may or may not be abbreviated,
except Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, and Utah, which should
always be spelled out. (See pages 281 and 282 for correct
abbreviations of states.)
The Form of the Business Letter 19
2. When a business organization uses in its letterhead the
ampersand (&) or the abbreviations C0., Inc., Apts., Bldg., or
other abbreviated forms, the correspondent should use the
same forms in the inside address.
3. For the sake of attractive spacing, an unusually long
line may contain abbreviations, as Ave., Blvd., St., S.W.,
Names of Numbered Streets. Street names when desig-
nated by simple numbers should be spelled out in the head-
ing and in the inside address, as Fifth Avenue, not 5th Avenue.
Street names, however, when designated by compound
numbers are usually written in figures, as East 117 Street or
East \\lth Street. Some business houses prefer street numbers
up to and including one hundred written out, as Seventy-
second Street or Seventy Second Street. These forms, however,
occur more frequently in formal or social correspondence
than in business letters.
The Attention Line. When a writer wishes to bring
his letter to the attention of a particular member of an
organization, he may do so by using the attention line.
Attention of or Attention may be written followed by the name
and by the position of the recipient if it is known to the
writer; but, if the line so written would be too long for
attractive appearance, Attention may be omitted and the
official position of the recipient may be placed below his
The attention line does not affect the salutation, which
should be plural to correspond with the name of the firm as
given in the inside address.
The attention line may be placed in any of the positions
illustrated in the following examples:
20 English for Secretaries
Written two lines above the salutation flush with the left-
John Wanamaker (a company name)
Broadway at Ninth Street
New York City
Attention of Mr. Herbert Johnson
Centered two lines above the salutation:
Mitchell & Company
833 South LaSalle Street
Attention: Mr. Archibald R. Brookfield
Sales Promotion Manager
Written on a line with the salutation:
The Elite Hat Shoppe
425 Boylston Street
Ladies: Attention: Miss Edith Boynton, Manager
Centered two lines below the salutation:
The H. W. Wilson Company
950 University Avenue
New York, N. Y.
Miss Dorothy E. Cook
Managing Editor, Standard Catalog Serici
The Form of the Business Letter 21
Allowable but infrequently written two lines below the
salutation flush with the left-hand margin
Attention of the Registrar
Names and Titles of Individuals. The secretary must
note the signature of a correspondent to be sure of the
spelling of his name and whether he has used initials or
Christian names. Titles with initials or the Christian names
must be used in the inside address.
Correct: Mr. Anthony P. Simpson
Incorrect: Anthony P. Simpson
Incorrect: Mr. Simpson
Miss, the title for an unmarried woman, requires no
period, as it is not an abbreviation. When the writer is
uncertain whether the addressee is married or not, Miss is
the correct title to use.
Mrs., the title of a married woman, is used with the
husband's name, as Mrs. Philip Kelly. Today many women
prefer to use their own names in business or professional life,
as Mrs. Anna Kelly. This form is not correct in social cor-
respondence, except in the case of a divorced woman. Today
a widow usually retains her husband's name and is ad-
dressed as Mrs. Arthur Brown, rather than Mrs. Catherine
22 English for Secretaries
A woman who has a title, such as doctor, dean, or professor,
may be addressed, in business correspondence, by her title,
instead of as Miss or Mrs. In social correspondence, how-
ever, women usually do not use their professional titles.
A divorced woman has the choice of assuming her maiden
name with or without Mrs., as, Miss Jean Harrison or Mrs.
Jean Harrison. She may use her husband's surname with
Miss or Mrs., as, Miss Jean Kelly or Mrs. Jean Kelly, but
she must not use her former title, as, Mrs. Andrew Kelly.
Socially she would usually be known as Mrs. Harrison Kelly.
In writing to a divorced woman, therefore, it is advisable
to find out, if possible, the title she prefers.
Mr. is the title used for a man if no other title is known.
If he is a doctor, the title Dr. is correct; if a clergyman or a
priest, Reverend is correct; if a professor, the word Professor
may be used in place of Mr.
Esquire, used very little in business letters in the United
States, is never written when Mr. precedes the name.
Correct: John Dalton, Esq.
Incorrect: Mr. John Dalton, Esq.
Business Titles. A business title, such as President,
Treasurer, Manager, is usually written on the line with the
name, but it may be placed with the name of the firm if the
appearance of the inside address or the envelope address is
thus improved. Business titles never precede the name.
Correct: Mr. Henry Horton, President
Horton Paint Company
Correct: Mr. Henry Horton
President, Horton Paint Company
The Form of the Business Letter 23
Incorrect: President Henry Horton
Horton Paint Company
Professional Titles. The professional title, unlike a
business title, may precede the name. The title Reverend
must not be used directly before the surname but must al-
ways be followed by a given name or by initials on an
envelope or in the inside address. In referring to a clergy-
man, however, it is allowable to write in the body of the
letter or to say The Reverend Mr. Morse or The Reverend Dr.
Dr, Ernestine Gray
Professor John Baker (or Dr. John Baker), Professor of Chemistry
Dean Philip Brown
The Reverend Thomas O'Brien
Two titles that have the same meaning should not be
used with a name.
Correct: Dr. Murray Johnson
Correct: Murray Johnson, M. D.
Incorrect: Dr. Murray Johnson, M. D.
Two titles, when they do not mean the same but when
one adds new information, may both be used.
Mr. William Mann
Principal of Exville High School
The Reverend Alexander Morse, D. D.
Dr. Anna Littleton
Dean, Exville College
For Letters to Business Organizations, In writing the
inside address in letters to business organizations, the name
must be written as it appears on the company's stationery.
If it occurs as Ralph M. Smith and Company, it must be so
24 English for Secretaries
written, not as Ralph M. Smith & Co. or R. M. Smith & Co.
or Smith & Co.
The Use of Messrs. The plural of Mr., Messrs., an abbre-
viation of messieurs, is correctly used before the names of
members of professional firms, as those composed of lawyers
Correct: Messrs. Howard and Jackson (Lawyers)
Correct: Messrs. Peters & Collins (Architects)
Do not use Messrs, in addressing a business organization.
Correct: Brown and Jones Company
Incorrect: Messrs. Brown and Jones Company
Correct: S. L. Morris & Co.
Incorrect: Messrs. S. L. Morris & Co.
Correct: Lord & Taylor
Incorrect: Messrs. Lord & Taylor
Suppose that the terms below occurred in the inside addresses of
letters. Write on your answer paper in regard to them
A. The number of each correct item
B. A correct form for each incorrect item
1. Chairman C. C. Hayes
2. C. C. Hayes, Chairman
3. Dr. Ralph Dawson, M. D.
4. Rev. Maxwell
5. The Reverend Edward Lawrence
6. Reverend Thomas Bailey, D. D.
7. Mr. Ivan Perkins, Esq.
8. Mr. Horace Miller, A. B.
9. Professor Esther Taylor, B. S.
10. Hon. Lloyd Overman, A. M.
11. Roy P. Barnes
12. Messrs. Reliable Safe Co.
13. Messrs. Alexander and Frost (Lawyers)
The Form of the Business Letter 25
14. Messrs. Park & Hanley, Inc.
15. Treasurer B. Cohen
Reliable Rug Co.
16. B. Bloomfield, President
Reliable Rug Co.
17. The Honorable Shields (a Mayor)
18. Dr. James Sinclair, Director
Community Health Association
19. Mrs. Roberta Price
Secretary to the Mayor
20. Mrs. William Scott
President of the Soroptomist Club
21. Mr. Alston Jones, Principal
Exville High School
22. Douglas Mclntosh
Principal, Exville High School
23. Dr. H. P. Barnhart
Superintendent of Schools
24. Superintendent L. M. Knox
25. Commander John Doe
U. S. Coast Guard
The following are acceptable forms for business letters.
Dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Miss) Brown: This is informal
My dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Miss) Brown: This is formal
Dear (or My dear) Mr. and Mrs. Brown: This order is
followed in addressing a husband and wife.
Dear Sir (or Madam): This salutation is used less often
than formerly, as it lacks the individuality and friendliness
suggested by the use of a name. The word Madam is cor-
26 English for Secretaries
rectly used for both married and unmarried women. The
word Miss should not be used unless followed by a surname.
My dear Sir (or Madam): This is an even more formal
salutation sometimes used by business firms when no previ-
ous contact has been made with the correspondent, but
more often used in government correspondence.
Sir (or Madam): This is the most formal salutation. It is
used chiefly in correspondence with government officials,
such as The President of the United States, Members of
the Supreme Court, Cabinet Members, Senators, and
Care should be taken to address first in the salutation the
individual who appears first in the inside address.
Dear (or My dear) Madam and Sir: This order is followed
in addressing a mother and son.
Gentlemen and Dear Madam: (Mr. Peter Jones)
(Mr. Robert Jones)
(Miss Mary Jones)
Dear Madam and Gentlemen: (Miss Mary Jones)
(Mr. Robert Jones)
(Mr. Peter Jones)
Mesdames and Dear Sir: (Miss Mary Jones)
(Miss Jane Jones)
(Mr. Peter Jones)
Gentlemen and Mesdames: (John Jones & Co.)
(Mrs. Peter Jones)
(Mrs. Robert Jones)
Gentlemen: This salutation is used in business letters ad-
dressed to an organization composed of men or where the
writer is uncertain whether the organization is composed of
men or women.
The Form of the Business Letter 27
Mesdames: or Ladies: Either of these salutations is used in
addressing two or more women or an organization composed
Ladies and Gentlemen: This salutation is frequently used in
addressing an organization composed of both women and
men when it is known that membership is composed of both.
For instance, in writing to an association of teachers made
up of both women and men, the salutation might be either
Ladies and Gentlemen or Gentlemen.
THE SUBJECT LINE
The subject line states briefly the topic about which the
letter is to be written. It may be centered above or below the
salutation or on a line with the salutation. The word Subject
may or may not be used.
Subject: Chicago Wheat Shipments
Re: Chicago Wheat Shipments
Chicago Wheat Shipments
THE BODY OF THE LETTER
The most important part of the letter is the body, as it
contains the message, the whole purpose of writing. The
message itself is often dictated, but the mechanical make-
up usually rests with the secretary. It is, therefore, impor-
tant for the typist to consider the following suggestions:
1. The first paragraph should be separated from the
salutation by double spacing.
2. All single-spaced letters should have double space
separating all parts of the letter.
3. The body of the letter may be block or indented with-
out respect to the form used in the inside address.
28 English for Secretaries
4. If single spacing is used in the inside address, either
double or single spacing may be used in the body of the
letter. This usually depends on the length of the letter.
5. If indented paragraphing is used, the first word of
each paragraph should be indented five or ten spaces from
the marginal line. Five-space indention is more usual.
6. Tabulated material or other inserts should be centered
and written in single spacing with double spacing above and
7. Paragraphs should be varied in length. Short para-
graphs, as they are more attractive in appearance and easier
to read, are usually preferable to long paragraphs; but as
paragraphing depends primarily on material and not On
appearance, material that belongs together should be so
8. On the second and succeeding pages in a typewritten
letter, the name or the initials of the person addressed must
be placed at the left-hand margin approximately one inch
from the top of the page if no letterhead is used. Page num-
bers may be placed directly below the name of the addressee
or in the center. The date on each page should be placed at
the right on the same line as the addressee. Never carry
over a single line of the body of the letter to a new page or
place only complimentary close and signature on a new
page. At least three lines of the letter should be typed on the
Margins. Since the first thing that impresses a cor-
respondent when he opens a letter is its appearance, that
appearance should be carefully planned. To produce an
attractive impression, nothing is more important than
regard for the white space that forms a setting for the typed
words. Because paper is not always uniform in size, letter-
The Form of the Business Letter
heads are not always placed similarly on stationery; and as
letters differ in length, no absolute rules for the width of the
margins can be laid down; but certain suggestions regard-
ing them may help the typist to create an impression of
balance and proportion, the effect she should strive to
On paper bearing a letterhead, the margin between the
top of the paper and the first typewritten item should be
somewhat wider than that at the bottom of the page. The
bottom margin on a one-page letter should be about one
and one-half times as wide as the side margins. In a two-
page letter, it should be about an inch wide. The width of
all margins, however, differs with the length of the letter.
For the short letter wider margins are required than for the
long letter. The common fault of writing a short letter with
narrow top and side margins destroys the impression of
balance and proportion every attractive letter should
typify. The side margins therefore vary with the length of the
30 English for Secretaries
letter, being wider for the short letter. They should be
approximately the same in width, the left-hand one straight,
the right-hand one as even as possible with a minimum of
words divided at the ends of lines.
THE COMPLIMENTARY CLOSING
The complimentary closing may begin about halfway
between the left and right margins or in a line with the
heading when that is handwritten. Its placement depends
somewhat on the length of the writer's name. When the
name is long, it is advisable to begin the complimentary
closing farther to the left than when the name is short.
Double spacing should be used between the complimentary
closing and the body of the letter. Only the first word of the
closing should be capitalized. If no punctuation is inserted
after the salutation, it may be omitted here also. But the
preferred form is to punctuate these two parts, using a colon
after the salutation and a comma after the complimentary
closing. Complimentary closings in general use today are
Very truly yours, Faithfully yours,
Yours very truly, Yours sincerely,
Yours truly, Sincerely yours,
Tours respectfully, seldom seen today in regular business
letters, is often used in official letters.
In many letters, the signature consists of the name of the
writer only. Note the following signatures.
An unmarried woman:
Correct: Martha Bruce
Correct: (Miss) Martha Bruce
Incorrect: Miss Martha Bruce
The Form of the Business Letter 31
A married woman
Correct: Alice M. McDonald
(Mrs. Hugh McDonald)
Incorrect: Mrs. Hugh McDonald
As many women in business and professions prefer to use
their own names, they sign them thus: (Mrs.) Alice M.
A secretary sometimes signs letters for her employer, using
the following form:
Secretary to Mr. Olson
Secretary to Mr. John Olson
Individual Responsibility. In letters where the writer
assumes the responsibility, the signature may consist of his
written signature, his typed signature, and his title.
Yours very truly,
/?. E. Blaisdell
R. E. Blaisdell
The firm or organization name may follow the writer's
Allen and Sons
32 English for Secretaries
Chairman, Pension Committee
Firm's or Company's Responsibility* In letters from
business organizations, which represent a firm's or a com-
pany's responsibility, the name of the company is written
two spaces below the complimentary closing, usually in
solid capitals. Four spaces below and directly under this,
for the sake of legibility, is typed the name of the dictator,
below which occurs his title. The four spaces left free are for
the penwritten signature of the dictator. Placement of the
signature should be block or indented to correspond with
the form used in the inside address.
Very truly yours,
FIFTH AVENUE HOTEL
A person should be consistent in writing his signature. He
should determine which form he prefers: B. L. Dunn,
Bronson L. Dunn, or Bronson Lake Dunn, and hold to that form.
At the close of the letter such data as the following are
Identification Marks. The initials of the dictator and the
typist should be in line with the dictator's title or two spaces
below, flush with the margin. These may be written in
The Form of the Business Letter 33
various ways: AB:RLS; AB:rls; - ABSmithrrls. The
dictator's initials appear first.
Enclosure Details. Enclosures should be noted by writing
the word Enclosure, or Indosure, or their abbreviations, two
spaces below the initials of dictator and typist and flush
with the left-hand margin. If more than one enclosure is
made, the number should be indicated, as Three Enclosures or
Inclosures 3 or Inc. 3. Some business houses allow the ab-
breviations Enc. or Inc., but most careful letterwriters prefer
the word written in full.
Method of Mailing. Many firms make a note of how the
letter is sent, as By Registered Mail, By Messenger, or By Air
Mail, if other than by regular mail. This is written below the
enclosure details flush with the margin on the left.
Today, many firms send out mimeographed letters to
save time and expense. Care should be taken to make them
as personal as possible by giving them the appearance of
individual letters. The type used for the inside address and
for the salutation should match that used in the body of the
letter. Margins should be uniform. The spacing should be
regular. In fact, all the requirements that make up a good
letter should be followed.
Bring to class examples of letters from various firms.
1. Compare several short letters for effective letterheads, for general
appearance as illustrated by spacing and placement on page, for con-
sistency of punctuation of letter parts, and for paragraphing and other
2. Compare several long letters for particulars similar to those sug-
gested for short letters.
34 English for Secretaries
BLOCK FORM WITH OPEN PUNCTUATION
Body of the letter
Belts and May
13 Sixth Street
January 18, 19
Very truly yours,
The Form of the Business Letter
MODIFIED BLOCK FORM WITH OPEN PUNCTUATION
subject line (or the
subject line may be
written two spaces
below the saluta-
or may not be
used after the word
Typed name of
placed one or two
spaces below the
last line of the sig-
nature. If it i*
this line may be
written on the
same line with the
last item of the
R. B. Ashton &
20 Brock Street
January 18, 19
Subject: Policy 13947
Very truly yours,
Fulton, Gordon & Co.
36 English for Secretaries
INDENTED FORM WITH OPEN PUNCTUATION
Body of letter
Nash and Horton
160 Columbus Avenue
Attention of Mr. Arthur Lyons, Manager
Your file No. 954
February 4, 19
R. JAMES & CO.
The Form of the Business Letter
INDENTED FORM WITH CLOSED PUNCTUATION
(When the paper contains no letterhead, the address of the writer must be
Body of letter
Title for reply
21 Main Street,
February 15, 19 .
Miss Agnes Read, Treasurer,
Exville Alumnae Association,
Dear Miss Read:
Alice W. Fenton
(Mrs. Henry Fenton)
38 English for Secretaries
FORMS OF OFFICIAL LETTERS
Letters to federal, state, and municipal officials termed
"official" letters require a somewhat different form from
either the business or the social letter.
The inside address instead of occurring above the saluta-
tion, as in business correspondence, is usually written below
the letter, the first word being placed flush with the left-
The salutation Sir and the complimentary close Respect-
fully are used in the most formal letters of this type; in less
formal official letters the salutation My dear Sir or Dear
Sir and the complimentary close Very truly yours or Yours
truly are good form.
Both in the letter parts and in the body of the letter, most
authorities advocate the indented form.
Official Titles. In letters to high officials, such as gov-
ernors, senators, mayors, judges, and commissioners, the
titles His Honor , The Honorable, or the less formal Honorable
are correct if the person is in active political service. It is
better form not to abbreviate these titles.
Mayor of New York
New York, N. Y.
Mayor of New York
New York, N. Y.
The word Honorable should not be placed directly before
The Form of the Business Letter
Correct: The Honorable Henry Blank
Incorrect: The Honorable Blank
THE USUAL FORM OF OFFICIAL LETTERS
The Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, D. C.
ACCEPTABLE FORMS FOR ADDRESSING GOVERNMENT
The President of the
The White House
Associate Justice of The Honorable
the Supreme Court Associate Justice of the Su-
Member of the
The Secretary of State
The United States (or State)
The House of Representatives,
Dear Mr. Justice
My dear Senator:
40 English for Secretaries
Governor The Honorable Sir:
Governor of (State) or
City, State Dear Sir:
Member of a State The Honorable Dear Sir:
Legislature Member of Assembly or
Capital City My dear Mr :
Mayor The Honorable Sir:
Mayor of the City of or
City Hall, My dear Mr. Mayor:
THE PERFECT LETTER PICTURE
Before removing the letter from the typewriter, the secre-
tary should read it through carefully to criticize it in respect
to the following points.
1. Are there erasures or spots that make the page look
2. Do typing errors occur, such as the transposing of
letters, strike-overs, the careless insertion of a letter, or
3. Is the letter attractively placed or is it too high or too
4. Are the left and right margins well planned or are they
too wide or too narrow for the length of the letter?
5. Is the right-hand margin so uneven that it spoils the
appearance of the page?
6. Are there so many words divided into syllables at the
right-hand margin that they detract from the appearance
of the letter?
7. Are the parts of the letter consistent in spacing and in
8. Are all words, particularly individual name and place
names, correctly spelled?
The Form of the Business Letter
FOLDING THE LETTER
For the Business Envelope
1 . Lay the letter on a flat surface, face up, bottom toward
2. Fold the lower edge to within one-quarter inch of the
top and crease.
3. Fold from right to left, bringing the right edge toward
the left slightly more than one-third the width of the sheet
42 English for Secretaries
4. Then fold the remaining portion to the right and
5. Place the letter in the envelope, inserting the last fold
For the Legal-sized Envelope
1. Place the letter flat, face up, bottom toward you.
2. Fold one third of the letter upward from the bottom
3. Fold the top down to within one-quarter of an inch of
the lower fold and crease.
4. Place the letter in the envelope, inserting the last fold
For the Usual Form of Window Envelope
1. Lay the sheet on a flat surface, face up, bottom toward
2. Bring the bottom edge of the sheet to a point below the
inside address and crease.
3. Then turn the letter face down with the crease away
and fold back the top third, showing the inside address.
4. Fold and insert in the envelope so that the inside
address, face up, shows through the window.
ADDRESSING THE ENVELOPE
1. Check the addressee's name for spelling and his
proper title, being careful to type his name as he has written
it in his signature.
2. Place tides on the shorter of the first two lines of the
address to give a better balance.
3. Check addresses for completeness and correctness.
The Form of the Business Letter 43
4. Although many firms advocate the abbreviation of
such words as Company, Avenue, and Street, the preferred
practice is to write these out, except where the letterhead of
the company specifically designates an abbreviation. The
names of streets or avenues designated by simple numbers
should be written out, as Tenth Avenue; but the names of
those designated by compound numbers should be written in
figures, as 420 West 121 Street or 420 West \2\st Street.
5. Do not use the word City alone on the envelope.
6. The Post Office Department prefers to have the name
of the state written in full on a separate line, but this is not
strictly adhered to. The following names, however, should
never be abbreviated: Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Utah.
7. If the return address does not occur on the envelope,
type it in single space on the second line from the top, two
spaces from the left edge of the envelope. The return address
may or may not include the name of the sender, but it must
give the post-office box, R. F. D. route number, or the like,
together with the street, the city, and the state. Also the
number of days within which return service is requested
should generally be indicated; otherwise, the postal authori-
ties may not return the letter until after thirty days.
8. Most firms prefer to have the envelope follow block or
indented style as used in the inside address. But even when
closed punctuation is used in the inside address, it is almost
never used on the envelope.
9. For the legal-sized envelope (#10) center the first line
of the address fourteen spaces from the top of the envelope;
for the commercial-sized envelope (#6 1/2) center the first
line twelve spaces from the top.
10. Before beginning to type, figure out the length of each
line of the address in order to place it attractively. Figure
44 English for Secretaries
J. P. Briggs
University of Maine
1892 Bouvier Street
State Teachers College
Attention: Mr. R. K. Bond
The Form of the Business Letter 45
4217 Cleveland Street
Mr. Malcolm Henderson
Department of English
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
330 West 42 Street
New York 18, N. Y.
46 English for Secretaries
also the spaces for indention, unless the block form is used
where no indentions occur.
11^ Double-space three-line addresses; single-space or
double-space four-line addresses. The Post Office Depart-
ment prefers to have the double spacing used in all addresses'
for the sake of clearness and ease in handling the mail.
A. Write, or preferably typewrite, the following exercise on business
Without writing the body of the letter, arrange the following letter
parts correctly with dates, complimentary close, and signature.
1. To the Gardner Typewriting Company, 213 Huguenot Street,
New Rochelle, N. Y., from Agnes Kelly, Secretary to Mark Kennedy,
101 East Main Street, Rochester, N. Y.
2. To Hotel Ambassador, Atlantic City, N. J., from Mrs. Alice Baker
(Mrs. James Baker), Nan tucket, Mass.
3. To Louis Pomeroy, 151 Washington Street, Boston, Mass., from
H. B. Green, Treasurer of Roberts and Sons, 5 John Street, New York.
4. To the Blakeley Apartments, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, from
Miss Susan Foster, Wellesley Hills, Mass.
5. To the Savannah Line, 551 Fifth Avenue, Room 206, New York
City, from Peter Van de Water, Miami Beach, Florida.
6. From David Andrews and Son, Ltd., 155 Main Street, Bangor,
Maine, to Harry Wood, Jr., Pickwick Arms, Greenwich, Conn.
7. To the Registrar, University of Chicago, from Wilbur J. Olcott,
Jr., Waban, Mass.
8. To J. B. Sawyer, Treasurer, Lawrence Inc., Hartford, Conn., from
George McDonald, President, Insurance Company of North America,
1000 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minn.
9. To Dr. James D. Strong, Professional Building, Mount Vernon,
New York, from a director of a welfare association, 1831 Santa Fe
Avenue, Los Angeles, California.
10. To Eric A. Tread well, Chairman, Coats and Company, Inde-
pendence Square, Philadelphia, Pa., from James Ford, President, Hudson
Garment Co., 6 Chapel Street, New Haven, Conn.
The Form of the Business Letter 47
11. To the President of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., from
Donald King, Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
12. To Alfred Saunders, Professor of English, Exville University,
Exville, N. H., from the editor of a magazine.
13. To Anna Gold and Son, Florists, 181 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland,
Ohio, from Miss Mary Franklin, El Encanto Hotel, Santa Barbara,
14. To the Arnold Sisters, Modistes, 521 Fifth Avenue, New York City,
from E. P. Norton, President, Norton Co., 195 Post Street, Fargo, N. D.
15. To Bloom Bros., Inc., 35 Main Street, Portland, Maine,
attention of Mr. Philip Rose, from John McCann, P, O. Box 35,
Berlin, N. H.
1 6. To Andrew M. Donaldson and Sons, 95 San Pedro Street, Chicago,
Illinois, from Daniel Green, Manager of the Blake Company, 85 Adams
Street, Springfield, Mass.
B. Discuss in class the following sentences taken from authorities on
1. Letters are a synonym for power.
2. The aim of the good letter must be to help the person addressed.
3. Effective letters are the result not only of what is said but of how it is
4. The ability to write effective business letters is a recognized busi-
5. When we make letters more efficient we are helping the business
world in this day of zeal for good production.
6. Let the letter be simple, direct, clear, good-humored, tolerant, and
leavened with touches of flattery so deftly concealed as not to be recog-
nized as such.
7. To be able to express your ideas clearly, you must possess a good
command of words and of sentence and paragraph structure.
8. Any letter that carries a hope ought to be on paper that wins a
9. The attitude of a typist toward her letter should be very much
the same as that of a chauffeur toward his car.
10. Letter writing is the test of the secretary's knowledge and her
ability to use that knowledge quickly and accurately. Misspelled words,
careless punctuation, grammatical errors, erasures, or poor letter pictures
mav hinder her promotion or cost her her job.
48 English for Secretaries
C. Write the answers to the following questions:
1. How should the following letter heading be written?
10 Ave. at 54th St.
2. Which is correct?
a. Messrs. M. B. Grant & Company
b. M. B. Grant & Company
3. Which is correct?
a. Dr. Alexander Fuller
b. Dr. Alexander Fuller, M.D.
4. Write the inside address and the salutation in a letter to the Stanley
Typewriter Company, 150 East 26 Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, attention of
Lawrence Bryant, Manager.
5. Which is correct?
a. Messrs. Park and Tilford
b. Park and Tilford
6. Which is correct?
a. The Rev. Donahue
b. The Rev. Patrick Donahue
7. What should (he inside address be in a letter to a senator?
8. What should the inside address be in a letter to Alice Crane (Mrs.
Robert Crane), of Wichita, Kansas?
9. In a salutation of a business letter which is correct?
a. Dear Miss Jane Kelly:
b. Dear Miss Kelly:
10. Which salutation is correct in a letter to a doctor's wife?
a. Dear Mrs. Dr. Alexander:
b. Dear Mrs. Alexander:
11. Which salutation is correct in a professional letter to a woman
a. Dear Dr. Kane:
/;. Dear Miss Kane:
12. Which salutation is correct in a business letter to an unmarried
a. Dear Miss:
b. Dear Madam:
13. What should the salutation be in a letter to George Farley, a com-
The Form of the Business Letter 49
14. What should the salutation be in a letter to Suzanne and Annette,
a company composed of women?
15. What is the correct salutation in a letter to Marjoric Bristow, Inc.,
16. What is the correct salutation in a letter to Blanchard and Drake, a
firm composed of men?
17. Which of the following is correct?
a. No. 29 Anderson Place
b. #29 Anderson Place
c. 29 Anderson Place
18. Write correctly the following inside address for a letter to an
John R. Flynn
19. Write correctly the following inside address for a letter to an
20. Should single or double space be left between the salutation and
the inside address?
21. Should single or double space be left between the salutation and
the body of the letter?
22. Which of the following is correct in the inside address?
a. Messrs. Johnson & Brown, Inc.
b. Johnson and Brown (lawyers)
c. Messrs. General Motors Corporation
d. Messrs. J. & S. Allen
c. Messrs. M. B. Sanderson and Company
23. Which of the following salutations are correct?
a. Dear Dr. Arnold:
b. My dear Professor:
c. My dear Professor Burke:
d. Dear Mr. James Seaton:
e. Dear Friend:
/. Dear Roy Gaylord:
g. Dear Rev. Sutherland:
50 English for Secretaries
24. Which of the following salutations arc correct?
a. Dear Chairman Holt:
b. Dear Mr. Holt:
c. Dear Chairman:
d. Dear Mr. Holt, Chairman:
e. My dear Mr. Holt:
25. What information should be given on the top of the second page of
a typed letter?
26. Which of the following signatures is correct for a married woman?
0. Yours truly,
Mrs. Arthur Kerr
b. Yours truly,
(Mrs. Arthur Kerr)
27. For a business letter written by an unmarried woman, which
signature is correct?
a. Yours truly,
(Miss) Agnes P. Caldwell
b. Yours truly,
Miss Agnes P. Caldwell
28. How should the following data be arranged?
Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order,
LETTERS OF INQUIRY
THE letter of inquiry should be concise, clear, and
courteous. It should be so definite that the recipient
will understand the request without difficulty. It should
express appreciation for an answer containing the desired
information, but should not be apologetic in tone. If
apology is needed, the letter probably ought not to be
written. Do not thank your correspondent for the favor
requested, but wait until his letter has been received and
then write him a note of thanks.
Trite expressions such as the following should be avoided
since they are in bad taste, as well as being dull and ineffec-
tive: upon receipt of this information, kindly advise us, we are
taking the liberty of writing you, thanking you for this courtesy,
waiting to hear from you, thanking you in anticipation.
If your letter contains several questions, follow these
suggestions: state the questions briefly and plainly; follow a
logical sequence; reread your letter to see whether you have
covered all the information you desire and whether you
have been reasonable in your request; if necessary for clear-
ness, place each separate question in a paragraph by itself.
The following general outline for a letter of inquiry may
be helpful: the reason for inquiry, the inquiry itself, any
52 English for Secretaries
advantage that may result to the reader by complying with
the request, necessary explanations, an expression of ap-
preciation, and the enclosure of a stamped addressed
envelope for a reply.
LETTERS OF INFORMATION
Letters of information should not be regarded as routine
answers to inquiries, but rather as important builders of
good will that materially affect a business. With such a
purpose in mind, the writer must endeavor to make his
letter clear, sincere, courteous, and detailed enough to be
satisfactory and pleasing.
A. Before writing letters suggested in this chapter, consider and discuss
the following opinions of authorities to learn what qualities they regard as
essential for good business correspondence.
1. Letters should have character and personality.
2. A letter is effective to the extent that it impresses and influences
the person to whom it is addressed.
3. Each letter is the expression of an individual to an individual in
regard to a peculiar and individual situation.
4. Courtesy, which seems to be lost sight of by many writers, is as
desirable in letters as it is in personal dealings.
5. The need is for accurate letters, lucid letters, straight-to-the-point
letters, courteous letters, human letters.
6. These qualities clearness, correctness and force are essential to
good business English style.
7. The best plan in the world will not make a letter secure action
unless its language is vigorous, alert, and active.
8. Business letters should be direct, to-the-point, purposeful and
never longer than necessary.
9. There is no letter so discourteous that it justifies a discourteous
10. The business prosperity of the country (the United States) depends
to no small degree upon the force and power and efficiency of its com-
Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order 53
B. Read the following letter of inquiry and the answer to it to note
how clear, definite, and courteous are the questions, and how satis-
factory is the answer.
Dear Miss Tain tor:
Again I am coming to you for authority.
I have recently had a request from the Governor's office in
Phoenix, Arizona, as to just what is the correct way to address
Isabella Greenway, representative to Congress from Arizona. I am
told she is a widow, and that her husband's name was John G.
Greenway. Would it be correct to write Congressman Isabella Greenway,
and should the salutation be Dear Congressman Greenway?
With women forging their way ahead in politics, as well as in
business and professional life, we secretaries must know the proper
way to address these enterprising people who, no doubt, would be
quick to detect a blunder in good form.
I wish to express my appreciation for your former letters answer-
ing so many questions on form and style. The information you
have given me has proved very valuable.
I am very glad to give you information concerning the correct
manner of addressing Isabella Greenway, which you asked for a
short time ago.
The customary style of address for a woman member of Congress
The Honorable Isabella Greenway
House of Representatives
Washington, D. C.
The salutation is either Madam for formal letters, or My dear Mrs.
Greenway for informal letters.
I am informed that as some time ago the women members of
Congress agreed among themselves to have the same style of address
as the men members, it would be correct to say Dear Congressman
Greenway. The usual practice, however, is to use the form of address
as given above.
It is a pleasure to hear from you that my previous letters have
been helpful to you.
54 English for Secretaries
C. Read the following answers to inquiries, to note how satisfactory
such letters would be to the addressee. Then write the inquiries to which
these letters are the replies.
Thank you for your letter of the
We hold no mail for you at the present time, but have entered
your forwarding address and will be pleased to readdress any mail
that may be sent to you in our care.
We are looking forward to the time when we will be asked to hold
mail pending your arrival.
Thank you for your letter of the
We can offer you a single room and bath, for one person, at $ ,
$ , $ , $ , and $ , a day; and a double room with
twin beds or double bed and bath at $ , $ , $ , $ ,
and $ , a day, according to size and location of the rooms.
All rooms and suites in the Park Avenue wing of the hotel, from the
fifth to the seventeenth floor, are air-conditioned. Each room is
individually controlled by a local thermostat and you can regulate
the temperature yourself. If you prefer, we shall assign you to
accommodations in this section.
Beginning June the fifteenth and ending September the fifteenth,
we shall also have an all-inclusive plan to be known as "New York
Holiday. 5 ' A folder describing this plan is enclosed, as well as a book-
let giving further information about The The rates quoted
in the "New York Holiday" booklet do not include air-conditioned
rooms. However, rooms of this type can be reserved under this
arrangement at a slightly higher rate.
We look forward to the pleasure of entertaining you in the near
future and if you will let us know which type of accommodations
best meet your requirements, we shall be glad to enter a definite
reservation for you.
The Club is always glad to answer inquiries such as
yours concerning its rules for membership.
The resident membership is limited to 1,000; the nonresident
membership, to 400.
Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order 55
The entrance fee for resident members is $500, payable on admis-
sion or in two equal installments at the option of the member, with
dues of $250 payable annually or $125 semiannually at the option
of the members.
The entrance fee for nonresident members is $150 payable on
admission, with dues of $125, payable annually or $62.50 semi-
Resident members are those residing or having their principal
place of business within fifty miles of New York City.
We trust that this information may be adequate and that you will
be interested in joining the Club.
D. Examine the following letters. Then write satisfactory answers to
We are writing to ask you to settle some questions of correct saluta-
tion. We frequently correspond with buyers of department stores,
where the buyers are often women.
1. When we do not know whether the buyer is married or single,
what should the salutation be?
2. When a letter is addressed to a company with attention called to
a woman buyer, what should the salutation be? For example:
Brown & Brown
500 Fifth Avenue
New York, N. Y.
Attention: Miss Hannah Murphy
Dear Mrs. Murphy?
Your help will be greatly appreciated.
More and more frequently in my work I am asked a question
that I am unable to answer to my satisfaction. I am, therefore, taking
the liberty of writing to you for advice.
The proper salutation to be used in writing to a firm of men, or
to several women associated in business, is well established. But
56 English for Secretaries
could you give me the proper form for use when addressing a group
composed of both men and women? The obvious "Gentlemen and
Mesdames" is so awkward that I feel there must be some better way.
There are times, especially in connection with legal wo"rk, when such
a salutation is necessary.
I was much interested in your book and hope it will be very
In expanding our business we are desirous of having an office in
the downtown financial district. Through your firm we should like
to rent quarters with the following specifications:
1. Four outside offices in a modern building; two suitable for
private use and two for the general office force
2. Rental under five hundred dollars a month
When you feel that you have something that will interest us, will
you telephone my secretary, Miss Louise Spencer, who will inspect
the offices during my absence in Cleveland.
Mr. Irving Reynolds, 200 Bronx River Road, Yonkers, N. Y., has
applied to us for financial help through our scholarship funds and
has given your name as reference.
As our funds for this purpose are limited and the demand is
unusually large this year, it is necessary for us to confine ourselves
to those students whose family background is such as to make a
college education difficult to attain. We shall appreciate it if you
can give us, confidentially, any information that will help us to
understand the situation and the needs of Mr. Reynolds.
May I trouble you for the following information in regard to the
honor society in your school?
1. What proportion of the school population belongs?
2. Are the members selected on a scholarship basis only? If not,
what are the other requirements?
3. How does the society function in the school?
4. Do you consider an honor society an asset to the members? to
the rest of the student body? If so, how?
Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order 57
This information will be a great help to Exville High School in
deciding whether or not to organize an honor society.
E. Write any five of the following letters.
1. Write to Professor Robert Latham, Director of the Summer
Session, Blank University, to ask whether a course in Commercial Law
would be offered next summer and, if so, what the fee for such a course
2. As Miss Rachel Home, secretary of David Blake, President of the
Blake Society, Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey, write to a firm for an
estimate of installing an oil burner in a house of ten rooms.
3. Write to the Farm Agency (supply address) asking for a free list
of farms from Virginia to Maine.
4. Write an advertisement to the lost-and-found department of a
paper giving full information in regard to a lost article and offer a
reward to the finder.
5. Write to a department store for samples of material suitable for
window curtains for a living room. State approximate price you are
willing to pay a yard, the color desired, and any other particulars that
will help the store to select the kind of samples you would like.
6. As a secretary to a physician, write to a realty company asking
for information concerning offices in a business section of a city to which
the physician is planning to move.
7. Write the answer to the letter suggested above. Include full
details of three offices with the rentals.
8. Write a letter to a real estate dealer in Connecticut inquiring
whether he has on his list of small farms for sale one with livable colonial
house, modern improvements, near salt water. Price about $10,000.
9. Write to an authority on letter writing to ask information on some
point that might be troublesome for a secretary.
10. Assume that a secretary has asked you to write her giving the
correct placement of a reference line, an attention line, or a subject line.
Write to the secretary giving her the desired information.
11 . A friend has heard that you have taken a trip that she is planning
to take next summer. She has written you for details. Write an answer
to her request.
12. A friend has written to ask you to recommend three books such
as a secretary should have for ready reference. Write her, stating titles,
authors, publishers, price, and definite information about the books.
58 English for Secretaries
13. A friend has written asking you to recommend an abridged
dictionary for use in her office. Write a letter recommending the one
you have found best suited for such use.
14. An inexperienced secretary has written asking you to suggest a
practical book that will help in her everyday work. Write a letter recom-
mending a book or several books that you believe would be valuable
LETTERS ORDERING GOODS
Letters ordering goods must be so definite, clear, and
complete in detail, that there can be no possibility of mis-
understanding. Points to include are a description of the
article, the method of shipment if the buyer has a choice in
this matter, and the method of payment.
Examine and criticize the following letters in regard to form, clear-
ness, completeness, punctuation, and capitalization. What changes are
needed in each letter to make it correct? Which letters in this group do
you consider acceptable as examples of good order letters except for a
mistake in form or in punctuation?
17 Maine Street,
October 9, 19
B. Altman & Co.
Fifth Avenue at 34 Street
New York, N. Y.
Please send me as soon as possible by American Express:
1 boys' reversible zipper jacket $10.95
1 spun rayon blouse, striped white and blue $4 . 00
1 pair black kid gloves S3. 50
Total 31 8. 45
I am enclosing a money order for $18.45.
Mrs. Edward Smith
Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order 59
19 Otia Street
April 25, 19
Superintendent of Documents
United States Government Printing Office
Washington, D. C.
Please send me the following pamphlets:
6 copies Occupational Hazards and Diagnostic Signs .60
(Labor Standards Division, Bulletin 41 .)
3 copies Compilation of the Vitamin Values of Food . 75
(Agricultural Dept., Circular 638.)
Enclosed you will find a money order.
L. K. Drysdale
437 Cliff Avenue
Pelham, N. Y.
August 28, 19
Mr. Luke Blake,
20 Woodland Place,
New Rochelle, N. Y.
Dear Sir )
In accordance with our telephone conversation, I am sending
you on September the first one sofa and two chairs for repairs. All
three pieces are to have the upholstery and frames put in good con-
dition. The seat of the straight-back chair is to be raised about one
inch, and of the curved-back chair as much as possible.
The sofa is to be covered with #466 tapestry and trimmed with
special gimp. The two chairs are to be covered with #51376 damask
and trimmed with welts of the same material. Let us know how many
yards of material and gimp will be required.
I shall send for these pieces on Friday the tenth and shall be
prepared to pay for them at that time after inspection.
60 English for Secretaries
200 Pine Street,
December 18, 19 .
Printers' Ink Publishing Company, Inc.
185 Madison Avenue
New York, N. Y.
Please enter my order for two subscriptions to "Printers' Ink
Monthly,' 1 to be sent to the following:
Mr. George O'Donnell
348 S. Oakley Boulevard
Mr. Ernest Warren
Kent State University
You will find enclosed my check for $4 in payment of both sub-
Mrs. Clara Wood
June 15, 19
Taylor and Brown Company
Will you please send me the articles listed below from your May
Catalog No. Quantity Article Price Total
14a 6 percale sheets $4.25 $25,50
16c 4 linen towels 1 . 50 6 . 00
21d 12 kitchen towels .30 3.60
18d 12 Damask napkins .50 6.00
TOTAL $41 . 10
Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order 61
I am enclosing a money order for the total amount of the purchase
($41.10). I should appreciate it if you would send the goods as soon
Very truly yours,
June 2, 19
The Brown-Scott Company
240 Hennepin Avenue
Will you please send me the following, and charge the merchandise
against my account with you?
Quantity Article Color Width Price Total
6 skeins Yarn Scarlet $.29 $1.74
6 yards Rayon Crepe Blue 36" .85 5.10
I am enclosing samples of both the yarn and the crepe. Your usual
prompt attention to this order will be appreciated.
Very truly yours,
(Mrs. John H. Cook)
LETTERS OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Letters of acknowledgment usually state the following: a
reference to ther order and the date when it was received,
when and how it will be sent, a suggestion of substitution if
the exact material cannot be supplied, and thanks for the
62 English for Secretaries
The following trite phrases should be guarded against.
1. Pursuant to yours of recent date
2. Same shall receive our prompt attention
3. We take pleasure in sending you
4. Yours of recent date at hand, etc.
5. Esteemed favor
6. In reply would say
7. Assuring you of our best attention
8. Awaiting your further orders
9. Beg to remain
A. Examine and criticize in class the following letters in regard to
wording, tone, and the effect on the correspondent.
Your order of October 20 is received and will be given immediate
Thank you for your previous order of October 10 with check for
$10.50 enclosed. The goods have been forwarded to you by parcel
post. We trust you will receive them in satisfactory condition.
In response to your letter of September twenty-five, we are very
glad to send you a copy of our Personality Chart. We hope that you
may find it helpful in your educational work.
We can quote a price of $1.50 for one double-faced portiere,
using #80834, blue, for the hall side; and #42576, rose, for the bed-
room side, with one width of material to each side, and a wing, or
jib, added at the top for fullness. The portiere would be trimmed
down front and across base of both sides with fringe, and would be
looped high with folded band loop made of the blue on the hall side
and rose on the bedroom side.
If this estimate is satisfactory, we shall proceed with the work
as soon as we hear from you.
Letters of Inquiry, Information. Order 63
In reply to your letter of December nineteen, we are enclosing
herewith a list of schools that are offering correspondence courses
in business English.
I trust that you may be able to secure the desired information
from this list.
Thank you for your order of July third. We are sending today the
following, complying with your request as nearly as we can:
20 yards cream-colored marquisette 32 inches wide at $1 $20
12 sheets 90x70 at $2 24
12 Turkish towels 50 x 22 at $1 _12
We hope that the goods will prove satisfactory. $56
In the shipment we sent you today, we included a slightly more
expensive curtain than the type you ordered because we have not in
stock at present the curtain specified. Since it will be at least four
or five weeks before the supply of the #12 comes in, we thought you
would rather have the curtains we are sending than wait so long.
However, if our order does not meet with your approval, please
return it at our expense. If you wish to keep it, please send us $5.75,
the difference in price.
Since we have many unfilled orders that were received before
yours, we find it impossible to ship your order of February 15 before
We are sorry if this will inconvenience you, but trust you will
understand the cause of the delay and that we cannot discriminate
in favor of any customer.
Thank you very much for your order received December 9.
We are very sorry to inform you that we cannot fill your order for
Christmas delivery. Do you still wish us to proceed?
64 English for Secretaries
Your further instructions are awaited with interest. For your con-
venience in replying a self-addressed envelope is enclosed.
We acknowledge with thanks receipt of your letter of recent date,
and as requested, will ship the items as listed on the enclosed copy
of order from our store at 62 West 23rd Street.
As you will note, there is a balance of $.13 due us on this transac-
tion, which we shall appreciate your sending us at your convenience.
Hoping to have the pleasure of serving you again in the near
future, we are
B. Prepare letters of order and acknowledgment as follows:
1. Write for the following office furniture giving sufficient details to
insure the order's being filled satisfactorily: a desk, a rug, a table, six
chairs, and a cabinet.
2. Write the acknowledgment to the letter suggested above.
3. Write a letter to a publishing house ordering six novels to be sent
to a friend. Be sure to state correct titles and authors, as well as a definite
address for your friend.
4. Write a letter to a department store ordering on your charge
account the following articles to be sent to your summer address: towels,
bath mats, and washcloths. Only by stating size l quality, color, and
approximate price can you receive merchandise that will please you.
5. Write to a department store for the following items to be sent to
a friend, but charged to your account: one peasant linen set $2.00,
fringed Basque stripes; two organdy bedspreads $3.75, green figures and
piping on white, for single beds; two candlewick spreads about $4.25,
dots and flowers in rose on cream-colored muslin, for single beds.
6. Write the acknowledgment to the order stated above and suggest
a substitute for the candlewick spreads, all of which have been- sold.
7. Order from the Rock Garden Nursery, Groton, N. Y., the follow-
ing plants, stating the number required and the method of shipment:
geraniums, fuchsias, and verbenas.
8. Write to a hotel by the sea or at the mountains asking for terms
for a family of four for the month of August. Explain whether you require
double or single rooms, with or without bath, and give any other details
you think necessary.
Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order 65
9. Write the answer to the letter suggested above, offering several
possibilities at different rates.
10. Order by letter several articles you have seen advertised in a
newspaper. Give full information as to quantity, style, price, etc.
1 1 . Write an order to a department store requesting that the following
be sent to your summer address and charged to your account: face
powder, talcum powder, lipstick, rouge, and nail polish. Be definite,
stating make, color, price, and quantity desired.
12. Write a letter acknowledging the order given in the previous
problem. Assume that the store no longer carries the make of face powder
requested. Consider how a store would deal with such a situation, and
write a letter in accordance with business procedure.
Letters of Claim and Adjustment
A LETTER of claim should be clear, concise, firm,
and courteous. The following outline may serve as a
guide: the reason for writing the letter, i.e., the claim; the
date of the order; the adjustment desired; the inconveni-
ence caused the writer or the company; a request for prompt
Bring to class examples of claim letters selected from
books or from among those actually received. Discuss them
and the examples below from these standpoints: Is the
problem stated clearly and courteously? Is the desired
correction explained definitely? Are dates, invoice number,
catalog number, or other definite information given? What
effect would the letter have upon the recipient?
The Benson Corporation
November 5, 19
Your File C-2731
Nelson Furniture Co.
8 South Michigan Avenue
Attention of Mr. L. Parks, Manager
On Tuesday, October third, I ordered from your firm a flat-topped
desk. This order was promised two weeks ago, but has not yet been
Letters of Claim and Adjustment 67
I shall appreciate your prompt attention to this matter as our new
office is being opened next month, and we wish all furniture to be
in place at that time.
The Benson Corporation
LB:S Leo Boynton, President
Bedford, N. Y.
January 3, 19
Prescott Typewriter Co.
45 Main Street
Brewster, N. Y.
Attention of Mr. N. T. Benson
On November 15 your representative, Mr. N. T. Benson, sold me
a Standard Portable Typewriter, No. 4B1 33392. The machine was
guaranteed against defects for six months from the date of delivery,
but it has given trouble ever since we bought it. The letters stick so
badly that we are unable to use the machine.
If you will send a service man at once to adjust this defect, I shall
Very truly yours,
15 Marshall Street
Newton Centre, Mass.
June 5, 19
Smith Patterson Co.
52 Summer Street
I wish to register a complaint about nondelivery of glasses pur-
chased by me and charged to my account.
The facts in this case are as follows:
68 English for Secretaries
September 7 purchased 12 tumblers and 12 small fruit-juice
glasses. Glasses received at my address on September 8. Examined
and found 4 of smaller glasses broken September 9. Letters sent to
you stating this fact and requesting driver to call and pick up these
glasses and leave replacements. September 10 driver called and
took broken glasses. September 29 no replacements. September 30
second letter sent. October 2 no glasses received, but no credit
on charge account.
Will you kindly let me know if you plan to replace glasses or to
credit my account.
Very truly yours,
(Mrs. Howard Stone)
20 Main Street
June 1, 19
The Carson Company
173 Main Street
Attention Adjustment Department
May I call your attention to the following oversight made in
filling my order of May thirtieth.
Quantity Article Color Size Price Total
4 yards crepe rose 36" $1.90 87.60
12 yards organdy blue 36" .95 11.40
4 yards organdy rose 36" .95 3.80
12 yards crepe blue 36" 1.90 _22JM>
I did not discover this error until after your delivery man had
departed. You will remember that I enclosed samples in my order
Letters of Claim and Adjustment 69
Will you please adjust both the merchandise and the charge as
promptly as possible. I shall be very much obliged to you.
Very truly yours,
(Mrs. Samuel A. Whittier)
In writing a letter of adjustment, it is important to keep
in mind the following considerations.
Requirements: getting all the information on the case,
deciding on the course of action, deciding how to present
the decision in order to keep the customer's good will.
Characteristics: courtesy, sincerity, fairness, tact, the
desire to please and serve the correspondent.
Contents: explanation of error or misunderstanding,
statement of how adjustment is to be made, expression of
regret for error or inconvenience caused, an invitation for
Avoid such trite expressions as these: we beg to thank you
for your favor of the 26th instant, replying to your communication, as
indicated by our previous advices, contents duly noted, we beg to
remain, as per your favor, at a loss to know, it will never happen
A. Discuss in class the following statements taken from authorities
on letter writing.
1. To write a good adjustment letter is harder than to write a sales
2. If an adjustment is to be granted, it should, of course, be granted
3. An old customer held is worth all that a new customer may be
worth and likely more.
4. Open an adjustment letter on the attractive tone of action and
70 English for Secretaries
5. In adjustment letters lies the opportunity to bind the buyer closer
to the seller.
6. In writing an adjustment letter, put yourself in place of an impa-
tient, disappointed, and dissatisfied customer.
7. Whether a claim is granted or refused, it should be handled in
such a way that the recipient of the letter will not be antagonized.
8. Earnestness has great value in writing adjustment letters. There
is no place for irony, humor, or lightness possible in other kinds of letters.
9. Adjustment letters are especially designed to continue business
relations, and, therefore, sarcasm or ill temper has no place in them.
B. Examine and discuss in class the following adjustment letters. Sug-
gest any changes in wording that you think would be an improvement.
I am very sorry that you did not receive the notices of our meetings
owing to an incorrect spelling of your name. This has been corrected.
Thank you for calling it to our attention.
We regret the necessity of your having to return to us our January
statement with attention directed to an error in the amount of your
recent return on zipper boots. We have adjusted the transaction
and attach hereto a corrected memorandum.
The dress that you returned to us recently has been forwarded to
the manufacturer for examination. His report is expected in a few
days, at which time we will communicate with you again.
Your indulgence in the interval would be appreciated. Be assured
that the matter is being followed diligently from this end.
Replying to your communication, we are writing to inform you
that we have issued a call for stationery delivered June 10, and will
make it over again for you in the correct size.
We sincerely regret the error and any annoyance or inconvenience
that the delay is causing you. We trust that our adjustment will be
satisfactory to you.
Letters of Claim and Adjustment 71
In reply to your inquiry regarding the shades we should have on
order for you, we regret that we apparently have no record of the
Is it possible for you to ad vise us just who the saleswoman was that
should be handling your order? If not, if you can give us the following
information the pin-to-roller measurements, if the shades are to be
made with rollers, and also the color, if any particular shade was
desired we will refer the matter to our buyer and see that your
order is given prompt attention.
Please accept our sincere apologies for the trouble and inconveni-
ence we have caused you in this matter. We are enclosing a stamped
and self-addressed envelope in order to facilitate your reply.
In reply to your letter of August 12, we regret that the tray sent to
you last week was marred. We examine carefully all merchandise
that leaves our shop and try to be sure that everything is in perfect
condition; but occasionally mistakes will occur.
Our driver will call on August 16 to pick up the tray and deliver a
duplicate in perfect condition.
We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you.
Credit has been issued to your account for the damask in question
and this we trust is satisfactory.
We sincerely regret the delay in writing you and apologize for
any inconvenience caused in this connection.
We regret very much indeed to learn from your recent letter that
a Plum Pudding ordered by you to be sent to
Miss Helen Keith,
40 East 10th Street,
New York, N. Y.
has not been received.
72 English for Secretaries
We shall very much appreciate it if you will send us your receipt
covering this purchase, or will advise us from which store it was
ordered, so that we might make a thorough investigation of the
As we have 38 stores in greater New York with thousands of daily
transactions, you can readily appreciate that it is very difficult to
locate an order without complete details.
We have your note and we are very sorry indeed to learn about
the dress. Do by all means return it to us and we shall watch out for
it here. It is most unfortunate to have to put you to the trouble of
having to send it back but we are eager, as you must know, to be of
every possible service.
A brown felt hat which you bought here at Blank's and which was
worn from our shop at the time has come back to us. Since it has
been worn it really is not possible to do as you ask for there is no way
of disposing of the hat now.
In the circumstances, we felt you would want the hat returned to
you and it is going back now. You will have it again shortly and if
we can be of service, you have only to let us know.
Thank you for your note. We are very sorry indeed to learn about
the slip and we hope that you will be thoroughly pleased with the
one that has been sent now. It should be in your possession when this
message arrives, and the slip you returned has been credited.
We are very glad to be of service and we look forward to hearing
from you often.
After you left here the other day, I had the opportunity to go into
the matter of your coat thoroughly and I am glad to be able to tell
you that after examining it, it was found that it is made of the finest
wool. Miss Blank, the buyer, tells me that at the time this coat was
in our stock, it was one of our Women's Angle coats.
Letters of Claim and Adjustment 73
We do wish that it were possible to credit it and return it to our
stock; but, as it was pointed out when you were here, it is a coat that
was designed to be worn last spring. It is not customary, as you can
well realize, to put a coat in stock one season that was designed to
be worn during another. Had the coat been sent to us last spring,
we would have been glad to have accepted it. You cannot help
agreeing that there would be no way of disposing of it now for the
season for coats of this kind is past we are now selling winter
May we urge you, therefore, to go over the situation once more for
we feel that then you will understand why we write as we do. We
are grateful to you for allowing us to present our position.
C. Write any four of the following letters.
1. Pink-glass salad plates were substituted for the green ones you
)rdered. Ask for immediate adjustment and explanation.
2. Write the adjustment letter from the firm, giving an explanation
or the substitution.
3. You ordered monogrammed towels for a friend's birthday. They
lid not arrive on time although they had been promised. Write the firm
or an explanation of the delay and for immediate attention to the order.
4. A delay in the shipment of Christmas stock has cost you hundreds
)f dollars. Explain your case and ask for adjustment.
5. Write an answer to the letter stated above.
6. You ordered twelve rosebushes, but only eleven were sent,
ilthough the bill listed twelve. Write the company and ask for an
7. The Beach Club you belonged to last year has asked you to renew
four membership. Write to the club explaining your dissatisfaction with
ts management and your decision not to join again.
8. Write the answer from the Beach Club manager stating that un-
jatisfactory conditions will be improved.
9. The committee soliciting funds for a celebration in your old home
:own has asked you for a contribution. Write stating your decision not
to contribute and explain your dissatisfaction with a previous celebration.
10. Write a letter from the secretary of the Old Home Week Com-
mittee, explaining how the management of this celebration has striven
to avoid the previous mistakes and expects to make the coming celebra-
tion a success.
74 English for Secretaries
11. You have sent by a moving- van company some furniture you wish
to put into your summer home at Ogunquit, Maine. On its arrival, you
find that some of the furniture has been marred in transit. Write a letter
of claim to the company.
12. The Little Theater Company is to play for a week in Chicago.
The gowns and hats for the cast were ordered from the Essex Attire
Shop, 565 Madison Avenue, New York, but have not been received.
Write giving details of order and ask that the gowns be sent at once
13. In answer to this letter, give reasons for delay and assure the
Little Theater Company that the order will arrive in Chicago in two
days. Express regret for the delay.
Letters Relating to Sales
SINCE business depends on sales and sales so often
depend on sales letters, many businessmen regard the
sales letter as the most important part of their correspond-
ence. It has been said that "good letters of all kinds help
to keep business; good selling letters make business. 35
Sales letters are so closely related to advertisements in
purpose, appeals, methods, and desired results that it is
worth examining a number of advertisements before trying
to write sales letters.
A. Bring to class advertisements from newspapers and magazines on
furniture, clothes, books, and other commodities. Examine these to learn
how copywriters attempt to accomplish their purpose of inducing action.
Use the following questions as guides:
1. How is the beginning of the advertisement made interesting and
2. How is curiosity aroused?
3. How is desire created?
4. How is the reader convinced that he should buy the article?
5. How is action made easy?
6. Is the wording trite or effective? Quote examples.
7. Do you find examples of questions, imperative sentences, exclama-
tions, or quotations used effectively?
8. In comparing several advertisements for the same commodity,
which do you think would most interest you as a buyer? Why?
76 English for Secretaries
B. Topics for oral reports are listed below. Reports on these topics
will be more valuable and interesting if the students consult several
books on sales letters and read examples to the class to illustrate their
topics. These examples of sales letters may be original or selected from
actual letters or from books. The source, of course, should be mentioned.
Catching the Reader's Attention
Effective Opening Sentences
Arousing the Reader's Interest
Producing Belief in a Product
Inducing a Reader to Buy the Commodity
The Tone of the Sales Letter
Sins of Sales Letters
Effective Sales Letters
Tests of a Sales Letter
Considering the Class of Prospect Leisure, Business, Professional,
Letters to Men and to Women: a Contrast
Sales Letters with Effective Appearance
An Effective Plan for Sales Letters
Dramatizing the Commodity
Bad Taste in Sales Letters
Effective Talking Points
Good Taste in Sales Letters
Effective Descriptions from Sales Letters
Clear Explanations from Sales Letters
The Use of Timely Topics in Sales Letters
Methods Used to Produce Action
Examples of Effective Closings from Sales Letters
SALES LETTER STYLE
For better understanding of prevailing practices in the
writing of sales letters it will be profitable to read the
analysis 1 given below. It is founded upon the study
... of 200 sales letters sent ... to hardware, paint, sporting goods,
automotive accessories and department stores. The study was made to
1 "Sales Letter Style," Printers* Ink Monthly, January, 1939.
Letters Relating to Sales 77
show prevailing practice in some of the physical aspects of letter con-
struction. It is not suggested that the most common practice is the cor-
rect practice, or that the uncommon practice is the one to avoid. Letter
writing is too fluid a medium to be bound by inflexible rules; too sus-
ceptible of individuality. Writers of sales letters, however, may be
interested in having some basis of comparison against which to check
their favorite salutations, closings, signature, forms and other compo-
nent elements of sales letters. To that end, the accompanying analysis is
Inside Address. Of the 200 sales letters surveyed only fifty-nine bore
inside addresses. Here the cost of fill-ins is, of course, the deciding factor
with the advertiser himself the best and only judge. It was noted that
several letters with poorly matched fill-ins would have stood to benefit
had the fill-ins been eliminated entirely.
Date. One hundred and fifty-five letters bore the conventional date
line consisting of month, day and year; four simply used the month and
year, and one the season and year. Forty were not dated at all.
Salutation. Below, in the order of their popular use, are the more than
two dozen salutations employed in the letters under analysis. The figure
alongside each salutation represents the number of times it occurred.
Noteworthy is the large percentage of letters without salutation of any
kind and the wide variety of forms devised.
No Salutation 46
Dear Mr. (or Miss) Smith 12
Dear Sir (or Sirs) 12
To All (name of product) Dealers 10
Dear Friend 4
To the Toilet Goods (or Window Shade, etc.) Buyer. . 4
Dear Madam 3
To Our Customers 3
To the Trade 3
Dear Buyer 2
Dear Mr. Retailer 2
Dear Customer 1
Dear Dealer 1
78 English for Secretaries
Dear Mr. Dealer 1
Dear Paint Store Owner 1
Dear Retailer 1
Mr. Body Shop Manager 1
Mr. Dealer 1
Mr. Hosiery Merchandiser 1
Mr. (name of product) Dealer 1
To All Dealers 1
To All Independent Retailers 1
To All Progressive Dealers 1
To Direct and Associate Dealers 1
To Our Authorized Dealers 1
To Our Retail Friends 1
Paragraphing, The most popular style of paragraphing is block,
leading the indented style 115 to 82. Three letters made use of a novelty
style which might be called reverse indentation, wherein the first line
of each paragraph is brought out to a point directly beneath the saluta-
tion and each succeeding line is indented.
Special Headings. About 25 per cent of the letters (51 to be exact)
made use of a special heading of one kind or another. The special head-
ing is sometimes employed as a substitute for the salutation. It is placed
in no particular position sometimes at the left, sometimes at the right
and sometimes in the center. Specimen headings: "Sales Tested Values
Are Your Best Xmas Investments," "Proving a Cardinal Principle of
Merchandising." "Here's the Big News! . . . Now Let's Go!"
Complimentary Closing. Almost as varied as salutation forms are the
styles of complimentary closings that have been called into play. Curi-
ously, whereas forty-six letters failed to carry a salutation, only seven
omitted complimentary closings. Tradition rides high in this department
and the percentage of conventional closings is preponderantly high.
Signature. The accepted letter signature consists of the company
name, typewritten in caps, the name of the writer written in pen and ink
and the writer's title. A variation inserts the name of the writer, type-
written, between the penned signature and tide.
A. Read the following sales letters and judge them from the points
brought out in your reports on sales letters as suggested at the beginning
of this chapter.
Letters Relating to Sales 79
I am writing to tell you that there are some very attractive dinner
dresses here now in the colors you like and I shall be delighted to
show them to you whenever you find it convenient to come in. I do
hope that you are planning to be in town soon indeed I look
forward to being of service.
Since you are moving to our neighborhood may we take this
opportunity of introducing our services to you. Knowing that you
are confronted with many problems in getting settled, won't you
let us help you save time, energy, and unnecessary costs in planning
your new home?
On our premises we make fine upholstery, draperies, slipcovers,
and specially designed lamp shades. We also do excellent furniture
May our decorator call to discuss with you the furnishing or
decorating of your new apartment?
When you first moved to West Chester, we wrote to you inviting
you to call and become acquainted with our officers, and we wish to
remind you that when you are ready to make a local banking con-
nection, we hope you will give us the privilege of serving you and
Whatever you need a checking, checking-master, thrift, or
special interest account, a safe deposit box, or a loan you will find
every department thoroughly equipped to render you competent
and courteous service based upon careful and thoughtful considera-
tion of your individual requirements.
Looking forward to greeting you personally in the near future,
How would you like to have your own library? Do you not have a
corner in your home that would make a perfect background for the
books which you would like to possess?
1 From The Business Education World, September, 1939.
80 English for Secretaries
Few joys can compare to the adventure of rummaging around old
bookstalls for those first editions of the books we should like to own.
The more interested we become in collecting, the more attention
will we give to styles of binding, printing, and general characteristics.
We will not be completely content with "any old copy." We shall
want either an absolute first edition or else the beautifully illustrated
edition published by Random House. Our sense of discrimination
usually grows with the study and purchase of each new volume.
As you go through the morning mail, pick out the letter that you
consider the best and tell yourself why you have chosen it. The
answer doubtless will be that this particular letter was selected be-
because it is legible, direct and convincing in style, distinctive in
quality, correct in its mechanical set up or arrangement, and friendly
in tone. Perhaps it has an individuality that gets attention and holds
It is not enough merely to write a letter. We should know and
practice the elements of good style and diction. Once we have
learned what constitutes a good letter, we must practice writing
until we gain facility in putting words and sentences interestingly
together. Then we may put individuality into the letter and make
the recipient feel "at home" with us.
Literature about our course of instruction will be sent to you on
return of the enclosed card.
If you have ever had the unpleasant experience of opening a closet
door and being met by a fluttering moth, you will probably be glad
to know something about No-moth.
It is a very unique device. Concentrated cedar oil with its fragrant
aroma seeps through a wooden porous cup out of a bottle that is
hung on the baseboard of your clothes closet. This fragrant odor of
cedar, while pleasant to us, is destructive to moths, and, as it spreads
through and permeates the entire closet, you have done much
toward eliminating the danger from these destructive pests.
The Business Education World, September, 1939.
Letters Relating to Sales 81
If you are not yet acquainted with No-moth protection, we
recommend that you give No-moth a trial now, when the moths are
most dangerous. The contents of each No-moth will last you one
The enclosed addressed postal card will assure your order im-
mediate and careful attention.
No doubt you and members of your club are thinking seriously of a
vacation spot during the summer. In Atlantic City you find all the
things that go to make up a perfect vacation. Here you may choose
between the full gamut of outdoor sports and the quiet and peace
so many are seeking as a relief from today's super activities home,
business, and patriotic. Whatever mixture of the strenuous and the
quiet you desire, it is yours here.
For example, along with bathing from rooms with private elevator
and tunnel to the beach, we now have cabanas. Beach lovers enjoy
the surf all day with luncheon served right in their cabana.
Bridge parties are frequent and favored, as are social dances (now
with the added advantage, if desired, of instruction by the Harold
Then, too, true to our record as a family hotel, our hostesses relieve
parents by conducting beach parties and picnics for the children.
Similar parties, as well as fishing parties, arc arranged for adults.
A member of our staff will be at the Hotel Netherland Plaza on
Tuesday and Wednesday, July 15-16, and will be happy indeed to
receive a call from you if she can help you or any of your friends and
associates in any way in completing arrangements for vacations.
Mount your favorite broomstick and zoom through the October
skies to the Blank for Hallowe'en. The frost is on the pumpkin and
the hotel is on the alert to make history this Hallowe'en.
We have been rehearsing our entire cast of ghosts, goblins, owls,
black cats, and witches for the big annual event. Under the spell
of Libra, our fortune-teller is already getting that faraway look,
preparatory to revealing the fulfillment of your fondest hopes.
82 English for Secretaries
On the realistic side, there will be apples, doughnuts, and cider in
the spirit of the harvest moon. Doesn't this sound like fun?
Autumn is a lovely season in Atlantic City, as you know. The
crowds have thinned, and there's something in the very air that is
tonic to body and soul.
There will be music and dancing among the other festivities,
and, all in all, we are trying to make this the best Hallowe'en sea-
son we have ever had. Can you join us? We'd be delighted to have
you. A rate-card is enclosed, with space on the back for your reserva-
tion. Get it back to us as soon as you can, to be sure of the finest
It was nice having you with us, and we hope you will come again
We appreciate your patronage more than these few lines can tell
you. We want you to think of this hotel as your home by the season
and to come as often as you can.
If you have any suggestion for improvement of our service, I
personally shall be delighted to receive it. Incidentally, have you
two particular friends who ought to be getting our mailings?
Do come again soon, won't you?
B. Write one or more of the sales letters indicated in the directions
below. Before actually writing the letter, learn all you can about your
commodity, be enthusiastic about it, visualize it, jot down its selling
points, select not only a class but a person to whom you would make your
appeal, and consider the selling points and the tone that would arouse
his interest and finally induce him to buy your products. Then make a
The next step is an effective opening paragraph. Would a question,
an exclamation, a quotation, a statement of fact, a news item prove
What arguments or explanations will be most convincing to your
prospective buyer? How should these be arranged? How should they be
Finally, how are you going to change his approval into action that
will induce him to buy your commodity?
Letters Relating to Sales 83
1. Assume that you arc the advertising manager of a school or
college publication. Write to a publisher, a sporting goods company,
or a neighborhood candy store, selling space in your paper.
2. Imagine your hobby to be photography, some form of collecting,
sewing, athletics, or some other interest. Write a letter selling a product
connected with this hobby.
3. Imagine that you are particularly interested in some improve-
ment for your community: more recreation centers, a swimming pool,
a library, tennis courts, a day nursery, a cleaner town, tree-lined streets,
slum clearance, free clinics. Write a letter to arouse the action of a group
that may bring about such a betterment.
4. As the owner of a country house, a camp, or a plot of land, write
such a letter to a city dweller that he will want to inspect your property
and finally buy it.
5. Write a letter addressed to secretarial students selling them a
book that would be helpful to them in their chosen occupation.
6. Write a form letter addressed to businessmen to sell an office
machine, a filing cabinet, or some other office equipment.
7. Assume that you specialize in graduation dresses. Write a sales
letter to the adviser of a senior class of a girls* school setting forth the
advantages of your material, styles, prices, and suggesting some special
inducement for persuading the girls to buy their graduation outfits from
8. As the owner of a neighborhood bookstore, white elephant shop,
or antique store, write a form letter to new arrivals in the vicinity, trying
to interest them to patronize your store.
9. You wish to sell eggs and butter, vegetables, or fruit to people in
a near-by summer colony. Write a sales letter that will interest them in
your proposition of serving them.
10. Assume that you have a service, such as typing, bookkeeping,
filing, mending, dressmaking, to promote. Select a group that would be
interested in one of these services and write a sales letter to secure
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections
LETTERS OF CREDIT INFORMATION
When a company considers extending credit, the financial
standing of the prospective purchaser must be determined
before deciding whether credit should be granted and, if it
is granted, to what extent.
To learn this, investigation of the following qualifica-
tions is necessary: personal character, business ability,
financial standing. (Note that sometimes the financial
standing of firms may be determined through credit rating
books such as that issued by Dun & Bradstreet.)
Usually for a small account, a business house that is
asked to grant credit may simply write letters of inquiry
to several references supplied by the firm or by individuals
A. For an example of the type of letter just mentioned, read the
following. Then write an answer assuring the correspondent of Mrs.
Stevenson's ability to pay.
On April 15 Mrs. John Stevenson called at our branch store,
4406 Broadway, in order to purchase one of our electric sewing
machines, priced at $95. The machine was to be sold on the install-
ment plan $20, the first payment, to be remitted upon delivery,
and the remaining $75 to be paid in five monthly installments of
Mrs. Stevenson referred us to you for information regarding her
credit and ability to meet these installments.
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 85
We shall appreciate any information you can give us regarding
Mrs. Stevenson's financial standing, and shall consider it as confi-
B. Read the following letters, which illustrate actual business practice
in requesting credit information. Note how definite, compact, and courte-
ous these letters are.
Last week we received a large order from The Paterson Depart-
ment Store, of Paterson, New Jersey, and your name has been given
as a reference. We would appreciate any information concerning
this firm's financial rating, responsibility, reliability, length of
association, and promptness that you may care to give us on the en-
We trust we may be able to return this courtesy if the opportunity
Prompt or slow payment?
Length of association?
Are goods returned or countermanded often?
Have all accounts been settled?
Are unreasonable claims presented?
Are discounts taken when not entitled?
We have been requested to send some of our books for ten days'
inspection to the person mentioned below, who informs us he is
employed by you. The present order involves $50.75.
He wishes to determine if the books will be of assistance to him
before paying or agreeing to pay for them, and we would like to
extend this examination privilege to him. Having once had the
advantage of this privilege many of our customers use it frequently,
which makes it necessary that we satisfy ourselves concerning their
credit reliability at the time of their first orders even though the
amount involved may be comparatively small.
86 English for Secretaries
Will you please return this letter with the information requested
below. We are holding the order until we hear from you and since
he is naturally anxious to have the books, we would appreciate very
much a reply by return mail.
We enclose a self-addressed reply envelope for your convenience
and we thank you now for your courtesy. You assume no responsi-
bility whatever in giving this information.
How long in your employ? Age
Have you found him reliable?-
We have received an order for furniture valued at $40.00 from
Mr. Henry B. Small, of Avon, N. Y., who is a salesman in your
It will be appreciated greatly if you will jot down at the foot of
this letter your advice as to whether you would consider this in-
dividual a safe credit risk for the amount mentioned.
We should also like to know how long Mr. Small has been in your
Thank you for your order. We can have the goods on their way
to you within 24 hours of receipt of our regular order blank informa-
This information (which was not given in full on your order) is
required by our auditors, because of the large number of small
accounts in our retail mail-order department.
The few lines to be filled in are reproduced below. We are rather
proud of the brevity of this "credit 5 * information we require of new
customers. Most of our mail-order customers, once having given this
information, have been on our books for years, taking advantage
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 87
frequently of our free-examination plan, with speedy attention
every time at this end.
Will you please fill in the lines below, in full, so that we can get our
books right off to you? Some of our customers who temporarily can-
not fill in the "Position" and "Company" lines, send us the name
of a bank or store with whom they do business and this is usually
accepted by our auditors.
City and state
Name of company
Thank you for your order of December 24.
In filling orders on an on-approval basis it is necessary for our
credit file that we have the full name and address of your employer.
This information was not complete on the order you sent to us.
Will you please supply the information requested below so our
records will be complete. We can give your order prompt attention
as soon as we hear from you.
I have in my hands a copy of the book that you ordered a few
weeks ago. As I thumb through the pages of this stimulating book, I
am saying to myself that you surely had a good reason for sending us
your order. It is packed full of thought-provoking ideas that will
prove of distinct value to you. The enclosed circular will give you a
more detailed description of just what I mean.
18 English for Secretaries
When we first received your order, we suggested that since you
had not done business with us before on a credit basis it would
be necessary to fill in a coupon like the attached.
If you were in business on your own and I sent you an order by
mail for the first time, I am sure that you would want to know
something about me before you made your shipment.
Won't you, therefore, cooperate with us and send the information
we seek, so that we can hurry along the book you ordered.
City and state
Name of company
C. Read the following answer to a letter from a credit manager who
wished to know the standing of a prospective purchaser. Would the
recipient find such a letter satisfactory?
We are pleased to" say on behalf of Mr. Henry C. Kernan, of 94
Oak Street, Ridgewood, New Jersey, that we have known and done
business with Mr. Kernan for the last six or eight years.
Our relations have always been agreeable and we have had numer-
ous business engagements with him; we have always found him to
be prompt and reliable and a man who considers his word his honor.
In his district and among the people throughout the region with
whom he is associated, he is well respected and considered morally
and financially responsible for his business engagements. We con-
sider him as having good business judgment and are pleased to
recommend him to those who may have business relations with
D. Prepare the letters described in the following instructions.
1 . Assume that you are owner of an antique shop in Hyannis, Massa-
chusetts. Mrs. Archibald Bronson has written asking you to send her at
her home address in Pasadena, California, fifty dollars' worth of goods.
a. Write an order letter such as you might have received from Mrs.
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 89
b. Write a letter to Mrs. Bronson requesting credit information.
c. Write Mrs. Bronson's answer giving references.
d. Write to Mrs. Bronson's references to obtain information on her
ability to pay for these goods.
e. Write an answer received from one of these references giving a
favorable opinion of Mrs. Bronson's ability to pay. A letter of this
kind should be so expressed that the writer makes it clear that he
assumes no responsibility.
2. You are credit manager of the Perfection Stationery Company.
a. Write a letter such as the company might receive ordering fifteen
dollars' worth of stationery with the request that a charge account
be opened for the purchaser, Mrs. Charles Wentworth, and that
the bill for the amount of this order be entered on the new account.
b. Write asking Mrs. Wentworth for credit information.
c. Write an answer from one of Mrs. Wentworth's references stating
that she is not a good credit risk. Such a letter, because of the law
of libel, must be expressed guardedly. Often such letters are so
cautiously worded that some such expression as "the person men-
tioned in your letter of " may be substituted for an actual
LETTERS CONCERNING CHARGE ACCOUNTS
Business organizations sometimes write letters such as
the following to people whose patronage they desire. The
cc enclosed card" to a bank and to individuals would doubt-
less ask for references that would establish the customer's
A. Read the following examples of letters offering charge accounts to
note their personal tone and the cleverness of their appeal.
Responsible names are always welcome on the books of a business
Please know that we shall be very glad to charge your purchases
whenever you have occasion to call.
90 English for Secretaries
As our two stores are really one, the account is available at which-
ever is the more convenient for you Broadway at Liberty Street,
or Fifth Avenue at 41 Street.
It gives me great pleasure to extend to you an invitation to become
a charge patron of our company. There are no formalities
simply fill out and mail the enclosed card to me and our Department
of Accounts will notify you promptly.
Our private fall opening on Tuesday, September 16 will
be one of the most beautiful collections that we have ever shown
and I want you to consider this letter my personal invitation for you
to be present.
I earnestly hope that we may have the privilege of serving you.
One woman out of every five listed in "The Club Women of New
York" has a charge account in our store.
We should like to add your name to this distinguished roster and
know that we can provide you with smart fashions for every part of
your active day, at the lowest possible prices consistent with high
You will find a charge account in our store of real value, and we
have eliminated all formalities, other than the return of the enclosed
card for identification.
It will be a pleasure to be of service to you.
B. Write effective form letters to fit the following conditions.
1. As credit manager of a store specializing in children's wearing
apparel, you wish to send a form letter to mothers of the neighborhood,
offering a charge account. Suggest some special reason for opening an
account at this particular time.
2. Assume that you are manager of a furniture store about to send a
form letter to new residents of your neighborhood, offering charge
accounts and stating advantages of such an arrangement.
3. You are responsible for preparing a form letter for a publishing
house to send to teachers, offering to open a charge account for books.
C. Read the following actual letters sent to customers concerning their
charge accounts. Note the friendly, informal tone and the "you" atti-
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 91
tude. The absence of trite expressions is typical of the best kind of
I hesitate to write again for fear of annoying you, but I am sin-
cerely interested in knowing why you stopped doing business with
us. I should be grateful indeed if you would tell me.
Our records indicate that we haven't had the pleasure of serving
you for the past year, which must mean that we've given you some
cause to withhold your patronage from us.
We'd like to make good whatever's wrong and hope you'll use the
enclosed envelope to tell us how we can best do so.
Our spring stocks of clothing for men and boys are too good for
you to miss.
Your continued absence during the buying season is a matter of
deep concern to me. I like to keep in close touch with all our charge
customers and to do everything in my power to make it a real
pleasure to shop at our counters.
Our efforts to regain your patronage are but a slight indication
of our appreciation of the favors you have shown us in the past and
nothing would please us more than to be given the privilege and
pleasure of serving you again.
The recent remodeling and enlarging of our store has enabled us
to expand many of our exclusive shops and to show greatly aug-
mented assortments of merchandise.
Please accept this letter as my personal invitation for you to come
in and resume the use of your charge account.
We like to consider each one of our charge customers as a good
friend, and it is our greatest wish always to hold her high regard
Our records show that apparently you have not recently used
your charge account with us. I am wondering whether our mer-
92 English for Secretaries
chandise or our service has failed to please you. It is a matter of con-
cern to me for this establishment is founded upon the ideals of service
and quality. I assure you that we want to keep your name on our
charge register and continue to render the type of service that will
If you will be kind enough to return the enclosed card, we can be
certain that you are correctly listed in our records. And we shall feel
honored to have you visit us again very soon.
The greatest asset which a business like ours can possibly have is
the good will of our old customers, for all good business is founded
more upon old friends than upon new ones.
It is, therefore, with regret that I note that we have not had the
privilege of serving you for some time. At least, your charge account
has not been used for several months.
It may be that you have overlooked its existence. At least, I hope
that it is not because you are disappointed in any way with the
The new things, I think, are more beautiful than ever. I hope
you will drop in and like them, but at all events I sincerely trust that,
as one of our friends of long standing, you will let us know whether
or not there is anything we can do to please you better.
Consider and discuss the following statements by authori-
ties on collection letter writing.
1. A good collection letter must also be a sales letter.
2. The writer of successful collection letters must know
human nature. He must understand psychology and know
how to apply it.
3. Businessmen have long since learned that the presenta-
tion of a bill is one of the most delicate of arts. It calls very
often for a tact, a diplomacy worthy of an ambassador of
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 93
4. Of all the men and women who have chores to per-
form in business, none are more important than those who
handle credit problems and write collection letters.
5. The collection manager must combine the points of
view of the sales department and the credit department.
He must remember that his company is in business to make
sales, to obtain profits, and to hold good will.
A. A variety of topics for oral reports is given in the list below. These
reports will be more valuable and interesting if students consult several
books on collection letters and read examples to the class to illustrate
their topics. The examples may be original or selected from actual letters
or from books. The source, of course, should be mentioned.
The Purpose and the Importance of Collection Letters
Good and Poor Opening Paragraphs: a Contrast
The First Collection Letter
Tactless Collection Letters
Tactful Collection Letters
Letters to Dealers and to Consumers: a Comparison
Reasonable and Unreasonable Collection Letters: a Contrast
Adapting the Letter to the Individual Customer
Follow-up Collection Letters
Letters Appealing to Fairness and Pride
Sins of Collection Letters
Trite Wording in Collection Letters
Timely- topic Appeals
Threatening Collection Letters
The Importance of Visualizing the Correspondent
General Cautions to Observe in Writing Collection Letters
Procedure followed by Department Stores in Collecting Accounts
B. Examine and discuss the following collection letters as a follow-up
on the reports already presented to the class.
94 English for Secretaries
Last month you were good enough to say that you would send us
$10. on January 10.
We do not know whether or not you wanted us to send you a
formal reminder about your pledge. If you did, will you not
consider this letter in that light? Indeed, we would not write you
about your gift now were it not for the fact that we are closing the
campaign on the 16th of this month and would, if possible, like to
have your gift by then.
I shall be so grateful if you will take the time and trouble to get
your check to us in the very near future.
I do want to get my department's records in perfect order, and
much more than that, I hate to keep bothering you with bills.
Please save me that embarrassment.
Your generous subscription to the United Hospital Fund was
deeply appreciated by both the trustees of the fund and the hospitals.
It will help them materially to continue their service to the needy
The enclosed reply envelope is sent you for your convenience in
making the payment on your subscription, which our records indi-
cate you intended to make at this time.
Since you have always cooperated with us in the past, I feel we
may rely upon you now to help us maintain your standard of pay-
ment on your account.
Just send us your check for $95.75 in the enclosed envelope. This
will be helping both yourself and us.
Two weeks ago we sent you a pleasant reminder of a charge
against you on our books.
The Collection Manager tells me that your remittance has not
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 95
Because it is my function to interest you in the sale of our books,
it is naturally a reflection on me if the collection department gets
the impression that you are not living up to the agreement we made
that payment would be made thirty days after shipment.
I know that it is not your intention to delay payment any longer,
so I am enclosing a self-addressed envelope ready to mail your
C. Read the following series of collection letters to note their con-
siderate tone and the omission of any hint as in the earlier letters that
the delinquent may not pay.
Restate the substance of each letter in outline form.
About thirty days ago we filled your order in accordance with the
terms of our ten day free examination offer.
Since the period of examination, with the privilege of return,
expired some time ago, we assume that your failure to remit the
first payment on your account is a matter of oversight.
Accordingly, we show below the amount now due and request
that you send us your check or money order promptly.
You will, we feel sure, recognize that the service of free examina-
tion to all our customers on our long list of technical and business
books can only be maintained if those who send for books observe
the conditions of the agreement.
Payment now due $20.75
According to our records we have not yet received payment of
$20.75 which is now overdue.
You have, no doubt, received the original invoice, and our letter
of recent date explaining that the examination period has expired.
"Please" and "Thank you" are the wonder words of the English
language. When a really important matter has been overlooked
and a pleasant courteous reminder is received with a cheerful
"Please" and a hearty "Thank you," isn't it a pleasure to attend
So please send us this remittance by return mail. Thank you !
96 English for Secretaries
To remind you that's all.
Just a short note to let you know that we missed your payment.
Anything wrong? If so tell us; because we are anxious to please in
all our dealings.
May we hear from you by return mail?
In looking over our accounts, I find that you owe a balance of
$20.75. Our collection department advises me that it has made
every effort to secure payment but that you have not responded.
Under the circumstances I can see no alternative but for me to
pass your account to our attorney with instructions to collect.
Before doing so, however, I am making this personal appeal,
believing that you will remit this amount, or at least make a part
payment now, advising when we may expect the balance.
Won't you please attend to this matter at once and thus keep
your credit with us unblemished? If there is any error in our records
I should be pleased to have you bring it to my attention and I shall
D. Write the credit and collection letters that you believe will best
satisfy the requirements of the following situations.
1. Mrs. Anthony Turner (supply address) owes the Dal ton Paper
Company (supply address) for stationery amounting to $12.50, The
company has already written twice to Mrs. Turner. Write a third letter
asking her for payment.
2. Mr. McKay (supply address) has bought a dinette set on the
partial payment plan from the Donaldson Company (supply address).
The first payment, due in May, has not been received by the company.
Write a letter notifying Mr. McKay of this fact.
3. Mr. McKay replies that he has not received the extension leaves
for the table. Write a letter incorporating his complaint.
4. Write a letter from The Donaldson Company in answer to Mr.
5. Your employer, sales manager of The Drew Publishing Company
(supply address), has sent three books on business English to a teacher
on the understanding that payment is to be made or the books returned
Letters Relating to Credit and Collections 97
unless enough copies are ordered for class use. As no answer has been
received from the teacher, write her a tactful letter reminding her of the
6. Assume that your employer, the owner of the Enterprise Glove
Shop (supply address), has asked you to write a letter to a reference
given by Mrs. Alexander Cameron (supply address) in regard to accept-
ing her as a charge-account customer. Make your letter brief, clear, and
7. Write the answer to the Enterprise Glove shop recommending
Mrs. Cameron as a charge-account customer.
8. Your employer has received a request for credit from Alfred Bryce
(supply address). Write a letter regretting that such a favor cannot be
9. Mrs. Charles McAllen, 390 Lorraine Street, Richmond, Virginia,
requests your employer, the owner of a dress shop (supply name and
address), to accept her as a charge-account customer. Write Mrs.
McAllen's letter and your employer's answer.
10. Your employer, who is opening a shoe store, has asked you to
write a letter offering charge accounts to a selected list of women. Write
the letter stating the advantages of such an account.
11. Write a letter from Mrs. Louis Van Allen accepting the offer of
the charge account stated above. In this she gives the name and address
of her bank and those of stores with which she has accounts.
12. Write Mrs. Van Allen a letter dated two years later, stating that
her account has been inactive for some time. Ask if the service has been
unsatisfactory. Express the desire of the store to please customers and
to have Mrs. Van Allen's patronage renewed.
13. Your employer, president of the Blair Oil Burner Company,
Yonkers, New York, writes to Raymond Burke, Carlisle, Pennsylvania,
whose monthly payment on his oil burner is past due. Urge him to send
a check at once.
14. The Cromwell Hat Company, Danbury, Connecticut, has re-
ceived an order for hats amounting to $325 from Blake & McHugh,
Moline, Illinois. Write to Blake & McHugh thanking them for the
order, but explaining that as the firm has no account with them and as
you have no information regarding their credit responsibility, you
cannot send the merchandise until you have some information regarding
the firm's financial standing.
98 English for Secretaries
BUTTERFIELD, W. H. Successful Collection Letters. New York, McGraw-Hill
Book Company, Inc., 1941.
CHAPIN, A. F. Credit and Collection Principles and Practice. New York,
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1939.
FRAILEY, L. E. Effective Credit and Collection Letters. New York, Prentice-
Hall, Inc., 1941.
IRONS, W. H. Commercial Credit and Collection Practice, with Problems.
New York, The Ronald Press Company, 1942.
MARRA, W. J. Streamlined Letters. St. Louis, National Retail Credit
SELLMAN, E. G. Effective Collection Letters That Bring in the Money Today.
New York, The Ronald Press Company, 1939.
Letters of Application, Reference,
THE LETTER OF APPLICATION
THE order usually observed in a letter of application
is the following: the reason for writing the applica-
tion, personal data, education and training, experience,
references, effective close to stimulate action. Although this
plan may be lacking in originality, it need not be dull or
commonplace. The language and the autobiographical
material give scope for individuality of both expression and
A. Read the following article and letter of advice about writing a
letter of application. Use these suggestions in criticizing the letters of
application on pages 103 to 108 and in writing the letters in the exercise
on pages 108 and 109.
Here are some suggestions which have aided many thousands to write
more effective application letters. They are suggestions rather than iron-
clad rules. We have seen letters that didn't follow all these points and
yet produced good results.
Some Things to Do
1. Before you write your letter, list all the characteristics and experi-
ences desirable for the job you want. You will have some of them.
Opposite each of the qualifications that you do possess, note how you
1 By Sidney and Mary Edlund, "Planning and Practice for Job-hunting
Students,'* The Business Education World, March, 1941.
100 English for Secretaries
can demonstrate to a prospect that you have it. For example, if the job
requires accuracy, you may be able to demonstrate this quality by your
grades in school, by written comments of others who have observed this
characteristic in you, by an example of work well done that required
unusual accuracy, and by the letter you write.
2. In your letter, address an individual. Use full name and give his
3. Offer a service instead of looking for a job. For example, the young
person who wants a job as a salesclerk in a retail store can offer an unu-
sual service if he shows the proprietor that he has an idea of how to send
customers away happy. The secretary is offering a service if she demon-
strates not only her stenographic skills but also proves that she has
initiative and does not have to be told twice.
4. Indicate what you can do in a manner that appeals to your
5. Show you have an appreciation of the functions of the job you
6. If possible, show genuine interest in the work.
7. The courses you have taken in school are not so important as the
skills you have acquired in those courses. You may have taken a course
in bookkeeping, but the important thing is that you can satisfactorily
open and close a simple set of books.
8. The work you have done is not so important as the work your
experience fits you to do for your prospective employer.
9. Sell, first, that which is of most interest to your prospect. If you
are going after a stenographic job in an advertising agency, your opening
sentence should indicate your stenographic skill and your interest or ex-
perience in advertising. You may then devote a paragraph to demonstrat-
ing your stenographic skills, and another to your interest in advertising.
10. Be specific about the kind of job you want.
11. Be specific about your qualifications.
12. Be specific about the results you have obtained.
13. Use facts, examples, or statements by others rather than your
own opinions of yourself and your past work. For example, instead of
saying that you were a good salesclerk for Knox Shoe Store, it would be
better if you could state that on several Saturdays your sales were over
$100; that many returning customers asked specifically for you.
Letters of Application, Reference 101
14. To gain attention, be an individual. Stand out from the crowd.
Write a letter that no one else could sign because it describes you. You
will be different if you are specific and if you appeal to the interests of
the prospective employer.
15. The opening sentence, in particular, should arouse interest. This
is usually done not by generalizations, but by coming to the point at
once. For example "As your stenographer, I'll take your dictation
accurately; in a minimum time you will find on your desk letters that
you will like to sign."
- 16. Make a strong closing one that suggests action by the person
reading your letter.
17. Be your best self.
18. Be sincere.
19. Express yourself naturally; avoid stereotyped business phrases.
20. Use restraint and modesty in expressing opinions.
21. Strive for brevity. Edit and re-edit your letter. Cut out all words,
phrases, and sentences that do not help to show that you can do the
work well. We do not mean that your letter should be short. A long
letter may often be very useful, but it must continue to build interest
22. Check carefully to see that the grammar, spelling, and punctua-
tion are correct.
23. Type your letter on good stationery (not social or hotel stationery).
You have asked me to tell you something about a letter a letter
which will for some of you be the most important one you will ever
write. A letter which will transport you to an active place on the pay roll,
instead of to some unhappy position between the folders of the A-Z files.
A letter which will insure an interview; a letter which may help to cross
the hurdle of that interview which will open the door to the goal
1 "Dear Senior," by Hyla Snider, Connecticut College, New London,
Conn., an impromptu letter to college seniors, which was used as part of a
talk on "The Application Letter," Printers' Ink Monthly, September, 1939.
102 English for Secretaries
You have asked me about "writing" a letter of application. That is
an easy task. The difficult thing is "thinking" such a letter. A lot of
thinking and a little writing is the proper proportion of any compound
which you might concoct. The rest of the recipe is as follows: Mix to-
gether a fair amount of enthusiasm, a dash of confidence, and a full
measure of your training and experience.
In casting about for a single word which should be descriptive of the
letter which you are to write, I have chosen the word "sparkle." It will
be necessary, however, to choose the proper meaning, the correct
shading, of this term. Webster says that "sparkle" means "a little spark"
"a gleam," "a flash." Also, it is "a scintillation." I believe that "a little
spark" is more meaningful for our purpose. A ready wit is the most
useful of gifts, but we should reserve that endowment for a more urgent
need. We should avoid, then, a proclivity for scintillation, but should
through what I hope is no more than natural expression inculcate a
little spark, so that the message will contain a bit of liveliness; so that it
cannot be termed "dull," "indifferent," or "lacking in character."
Do not write this letter at all if you are uninterested in, or vague about,
the achievement under consideration. Find the thing you wish to do,
the undertaking for which you are best prepared, and write a straight-
forward, sincere letter which tells why you think you will be useful in
such a r61e. Curb your desire to express your interest in the position
sought because "it fascinates you," or "because you have always wanted
to live in Boston."
When you have decided to enter a contest, consider the importance of
that competition. Remember that in a race of ten, nine are going to lose,
and that instead of nine, there may be ninety-nine. Write your letter
with a thought for the ninety-nine, who you know may share your
enthusiasm, your eagerness, and perhaps even your fitness, for the coveted
position. Dress your letter up, then, in good, but simple language; pre-
pare it with regard for accuracy and beauty, and send it along with a
hope and a prayer.
B. Look up one of the following topics and make an oral report upon
1. The Importance of the Letter Picture
2. Effective and Weak Opening Paragraphs
Letters of Application, Reference 103
3. Characteristics of Good Letters of Application
4. Examples of Effective Letters Read and Discussed
5. Characteristics of Poor Letters of Application
6. Examples of Colorless Letters Read and Discussed
7. Good and Poor Concluding Paragraphs Contrasted
8. Suggestions and Cautions for the Writer of an Application Letter
C. Read the following letter 1 to note its tabulated form and the specific
requirements demanded by the writer.
Dear Mr. Smith:
Will you help me to locate the right person for the position
described in this letter?
We wish to secure the services of an honest, superior, outstanding
woman to be the secretary to Mr. E. T. Johnson, manager of the
sales division of our company.
The following qualities are necessary:
1 . Type at least sixty words a minute and take notes rapidly.
2. Use correct English in speaking and in writing.
3. Be able to plan and turn out work with dispatch.
4. Have dignity and charming manners.
5. Should not depend on politics for success.
6. Have training and previous experience in business.
7. Work with a constant desire for improvement.
These qualities are desirable:
1. Be acquainted with the industrial problems of the city.
2. Be an active member of one or more educational clubs
and a religious organization.
3. Be between the ages of twenty-five and thirty, or younger.
4. Approximate height, 5 feet 5 inches. (This is important
because of the arrangement of the files.)
General duties of the position are:
1. Answer all daily correspondence.
2. Meet office visitors; answer telephone calls.
3. Keep files of customers and prospects.
1 FORKNER, L. H., OSBORNE, A. O., and O'BRIEN, J. E. Correlated Dictation
and Transcription. Boston, D. C. Heath and Company.
104 English for Secretaries
4. Make the daily appointment schedule.
5. Check on reports of salesmen and results obtained; submit
plans for work to be done.
6. Keep a simple record system of accounts, including itemized
statements of daily expenses in office.
7. Make weekly office reports.
The position is now open and will be filled as soon as possible. It will
pay $1500 a year, and expenses when traveling for the company. If the
person employed gives satisfaction, the salary may be raised at the end
of the first year.
Working conditions in our city are good; living expenses are reason-
able; opportunities for worthy use of leisure are numerous.
Please ask the person who makes application to give all the details
in the first letter and to enclose a good, clear photograph, which will
be returned within three days.
I shall greatly appreciate any assistance you give me in securing the
right person for this position.
Very truly yours,
D. Read the following letter to note the form of the heading used in
an answer to a newspaper advertisement in which a number is sub-
stituted for a name. How could the material in the body of the letter be
5 Cliff Way
Larchmont, New York
September 3, 19-
New York Times
New York, N. Y.
Your advertisement in The New York Times states that you are
looking for a stenographer who has some knowledge of business
I am a graduate of the Somerville High School, Somerville, Massa-
chusetts. I have had three years* experience with the law firm of
Letters of Application, Reference 105
Graham and Graham, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, where I worked
in the stenographic department. I can take dictation at ninety words
a minute and can transcribe my notes neatly and accurately. In
addition, I have studied two years of bookkeeping and have had
experience in geographical, chronological, alphabetical, and subject
filing. I can operate both the Monitor and the plug switchboard.
I shall greatly appreciate an interview to permit you to test whether
or not I am fitted for the position.
E. Read the following letters and be able to give a definite opinion
of each. If you were an employer receiving these letters, which would
impress you favorably, which slightly, which unfavorably? Select two
applicants you would interview.
In answer to your advertisement in this morning's "Eagle"
stating that you wish the services of an efficient stenographer, I wish
to make application for the position.
I have had two years' experience as a stenographer with Blake
Brothers, 911 West Van Buren Street, Chicago. Because of illness
in my family, I find it necessary to move to California and must
resign from my position here.
Several members of Blake Brothers have given me letters of recom-
mendation in which they speak highly of my work and my ability.
I think that my educational background and my business experience
would also meet with your approval.
May I have the privilege of an interview?
I read with particular interest your advertisement in this morn-
ing's Times, since I feel I am particularly fitted for the position now
open in your firm. May I state the reasons why?
1. I am twenty-two years of age, ambitious, eager to learn and
106 English for Secretaries
2. I feel my education should be an asset to me in my endeavor.
I was graduated from Exville High School, Exville, Maine, as
valedictorian of my class in 1940. This was supplemented by a
very thorough secretarial training at Pratt Business School,
400 Madison Avenue. Since that time, I have studied selected
subjects, such as Secretarial Correspondence at Columbia
University, Review of English Grammar at Hunter College,
and several courses at the School of Good Speech.
3. My experience in a secretarial capacity with a Class "A"
real estate concern has given me a true understanding of real
estate, its problems, and phraseology. I was connected with this
firm for two and a half years, and during that time learned
every phase of the business.
This experience was preceded by a rather varied background
which has given me an insight into other lines. This back-
ground included secretarial positions in the U.S. Collection
Agency, the Bland Rayon Association, and the Woman's
4. Real estate is the field in which I am most interested and
happiest. Therefore, the long hours are no drawback. I should
be perfectly willing to work overtime when necessary.
5. My stenography has always been accurate and I take a particu-
lar delight in turning out work which is a credit to the firm I
May I have the opportunity of an appointment with you, at
which time I may further present my qualifications?
I have learned through Mr. Henry Brooks that you have a secretarial
position open in your office. I should like to be considered as an
applicant for this position.
Age Nineteen years
Education I am a graduate of Washington Gardner High School,
Albion, Michigan. In May I completed a two-year
secretarial course at Columbia University, New York
City. In this course were included stenography, type-
Letters of Application, Reference
writing, commercial Spanish, English composition,
and secretarial correspondence.
Experience After I was graduated from high school, I worked for
fourteen months as order clerk in the office of the City
Steel Products Company at Albion. This position,
which called for a high degree of accuracy, gave me a
thorough knowledge of office routine. I also worked
in that same office last summer. Among the positions
I filled at that time were those of secretary to the
president and purchasing agent of the company, file
clerk, and dictaphone operator. As a requisite of the
course at Columbia, I successfully completed the pre-
scribed period of office practice in one of the offices of
Special My work in English composition and secretarial
assets correspondence has taught me to write clearly and
concisely. As a result of my training in commercial
Spanish, I can translate accurately from Spanish
to English and from English to Spanish. I understand
the language and speak it correctly, although not
References Mr. J. J. Miller, Room 509, Broadway and 115 Street,
New York City.
Mr. C. Reginald Smith, Treasurer, City Steel Products
Company, Albion, Michigan.
Rev. A. G. Sherman, 506 South Superior Street,
The position in your office is especially attractive to me since my
whole education has been planned with the hope that I might
obtain work in the foreign department of a well-known organization;
I shall be glad to call at your office for an interview at any time
convenient to you.
Miss Mary Johnson, a friend of mine and a member of the
Women's City Club, has just sent me a copy of the notice posted on
108 English for Secretaries
the Club Bulletin Board regarding a secretarial position in your
It just happens that at the present time I am a secretary in a similar
organization. Because of the uncertainty of the prospects for future
advancement in my present work and because of my experience
of the past five years, I am interested to learn more about this
I was graduated from the Secretarial School of Simmons College
in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1938. In the early fall of that year, I
left home, which is just outside of Boston, to take my first job as
secretary to the Rector of Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This is a downtown church, with a community idea of service. In
connection with the church there is a cafeteria which serves about
1,300 girls each noon at a minimum cost, and also a girls' club with
a membership of about six hundred. As private secretary, I also
acquired some knowledge of social-work organization.
In 1940 I came to New York City as a secretary in the office
of the National Director of the Girl Scouts. During the past three
years, I have worked in this office for the director, her assistants,
and various members of the Board of Directors. I have also handled
the mail of one of the Board members while she has been out of the
I have given you this background to explain my belief that I can
qualify as a first-class stenographer and typist; that I have some
knowledge and training in social work and in social secretarial
duties; and that my entire experience has been in the social work
As yet, I have not had a great many opportunities to demonstrate
executive ability, but I have enjoyed working with people and have
found it comparatively easy to get others to work with and for me.
If you would be interested to talk with me, I should be glad to
come to the office some noon hour between twelve and two o'clock,
or after five in the afternoon, whichever time is convenient for you
to see me.
F. Write three or more of the letters concerning applications described
1. Write an answer to the following advertisement:
Letters of Application, Reference 109
STENOGRAPHER Office offering permanent position: girl considering
future and security preferred; real estate or legal experience an advantage,
but not a necessity; state experience and salary desired. X230 Herald
2. Write a letter of application for a position as secretary to a president
of a publishing house. Assume that you are a college graduate and that
you have had special training and experience that fit you to hold such a
3. Assuming that you are a business-school graduate without experi-
ence, write a letter applying for a position such as you think you could
fill. Give training and stress characteristics that would enable you to do
the work efficiently.
4. A popular novelist needs a stenographer who can type his dictation.
Show in a letter that you are qualified for the position.
5. A busy theatrical producer wishes a secretary possessing diplomacy
and tact. Write an effective application for the position.
6. A principal of a private school wishes a secretary who is a college
graduate interested in school problems. Apply for the position, stating
your qualifications and your interest in such work.
7. Write an answer to the following advertisement:
SECRETARY-STENOGRAPHER wanted immediately permanent posi-
tion Maine city. Desirable qualities: mature in age and judgment with
initiative and pleasing personality, accurate and dependable. Law or adver-
tising agency experience helpful. Write fully giving salary requirements.
P. O. Box 21, Lewiston, Maine.
THE LETTER OF REFERENCE
When an employer receives a letter of application and is
pleasantly enough impressed by it to wish to learn more
about the applicant, he usually writes to the references,
inquiring about the prospective employee's ability, edu-
cation, and character. When the position is a subordinate
one, such a letter called a letter of reference is usually
brief, simply asking about the applicant's general training
and character; but, when the position is one of responsi-
bility requiring special qualifications, the letter may con-
110 English for Secretaries
tain many definite questions or a questionnaire may be
A. Read the following letter to note that since the position to be filled
is a comparatively unimportant one, the information asked for is of a
An application for a position in our stenographic department
has been sent to us by Mr. John Stanton, who has given your name
as a reference.
We should appreciate any information that you might be able to
give us in regard to Mr. Stanton's ability and character.
B. Read the following letter to note that since the position to be filled
is an important one, the information asked for is definite and detailed.
Olive Horton has applied to us for a position as correspondence
supervisor. On her application she stated that she had been in your
employ for three years and that she was looking for a new position
because the department in which she worked is being discontinued.
Since we require a record of character and ability of all applicants
we shall appreciate your answering the following questions concern-
ing Miss Horton.
1. Does her education and training fit her to hold the position of
2. Has she had experience in your firm in supervising an office
3. Is she tactful in giving directions?
4. Is she well poised emotionally?
5. Can she adapt herself readily to changing situations?
6. Do you place full confidence in her integrity?
7. What do you consider her chief qualities of strength and
THE LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
Request for a Letter of Recommendation. Usually
when an individual asks for a letter of recommendation,
he should include in such a request (1) the dates of his
connection with the company, (2) his position and salary
Letters of Application, Reference 1 1 1
while with the concern, (3) the kind of position he is apply-
for, (4) appreciation for the letter.
1. Write to a former employer, Mr. A. R. Mason, explaining that
you wish to leave your present position to work as secretary with M.
Kinley & Company (supply address). Ask Mr. Mason to send a letter
of recommendation for you to M. Kinley & Company.
2. Write to ask a former employer whom you have not seen for several
years to send you a general letter of recommendation.
General and Specific Letters of Recommendation.
Letters of recommendation are of two kinds: the general,
"To whom it may concern"; and the specific, written to
a definite person or firm often in answer to a request
regarding an applicant.
In the general letters, which carry less weight than the
specific, no inside address or complimentary close is used.
The words To whom it may concern, which represent the
salutation, are usually written either without capitalization
or with every letter capitalized, as TO WHOM IT MAY
Read the following letters and be able to give reasons for your opinion
of each. In judging them, take into consideration the following points:
clearness, conciseness, sincerity, effective use of words, originality of
expression, effect on the correspondent.
25 Maple Drive
June 5, 19
To whom it may concern:
Miss Clara Winter has been an invaluable secretary-housekeeper
to me. She is not only thoroughly trained and experienced; but she
has natural gifts that fit her to be of service to a busy woman with a
112 English for Secretaries
large household. She is loyal, dependable, patient, and sweet-
tempered. She adapts herself with entire satisfaction to every depart-
ment of the household. Miss Winter is an excellent shopper; and, on
occasions when she has chaperoned young people for me, she has
proved herself most acceptable, both to the young people and to me.
Few women can fill a resident-secretarialship as Miss Winter does
(so few, indeed, that I never found anyone else who was really
satisfactory) but I can think of no household however difficult
where she would not be valued in this capacity.
Deborah L. Johnson
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
Miss Gertrude Mabon has been connected with this company for
nearly seven years, commencing as stenographer and working up
to the position of private secretary and assistant manager in this
office. A change in the organization of the company makes it desir-
able for Miss Mabon to make a change in the near future, conse-
quently this letter in her behalf, hoping that it will be of assistance
to her in securing a position worthy of her ability.
Miss Mabon has practically had charge of our office force for a
number of years, and demonstrates her ability to handle people,
working with them in a pleasing and congenial manner.
I do not hesitate to recommend her for any position to which she
will aspire, because I know her to be a young woman of ability
along her line of work, with fine personality and character. Her
seven years with this organization have demonstrated that she is
honest, reliable, energetic, and worthy of the confidence of her
George U. Never s
To whom it may concern:
Miss Barbara S. Lawrence has been for two years my personal
secretary. She is now leaving me because I am unable to offer her
the assurance of increased salary, which her efficiency and ability
Letters of Application, Reference 113
During a year while I was absent in San Francisco, she was in
charge of my office and handled its work with skill and success.
Her memory, quick comprehension, attention to details, wide
experience, fidelity, accuracy, and ability to carry responsibility
have made her exceedingly valuable.
It is with deep personal regret that I am letting her go.
To whom it may concern:
This will serve to introduce the bearer of this letter, Miss Gladys
Peabody, who, after five years of employment with this company
as secretary and stenographer to the Eastern Manager, has tendered
her resignation in order that she may seek further advancement in
Her resignation has been accepted with the keenest regret of her
employers and only because of the fact that she now occupies the
most advanced position available and the advancement to which
she is justly entitled cannot be provided.
Miss Peabody's character and ability are such as to qualify her
for any secretarial position requiring unquestioned tact, honesty,
dependability, and loyalty. She is trustworthy, conscientious to a
high degree, extremely accurate, and efficient and has served her
employers during the past five years with an unusual degree of
loyalty and self-sacrifice.
It is with the greatest pleasure that I recommend her for any
position of extreme responsibility, knowing that she will make good
under any and all circumstances.
For the past ten years Miss Mary McBreen has been my confi-
dential secretary. She is an exceptionally competent young woman,
possessed of unusual intelligence and a splendid personality. I have
varied interests in my business, several of which I have recently
undertaken, and have found Miss McBreen as capable in each new
venture as in the old. She is an expert stenographer and a most
efficient secretary, having handled many details and a part of my
correspondence on her own initiative. She is honorable in all her
114 English for Secretaries
dealings and is a splendid character. I would not ask for a better
secretary than Miss McBreen has been to me.
I regret that she is leaving me, and I most heartily recommend
her in the highest terms to anvone seeking the services of an execu-
tive confidential secretary.
I am very glad, in reply to your letter of November 22, to recom-
mend Miss Helen Johnson. Miss Johnson obtained her Ph. D. from
this University a year ago under my direction and has since been
assisting me in my laboratory work.
She has shown herself capable of following directions in setting up
apparatus, as well as in carrying out important experiments without
aid. She is thoroughly grounded in the fundamentals of physics
and chemistry and would be entirely capable of conducting your
I heartily recommend Miss Johnson as a young woman of unusual
ability in the field of physical chemistry. She has proved so careful,
painstaking, capable, and enthusiastic that it has been a genuine
pleasure to work with her.
The Letter Refusing Recommendation. When recom-
mendation cannot properly and honestly be given, the
letter of refusal may be a brief and frank but courteous
statement of the reason why the request cannot be granted.
Read the following examples to note how a letter refusing recom-
mendation might be worded.
In answer to your request for a recommendation to be sent to
Johnson and Johnson, I feel that I am not well enough acquainted
with your work and character to be able to write such a letter for
You may recall that you were with us a short time about six
weeks during which period I was called to our New England office.
Letters of Application, Reference 115
I had, therefore, little opportunity to observe your work or to arrive
at an estimate of your character or ability.
I am sorry that I cannot truthfully give you the recommendation
In answer to your request for a recommendation from Exville
High School, I regret that I cannot furnish you with one. If you
review your work here, you will, I am sure, recognize the fact that I
could not conscientiously recommend a girl whose record bears the
following notes over and over: late, tardy, homework not done,
I am sorry that I am unable to do as you ask, but I regret still
more the fact that you did not make the most of your opportunities
in this school.
Consider the case of each of the letters of recommendation called for
)elow, and make your letters such as you would be glad to receive under
1 . Write a letter of recommendation for an exceptionally competent
iccountant who is applying for the position of credit manager in a
2. Write a letter of recommendation for a high-school graduate
vithout experience who wishes work as a saleswoman in a dress shop.
3. Recommend a college graduate for a scholarship offered for a
rear's study in Chile by a North American Federation.
4. As personnel director of a department store, write a letter of
ecommendation for an employee who has applied for the position of
)uyer, adjustment manager, or advertising manager of a department
tore in another city.
5. In answer to a request for a general letter of recommendation,
vrite such a letter for a dressmaker, a milliner, or an upholsterer.
6. Write a recommendation for a friend's son, who wishes a summer
>osition. Assume that the boy is inexperienced, but that he is intelligent,
icalthy, and reliable.
7. A college instructor has been asked by a placement bureau to
vrite a recommendation for an applicant for a secretarial position.
116 English for Secretaries
Write the letter, stressing the type of work done by the applicant in
college, her social background, and training, which especially fit her for
8. Write a letter of recommendation for a chauffeur, a gardener, or
a caretaker, who is going to another state.
9. Write a letter to a friend recommending a hotel, a club, or a
10. Write a letter recommending a play, a book, or a concert to a
friend who has asked your opinion.
THE LETTER OF INTRODUCTION
Letters of introduction are closely related to letters of
recommendation. The purpose is sometimes the same the
securing of a position for the person recommended or
introduced. The letter of introduction, however, often
serves simply to bring together friends or acquaintances for
some mutual advantage sometimes business, sometimes
Walter Hines Page writes to Theodore Roosevelt intro-
ducing the Archbishop of York: 1
Dear Mr. Roosevelt:
The Archbishop of York goes to the United States to make some
observations of us and of our ways and to deliver addresses on the
invitation of some one of our church organizations; a fortunate event
for us and, I have ventured to tell him, for him also.
During his brief stay in our country, I wish him to make your
acquaintance, and I have given him a card of introduction to you,
and thus I humbly serve you both.
The Archbishop is a man and a brother, a humble, learned,
earnest, companionable fellow, with most charming manners and
I HENDRICK, BURTON J. Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page. Boston,
Houghton Mifflin Company.
Letters of Application, Reference 117
an attractive personality, a good friend of mine, which argues much
for him and (I think) implies also something in my behalf. You will
I am, dear Mr. Roosevelt,
Walter H. Page
James Russell Lowell introduces William Dean Howells
to Nathaniel Hawthorne: 1
My dear Hawthorne,
I have no masonic claim upon you except community of tobacco,
and the young man who brings this does not smoke.
But he wants to look at you, which will do you no harm, and him
a great deal of good.
His name is Howells, and he is a fine young fellow, and has written
several poems in the "Atlantic," which of course you have never
read, because you don't do such things yourself, and are old enough
to know better.
When I think how much you might have profited by the perusal
of certain verses of somebody who shall be nameless but, no
matter! If my judgment is good for anything, this youth has more in
him than any of our younger fellows in the way of rhyme.
Of course he can't hope to rival the Consule Planco men. Therefore
let him look at you, and charge it
To yours always,
J. R. Lowell
Write a letter of introduction suitable to each of the following cases.
1. Write a letter to a friend, the owner of the Gift Mart of Atlantic
City, introducing Miss Margaret Bennett, who is planning a trip to
Mexico to collect unusual merchandise suitable for gift shops.
2. A friend wishes to obtain some information concerning details of
personnel management in a department store. Introduce him by letter
1 From Letters of James Russell Lowell, ed. by Charles Eliot Norton. New
York, Harper & Brothers.
118 English for Secretaries
to the manager of such a department, asking that he be granted an
3. Assuming that you are a publisher, write a letter to a publishing
house, introducing a writer whose manuscript seems to you excellent
but not the type of work published by your company.
4. As the author of a successful book, write a letter to a literary
acquaintance introducing a young writer of promise.
5. Write a letter to a business acquaintance, to a society woman, or
to a politician, introducing a young newspaper writer who wishes an
6. Assuming that a friend has asked your advice in regard to an
architect for a summer house, write a letter introducing an architect
who has had special training in planning such houses.
7. Assuming that you are a real estate broker, write a letter to a
broker in a distant city introducing a client who wishes to buy a home hi
a good residential neighborhood.
8. Write a letter introducing a young friend from Connecticut who is
moving to Pasadena to an old friend now living in that city.
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness
Letters, Personal Letters and Notes
IN LARGE organizations, notes of inquiry and informa-
tion are frequently sent from one department to
another. Such notes should carry the name of the addressee,
when necessary the name of his department or his room
number, the name of the writer (not his initials), and the
date. The word Dear in the salutation, and the compli-
mentary closing, Tours sincerely, are usually omitted.
Since different organizations may have different pro-
cedures for interdepartmental notes, the new employee
should become familiar with the particular forms used.
Printing schedules for the catalog are as follows: June 23, two
machines; June 26, ten machines.
G. S. Kelly
Would you be willing to act as chairman of a committee to
arrange a luncheon in June for Miss Allen, who is leaving us to take
a position in Dallas?
120 English for Secretaries
SEMIBUSINESS AND SOCIAL CORRESPONDENCE
As a secretary may be called on by her employer to write
letters that are of a semibusiness or even of a social nature,
she should know the correct form for such letters, which
differs from business correspondence in make-up, as well
as in tone and subject.
Form of the Semibusiness Letter
The Heading. Like the business letter, the semibusiness
letter may be typewritten, but the formal appearance is
usually modified by placing the inside address in the lower
left-hand corner flush with the margin instead of above
the salutation or by omitting the inside address entirely.
The date line is usually placed, as in a business letter, flush
with the left-hand margin below the letterhead, or below
the address on paper without a letterhead.
The Salutation. The salutation in a semibusiness letter
should never carry such a formal greeting as Gentlemen,
Dear Sir, or My dear Mr. Blank, but should read Dear Air.
Blank, Dear Mrs. Blank, or Dear Miss Blank.
The Inside Address. When an inside address is used, the
punctuation following the salutation should be a colon;
when the inside address is omitted, the punctuation may be
a colon or a comma depending on the tone and the subject
of the letter.
The Complimentary Closing. The formality of business
closings such as Yours truly or Very truly yours are inappropri-
ate for a semibusiness letter. Very sincerely yours, Faithfully
yours, and Cordially yours are more suitable and more con-
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 121
sistent with the personal tone the writer wishes to
Block or Indented Style. In these semibusiness letters block
style, modified block style, or indented may be used; but
probably the modified block style, that is, the block form
in letter parts with the indented form in the body of the
letter, is the most popular. This looks less businesslike than
the extreme block style and many business men consider
it more up-to-date and more attractive than the consist-
ently indented style.
The Subject of the Semibusiness Letter, Letters of
this type embrace a wide variety of subjects. Some of the
most usual, probably, are letters relating to club matters,
as invitations to speakers, acceptance or refusal to address
associations; invitations, notes of acceptance and regret
to functions that could not be classified as purely social;
letters of congratulation to acquaintances who have won
recognition in business, politics, or professional life; letters
of appreciation in answer to such letters of congratulation;
letters expressing gratitude.
The Tone of the Semibusiness Letter. To prescribe
the tone of such letters would be presumptuous and absurd,
as the best letters of this type express the personality of the
writer and, therefore, cannot be run into a mold. Origi-
nality of ideas and expression, sincerity, friendliness, but
not cheap cordiality, and avoidance of stiffness and of
stereotyped expression should characterize these letters
which steer a middle course between the formality of the
strictly business letter arid the informal, personal tone of
purely social correspondence.
122 English for Secretaries
A. Examine the following notes to compare them in form and tone
with business letters.
200 Euclid Avenue,
September 24, 19.
Dear Miss Palmer:
The members of our Friday Club invite you to give your lecture
on Latin American costumes and customs before our group on the
afternoon of October seventh or November eighth at three o'clock.
We hope that your many engagements will not prevent you from
accepting our invitation and that you will let me know your terms
for the lecture.
Miss Anita Palmer,
Hotel St. Clair,
350 Fifth Avenue
New York, N. Y.
September 10, 19
Dear Miss Whitcomb:
Welcome back to town, to work, and to your friends. I hope to
hear when I call upon you that you have had a pleasant and restful
vacation and are looking forward to the winter with the best of
I know you will be interested in the new art books I have to show
you on September seventeenth when I shall call at your office.
C. H. Dana
Miss Florence Whitcomb
Haaren High School
New York, N. Y.
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 123
5 Cliff Way,
Larchmont, N. Y.,
May 1, 19.
Dear Mrs. Leslie:
Since Mr. Tilden has been called to Boston because of the serious
illness of his daughter, he will be unable to be present at the luncheon
given by the Civic Improvement Society, May fifth. He wishes me
to tell you that he regrets causing you the inconvenience of finding
a speaker at the last minute and that nothing of a trivial nature
would interfere with his plans to be present at the dinner.
Secretary to Mr. Tilden
Mrs. Edward Leslie,
128 Broad Street,
Bloomfield, N. J.
1417 Sixth Street,
March 20, 19.
Dear Mrs. Patterson:
Dr, Peabody is out of town at present and is not expected back
until the first of April, at which time I shall be glad to call to his
attention your letter and invitation to address your organization.
Secretary to Dr. Peabody
Mrs. Richard Patterson,
2615 Park Avenue,
B. Read the following answers to invitations, which may serve as
models on which to pattern later exercises. Headings, salutations, com-
plimentary closes, and signatures are omitted here. For correct form, see
the examples in Exercise A.
124 English for Secretaries
It would give me much pleasure to sing at the Community Club
on May seventh; but, unfortunately, as I have a tentative engage-
ment for that afternoon, I cannot accept your kind invitation.
I realize how important it is for you to arrange the club programs
well in advance. If it would be possible for you to leave this date
open until April twentieth, I might be able to give an affirmative
answer as I should so like to do. If leaving this open so late would
embarrass you, don't hesitate to make other more definite plans.
Dr. Cornelia Peabody has asked me to inform you that she is
pleased to accept your invitation to address the Community Club on
May twelfth at four o'clock on Problems of Modern Mothers.
I am gratified by your kind invitation to address the Community
Club on a topic relating to village improvement. If circumstances
permitted, I should be glad to accept your invitation, as I am thor-
oughly interested in Westchester County and should be pleased to
cooperate with the Club in suggesting ways of beautifying those
places you mention as not conforming to Scarsdale standards. I am
looking forward to so full a calendar for the next few months, how-
ever, that I have decided not to accept any invitations to speak until
I wish the Club the best of success in its work and trust that
through its efforts your town may continue to be known throughout
Greater New York as one of the most beautiful in the country.
Will you please present to the club my regrets that I cannot be
present at the regular meeting to be held on June twentieth, as an
unexpected trip out of town to speak at a political meeting makes
my absence necessary.
I am looking forward to attending the annual flower show and
should appreciate your sending me six tickets for the dinner and
dance to be given on October second. You will find enclosed my
check for $15.
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 125
C. Write the notes of appreciation and congratulation that would fit
the situations suggested in the following instructions. Be sure that all
necessary parts are included and correctly placed.
1 . Write a note of appreciation to a business acquaintance who has
sent you a book or an article that you had expressed a desire to read.
2. Write a note of appreciation to a business acquaintance who sent
you a game, a book, fruit, a radio, or some other gift while you were ill
in the hospital.
3. On leaving Detroit for a better position in Chicago, you were
presented with a gift by the office force. Write a note of appreciation.
4. Write a note of appreciation to the president of your company
who increased your salary before he started on his vacation.
5. Write a note of appreciation to your employer for his granting
you an extra week's vacation with pay.
6. Write a note of appreciation to a business acquaintance for a letter
of recommendation that influenced another company to employ you
in a more responsible, better paying position.
7. You have been selected to represent your company in Chile.
Write a letter of appreciation to a business acquaintance who called the
attention of the Board of Directors to your qualifications for the position,
8. As a businessman, write a letter of appreciation to a friend in a
distant city who introduced you to a firm that, on his recommendation,
employed you as secretary, credit manager, or accountant.
9. Write a note to the editor of a newspaper congratulating him on
the stand his paper has taken on an important municipal question.
10. Write a note of congratulation to a former employer who has
recently become the president of an important business organization.
11. Write a letter of congratulation to an acquaintance who has been
recently appointed to public office.
12. Write a note congratulating a news commentator or a columnist
on his clear, fair-minded presentation of some particular news.
D. Write the notes of invitation acceptance, and regret that would
fit the requirements of the situations suggested in the following instruc-
tions. Be sure that all necessary parts are included and correctly placed.
1. Write an invitation to an acquaintance to have luncheon and
meet several prominent men who are interested hi a civic, an educa-
tional, or a social program for your town or city.
2. Write a note accepting this invitation.
126 English for Secretaries
3. Write a note expressing appreciation of the invitation to the
luncheon and regretting your inability to attend.
4. Write an invitation to a prominent lecturer to address a club.
State the amount usually paid by the club for such services.
5. Write a note of regret from the lecturer stating why it is impossible
to accept the invitation and suggest that it might be possible to speak at
some later meeting.
6. Assume that your company has been asked if a group of business-
men might inspect your factory. Write a cordial letter inviting the group
and suggest the best hours for such a visit.
7. Write an invitation to an authority on gardens to speak at a tea
to be given by a garden club.
8. As a member of a club, write to the president accepting an invita-
tion to speak on one of your hobbies.
9. Write an invitation to a city official to speak before a business-
10. Write an invitation to a prominent doctor to be present at a
business or professional women's dinner and to make the address of the
11. Write a note of acceptance or of regret such as the doctor might
write if invited to speak before a medical association.
12. Write a note of regret to a hostess who has invited your employer
to a dinner in honor of a distinguished scientist.
13. Write a note of regret to a business acquaintance of your em-
ployer's explaining his inability to accept a week-end visit to the country.
14. Write a note of regret canceling an engagement of your employer's
to have luncheon with a business acquaintance.
E. Write the letters concerning appointments that are indicated in
the following instructions.
1. Write a letter to a president of a business or a literary club, asking
for an appointment to discuss a course of lectures you have been asked
2. As secretary to the head of a publishing firm, write a letter post-
poning an appointment with an author who has already had his ap-
pointment arranged for a certain day.
3. In the name of your chief, write a letter asking for an appointment
on a certain day with the Mayor of your city to discuss a municipal
matter of importance.
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 127
4. As secretary of the Mayor, answer this letter, stating that the date
requested is already taken for another appointment, and suggest a later
hour when the Mayor will be free.
5. As secretary of a government official, write to a businessman in
Baltimore, asking him to come to Washington to meet your chief, who
wishes to discuss with him a bill that is before Congress.
6. As secretary to a banker, write a letter to directors of the bank,
asking that a special meeting of the board be arranged for a certain date.
7. As secretary to the president of a business firm, write a letter to a
salesman asking him to call at a certain time for an interview. Write a
second letter, changing the date for the interview.
8. You wish to visit a college to obtain information for a magazine
article. Write to the president asking for such a privilege.
9. You, as an investigator of youthful delinquency, wish to discuss
cases with a high-school dean in a distant city. Write to the dean for an
10. Write a note confirming an appointment made by telephone
for an interviewer to call on your employer.
PERSONAL LETTERS AND NOTES
Formerly, it was considered poor taste to typewrite per-
sonal letters. Emily Post explains this attitude as arising
from the fact that "such letters were always dictated to a
stenographer, which naturally brought a stranger into the
picture. . , . But in the present day, when most people
themselves use a typewriter, this objection no longer holds
The Form of the Personal Letter. The heading that
is, the street, the city, the state, and the date line may be
placed as usual on the right, above the body of the letter.
Today, when personal stationery often carries the address
at the top of the page, the date line may be written below
the address, the last item forming the right-hand margin for
the letter. To give a less formal appearance, the date is fre-
quently written below the letter at the left-hand margin, as
128 English for Secretaries
June 9, 1943, June 9, June ninth, or simply the day, as
Informal Notes for Social Occasions. Informal notes,
such as notes of invitation, notes of acceptance and regret,
notes of condolence, should be handwritten by the corre-
spondent, not by the secretary, except in the case of a social
secretary who takes over the burden of correspondence for
her employer and would indicate her position under her
Dear Mrs. Jervis,
Will it be possible for you and Mr. Jervis to join us at a dance at
the Southboro Country Club on Friday evening, the tenth of
November? We hope that you have no engagement for that evening
and that we may call for you at nine o'clock.
Dear Mrs. Mansfield,
Mr. Graham and I are delighted to accept your kind invitation
to dine with you on June third and to meet your friends, Mr. and
Mrs. Montgomery. We are looking forward to an enjoyable evening.
Marjorie Fenton Graham
3 Old Army Road
May 15, 19.
Dear Miss Bailey,
Your letter, with explicit directions for my transcontinental trip,
Aas reached me in time for me to make several changes in my
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 129
schedule. I am very grateful for the care with which you have laid
out my route and for the helpful list of hotels you have appended.
The only reward I can hold out to you for your advice and counsel
is that I promise not to bore you by relating every detail of my trip
on my return !
I am now able to sit up in my hospital bed and to hold a pen in a
somewhat trembling hand. I am glad to be able to thank you at
last for the many delightful books you have sent me. They have not
only made the weary hours pass more quickly, but they are also
books that I am glad to own and to reread.
Let me express again my gratitude for your kindness and for the
care you have taken to select the type of books in which I am
particularly in teres ted .
15 Evergreen Avenue
Your employer, Alice Eaton French (Mrs. Francis M. French),
President of the Woman's Community Club, as well as the head of a
business organization, has decided to spend the morning catching up
with her social correspondence. As her secretary, write four of the fol-
lowing notes, adding the correct letter parts for social correspondence.
1. An informal invitation to a friend to spend the week end at Mrs.
French's country home.
2. An invitation to a friend to luncheon and a matinee.
3. An acceptance to an invitation from an old friend to dinner and
4. A note of regret at inability to accept an invitation to the theater.
5. A note of appreciation for flowers, a book, a vase, or some other
6. A note to a friend in a hospital.
130 English for Secretaries
7. A note of appreciation to a friend for a week-end visit.
8. A note congratulating a close friend or a relative on an achieve-
ment, such as obtaining a degree, securing an important position,
painting a picture, or writing a magazine article or a book.
9. A letter of congratulation to a relative who has been awarded a
fellowship for a year's study in South America.
1 0. A letter of congratulation to a friend who has been promoted to
an important business position.
Formal Notes. Since a secretary is often called upon
to write formal notes, she should be familiar with the correct
form. The formal invitations a businessman would send out,
however, would be engraved, and, therefore, neither he nor
his secretary need be overly concerned about this form, as a
good engraver will know what is correct in stationery, in
wording, and in arrangement.
Invitations of a social nature would ordinarily be sent to
a man and his wife, addressed to his home rather than to his
office, and answered by his wife; but in large cities where a
man's business associates do not know his home address or
his family, formal invitations are addressed to him at his
office. Possibly, too, a man is a bachelor, a widower, or
divorced, so that invitations are sent to him and must be
answered by him or by his secretary.
Double note paper, never business paper, should be used
for formal correspondence and such notes must be hand-
written. Indention such as is found in the engraved invita-
tion is preferred, but not required. The wording of the
answer should follow the wording of the invitation.
SPECIAL REMINDERS FOR FORMAL NOTES
1. Omit the heading both the address of the writer
and the date line.
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 131
2. Omit the salutation, the complimentary closing, and
3. In answering formal notes, use wording identical with
that of the invitation.
4. In answering formal notes, use indentions similar to
those of the invitation or write the answer in block para-
5. Do not omit surnames or titles:
Correct: Mr. and Mrs. Robert French
Correct: The Reverend and Mrs. Lawrence Stevenson
Correct: Doctor and Mrs. Fulton R. Sutherland
6. Do not abbreviate such words as Doctor, Governor , or
7. Do not abbreviate avenue, boulevard, or street. The street
number may be in figures or written out: 29 Hancock Street,
Twenty-nine Hancock Street, or Twenty Nine Hancock Street.
8. The name of the state may be omitted when invita-
tions are sent to guests in the same city or when it is other-
wise unnecessary. When used, however, the name of the
state should never be abbreviated.
9. In very formal notes, such as wedding invitations, the
hour, the day, and the year are written out, instead of being
given in figures, as on January twenty-fifth at eight-thirty, on
Tuesday the twenty-fifth of January at eight-thirty, nineteen
hundred and forty-three, one thousand nine hundred and forty-three.
10. When a reply is desired, this is signified by writing
below the invitation to the left: A reply is requested, The favor
of an answer is requested, Kindly send response to ,
Kindly reply to , R.s.v.p., orR.S.V.P.
Suppose a man received a note like the following and gave
it to his secretary to answer, note how she should express
132 English for Secretaries
his acceptance of the invitation or his regret at his inability
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Harrington
request the pleasure of
Mr. Roger Van Allen's
company at the
Twenty Fifth Anniversary of their Marriage
on Wednesday, the seventh of June
at nine o'clock
Ten Cliff Way
The favor of an answer is requested
(Form duplicating indentions used in invitation)
Mr. Roger Van Allen
accepts with pleasure
the kind invitation of
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Harrington
to be present on the
Twenty Fifth Anniversary of their Marriage
* * *
A Note of Regret
(Form written without indentions)
Mr. Roger Van Allen regrets that he is unable to accept the kind
invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Harrington to be present on the
Twenty Fifth Anniversary of their marriage
Suppose an invitation like the following is received; notice
how the secretary might answer it.
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 133
University of Exville
have the honor to invite
Mr. Peter Grant Stanley
to be present at the
President Elizabeth Zabriskie
at Blanktown, Wisconsin
on Thursday, the sixth of October
at four o'clock
The favor of a reply is requested
* # *
Mr. Peter Grant Stanley
regrets that he is unable to be present at the
President Elizabeth Zabriskie
University of Exville
on Thursday, the sixth of October
nineteen hundred and forty-four
In sending regrets, the hour is omitted. The reason for not
attending may or may not be given. The usual one of having
a previous engagement is often included since the note seems
less brusque with this addition.
Invitations with the word your instead of the hand-
written name are in good form, but must be answered in the
third person throughout as though the name of the person
invited had occurred on the invitation.
134 English for Secretaries
(Using the second person instead of the guest's name)
On behalf of the Trustees of Exville College
Dean Mary Louise Hutchins
requests the pleasure of your company
at the Alumnae Luncheon
Saturday, June the eighth, at one o'clock
in Roosevelt Hall
Please reply to Dean Hutchins
not later than May the twenty-ninth
Using the formal notes above as examples, write the notes and an-
nouncements indicated below.
1. Write a formal note of acceptance to Dean Hutchins' invitation.
2. Write a formal note of regret at your inability to attend a wedding
3. Write a formal invitation such as the Secretary of Labor of the
United States or some other high government official might send out
inviting you to the dedication of a building for the Department of Labor.
Such invitations would, of course, be engraved; but a secretary should,
nevertheless, know the correct form.
4. In the name of a club, write a formal invitation to a reception to
meet a person distinguished for his knowledge of world affairs.
5. Write an announcement to be sent from a university office, in-
viting principals, advisers, and deans of high schools to a luncheon.
6. Write a formal announcement of the opening of a new shop for
women's accessories, to be sent to a selected group of patrons.
7. Write an announcement to be sent in the name of the officers and
trustees of a bank, inviting depositors to view the newly enlarged banking
office on its opening day.
8. Write an announcement to be sent to prominent people, requesting
the pleasure of their company at the opening reception of the annual
exhibition of the Artists' League. Give complete information of time
Interdepartmental Notes, Semibusiness Letters 135
HARRIMAN, GRACE. Mrs. Oliver Harriman's Book of Etiquette; a Modern
Guide to the Best Social Form. New York, Greenberg, Publisher, Inc.,
POST, EMILY. Etiquette; the Blue Book of Modern Usage. New York, Funk &
Wagnalls Company, 1940.
TAINTOR, S. A., and MONRO, K. M. The Handbook of Social Correspond-
ence; Notes, Letters, and Announcements for Various Occasions. New York,
The Macmillan Company, 1936.
TAINTOR, S. A., and MONRO, K. M., comps. The Book of Modern Letters.
New York, The Macmillan Company, 1933.
Outlines, Precis, the Writing of Minutes,
the Preparation of Manuscripts for
Definition. An outline is the topical arrangement of
subject matter, divided in accordance with the importance
of the ideas into main heads and subheadings.
Value to the Secretary. The secretary will find making
outlines valuable as a preliminary step in writing a precis or
abstract because they will clarify her understanding of what
she reads and show the relation of ideas and their relative
importance. She will also find them helpful in planning
letters and in drawing up reports because they aid logical
thinking and provide a framework for a more expanded
1 . Use central ideas for main topics.
2. Place details in subtopics, indenting these to the right
of the main topic.
3. Be consistent in the form used. Main topics must all be
sentences or must all be phrases. Subtopics also must con-
form to one pattern.
4. Use numerals and letters to show the relations between
Outlines, Precis, the Writing of Minutes 137
5. Never use one subtopic only. If a topic is to be
divided, it must have at least two subdivisions.
I. Main topic
II. Main topic
h. Fourth rank
b. Fourth rank
1) Fifth rank
2) Fifth rank
a) Sixth rank
b) Sixth rank
(1) Seventh rank
(2) Seventh rank
Write the outlines indicated in the following instructions.
1 . Make an outline of a news article.
2. Outline a sales letter or a letter to an editor.
3. Present a report in outline form, showing the advantages and the
disadvantages of using a certain business machine.
4. Present in outline form the advantages and disadvantages of an
office building that your employer is considering for occupancy.
5. Make an outline for a speech that your employer plans to make
before an association, to induce the members to hold a convention in
Definition, A pr6cis is a clear, accurate condensation of
material. It is really an outline expressed in paragraphs
138 English for Secretaries
instead of indented form. It should retain the essential
ideas of the original reduced to about a third the length.
Value to the Secretary. Since a secretary is often
called on to make digests of letters, technical reports, articles
occurring in periodicals, or even of books, she must know
how to condense such material.
1. Read the material thoughtfully to grasp the central
2. Reread the material to distinguish the essential from
the nonessential ideas, so that details not absolutely neces-
sary to an understanding of the passage may be omitted.
3. Omit adjectives, examples, quotations, comparison,
figures of speech, and repetitions used in the original for
4. Take brief notes on the significant points. These may
well be in outline form.
5. Guided by these notes, write a summary that will
reproduce the author's ideas. Avoid giving your own point
6. Reread your pr6cis and compare it with the original. Be
sure that you have covered the main points so that a p'erson
reading your summary would grasp the thought of the
A. Write a precis of each of the following paragraphs.
1. Sensing the hunger of men for old-age protection, the Federal
Government enacted a Social Security Act. By an income tax levied
upon the pay envelope of the worker and a like amount of income tax
for each such worker levied upon his employer, this Act empowers the
Treasury to amass certain large sums toward old-age pensions. The
Outlines, Pr6cis, the Writing of Minutes 139
maximum pension is, however, very small. It is to be as much as $85
a month only in very rare cases. Nevertheless, as applied to wage workers
whose savings are often occasional, the Act has started an enforced and
continuous saving for and on behalf of the wage worker.
2. The conventions of writing are many and troublesome. Some of
them, such as those of spelling and capitalization, really do not matter
very much, intrinsically. But they are firmly established social habits;
other people judge us by those things; the sensible man conforms. Other
writing conventions most of them, in fact have a more practical basis.
The purpose of writing is to convey thought, and it is able to accomplish
its purpose by the use of symbols words, sentence structures, punctua-
tion, numerals, abbreviations which have the same meaning to the
reader as they have to the writer. People have a common agreement, a
convention, about these symbols. When, in writing, you violate any part
of this convention, you at once put your meaning in doubt. If you don't
use the signs the reader understands, how can he get your meaning?
You simply do not accomplish your purpose of giving your thought to
the reader. Besides, you suffer the usual loss of the convention-breaker,
in that you may be considered queer, ignorant, or an outlaw. 1
3. The files form a vital part of the records of every office. The object
of filing letters and papers is not simply to dispose of them the waste-
basket could serve that purpose but to provide a temporary or perma-
nent storage space for papers and letters, and to make it easy to find
those papers or letters when they are wanted. The average businessman
is not expected to remember the prices quoted, the contracts accepted,
or the letters written, if he can depend upon the office files and records to
furnish him instantly the information that he desires. These records may
consist of correspondence, miscellaneous information, or financial data.
A good filing method is one that is adapted to the business, that can be
depended upon for accuracy, and that will produce at once the informa-
tion wanted. Different kinds of records may require different methods
of indexing or a certain kind of equipment, but the purpose is the same
to make the desired information immediately available. 2
B. Write a pr6cis of a recent newspaper editorial or feature article.
1 OLIVER, LESLIE M. Technical Exposition. New York, McGraw-Hill Book
8 ROBINSON, E. M. Training for the Modern Office. New York, McGraw-Hill
Book Company, Inc.
140 English for Secretaries
C. Write a pr6cis of a magazine article that you have found interesting
THE WRITING OF MINUTES
Definition. Minutes are the official records of meetings
of an organization and of the transactions as they occur in
Procedure. It is the duty of the secretary to take notes
on the proceedings and then to write these in the connected
form of minutes leaving out nonessentials, such as irrelevant
discussion. Since the minutes are the official record, which
may be referred to in case of misunderstanding, dispute, or
uncertainty, they must be complete, clear, concise, and
After the minutes have been read, corrected, and ap-
proved by the organization, they should then be written in
the minute book, after which no changes should be made.
Essentials. Since essentials differ in some particulars
according to the organization, a secretary, when possible,
should examine minutes recorded by previous secretaries.
The following suggestions constitute the usual order and
data to be included.
1. The kind of meeting
2. The name of the organization
3. The date, hour, and place of meeting
4. The presiding officer
5. The number or the names of persons present
6. The reading of the previous minutes with their
7. Action on unfinished business
8. New business, such as motions both lost and ap-
proved. Those withdrawn without vote may be omitted.
Outlines, Pr6cis, the Writing of Minutes 141
9. Record of discussion
10. Record of number of votes for or against a motion
when indicated on ballot, and sometimes also when indi-
cated by show of hands or by standing
,11. The time of adjournment
MINUTES OF THE 1941 BUSINESS MEETING
American Association of University Teachers of Insurance
New York, December 29, 1941
President McCahan opened the meeting at 12:30 P.M. by ex-
pressing his appreciation to the officers and committee members
who had so generously co-operated with him in carrying on the
work of the Association during the past year.
It was moved and seconded that the reports of the various com-
mittees be approved. This motion was carried. These reports
included: (List follows.)
The Nominating Committee, consisting of Professor Robert
Riegel, Chairman, and Professors A. H. Mowbray and George W.
Goble, submitted the following nominations:
President: Edison C. Bowers
Vice-president: Frank G. Dickinson
Secretary-treasurer: Chester A. Kline
Member of Executive Committee: Harry J. Loman
(Term to expire in 1944)
The report of the Nominating Committee was accepted. There
being no other nominations, the officers and committee members
named were declared elected.
The President reviewed the action of the Executive Committee,
taken at its meeting earlier in the day, in requiring the sponsorship
of any proposed Associate Member by an Active Member. This
action by the Executive Committee was approved. He also stated
that the Executive Committee had just approved extending invita-
tions to the following to become Associate Members: (List follows.)
142 English for Secretaries
The President also informed the members of the discussion re-
garding the Insurance Book Reviews, which took place at the
morning meeting of the Executive Committee. Professor Riegel
stated that, in view of the usefulness of this literature to the various
members, he moved that the Association should appropriate not
more than S75.00, to be used by the Secretary or the Publications
Committee, if they deemed it wise, in sending out this publication
under the Association's own name'. This motion was approved.
The Treasurer's preliminary report was approved.
The Secretary was authorized to print the Annual Proceedings
and to pay the necessary costs in this connection.
President McCahan then turned the meeting over to the Presi-
dent-elect, Professor Edison L. Bowers, who closed the meeting with
an expression of appreciation for the honor which the members
had conferred upon him.
The meeting adjourned at 1 :45 P.M.
Write minutes appropriate for the records of the organizations
described in the following instructions.
1. Assume that you were chosen secretary of a class you attended
recently. Write minutes of a meeting, including all important details.
2. As secretary of a social, literary, or garden club, write minutes of a
business meeting such a club might hold.
3. In the absence of the secretary of a charitable organization, you
were called upon to take her place at a business meeting in which officers
of the ensuing year were elected. Write the minutes, including all
4. As secretary of a business organization, write the minutes of a
meeting at which the following matters were presented: the president's
report, committees' reports, the adoption of an amendment to the
THE PREPARATION OF MANUSCRIPTS FOR PUBLICATION
Paper and Form. Typewrite material in double space
on one side of good bond paper, 8 by 1 1 inches.
Outlines, Pr6cis, the Writing of Minutes 143
Leave margins on all sides: 1 J^ inches at the top and at
the left, 1 inch at the right and 1 inch at the bottom of the
Paging. Number all sheets consecutively. While the
manuscript is in preparation, sheets should be numbered
lightly in pencil to provide for additional pages at the final
reading. If, however, additional pages have to be added to
a long manuscript already numbered, these may be inserted
in the proper places and lettered, as 2340, 3760, 376, 376^.
Number the chapters, starting each on a new page.
Inserts. Inserts, such as long quotations cut from books,
magazines, or newspapers, should be pasted never pinned
or clipped to pages of the same kind of paper on which
the manuscript is typed.
Underlining. Do not underline words without con-
sidering the following: a single underlining in typed matter
means italics in printed material; a double underlining
means small capitals; and a triple underlining means large
Criticizing Manuscripts before Submitting Them.
Read manuscripts carefully as a whole before submitting
them. Only in this way can inconsistencies and mistakes be
discovered and weeded out. Corrections in copy should be
made so clear that they will not be misunderstood by the
Addressing and Mailing. Do not fold or roll a manu-
script. In mailing it, place it flat in a box or in a strong
envelope. Address it carefully, write the return address
legibly, and be sure that the correct amount of postage is
Send the original copy to the publisher, with the author's
name and address on the first and the last page, and
144 English for Secretaries
keep a carbon copy by way of protection against loss of the
A Letter to the Publisher. Unless arrangements have
previously been made with a publisher, a brief letter should
accompany the manuscript, explaining that the author
hopes the material will meet with the approval of the editor
and will be considered for publication.
Indexing. Since secretaries may be required to compile
indexes, it is well for them to be familiar with an appropriate
form, such as the following. For more detailed information,
a booklet published by the New York State Library and
the University of the State of New York (Library School
Bulletin 50), entitled Indexing: Principles, Rules and Examples,
is an excellent guide.
The following example should prove helpful:
Addams, Jane, 1 44
Adult probation law, 85
Agencies, charity, 112, 126, 154
Alphabetize according health . ^~Ul, 225-237, 272
to mam words, not i n large cities, 136, 226-231
for scientific research, 235
Almshouses, municipal, 146
Alphabetize abbrevi- A 1 r< P 19t;
ations as if spelled ^ 1 -<-- r -> **>
out American Journal of Sociology, 63
B vitamin, 229
Book title precedes Babies' Milk Fund, 150
common noun Baby, Care of the, 230
Baby, care of, teaching, 229-231
and mother, special clinic for, 230
visiting nurses, 56, 229
Bedside nursing, 234
Big Brothers' Organization, 153
Big Sisters' Organization, 152
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures
^T^HE secretary must be so sure of technical matters
JL required in her daily work that she will not need to
puzzle over them. Among these essentials stands capitaliza-
tion, a thorough knowledge of which is necessary for the
writer of business correspondence.
1 . Capitalize the names of the months and the days of
the week, the names of holy days and of holidays; but do
not capitalize the seasons: June, Wednesday, Christmas,
Memorial Day, summer.
2. Capitalize names of individuals, as Helen Keller, Jacob
Riis. When foreign particles, such as da, de, la, van, occur in
American names, it is advisable, whenever possible, to check
individual usage. Usually, however, these particles are
capitalized in American and British names.
3. Capitalize a title when it precedes a name or when it
refers to an office of honor: Captain Pritchard, Professor
Stilwell, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Governor
4. When an official title follows a name and is closely con-
nected with the name of a person, the principal words of the
148 English for Secretaries
title are capitalized: Thomas E. Dewey, Governor of New York
in 1943; Joseph B. Eastman, Director of Transportation.
5. When a title that is not official occurs in a sentence, do
not capitalize it even though it is one of distinction. When it
occurs in the inside address or in the signature of a letter, it
should be capitalized.
In a sentence:
Marion Brown, personnel director, was present.
Arnold Bates, credit manager, signed the letter.
Niles Trammell, president of NBC, spoke at the convention.
The Reverend Thomas Brown, rector of St. John's Church, presided.
In an inside address:
Mr. Arnold Bates, Credit Manager
Norton Hardware Company
In a signature:
6. Capitalize degrees, as M.D.\ initials standing for
proper names, as F.D.R.\ and other abbreviations if they
represent a word usually capitalized, as N.H. (New
A. Explain in class the capitalization or lack of capitalization of the
italicized words in each of the following sentences. There is good author-
ity for the usage given in the examples below.
1. Raymond Fuller, acting manager, spoke over CBS.
2. The Mayor will give a radio talk at 3 o'clock from Grade Mansion,
his residence, at Eighty-eighth Street and East River.
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 149
3. Doctor M. B. Blank, Commissioner of Hpspitals, made a tour of
investigation of the institutions of the West Side on Monday.
4. Thomas D. Thacher, a former president of the Association of the Bar
of the City of New York, was chairman of the Charter Revision Commission.
5. Mr. Morgan, Chief Clerk of the Board of Elections, developed a
reputation as an expert on election laws.
6. Cloaked with broad authority by Congress > the boards have re-
duced costs and profits.
7. Under the city charter, John S. McGowan, President of the Board of
Alderman, took over the office of Mayor at the death of his superior officer.
8. When a building is converted into a national Monte Carlo, its use-
fulness is destroyed.
9. The National Association of Home Builders has endorsed a plan for
10. The federation represents sixteen national retail organizations.
11. Mr. Brown was chosen chairman without consulting any of the
12. Mr. Jones is president of the Monmouth County Organization.
13. From an exchange of ideas will come a plan to be submitted to
National Selective Service headquarters.
14. The speakers at the luncheon will be Mr. Henry Blank, president
of the City Council; Mr. James Mann, president and publisher of The Weekly
News; and Mrs. Charles Randolph, founder and vice-president of the club.
B. Rewrite the following sentences inserting capitals wherever they
1 . The secretary of agriculture warns us that whichever path we take
there must be much readjustment.
2. I heard that the governors of three states walked in the procession
3. The pope supported the president's declaration that not the people
of the world but their political leaders are to be accused of endangering
4. The unpretentious secretary, making no claims to knowing much
about the war department, summoned the general staff officers and told
them he was depending on their experience.
5. The secretary of state of the preceding administration would
become president unless congress appointed a successor to the dead
150 English for Secretaries
6. Dr. Howe was a member of the New York county medical society,
the medical society of the state of New York, and a fellow of the american
college of surgeons.
7. A reception committee was announced this week for a lecture to
be given by Elizabeth Morton at Dyckman hall on Friday evening,
October tenth, under the auspices of the american foundation for the
8. The committee called the governor's attention to the recommenda-
tion of the committee of forty-four for restoration of full statutory aid.
9. Mr. and rnrs. clarence de camp gave a tea dance yesterday to
present their daughter, miss helen de camp, to society.
10. County clerk-elect jenkin r. hockert, of queens, will be sworn in
next monday by supreme court justice henry g. wenzel in the county
clerk's office in Jamaica.
1 1 . Gold medals of the society of arts and sciences were bestowed upon
madison grant, president of the bronx parkway commission; william white
niles, vice-president; frank h. bethell, treasurer; and jay downer, secre-
tary and chief engineer.
12. At a meeting of the board of representatives of the high-school
teachers association held in times hall on January twelfth the report of
the commissioner of investigation was discussed.
7. Capitalize the names of buildings, monuments,
squares, parks, and thoroughfares: Avery Library, Bunker Hill
Monument, Union Square, Bryant Park, Chestnut Street. Many
directories, newspapers, and magazines do not capitalize
such words as avenue, boulevard, square, and the like, even
when they are used with proper nouns. This is called the
"down" style of capitalization.
8. Capitalize geographical names: Peru, Montreal, Hudson
River, Atlantic Ocean, Rocky Mountains, Prince Edward Island.
9. Do not capitalize city, town, or village in such ex-
pressions as the following: the city of Chicago, the town of
Avon, the village of Pelham.
1 . Capitalize association, church, club, college, company,
school, and like words when used with a proper name: First
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 151
Baptist Churchy Larchmont Yacht Club, Mount Holyoke College,
Wallace Stone Company, Roosevelt High School. Here again the
"down" style of capitalization advocates writing club,
college, and the like, without the capitals, even with the
name of the organization. When such words are used alone,
they should not be capitalized unless they stand for definite
organizations: a tennis club, a womaris college ', a church j air.
EXAMPLES OF DIVIDED USAGE
Usage Advocated by Some
Newspapers Literary Usage
Green mountains Green Mountains
Hudson river Hudson River
Maple street Maple Street
Tenth avenue Tenth Avenue
United Trading company United Trading Company
Vassar college Vassar College
West End synagogue West End Synagogue
Few newspapers, however, would advocate lake Ontario^
university of Maine, or W.M.Foster and company.
In correspondence the literary usage is better because it
is clearer and readers are more accustomed to it.
1 1 . Capitalize state when it is used with a name or in place
of a name: the State laws, the State of Kentucky, New Jersey
12. Capitalize east, west, north, and south, also adjectives
and nouns derived from them, when they refer to geo-
graphical parts of the country; but lower-case such words
when they denote mere direction.
The West took a decided stand on this question.
We walked east to Sutton Place.
152 English for Secretaries
13. When adjectives derived from regional names are
merely descriptive, they should not be capitalized: oriental
customs, southern climate, tropical fruits.
14. Capitalize eastern, western, northern, southern, etc.,
when they form part of a proper name to designate a world
division: Eastern Asia, Southwestern Europe; but lower-case
such words when they indicate parts of states: western
Florida, northern Minnesota.
15. Capitalize nouns that refer to inhabitants of different
sections of the United States: Easterner, Northerner, Southerner,
Rewrite the following sentences with correct capitalization.
1 . Mr. andrew brown traveled through northern labrador, the gasp6
peninsula, and new england.
2. What are the countries comprising the commonwealth of free
nations belonging to the british empire?
3. The route follows the custer battlefield highway and takes us back
through Montana, the scene of the custer indian massacre, and the black
hills of south dakota.
4. Safety precautions taken in south pole expeditions were presented
to the committee.
5. The spirit of st. louis, one of the world's most famous airplanes,
is in the Smithsonian institution at Washington.
6. The governor spent thanksgiving day poring over pension bills
sent to him from capitol hill.
7. All evidence found so far shows that our a b c's were first used
by the ancient nations who dwelt around the eastern shores of the
8. So many are the books that have been written about africa that
the dark continent seems now as familiar as one's own backyard.
9. During early autumn begins the greatest migration in the world.
Starting within the arctic circle, billions of waterfowl fly toward the
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 153
10. This country buys brazilian coffee, cuban sugar, Venezuelan oil,
and other products of latin america.
1 1 . Two thousand sportsmen from thirty-nine different countries met
at los angeles in the tenth olympiad.
12. The secretary of the Smithsonian institution reported to the
national academy of sciences that weather substantially repeats itself
every twenty-three years.
13. In carnegie hall thousands of people listened to the philharmonic
14. The faculty club of the harvard graduate school of business
administration announced the winners of the bok advertising awards.
15. The oldest greek letter fraternity in America, kappa alpha, was
founded at union college in 1825.
16. Mr. Smith was graduated from the forest hills high school in
1900 and from the university of Cincinnati four years later.
17. Miss Marshall attended Miss Thurston's school and was grad-
uated from radcliffe college last year.
1 8. The annual Christmas party for children of world war veterans in
hospitals in the New York area was given yesterday afternoon by the
women's overscans service league at sloane house.
19. Mrs. Lawrence Riggs of the cosmopolitan club, Mrs. Ransom
Hooker of the women's city club, and Miss Katherine Allen of the pen
and brush club spoke on behalf of their organizations.
20. Mrs. Rufus Osborne, jr., gave a dinner in the grill room in the
hotel ambassador last night in honor of Miss Laura st. John, who was
introduced to society by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul st. John at a
tea on Sunday at their residence, Lenox drive, Greenwich.
21. The wind shifted to the northwest with a velocity of six miles an
hour and started to blow the fog away.
22. That niagara falls was reduced to a trickle by an east wind will
not astonish those who have known how powerful an east wind can be.
23. The temperature has fallen in the lake region, the ohio and middle
mississippi valleys, the appalachian region, and the west gulf states.
24. Eastern New York: Partly cloudy with warmer weather in ex-
treme south and colder in extreme north tonight.
25. A definite change to wanner weather has set in and is noticeable
in the rising temperature throughout the east and middle west.
154 English for Secretaries
26. Another cold wave, now forming in the Canadian northwest,
probably will strike soon after this one ends.
27. An american shop looks to aztec design and navajo colors for
current inspiration in southern sportswear.
28. These disturbances have been attended by rain over much of the
eastern half of the United States and in the north pacific states, and by
snow in the northern rocky mountains, north dakota, and northwestern
16. Capitalize board, bureau, commission, committee, depart-
ment, service, and like words when they form part of the name
of organized bodies: the War Production Board, the Bureau
of Weights and Measures, the Maritime Commission, the Treas-
ury Department, the Office of Child Education.
17. Capitalize federal and state courts when used with a
definite name, as Federal Coordinator of Transportation, the
United States Supreme Court, the State Court of Appeals.
18. Capitalize nation when it is a synonym for the United
States or when used with a name to designate a definite
nation or group of nations: the Nation's honor, The United
19. Capitalize national when it precedes any capitalized
word, as National Capital; when it is a synonym for the
United States, as National Government; or when it is part of
a title, as National Board of Review.
20. Capitalize army and navy and their organizations and
branches when referring to those of the United States, as
the Regular Army, the United States Navy, Field Artillery, Coast
Explain orally why the use of capitalization or the lack of capitaliza-
tion in each of the italicized words or phrases is correct.
1. All five of the crew of an Army bomber from Hendricks Field were
killed when the plane crashed near here last night, the Amy announced.
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 155
2. The ship was being repaired at the Key Highway Tards of the
Bethlehem Steel Company.
3. The New Tork State Association of Architects will hold a two-day
meeting at the Architectural League, 115 East Fortieth Street, Friday and
Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31.
4. John Arnold, real estate broker, of Lynbrook, L. I., completing a
transatlantic flight, arrived in London yesterday.
5. Eighty applicants for jobs as patrolmen took preliminary physical
examinations and X-ray tests yesterday in the office of Chief Surgeon
Charles J. Dillon, at Police Headquarters, and then went to the Health
Department for tests.
6. The annual Silver Spoon tea dance and dinner of the Spence Alumnae
Society will be held on the afternoon and evening of Nov. 6 at the Stork
Club for the benefit of the Spence Adoption Nursery.
7. The second session of the nine-week consumers' training course
sponsored by the Brooklyn Civilian Defense Volunteer Office, will be held
tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Brooklyn Museum. The subject will be ^Sources
of Information on Consumer Problems"
8. Plans have been completed for an ice-skating carnival to be held
under auspices of the New Tork City Women's Council of the Navy League
of the United States on the afternoon of Nov. 5 at the Figure Skating Club
of New Tork atop Madison Square Garden. Proceeds from the carnival will
be turned over to the Seamen's Church Institute of New Tork for the purchase
of Christmas kits for men in the Navy.
9. Henry Baldwin, jr., was born in western New York; but he now
lives in the South.
10. When he visited the Tropics last spring, the Commissioner of Patents
had The New Tork Times mailed to him regularly.
11. Ernest Blank, Jr., head of the information agency, said he had met
with no difficulty in enforcing the President's orders.
12. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Acting Secretary of State, and the
Speaker of the House were Republicans.
21 . Capitalize government when it is used in reference to the
United States Government or to any foreign government:
National Government, the Canadian Government.
22. Capitalize the word cabinet when referring to the Cabi-
net of the President of the United States: Cabinet members.
156 English for Secretaries
23. Capitalize constitution when referring to the Consti-
tution of the United States: the signers of the Constitution; when
it follows the name of any state of the United States: the
Massachusetts Constitution; or when it follows the name of any
foreign power: the Mexican Constitution.
Lower-case the word constitution when it precedes the
name of a foreign country or when it is used in a general
sense: constitution of Argentina, constitution of the Masons.
24. Capitalize the names of all government bodies, domes-
tic or foreign; municipal, state, or national; legislative,
executive, or judicial: Iowa State Legislature, House oj Parlia-
ment, Municipal Court, Congress (of the United States), Senate
(of the United States).
25. Capitalize the names of political parties: Democrats,
Republicans. Opinions differ in regard to the capitalization
of the word party. Both Republican Party and Republican party
have good authority.
Write the following sentences, supplying capitals wherever they
1. When the army took over the air mails, it gave the army air corps
a new experience.
2. Today George Washington is the symbol of the nation's hope and
3. the mayor-elect named a new secretary for the board of trans-
4. the board of education announced yesterday the opening of
5. He waa appointed to the commission of fine arts because he was a
prominent member of the american institute of architects.
6. In the final rush, the board of estimate added two projects for
which federal loans will be needed.
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 157
7. The sixty-second annual meeting of the department of super-
intendence of the national education association was held in Wash-
ington, D. C.
8. The committee of twenty on outdoor cleanliness intends to present
to the mayor a memorandum for raising the efficiency of the sanitation
9. The present law provides that congress at a joint meeting of the
senate and the house poll the electoral ballots on the second Wednesday
10. the first step in the cutting of the budget should be taken by the
board of aldermen. Later on, the budget can be reopened with the aid
of the state legislature.
1 1 . The right of the federal government to fix minimum prices under
the national industrial recovery act was upheld by the judge of the
United States district court.
12. The chief of the navy's bureau of public relations spoke at the
pre-navy day luncheon sponsored by Pittsburgh's three newspapers and
the chamber of commerce.
13. the board of governors of the real estate board and the board of
directors of the management division attended in a body, as did the
trustees of the knickerbocker hospital.
14. The national labor board called the department of justice to
proceed against the company for violation of the national industrial act
and presidential orders thereunder.
26. Capitalize trade names of manufactured products:
Dutch Cleanser , Savita; but lower-case the words following a
trade name that are not part of the name: Ivory soap, Elgin
27. Capitalize abbreviations of courses or subjects listed
in catalogs: A H 32 (American history); but do not capital-
ize courses of study unless they are derived from proper
nouns: algebra, stenography, English, American history.
28. Capitalize most adjectives derived from proper nouns:
Calif ornian, North American. There are so many exceptions to
158 English for Secretaries
this rule that when one is in doubt it is advisable to consult
a dictionary. Note the following words, which should not be
capitalized: chinaware, India rubber, portland cement.
Capitalization Following the Semicolon
29. Do not capitalize a word that follows a semicolon
unless it is a proper noun.
a. For quarter ended March 31, net income $236,132; for like 1942
quarter, net income $295,236.
b. The newspaper touches more people's lives than any other
modern tool of communication; its influence is comparable to
that of the movies or the radio.
c. The demonstration was arranged by Alice Blake, Piedmont High
School; Janet Robertson, Berkeley High School; and Frank
Kirby, Brookdale High School
Capitalization Following the Colon
30. As a rule, do not capitalize the- part of a sentence
that follows a colon unless it is a complete statement or
a. The questions on which we must decide today are these: first,
what representatives should be sent to the Philadelphia confer-
ence; and second, what instructions should be given to them.
b. These are the three causes for the lack of enthusiasm shown by
the club members: uninteresting programs, excessive dues, and
undesirable club rooms.
31. Capitalize the first words of a long, formal quotation
or of an independent passage or sentence when it follows a
a. Lee Galloway describes the functions of an office as follows:
"The organization of a business is the mechanism by means of
which the plans and orders of its executives are carried out.
The factory management ..."
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 159
b. A claim letter that makes unreasonable demands does one of
two things: It antagonizes the recipient, or it convinces him
that the grounds of complaint are unwarranted.
32. In tabulated material, capitalize the first word of
each item following a colon.
Operations to be provided for in filing are the following:
1 . Collecting the papers to be filed
2. Classifying and arranging this material
A. Examine the following sentences that illustrate the use of capital-
ization following the colon. Be able to give reasons for the style used in
1. Railroading is not a variety of outdoor sport: it is a service.
2. The following question came up for discussion: What policy should
3. Three causes of absence among workers are the following: illness,
problems of the home, transportation difficulties.
4. The functions of speech in business are: (1) to transmit informa-
tion; (2) to assist in making the organization run more smoothly and
5. We quote from comments regarding the new officers taken from
Mr. Brown's official report: "It is with optimism and confidence that
we look forward to a most successful year under the presidency of Alex-
6. The machine is used for the following purposes:
a. To classify and analyze the foreign business
b. To analyze receipts and disbursements by states
c. To classify the data by year
7. The general convention staff and committee chairmen were as
Director: Joseph Gray, Redwood City
Assistant Directors: William Robertson, Sacramento; Henry
Pettibone, Oakland; and Halsey Shaw, San Francisco
Chairmen: Charles Henderson, San Francisco; Lester Mead,
160 English for Secretaries
8. There are many ways by which letters and other forms of com-
munication may be duplicated, but all of them are based on one of four
principles, viz.: the printing principle by means of the multigraph; the
impression method by means of the typewriter with carbon copies; the
ordinary stencil and the mimeograph; and the photographic principle
by means of the photostat.
B. Assume that the following sentences occur in letters. Tell whether
you would write the italicized words with or without capitals.
1. Walter S. Cromwell is president of the Andrew Iron and Steel
2. Alexander P. Fuller, economist and financier, was director of the
3. Richard Cooper, a banker in St. Paul, wrote an article entitled
banking yesterday and today.
4. On our trip west, we drove through the black hills, a spectacular
region in north Dakota. *
5. The lake states, in fact most of the middle states, escaped the storm.
6. While we were in the tropics, the heat was intense.
7. Our order included royal baking powder, whole wheat bread, quaher
oats, and white rose tea.
8. I understand that senator Herbert Luke has promised every effort
to provide adequate care for civilians.
9. Dr. Francis Brown, chairman of the directing board, said there are
shortages of physicians in both the south and the north.
1 0. Frank O'Hara, president of the Laurel Gardens association, has sent
a letter to the mayor outlining suggestions for improvement.
C. Rewrite the following sentences, supplying capitals wherever they
1. At the ritz tower ten holders of the congressional medal of honor
and fifteen winners of the distinguished service cross had luncheon.
2. A constitutional amendment to change the method of electing a
president is to be pressed at the coming session of congress.
3. His father entered the employ of the government and, while there,
became the head of the weather bureau in the department of agriculture.
4. Once a week the cabinet, as such, meets with the president in the
historic cabinet room of the white house.
5. Increased activity in the market for united states government
securities developed yesterday.
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 161
6. The administration deserves a place in history for unprecedented
courage and leadership.
7. Both republican and democratic leaders signed the agreement.
8. The governor told friends that Mr. Bern's speech at the governors'
conference was the ablest speech he had ever heard delivered at a meeting
of state executives.
9. The government was congratulated on the opportunity for work-
ing out a new basis for the development of commercial and military air
10. The president called on congress to make a vigorous investigation.
11. The treasury department took title to the new post-office site in
12. The constitution does not secure to any one liberty to conduct his
business in such fashion as to inflict injury upon the public at large or
upon any substantial group of people.
13. As the constitution now stands, voters choose electors. If a presi-
dential candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes in any state,
all the electoral votes of that state are cast for him.
14. The administration proceeded with the conviction that anything
in the national life which concerns the welfare of the nation's citizens
may be an obligation upon the national government.
15. Upholding the right of public criticism of the courts, judge white
of the supreme court of the united states addressed the students of the
harvard law school and many members of the massachusetts bar.
16. The civil service commission reported to the governor that the
state's pay roll for the first four months of this fiscal year is $520,580
lower than in the similar period last year.
17. The president of the senate appointed three committees: foreign
relations committee, harbors and rivers committee, committee on public
18. The following commissioners were present at the conference:
commissioner-general of immigration, commissioner of patents, com-
missioners of the district of Columbia.
19. The executive committee of the women's overseas service league
honored the national president of the organization at a dinner yesterday
at the mayflower.
20. Our January sale includes innumerable patterns, designs, and
styles: service plates of spode and coalport, fine glass from France and
162 English for Secretaries
Bohemia, cups and saucers of many famous makes including crown Staf-
fordshire and aynsley.
Z). How should a secretary capitalize the following terms when they
occur within a sentence? Assume that the dictator disapproves of the
"down" style of capitalization.
a cool summer home on lake erie
a member of the board of education
on Wednesday, the first of may
a catholic priest from south america
a minister associated with the somerville baptist church
a Jewish rabbi from the southwest
two members of congress
the secretary of state of the preceding administration
a youthful californian in the american line-up
on memorial day or on the fourth of July
in the national capital on columbus day
the welfare of the nation's citizens
the iowa state legislature
the democratic national convention
tenth avenue at fifty-ninth street
the senator from texas
five cabinet members
our national government
a city playground in central park
suggestions for a tennis club
the order of the sacred heart
a high-school pupil on the morris basketball team
the state of florida, the state requirements
the american academy of arts and letters
the cabinet room of the white house
the board of estimate at this January meeting
the english department in room 405
a transatlantic liner off the new england coast
rand, mcnally and company's ready-reference atlas of the world
a high-school principal in the city of newark
dr. black, a teacher of american history
diamond crystal shaker salt
alderman Boylan, a staunch republican
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 163
a professor of mathematics in Alfred college
a storm in mid-atlantic
Angelo colletti, a noted surgeon of the presbyterian church hospital
professor Barlow Grant, geologist and engineer
tropical fruits at the Jefferson market
Spanish, algebra, and science
the mayor of Boston with three policemen
an editor of good housekeeping.
33. Capitalize the first word of a direct quotation that is
a complete sentence.
Professor Lee states, "With business writing, the quality of readable-
ness is particularly important."
34. Do not capitalize the first word of a direct quotation
if it is introduced directly in the text.
It was said by Roosevelt that "no people on earth have more cause
to be thankful than ours."
35. Do not capitalize that part of a quotation resumed
within the same sentence.
"Good writing," he continued, "seems addressed to the reader
36. Do not capitalize the first words of an indirect
question or statement.
He asked what was the meaning of the party's steady growth to
We were told that any man can master the mechanics of writing.
37. Capitalize all principal words in titles of books, head-
ings, magazines, newspapers, plays, poems, reports, and
pictures, as Enriched Teaching of English in the Junior and
Senior High School. Library practice does not follow this rule,
but capitalizes only the first word in titles, as Enriched teach-
164 English for Secretaries
ing of English in the junior and senior high school. Modern usage
in letters and advertisements frequently advocates capitaliz-
ing every letter in a title, as ENRICHED TEACHING OF ENGLISH
IN THE JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL.
38. Capitalize the article the when it is a part of a proper
name or of a title of a book, a person, a picture; or when
it is a part of the legal name of an institution, a company,
or a corporation: The Merchant of Venice , The Macmillan
A. Change the following sentences to direct discourse, being careful
to capitalize and punctuate correctly.
1. Professor Aurner says that to learn how people think and act is
one of the responsibilities of the business writer.
2. The correspondent supervisor told us that it is well to remember
that certain business papers from the standpoint of their owners are
3. The director declared that language is not only an essential tool of
life, but a tool that can be used to fit all other tools.
4. Mr. Carr asserted that surveys are now being made in the west
involving people who have little in common beyond the fact that they
all breath the same air and are american citizens.
5. Nicholas Murray Butler is reported to have said that thinking is
the most unpopular indoor sport in America.
B. In the following sentences insert capitals, quotation marks, and
other punctuation marks wherever they are needed.
1. Words, said Miss Walker, cannot be confined to the pages of books
they not only portray the personalities of their users, but they themselves
are living entities.
2. The transcription supervisors association of New York writes your
attitude toward the job, the work habits you form, and the development
of personality traits that make you a well-balanced individual will all
have a bearing on your success.
3. Any man who worries about his business too much, said the
financier, should change it. He is not in the right place.
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 165
4. In an article business students study charm, published in the busi-
ness education world, the statement is made attractive appearance,
effective speech, and charming manners must be added to business effi-
ciency to make the business woman outstandingly successful.
5. The chairman summed up the major production of the coming
spring this way: getting the supplies of material and finished parts to the
factories where they're needed most at the time when they're needed.
6. The following paragraph appeared in the New York herald tribune:
the Columbia broadcasting system, of which Dr. Greet is speech con-
sultant, has notified its announcers as a rule say rash-un. The national
broadcasting company announcers as a rule say rash-un, the blue network
refers to ray-shuns, and the mutual broadcasting system lets the announcers
decide for themselves.
THE WRITING OF FIGURES
1. In general, spell out all numbers under one hundred.
He worked as a bookkeeper for twenty-jive years.
2. Spell out round numbers.
About three hundred applicants passed the written examination.
3. Spell out fractions when they occur alone: one half;
but write fractions in figures when they occur in a mixed
4. Fractions used as adjectives are hyphened: two-thirds
rule; but when used as nouns fractions are written without
the hyphen: two thirds of the profits.
5. Numbers in the same sentence should be expressed
entirely in words or entirely in figures unless the result
would be confusing.
The company engaged 4 typists for 2 months at $20 a month.
The company engaged Jour typists for two months at twenty dollars
166 English for Secretaries
6. Spell out numbers coming at the beginning of a
sentence even when other numbers in a sentence are given in
Three cans of evaporated milk are sold for 24 cents.
7. Do not place next to each other two numbers refer-
ring to different things: three 9-foot rugs; not 3 9-foot rugs.
Correct: In 1943 fifteen colleges offered scholarships.
Allowable: In 1943, 15 colleges offered scholarships.
Incorrect: In 1943 15 colleges offered scholarships.
8. Use figures in general for chapters, pages, exercises,
and the like:
Chapter VIII or Chapter 8, Exercise 21
9. Use an apostrophe and s to form the plural of num-
There are two 9's in the last column.
10. In general, write sums of money in figures, especially
if both dollars and cents occur: $95.72. In letters, write out
amounts of less than one dollar unless such amounts occur in
tabulations, as in order letters.
11. In writing a column of figures, as in tabulations, use
the dollar sign only with the first item and with the total.
12. Write an even number of dollars without the period
and without the ciphers when such a sum occurs in a
He paid $65 for his typewriter.
Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 167
When the sum occurs in a column of figures where any
item contains cents, the ciphers must be added. (See Rule
13. Except in legal documents, do not use both figures
and words. When it is necessary to use both, they may be
written as follows:
forty dollars ($40), or forty (40) dollars, not forty ($40) dollars
14. Enumerations of weights and measures, and distances
except fractions of a mile, are written in figures:
25 pounds, 6 ounces; 3 quarts, 1 point; 2 Jeet y 4 inches; but three quarters
of a mile
15. In sentences occurring in letters write June tenth, the
tenth of June , June 17, but not June \lth.
16. In general, spell out the time of day in letters and
other text material.
The manager will arrive at ten o'clock.
17. Use A.M. or a.m., P.M. or p.m. with figures:
9:30 A.M., not nine-thirty A.M.
Do not use the abbreviations when the time is spelled out.
Correct: He spoke over the radio at three in the afternoon.
Correct: He spoke over the radio at 3 P.M.
Incorrect: He spoke over the radio at three P.M.
Write the numbers of the following sentences on your answer paper.
If the sentence is written as it should be in a business letter, place the word
correct after the number. If the sentence is incorrectly written for business
correspondence, rewrite it.
1. The treasurer lived for more than 20 years at 575 10 Avenue.
168 English for Secretaries
2. The business meeting will be held on Friday, November 5, at
11 in the morning.
3. The manager, who was 68 years old, retired on May 17th.
4. He spent 45 cents for paper and pencils.
5. The store hours are from 9:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily except Thurs-
6. They paid $45 for their new lamp.
7. 1,500 pupils will be graduated on June 23rd.
8. The tellers took back a $10,000 purchase money mortgage.
9. After controlling the seven-story loft building at 47 Pike Street
for 2 years, the Blank Realty Corporation sold the property for a $6,000
10. The bank took back a three thousand purchase money mortgage
for ten years for this property, which is assessed at $11,000.
11. This five-story building, containing 2 stores and twenty four-room
apartments, is assessed for $33,000.
12. The convention was attended by 50 salesmen from Baltimore,
25 from Philadelphia, and 30 from Newark.
13. The hours for day workers were cut from 50 to forty-six and for
nightmen from 55 to 50 a week.
14. The report of the three-man panel stated that the hourly rates
ran from a low of 32 to a high of 61 cents.
15. The brokers explained that in 13 months they disposed of the four-
story building at 94th Street with a profit of $10,572.
16. We spent $85.75 for furniture, $90 for rent, and $10 for gas last
17. 850 men were employed by our factory last year at an average
wage of twenty-five ($25) a week.
18. From 9 to 10 on the morning of December 10, we received thirty-
one telephone calls and 4 telegrams.
19. The year 1941 will be long remembered by Americans.
20. In 1943 my 2 partners each contributed five hundred dollars to
the Red Cross.
1 . Place a period at the end of each declarative and im-
a. The letters will be ready to mail at five o'clock.
b. Enclose a check for $5.75 in this letter.
Elliptical phrases, which are equivalent to sentences,
are followed by periods, as Freezes. Over a million quarts a day.
In much modern writing, particularly in fiction and in
advertisements, subordinate clauses, phrases, or even
separate words are followed by periods. This is usually for
emphasis or for vividness. Such punctuation used by ex-
perienced writers for a definite purpose is, of course, not
advocated for common practice.
a. Safe, sound, and unanswerable.
b. Imbecile! But a learned, and, alas, indispensable imbecile.
c. A little town surrounded by walls, set in a broad flat valley
The "comma blunder," the substitution of a comma for a
period, must be guarded against.
Right: We are still in an industrial era. Business is the biggest voca-
tional interest in America. Our problems are largely economic.
Therefore great teachers are needed.
170 English for Secretaries
Wrong: We are still in an industrial era, business is the biggest voca-
tional interest in America, our problems are largely economic,
therefore great teachers are needed.
2. Place a period, not an interrogation point, at the end
of an indirect question.
The manager asked where the meeting would be held in June.
3. Place a period after a request, even though it is in the
form of a question.
May I send you the bulletin of our summer camp.
A request may be distinguished from a question by deter-
mining the purpose of the sentence. If the statement seeks
information and requires an answer, it is clearly a question
and should be followed by an interrogation point; but if the
statement is a mere request expressed in interrogative form
out of courtesy, it should be followed by a period. Many
examples of the latter usage occur in letters where requests
are often phrased as questions.
0. What can I do to make my sales letters more effective? (This is
clearly a question and, therefore, must be followed by an
b. May I call your attention to a mistake in my monthly statement.
(Since this is a request expressed in interrogative form, it should
be followed by a period.)
In Tabulated Material
1 . Place a period after Roman and Arabic numerals, after
capital and small letters, when they occur in a table of
contents, in an outline, or in other enumerative parts of
a list, but omit the period after letters or figures in paren-
theses in such lists.
TESTS OF A GOOD INVESTMENT
1. Safety of principal
B. Measurement of safety
1 . Kind of contract
3. Earning power
a. Factors affecting earning power
(2) Economic conditions
2. In a list or in an outline omit the period after an item
expressed by a word or a phrase, as in the preceding exam-
ple; but punctuate such items with the proper punctuation
mark when they occur as declarative or interrogative
sentences. In the following outline, for example, a period is
placed after a declarative sentence.
DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY
I. In large organizations
A. She should collect the employer's confidential mail and take
care of it.
B. She should check for signatures, correct address, and enclosures.
C. She should separate carbon copies and attach them to the
II. In small organizations
Imperative sentences in an outline may or may not be
followed by a period. In most modern usage the period is
172 English for Secretaries
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE USE OF THE TELEPHONE
Ask questions tactfully
End calls courteously
Do not place periods after headings of chapters, sub-
headings, headlines, or after items on a title page.
Do not place periods in lists of names and the like occur-
ring in columns unless abbreviations follow the name.
a. The following members were present:
Arnold Grove, M.D.
b. The machines were listed thus:
Adding and listing machines
c. The Exhibitors
American Book Company
Burroughs Adding Machine Company
Ginn and Company
Royal Typewriter Company, Inc.
1. Periods follow most abbreviations: bal., Mr., P.M. (see
pages 172-173). Modern usage allows the omission of periods
after letters designating certain organizations, as WPB; after
initials used as are those of typist and dictator at the close of
a letter, as RTL:TSB; or after initials representing personal
names, as HGW, which are also correctly written with
periods, as H.G.W. When the surname is given, as H. G.
Wells, periods must be placed after initials. Periods are
omitted after the call letters of broadcasting stations: WABC,
British usage omits the period after Mr. and Mrs.;
French usage omits the period after Mme. and Mile.
2. The period is retained after an abbreviation when
other punctuation marks immediately follow it, except at
the end of a sentence, where one period is sufficient.
a. Albert Burke, M.D., a native of Vermont
b. Jones lived in Paterson, N.J.; Fiske, in Alston, Mass.
3. Care should be taken not to confuse abbreviations
with foreign words or phrases that require no period: in re,
in toto, per diem, per cent, per se.
4. Periods are usually omitted after abbreviations of
weights and measures in the metric system: 3 eg (centigram),
4 dm (Jecimeter), or abbreviations of a unit based on the
metric system: kv (kilovolt), kc (kilocycle), v (volt), w
5. Do not place a period after a letter when it designates
a class or stands for an unidentified person.
a. Glass A associations are those with a membership of 500.
b. A walked 7 miles; B, 6 miles.
When, however, a letter stands for an actual name, it
should be followed by a period.
Mr. M. (for Mr. Morris) has paid his monthly interest.
Omit periods after the signatures in letters.
174 English for Secretaries
1. Either a colon or a period may be placed between
figures denoting hours and minutes: 2:08 or 2.08.
2. Place a period to set off decimals: SI. 33, .48
Do not use a period after a whole number representing a
sum of money.
My check for $500. is enclosed.
3. The period should be omitted after Roman numerals
unless they occur in a list:
Rule XIII Exercise III Vol. VII George V
For Omission of Words
Three periods may be written in succession to show that
material is omitted.
Many communications may be form letters . . . but to send a form
letter when a specially typed letter should be used is often the most
1 . Place a period after material within parentheses when
such material is an independent imperative or declarative
He spent three years in France. (The exact dates are uncertain.)
Later he returned to America.
2. Place the period outside the parentheses when the
material is not an independent sentence but is part of the
a. Trim stock to 19% inches (one side).
b. A bill for the relief of John Y. Smith; without amendment
(Kept. No. 582).
With Quotation Marks
Place a period inside quotation marks.
The article states, "After the survey was completed, the difficulty of
This seems illogical when the quoted matter is a word or a
phrase at the end of a sentence; but because of better ap-
pearance it is generally adopted in printing.
Right: It requires a great many "yesterdays" to make one "today."
Right: An invaluable book for the secretary is "CrowelPs Dictionary
of English Grammar."
It has been truly said, "Take care of the commas and the
other stops will take care of themselves." But to take care of
this "puny little stop" is no easy matter, as absolute rules for
its use are often difficult to make. Modern practice tends
toward economy in all punctuation, particularly in the use
of the comma, as may be seen by comparing the punctuation
in a present-day magazine or book with that of even twenty-
five years ago. There is no better way of learning how to
punctuate than by noting actual use in modern publications.
Use of the Comma to Set off Words
1. Use a comma to separate words in a series.
Preferred usage: Social-service workers, physicians, and nurses
approved the health program.
Accepted usage: Social-service workers, physicians and nurses ap-
proved the health program.
2. Do not use a comma when the conjunction connects
all the words in a series.
We all extol the vigor and ambition and enthusiasm of youth.
176 English for Secretaries
3. Use a comma to separate pairs of words in a series.
Official and nonofficial, national and state agencies attended the
Chicago convention on health.
4. Use a comma to set off parenthetical words.
He, however, hesitated to decide so serious a question.
5. Use a comma to set off a transitional word.
a. Secondly, the spelling is incorrect.
b. Specifically, the form provides spaces for all the records.
6. Use a comma to indicate the omission of a word.
Professor Brown held the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Doctor
of Philosophy; Professor Jones, those of Bachelor of Science
and Doctor of Public Health.
7. Use a comma to separate the name of a person or his
title from the rest of the sentence, to set off words in apposi-
tion and inverted names in reference lists.
a. Patience, Mr. Beckley, is advised on both sides.
b. The purpose of this motion, Madam Chairman, is plain.
c. Times Square, cross-roads of the world, is again held up as a
d. Barker, Violet, The Youthful Spirit
8. Use a comma to separate a name from a title that
a. James Rowland, principal of Clinton High School.
b. Joseph Lane, M.D.
9. Use a comma after a proper noun that is followed by
another proper noun when they refer to two places or to two
a. Canada, the United States looks upon as a friend.
b. To John, James was a hero.
10. Use a comma to separate two or more adjectives
preceding a noun when each one modifies the noun.
He is an honest, industrious worker.
11. Do not use a comma between two adjectives when
such punctuation would destroy the relationship intended:
a quiet summer evening, striped wool socks.
Tell where commas should be inserted in the following sentences.
1. Proofreaders must be accurate intelligent and well informed.
2. Writers editors and publishers depend on proofreaders to detect
and note typographic errors.
3. Mistakes in spelling punctuation capitalization and grammar are
made even by careful writers.
4. The proofreader must recognize such errors mark them on the
proof and check her suggestions when the proof is returned from the
5. Poor spacing broken type and inconsistencies in form must also
6. The publication of newspapers magazines and books is a highly
7. Proofreaders copy readers and editors aim to turn out perfect work.
8. Only through their knowledge care and effort can anything like
perfection be attained.
9. The ordinary general reader little suspects the work that has gone
into every magazine newspaper and book.
10. Let him examine the next book he reads note its make-up and
marvel at its correctness of form and appearance.
11. A proofreader must also possess good judgment and close observa-
tion an excellent memory and accurate knowledge an eye for minute
detail and a sense of proportion.
12. I believe sir that the word junior may be written jr. or Jr. after
13. Certainly Mr. Miles both the "up" and the "down" style of
capitalization may be considered correct.
178 English for Secretaries
14. Conservative writers editors and publishers however usually
prefer the "up" style.
1 5. Many books magazines and newspapers on the contrary look upon
the "up" style as pedantic and old-fashioned.
16. Consistency in the use of punctuation marks capitals abbreviations
and figures is essential.
17. Good usage indeed often sanctions a wide variety of forms.
Use of the Comma to Set off Phrases
1 . Use a comma to set off a phrase denoting residence or
a. Mrs. P. B. Graham, 128 Broad Street, Bloomfield, N. J.
b. Miss Helen Cooke of Needham, Mass., or Miss Helen Cooke, of
2. Use a comma in dates when the exact date is given:
February 26, 1945. When only the month and the year are
given, the comma may either be used or omitted: February,
1945, or February 1945.
3. Use a comma after the salutation in a friendly letter.
4. Use a comma to set off the complimentary close in a
5. Use a comma to set off figures in groups of more than
6. Use a comma to set off most introductory phrases.
This is not a hard and fast rule but must be applied with
discrimination. The following suggestions may prove help-
ful in making decisions on this point.
a. Use commas after all absolute phrases and after all
introductory verbal phrases.
1. Generally speaking, our public library system is the best in the
2. To succeed in secretarial work, one must be accurate and intelli-
b. Use commas after introductory prepositional phrases
only when they are long or not closely connected with
the rest of the sentence or the omission of the comma
would cause misunderstanding.
1. In order to provide a rough check on the effects of leadership
and technical courses on the men who took them, a rating form
2. In the chapter devoted to fibers and fabrics, several facts gen-
erally unknown to consumers are included.
3. At last something clear has come out of the conference.
4. For three years we have paid these bills promptly.
5. After dictating, the employer turned the report over to the
7. Do not use a comma to set off a short contrasting
phrase introduced by such words, as but or though.
a. It is true but regrettable.
b. The manager is just though severe.
8. Use a comma to set off descriptive phrases following
the noun they modify.
The lecturer, pale with fatigue > read his notes slowly.
9. Use a comma to set off phrases in a series.
All enjoyed the scenery in Arizona, in New Mexico, and in Utah.
10. Use a comma to set off nonrestrictive phrases.
The stenographer, working too slowly, failed to finish the report.
11. The terms i.e., to wit, viz., namely, for example, and the
a. Such an expression, when it is used to introduce a
word or a phrase that is parenthetical, is preceded by a
1 80 English for Secretaries
1. It is assumed that a modern office is equipped with desirable
office machines, namely, calculators, comptometers, and adding
2. The following subjects are recommended as requirements for
* study by the secretary, viz., grammar, spelling, punctuation.
3. Several of our holidays, for example, Lincoln's Birthday and the
Fourth of July, come on Friday this year.
4. The course should be broad enough in scope to include the four
accepted divisions of retail-store activity, namely, store opera-
tion, merchandising, sales promotion, and accounting control.
b. When such an expression introduces a principal clause,
it is preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma.
1. There is a great difference between the two boys; namely, one is
temperamental, and the other is practical.
2. Periodic reports may be either public or private; that is, they
may deal with the affairs of a community or of a business
A. In the following sentences insert capitals and punctuation wherever
1. Mr. Meredith Allen of 48 Washington Street Hartford was born
on Friday October 13 1870.
2. Mr. and Mrs. Francis Paine gave a reception for Mrs. Elizabeth
Long widow of Peter Long well-known explorer and naturalist.
3. James Henderson treasurer of the Brown Lumber Company
arrived in Boston Monday morning.
4. Furthermore they asserted that enactment of the bill would curtail
5. On September 15 1943 Alexander Booth became general manager.
6. The maimed the halt and the blind as every student of history
knows have scaled the heights of fame in spite of their handicaps.
7. Mrs. Howe declaring that her appointment was for Tuesday in-
sisted upon seeing the director.
8. The chairman denied according to Mr. Bell that the Westchester
Association had voted for a new parkway.
9. Professor Arnold author of several books on banking will make the
address on Monday March 15.
10. The decision was made in January 1943 by Hobson Grant the
executor of Miss Johnson's estate.
11. Lowell Tilden partner in the law firm of McNeil O'Donnell and
Company 225 Broadway reported on the improved financial outlook.
12. John Tarrington left the following bequests $10,000 to Andrew
Baker his secretary and 85,000 each to Helen Markham and Clara
Jameson employees in his home.
13. Captain John H. Thompson for many years a leader in military
training has been retired from the active list.
14. A powerful swimmer Mr. Eugene Standard won renown as a long
distance swimmer and water-polo player.
15. John Carpenter of 500 Fifth Avenue president of the P. K. Car-
penter Inc. furniture and upholstery dealers made the opening speech at
the Washington convention.
16. Miss Evelyn Morris daughter of the late Pratt Morris founder of
the Morris restaurants donated 10 per cent of the profits of her business
during April to the endowment fund.
B. Rewrite the following excerpts, capitalizing and punctuating each
1 . The test of your intelligence is your ability to take hold of your own
life just as it is to know yourself make an estimate of your situation things
that seem difficult at first will become easy rise above your failures
excellence cannot be reached by merely looking for defects
2. Do your job to the best of your ability never belittle what you are
doing success doesn't consist of doing something marvelous but in doing
3. The art of talking is one of the most valuable equipments a business-
man can have nearly all work that is above mere routine and physical
labor involves talking and the success of the work often depends on the
ability to carry the point in conversation the difference between a skilled
and an unskilled talker is very great
4. Be loyal to your company be ready at all times to do what you
consider to be to its best interests buy its products and promote the sale
of them among others care for company property as though it were your
own cooperate with other employees
5. Day after day night after night it goes on a secretary lifts the phone
from its hook gives the word to the operator the signal flashes down the
182 English for Secretaries
line connections are made a secretary steps into the executive office and
says "the call is ready"
C. Assume that a secretary has had the following dictated to her. Write
each group so carefully that the dictator will find no mistake in
1. Will you look into this matter and let us have your comments
2. May we suggest that you immediately notify the bank to cancel
3. It is always a matter of considerable concern to us when we find
ourselves unable to meet the wish of a valued customer
4. We sincerely urge you to buy now our coat collection has never
been lovelier and you can be sure that each coat bearing a Perkins label
is the finest quality obtainable at its price
5. I hope I have answered your question satisfactorily do not hesitate
to write whenever a question comes up that is puzzling I shall do my
best to help you
6. Our expert Dry Cold Storage affords your furs excellent cleaning
and protection and it has the added convenience of allowing you to with-
draw any article as many times as you wish at no additional charge
7. Easter comes early this year April tenth have you planned your
new Easter outfit at Dudley's you'll find plenty of inspiration we're
abounding in exciting new Easter fashions at our usual reasonable prices
8. We do hope you have enjoyed wearing the clothes you purchased
this past year from us now that hot summer weather is on the way you're
undoubtedly thinking of storage for your winter things and this year
you'll want to be surer than ever that they are guarded from moths dust
9. The next three points in order of frequency were "vocational
efficiency" "study habits" and "preparation for American citizenship"
10. The biggest single financial investment your community makes is
in its public schools as a taxpayer and businessman you have a vested
interest in our youth for they will become your future employees Amer-
ica's citizens their attitude toward work and toward democracy itself will
largely depend upon the kind of start they get
D. Write the following sentences, inserting commas wherever necessary.
1. A shortage of at least $41 00 was found in the accounts.
2. Men generally speaking look for jobs in their own line.
3. In the annual report recommendations were made for an endow-
4. In accordance with our conversation this afternoon I am enclosing
5. Frequent use of dramatization in the classroom i.e. of a court
trial of lawmaking bodies in action increases interest.
6. We regret that as it has become necessary for us to revise our
previous promise made for delivery we have changed the time to the
week of June fourth.
7. In view of our increasing costs we regret it has been found neces-
sary to advance this price to thirty cents a yard.
8. We are holding your order pending authorization to ship at this
9. To be fair it must be said that we are slowly bringing ourselves to
face the truth.
10. To show the scope of the secretary's work in the offices a list of
her duties was drawn up by the supervisor.
11. Obviously women are not more industrious than men or more
willing or more courageous or less affected by what people will say.
12. The social secretary has charge of the servants and laundry in fact
of everything that comes along.
13. By means of illustrated telegrams it is now possible to picture what
you sell. To the attention-compelling quality of a well-worded telegram
it is therefore possible to add a picture that helps tell the story.
14. Recently however the city's Department of Commerce reported
progress in its campaign to bring about an effective control of city travel
which it regards as essential both in peace and in war.
15. Anyone of any age seeking to know the work around him may
with the help of the suggestions offered here follow the paths that the
pioneers of astronomy trod.
16. In the average business organization the cost of writing letters
fluctuates from day to day and from letter to letter.
Use of the Comma to Set off Clauses
1 . Use commas to set off parenthetical clauses.
Meanwhile, however irked the politicians may be, the voters are
having a field day.
2. Use a comma after a dependent adverbial clause which
precedes the main clause if the meaning is not clear without
184 English for Secretaries
the comma. Such clauses are introduced most often by
as, if, since, and when.
Comma needed: As arriving delegates poured from the train, the wel-
coming committee rushed forward to meet them.
Comma unnecessary: When the secretary had finished typing the
letters she placed them on the desk.
3. Use a comma to precede a dependent clause intro-
duced by /or, since, as, when the clause gives a reason.
Claim cannot be made for any loss due to the carrier's delay, since
the railroad does not guarantee the time of delivery of shipments.
4. Conservative usage advocates commas to separate the
members of a compound sentence when the clauses are
short and closely connected and contain no commas;
modern usage often omits the comma in such sentences
when the meaning is clear without it.
a. A mistake is an opportunity to make a correction, and this fact
should be stressed in adjustment letters.
b. A loan is a debt and a debt is a promise to be kept.
5. Use a comma to set off a nonrestrictive or descriptive
adjective clause. Such a clause is one that is not needed to
make the meaning clear.
Mr. Taylor, who was a mediator for the organizations, settled the
strike satisfactorily for both sides.
6. Do not use a comma to set off a restrictive adjective
clause. Such a clause is one that is needed to make the
The firm dismissed all executives who disapproved of the new
7. Use a comma to set off informal direct quotations from
the rest of the sentence.
"Lack of courtesy," declares Mr. Fairchild, "is the most costly
thing in business." He continues, "No other thing costs so little
as courtesy and is worth so much."
A. Tell where punctuation should be inserted in the following sentences.
1. Although he was warned of the danger he paid no attention to it.
2. After the speaker had finished the address the meeting was thrown
open for discussion.
3. Mr. Williams who is the financial manager feels that conditions
will improve next spring.
4. If man had observed nature's inventions more closely he would
have made some of his own devices thousands of years before he did.
5. Mr. Brown who is a stamp collector himself started Mr. Simpson
on his collection with a $2000 purchase of about 8000 varieties of stamps.
6. If there is anything in the theory of private enterprise we have no
right to expect private individuals to run railroads for our convenience
at a loss.
7. A new step that is indicative of improvement in the capital market
was taken today.
8. The city's snow-shoveling army was hampered by the cold which
firmly shod the city's streets in rutted snow and ice.
9. A predicted rise in temperature late today which is likely to bring
snow the Weather Bureau said will be but a slight reaction from the
10. Although people may admit to themselves their many obligations
they resent being reminded of them by others.
1 1 . Every medical secretary will be called upon to do a good deal of
typing which will include correspondence case records and index cards.
12. The best collection man is he who so trains his customers to pay
promptly that the necessity to use collection methods is reduced to the
13. In an order as in every business letter the writer should try to save
the reader's time and effort.
186 English for Secretaries
14. The errors that were made in typing the director's report were due
15. As he is accurate quick and reliable his work is held in high esteem
by the president.
16. "If the secretary possesses good judgment" says an authority on
secretarial duties "he can very easily weed out the callers that are
17. The merchandise statement that you requested is enclosed.
18. If Mr. Sanders should resign a lively contest for the office would
19. Please send the original delivery sheet here after it has served its
purpose it will be returned to you.
20. Letters of credit form a convenient and practical method of carry-
ing funds during an extended tour. If you are planning a short trip
arrange to carry express checks.
21. When assembling your fall wardrobe you'll find a Chapin charge
account a wonderful convenience why not open one today just sign on the
22. With new knowledge techniques skills methods and attitudes
constantly being discovered and explored there is before us a constantly
changing world which challenges those who are brave enough to answer
B. Write the following sentences taken from business letters and
advertisements, and supply the necessary punctuation.
1. Your letter came about a week ago but I have delayed writing
until I could get opinions from several people regarding the question
2. If the Washington's Birthday holiday period is any barometer for
business at the shore during this year we can all of us look forward to a
very wonderful season.
3. Courtesy is in the spirit rather than in the expression polite
phrasing in itself is not sufficient it must be backed by the proper mental
attitute courtesy is politeness plus kindness.
4. Visualize the policyholder as you sit at your desk dictating the
letter imagine the policyholder to be seated opposite you and dictate
your letter as you would talk to him your letters should be democratic
in spirit a democratic attitude is the ability to understand and to respect
the other man's point of view.
5. For your convenience in making reservation we are enclosing a
schedule of our special attention rates which we are offering to your
group all you need do is designate on the card the number in your
party type of accommodations desired date of arrival and departure
and whatever your request may be it will have our best attention.
6. Next is the added advantage of selecting your coat leisurely making
a small down payment then taking ten months between now and
next winter to pay the balance we keep your coat safe in our scientific
fur vaults until then at no extra charge you pay no interest or carrying
charges of any kind there are no extras !
7. There are included fascinating real-life stories about the leading
composers which take the reader behind the scenes and show him the
patterns of life the emotions and the human associations that helped
to create the world's great music.
8. This letter does not go to you unawares. Your name is one of a
group that the New Republic spent the summer collecting a group which
comprises so far as we can judge not radicals or conservatives or any
other sort of doctrinaires but just thoughtful Americans.
9. Not so very long ago stenography was associated mainly with what
might be termed office routine the secretary reported for work in the
morning took time out for lunch and left at a regular hour each night
the office itself was the focal point for all business transactions.
10. Although general business knowledge is desirable it is important
that young people who expect to meet the competition of today develop
special skill and ability in some particular phase of business office work
for instance although many have a slight knowledge of machine calcula-
tion few are really skilled.
The semicolon is more than a comma but less than a
period. It is often used instead of a period to separate two
sentences that might be separated by a period but are closely
connected in meaning.
This phase of our training must not be superficial; it must be deep
188 English for Secretaries
1* Use a semicolon between the clauses of a compound
Sentence when the conjunction is omitted or when the
connection is not close.
Insulation can be best put into the walls of a house during construc-
tion; its later addition may not be so effective.
2. Use a semicolon to separate coordinate clauses when
they are long or when they contain commas.
Storm windows should be provided on the exposed side of the house
at the very least; but for real results, every window in the house
should have protection.
Note, however, that when the coordinate clauses are
short and closely connected, and contain no commas, all
punctuation may be omitted or a comma may be used be-
tween the two clauses. In a survey made by Sterling Andrus
Leonard, the author cites the opinions of seventy-six book,
newspaper, and magazine editors on the punctuation of the
sentence, "I have no fears and I anticipate no regrets."
Out of a total of 76 judges, 8 reject punctuation before and in a com-
pound sentence of two short clauses; 13 prefer no punctuation; 41
tolerate the omission of punctuation; 14 require the comma;
23 prefer the comma; 17 tolerate the comma. 1
3. Use the semicolon in lists of names with titles or
addresses and in other lists which would not be clear if
separated only by commas.
The speakers were Miss Elizabeth Betts, manager of Dalton and
Blake, Little Rock, Ark.; Edward Slater, personnel director of
The Arnold Company, Des Moines, Iowa; and James McGinnis,
president of McGinnis and O'Donnell, Trenton, N. J.
1 From LEONARD, STERLING ANDRUS. Current English Usage. Chicago, The
National Council of Teachers of English.
4. For the semicolon with/or example, as follows, namely,
and similar expressions, see page 180.
A. Examine the following sentences and be able to explain the
punctuation of each.
1. We dislike their plan, but there seemed no alternative.
2. The result was a surprise; hence there was a moment of un-
3. Three sets of standard tests have been prepared: (a) for local,
county, or subdistrict contests; (b) for district or sectional contests;
(c) for state or final contests.
4. The bookkeeper is checking his accounts carefully, for he expects
the auditors today.
5. Finally, the Senate adjourned for the Christmas holidays.
6. Both the Democratic and the Republican members defended the
bill, after which it was passed by a vote of 98 to 37.
7. Congress has debated the bill for several days; however, the
members have not reached any agreement.
8. You have to keep your eyes open and catch hold of things; they'll
not catch hold of you.
9. A bill that provided for the appointment of the State Social
Welfare Commissioner by the Governor instead of by the State Board of
Social Welfare was killed in both houses.
10. We have one passport, freedom; one objective, victory, total and
unmistakable; and one purpose, a just and lasting peace.
11. It seems to me, therefore, that whatever we do about vocational
training and there is much to be done we must make sure that every
business student understands what business is, how it has developed,
how it serves us, what are its defects.
12. A young man has always had to help make his opportunity, and
he must do that today, as ever. But young men fail more nowadays than
they used to, because they expect to reap almost as soon as they sow.
13. Good salesmanship does call for strong natural endowments, but
most people have these endowments in some degree.
14. It can be said from the findings of this survey that women are
discriminated against in two respects: a higher standard of performance
190 English for Secretaries
is required of them than is required of men, and women are paid less
than men for work of equal rank.
B. In the following sentences insert punctuation wherever it is needed.
1. Mr. Cunningham did not seek office the office sought him.
2. Let the people deal with facts not promises with sworn testimony
3. The bank's deposits decreased 10 per cent the number of its
depositors 5 per cent.
4. Building the habit of good English usage is not always easy yet it
is precisely this habit that is so vitally necessary to business success.
5. Your payment of $6.00 has been credited $2.30 to the July
electric bill $1.80 to the August electric bill and $1.90 to your mer-
6. Commerce has stimulated exploration and invention it has acted
as a civilizing influence developing understanding and good will among
nations and it has precipitated war.
7. The businessman of the future will meet new conditions each day
so each day he must come to his day's work with a mind and will ready
for the unexpected.
8. As a consumer the student has certain choices to make as he
comes in contact with life situations consequently the student should be
given an opportunity to solve his problems and to make his own choices.
9. In all important fields of human activities there are needed men
and women who can get along with each other and with their superiors
and subordinates men and women who can stand ridicule and criti-
cism and can persevere in the face of jealousy and friction who will not
wilt under discouragement nor flare up in anger and pitch their jobs.
10. This report includes discussions by C. R. Brown general editor
of the Brown Book Company Grace Penton of the Randolph Vocational
School Exville Missouri and Bliss Arnold credit manager of Johnson
and Johnson, St. Louis.
11. Poor salesmen may be good people, always on time loyal and
ready to help but they lack the ambition to study their work which is the
mark of an expert salesman.
12. We need not render ourselves anxious about the exceptional
student he is all right. He has been thrown into the sea but he does not
need any life preserver he does not need to be coddled he will swim he
was not born to be drowned.
1 . Use a colon after a formal salutation in a letter. ^
Gentlemen: Dear Sir: Dear Mr. James:
2. Use a colon or a period between figures to denote
hours and minutes, as 3:30 or 3.30.
3. Use a colon to introduce a list.
a. In a catalog:
The Commercial Extension, School of Commerce, Omaha.
Two terms: June 9 to July 16; July 17 to August 22.
b. In an announcement:
The following officers were elected for 1943-1944:
President: R. P. Dunn, Huntington Beach, California.
Treasurer: R. F. Betts, Ontario, California.
c. In a news article and in business correspondence:
The following officers have been elected for the coming year: presi-
dent, Lillie Freeman; vice-president, Lenore Traynor; secretary,
4. The colon is usually omitted when the matter following
the verb logically completes the sentence.
Among those at the Lafayette Centenary Exhibition were repre-
sentatives of the Colonial Dames of America, the Society of the
Sons of the Revolution, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the
Sons of the American Revolution.
5. Use a colon to introduce a clause or a phrase that sup-
plements a preceding statement.
a. Everything seems favorable for increased production: the work-
men are experienced, the morale is excellent, and the machinery
1 92 English for Secretaries
b. The following was adopted by unanimous vote:
Whereas, in the opinion of the members of this association the
projected dictionary is a much-needed work of reference; and
Whereas, it is imperative that the dictionary be prepared under
such direction as will guarantee its scholarly character; be it
Resolved, That the American Political Science Association take
note . . . etc.
c. The brief lists five constitutional objections to Section 1 1 of the
1. That it is not a regulation of interstate commerce;
2. That it invades the reserved powers of the states;
3. That it contains no standards of guidance, and hence is an
unconstitutional delegation of legislation authority;
4. That it violates, etc.
d. Russell Sage said that the best way for a young man who is
without friends or influence to begin is by observing the follow-
ing: first, to get a position; second, to keep his mouth shut; third,
to observe; fourth, to be faithful; fifth, to make his employer
think he would be lost in a fog without him; sixth, to be polite.
e. Major purposes for the proposed division would be:
1. To serve as a clearinghouse for information affecting the
problems of youth;
2. To stimulate communities to make more effective provision
6. Use a colon to introduce a long, formal quotation.
John D. Rockefeller gives the following advice to a man starting out
in life: "If you aim for a large, broadgauged success, do not begin
your business career, whether you sell your labor or are an inde-
pendent producer, with the idea of getting from the world by
hook or crook all you can. In your choice of your profession or
your business employment, let your first thought be the following:
Where can I fit in so that I may be the most effective in the work
of the world?"
Read the following sentences, supplying punctuation wherever it is
1. The five major regions embrace (a) Northeastern United States
and eastern Canada (b) midwestern United States (c) receiving ports
on the great lakes and the St Lawrence River (d) southeastern and
southern United States (<?) western United States and western Canada.
2. It is helpful when introducing the insertion of paper to count the
steps thus (d) To place paper next to paper guide (b) to get fingers and
thumb under cylinder knob (c) to twirl paper in machine and (d) to
3. The new officers of the Association are as follows
Chairman Robert Baxter head of commercial department Exville High
Treasurer Louis Anthony head of commercial department Blank High
Secretary Harry Baumont office machines instructor Roosevelt High
4. The following three grand prizes were awarded
Division 1 John Hay High School Cleveland Ohio
Division 2 Henager Business College Salt Lake City Utah
Division 3 University of Washington Seattle
5. There are those who would divide business education objectives
into three divisions business education for the consumer business educa-
tion for a vocation and business education for social relationships
v^THE QUESTION MARK (INTERROGATION POINT)
1. Place a question mark at the end of a direct question.
a. Where would you find the age of the President of the United States?
b. The secretary asked, "Who may be a member of the National
Council of Business Education?"
2. Place a period, not a question mark, at the end of an
The visitor asked how her life insurance could be tied up with her
3. Place a question mark after several questions in a
series to make them stand out forcefully. If the questions
194 English for Secretaries
are not emphatic, commas are preferred between them with
the question mark at the end.
a. Have s you any idea what the habit of being loyal is worth?
Do you know what it means to your happiness? To your own
b. What is the capital of Peru, of Chile, of Venezuela?
4. Place a question mark after a quoted question coming
at the end of a sentence.
The subject of the address is "What Basic Consumer Information
and Attitudes Are Needed by All Commercial Students?"
5. Place a question mark after a date or other matter to
express doubt as to its accuracy.
a. Your letter of January 6 (?) was delayed.
b. The services of the Transcription Club carried on from 1934-
1936 (?) proved valuable.
6. When a question mark occurs within a sentence, it is
never followed by a comma, a semicolon, or a period.
The store was first located downtown at Thirteenth Street (?) and
later moved to Fifty-eighth Street.
In the following sentences supply punctuation wherever it is needed.
1. May we receive your order tomorrow
2. May I ask you to send me a list of your latest fiction
3. May I congratulate you on the excellent dinner served to our
club last Wednesday
4. May I take up with you the matter of late delivery of your mail
to your bank
5. Have you ever wished you could apply voluntarily for life in-
surance without dealing through an agent
6. Can you maintain a conversation in a pleasing voice can you
walk with ease and poise can you tell a story can you sing play an
instrument can you dance can you drive
7. Graduating business students have two problems to solve before
they can confidently present themselves for an employment interview
(a) What shall I wear (b) What shall I say
8. On the day of your interview, judge your costume as a whole by
standing before a mirror and asking yourself the following questions
a. Does my costume have an appearance of oneness
b. Does the costume look as if it belonged to me or does it look bor-
c. Do I feel comfortable in the costume
9. Do you enjoy meeting people whose experiences have given them
unusual things to tell do you like to talk with men and women who have
thought things through not necessarily to your own conclusions but
keenly or from an arresting new angle
10. What more fitting subject could be selected for the convention
than "Modernizing Business Education"
11. Again I go to the businessman for my support what are the facts
the understandings the attitudes the interests the ideals that businessmen
would like their employees to have
12. Consider the following questions do we need to give more or less
attention to typewriting in our high-school business curriculum does our
course link up closely enough with actual business requirements
THE EXCLAMATION POINT
1. Use the exclamation point after expressions of strong
a. "I object!" roared the lawyer.
b. Our holiday greetings to you, friends and fellow workers!
2. Use the exclamation mark after a word, a phrase, or a
sentence to express surprise.
a. What! a portable typewriter for twenty dollars!
30 per cent Savings Now!
b. "Serve America Now So you Can See America Later!" advised
the Greyhound Line.
196 English for Secretaries
Tell how the following phrases or sentences should be punctuated
if they occurred in advertisements.
1. Probably the happiest woman in the world is one coming home
with a new spring dress or hat
2. Box types fitted types warm sturdy smart with collars of rayon
3. Not only all-wool but all new wool quality that can take it
4. Shoes for dress shoes for business shoes for sportswear
5. How few men and women express themselves clearly how many of
us are misunderstood when we talk and when we write
1 . Use double quotation marks to enclose a direct quota-
a. "Will you finish the report today?" asked the supervisor.
b. "All sorts of smart accessories," said the buyer, "mark the newest
c. Mr. Richberg declared, "The economic conditions of this century
have no duplicate in history."
2. Do not use quotation marks to set off indirect quota-
a. After the lecture was over,, I went up to him immediately to ask
him if I could have a talk with him.
b. He said that he would be very glad to talk with me.
3. Quotation marks are used to enclose titles of books,
individual poems, paintings, and magazines.
a. A collection called "Three Masters of English Drama" contains
Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra," Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar,"
and Dryden's "All for Love."
b. The most valuable painting, "The Fisherman," sold for $40,000.
Many modern publications prefer italics indicated in
manuscript by underlining, rather than quotation marks, to
a. The greatest manservant in literature since the days of Sam
Weller is to be found in Thank Tou 9 Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse.
b. Grace for This Day, condensed from Good Housekeeping, appeared
in the January number of The Reader's Digest.
4. Use single quotation marks to enclose quoted matter
within a quotation.
"With my first title, 'The Forge,'" T. S. Stribling says, "I tried to
suggest the actual physical up-building of the South; and with my
second, 'The Store,' I aimed at the commercial development."
5. Use quotation marks or underline the words to indi-
cate italics to set off from the context any quoted or
emphasized word or short phrase.
a. Do not say "my residence" for "my house," or "retire" for "go
b. Advertising is not only a help, it is the helpmate.
c. The difference of opinion rests on the meaning of the words
"business vocational efficiency."
d. Various Scotch words, e.g., "cosy," "bairn," "wee," have been
added to what one may call our "nursery vocabulary."
Quotation Marks with other Punctuation Marks
1 . Quotation marks are always placed outside the period
and the comma (see examples above).
2. Quotation marks are always placed inside the semi-
a. Have you noticed that parts of your notes can be read upside
down with entirely different meanings or no meanings at all?
198 English for Secretaries
For instance, in Gregg shorthand, "read" becomes "deck";
"back" becomes "rave"; . . .
b. In a brief statement he declared that he had no political ambi-
tions whatever; that any suggestion to the contrary "must be
regarded as merely amiable gestures of good will dictated by
friendship"; that his only hope and ambition is for victory in the
war; that when the war is over he expects to retire into private
A. Write the following sentences, supplying capitals and punctuation
wherever necessary and paying particular attention to quotation marks.
1. The program consisted of short talks on The Present Day Family
Changing Ideals of Behavior and The Use of Leisure
2. Knowledge of social usage is often a factor in happiness and
success said Dr. Ruth Strang of Teachers College
3. The mood in which most of the House voted Aye took no account
of the meaning or consequences of the measure
4. In order to test preferences on radio programs a questionnaire
has been sent out containing two questions what do you dislike on the
air and what do you like on the air
5. In November the articles liked best by readers were teachers are
citizens do we want to prevent crime and what are taxes for
6. The speaker declared that our goal should be the greatest possible
freedom and security for every American citizen
7. Our generation said the speaker faces new events and new ideas
bound to support destroy or modify the current beliefs about right and
8. Something is wrong when not every man has an opportunity to
work and earn his livelihood said the senator
9. Chairman Fletcher of the Senate Banking and Currency Com-
mittee once remarked no rules regulations laws restrictions or whatnot
can prevent a man from being a fool or a knave if he chooses to be a fool
or a knave
10. Inclusion in club programs of some form of welfare and health
activity is the plan of practically every club group in the state declared
the welfare chairman of the New York state federation of women's clubs.
B. Write the following quotations, supplying the correct punctuation.
1. Men who make their living by writing study words as a painter
studies colors on his palette as the steel-worker studies the constituents
of his metal writes James Melvin Lee
2. Robert Louis Stevenson believed that the first merit which attracts
in the pages of good writers or the talk of a brilliant conversationalist is
its apt choice and contrast of the words employed.
3. The speaker declared facility in writing clean-cut accurate in-
formative reports would be of great value to every secretary. Secretarial
work she continued will include courses in shorthand and typewriting
and instruction in the use of office machines filing and handling of
4. Charles R. Barnett says we convey our ideas to other men by words
either spoken or written if we do not speak or write correctly that is
according to the rules of English we are liable to be misunderstood and
to suffer inconvenience the loss of time and often the loss of money.
5. The good old advertising term human-interest writes John B.
Opdycke in the Language of Advertising applies especially to the study
of English words there is an engaging human-interest attaching to most
of our words that should of itself prompt to an intensive study of them
and an intellectual curiosity about them.
6. The language used in a business letter says Carl Naether should be
selected with the purpose of expressing the character and personality of
one distinct person besides the kind of words used the manner in which
they are used the construction and length of sentences and paragraphs
lend business writing individuality and charm.
7. Another piece of good advice in regard to words is the following
given by Walter H. Page go over the words you use to see if they be the
best dont fall into merely current phrases if you have a long word see
if a native short one can be put in its place which will be more natural
and stronger avoid a Latin vocabulary and use a plain English one.
8. The stenographer should know how to use words says W. L.
Mason for it is by the use of words he makes his living there is no more
common complaint made against a poor stenographer than that he
misuses words either he abuses them by transposing their letters or he
mutilates them by disembowelling or dismembering them or substituting
wrong words for right ones.
200 English for Secretaries
1. Use the apostrophe in contractions in the place of the
omitted letter or letters: don't, we're; and in place of the
first two figures for the year: the Class of '46.
2. Use the apostrophe or the apostrophe and s to indicate
the possessive of nouns: John's typewriter. For further use of
the apostrophe with the possessive case, see pages 218-219.
3. As a rule, the possessive form in apostrophe and s
should be confined to persons: the history of America is pre-
ferable to America's history; the legs of the table, not the table's
legs. However certain idiomatic expressions, generally
expressing a period of time, are used in the possessive: a
day's pay, a week's rest, two months' work, threej^r/ interest.
4. Use the apostrophe and s to form the plural of figures
and letters of the alphabet: 6V, rfs.
5. Use the apostrophe and s to form the plural of a word
used as a word.
There are too many not's in that sentence.
6. Do not use an apostrophe in abbreviations to show the
omission of a letter or letters: bus, Dept., Messrs., Supt.
A. Write the numbers of the following phrases on your answer paper.
After each number, write C if the apostrophe is correctly used; rewrite
the phrase correctly if it is incorrect as it stands.
1. the boy's face
2. the boys' faces
3. the employee's homes
4. Samuel Clemen's Tom Sawyer
5. Bess's paper
6. each days' assignment
7. Jane Addam's autobiography
8. Wilson's and Harding's policies
9. the attorney-general's signature
10. Abamowitz' dress shop
11. Hoover and Roosevelt's platform
12. the children's department
13. Canada and New York's coastlines
14. five month's tuition
15. four day's march
16. six years' guaranty
17. Henry Brown, Jr's, secretary
18. today's program
19. a week's report
20. one month's course
21. The Womans' Home Companion
B. Write the following phrases and insert an apostrophe or an apos-
trophe and s ('*) wherever needed.
1. four hours work
2. the Navys ultimate objective
3. the Postmaster-Generals office
4. Mr. Lewis new novel
5. New York States inheritance tax
6. the Board of Aldermens decision
7. one anothers plans
8. Admiral Richard E. Byrds flagship
9. womans right to vote
10. the editor-in-chiefs opinion
11. a gen tlemans agreement
12. the governments project
13. Professor Hopkins suggestion
14. the Presidents committee
15. the squadrons personnel
16. Commander McGinnis request
17. Dr. and Mrs. Henrys efforts
18. Jones and Companys goods
19. the bankers (plural) four-year plan
20. other peoples money
21. ladies dresses
22. Rule and Warren Companys sales
202 English for Secretaries
23. clubwomens efforts
24. babies diseases
25. Philip Bowen, Jr., secretary
26. two months cruise
27. the citizens budget commission
28. Bell and Edisons inventions
29. each others beliefs
30. four engineers estimates
31. Jane and Elsies mothers
32. the American Legions demand
33. every days reports
34. Mr. Dickenson and Mr. Alberts families
35. the babys top
C. Write the following sentences, inserting an apostrophe or an
apostrophe and s wherever needed.
1. After five hours deliberation, the jury convicted the two men.
2. Federal employees salaries must be looked after and corrected.
3. The storm lashed Portugals coast for several days.
4. Details of the values will be found in tomorrows Times.
5. The armys week-end sports events attracted many visitors.
6. Travelers checks totaling $730 were found in his possession.
7. A program of forty minutes duration was arranged for the girls.
8. At the Presidents birthday ball a "surprise number" will be the
evenings entertainment feature.
9. Societys interest is focused on a pageant to be given at the Waldorf-
Astoria on January 30.
10. In the mountain region of Virginia the children learn, in addition
to their three Rs, various handicraft activities.
11. The Womans Auxiliary of St. Johns Protestant Episcopal Church
will meet on November twenty-fifth.
12. Members of the Lions Club attended the annual dinner of the
homemakers section of the Womans Club held on Halloween.
13. One of the schools founders declared that the proceeds from the
sale of womens clothing should be used for the support of needy children.
14. The Spruce Tree Club, which has been meeting at the Citizens
Civic League Clubhouse, leased Walter McGinnis property this week
and will use the building for future assemblies and also for a womens
exchange benefit shop.
To indicate that words, phrases, or sentences are to ap-
pear in italics in printed matter, such items are underlined
in the typewritten or handwritten manuscript.
The following expressions usually appear in italics:
1 . Foreign expressions that are not regarded as part of the
English language : faux pas, pilce de resistance. So many foreign
expressions have been adopted and have become a part of
the English family of words that it is often difficult to know
which are still considered foreign. When in doubt, one
should consult a dictionary, making sure how the dictionary
2. Words or expressions to which a writer wishes to give
0. Though current conditions are fast undermining it, the old-
fashioned virtue of thrift is just as important today as it ever was.
b. From the mechanical point of view, business letters naturally fall
into three classes the short letter, the ordinary one-page letter, and the
3. A word spoken of as a word.
The word sandwich has an interesting derivation.
4. Titles of books, magazines, newspapers, and other
whole printed works. Today this style is usually preferred to
When an, and, or the is part of a title, it should be italicized:
The Merchant of Venice, The New York Times.
Quotation marks are preferred for titles of parts of books.
5. The names of ships. Authorities differ as to the correct
manner of writing the names of ships. Some prefer italics;
some, quotation marks; and others, neither: the Normandie,
the "Normandie" or the Normandie.
204 English for Secretaries
6. The words continued, continued on page, to be continued, to
Tell what words or phrases in the following sentences might be
italicized in printed matter.
1. For years, readers of Field and Stream admired Henry Summer
Watson's hunting and fishing scenes on the covers of the magazine.
2. Theater may be spelled either theater or theatre. Theater is the
American form; theatre, the English form.
3. Many boxes were sold for the matinee of La Boheme Friday after-
noon at the Metropolitan Opera House.
4. In the West we find the Columbus Ohio State Journal, the Detroit
Free Press, and the Chicago Daily News fearful of the effects of such
5. Yale University was presented with a complete set of the first
edition of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.
6. We can well afford to question ourselves as to how staunchly our
house of today will withstand the storms of tomorrow.
7. Italian has contributed to the English language finale, piano,
sonata, and many other words relating to music.
8. Most people think that the term synthetic means a substitute for a
1 . Parentheses are used to set off supplementary matter
that is explanatory but not necessary to the grammatical
structure of the sentence. The dash today is often preferred
in this connection, particularly if the inserted material is
intended to be emphasized.
a. There is much agreement (it isn't unanimous, however) that
there are too many business education associations.
b. Letter paper (standard size) is longer than it is wide.
2. Parentheses are used to enclose letters or figures to
mark the division of a subject. Roman numerals should not
be enclosed in parentheses.
Economies may be effected on typewriter ribbons by (a) ordering
in the proper volume; (b) attempting to get the full use from each
ribbon commensurate with appearance; and (c) making competi-
tive tests of samples.
3. Parentheses are used to enclose a question mark fol-
lowing a word or a statement about which the writer is in
a. We read The Ballad Book by Katherine (?) Lee Bates.
b. Purcell, Henry. 1658 (?) to 1695.
4. Parentheses may be used around dates that indicate
the years of a person's life.
Sir Arthur Gonan Doyle (1859-1930).
5. Parentheses are used in legal documents, in formal
reports, and in formal letters to enclose figures following a
written sum of money.
In payment of three thousand dollars ($3,000).
Careless writers use the dash in place of other punctuation
marks, particularly the comma. It should be used sparingly
1 . The dash is used to show an abrupt change in thought
and before a final clause in a long sentence to summarize or
to emphasize the preceding thought.
a. He went to Gasp6 wherever that may be.
b. Not money, or fame, or power; but sincerity, joy in life, intelli-
gence, friendliness, resourcefulness, strength of purpose, gracious
manners, beauty of spirit, generosity, dependability, helpfulness,
and nobility of conduct these are the real measures of what
2. The dash is sometimes used to set off expressions that
are appositive or parenthetical.
206 English for Secretaries
a. With luminous facts, the book lights the sorry picture of our
wasted national riches soil, water, forests, minerals, wild
animals, and bird life.
b. One of the distinctive features of these books a feature that is
especially valuable in class use of the material is the variety of
exercises on every subject discussed.
c. An Introduction to Architectural Drawing aims to explain graphic
methods of representing the elements of a simple building the
house, including floor plans, elevations, vertical sections, and
d. There is ample repetitive drill and training for every sensory
channel the eye, the ear, the hand, the voice each supple-
menting and strengthening the others.
3. The dash is used in catalogs and bibliographies to
denote repetition of an author's name.
Opdycke, John Baker. Don't Say It
Get It Right!
Handbook of English Usage
Take a Letter, Please!
4. The dash is used instead of to in references to dates,
pages, paragraphs, chapters, and the like.
1940-1950 paragraphs 3-7
pp. 55-61 Chaps. V-VIII
Discuss orally in class the following statements taken from authorities
1 . This matter of punctuation may seem trivial but it is important,
and wordy debates have turned on it.
2. Remember that the special function of punctuation is to clarify
the meaning intended to be conveyed.
3. The purpose of all punctuation is to aid the reader to understand
4. What inflection is to the voice, punctuation is to writing.
5. The tendency today in all kinds of writing is definitely toward the
simplification, that is, the minimization, of punctuation.
6. Punctuation is extremely important in all correspondence, but
particularly so in letters involving business transactions; much misunder-
standing and even litigation may result from a misplaced comma or
7. Punctuation is based upon grammatical analysis, hence a good
grammarian should be able to punctuate correctly.
8. Marks of punctuation, like guideposts, are intended to point out
the way that the traveler may continue his journey without having to
retrace his steps.
1 . Use a hyphen to show the division of a word at the end
of a line when there is not enough space to write the whole
word. (See rules for syllabication.)
V2. Use a hyphen to join the parts of a compound wore} :
As opinions differ so much concerning the use of the
hyphen and as no hard and fast rules can be laid down for a
great many words, it is advisable to observe the preferred
modern usage and to consult a recent edition of a dictionary
when one is in doubt. The tendency today is to write many
words "solid" that formerly were hyphened: today, tomorrow,
tonight, goodby, semiannual.
3. Write "solid" two nouns used together to form another
when the preferred noun is a monosyllable: homework,
4. Write "solid" words compounded with like: businesslike,
homelike; pronouns compounded with self: himself, ourselves;
and most words compounded with over and under: overstock,
5. With numbers
208 English for Secretaries
a. Use the hyphen in compound numerals : fifty-four.
b. Use the hyphen when compounding numerals with
other words: a 6-yard pass, a 2-hour parade, a three-room
apartment, a 40-hour week.
6. With fractions
a. Use a hyphen when the fraction is used as an adjective:
b. Do not use a hyphen when the fraction is used as a
noun: one third of the class, one fourth of the can.
7. Use the hyphen in compounds made up of nouns and
prepositional phrases: day-to-day transactions; between
words forming an adjective when it precedes the noun
modified : man-sized undertaking. But if one of the words is an
adverb ending in ly, do not use a hyphen to connect it with
the participle or with the adjective: beautifully arranged index,
decidedly complimentary remarks.
8. Use the hyphen ordinarily in compounds made up of
prefixes joined to proper names \ pro-British^ but transatlantic;
and in compounds of unusual formation: mid-January sale,
A. Write these words, using hyphens to show where each word may
be divided at the end of a typewritten line.
1. acknowledge 11. notify 21. satisfactory
2. association 12. occupation 22. schedule
3. business 13. permanent 23. several
4. correspondence 14. possibility 24. situation
5. estimate 15. president 25. sufficient
6. general 16. property 26. superintendent
7. hundred 17. received 27. thousand
8. immediately 18. reference 28. usual
9. material 19. remittance 29. variety
10. necessary 20. responsibility 30. vitamin
B. Rewrite the following sentences, being careful to determine words
that should be written solid and words that should be hyphened.
1 . He considered the catalog well printed and conveniently arranged.
2. His self conscious attitude amused the editor in chief.
3. My room mate goes out for both base ball and basket ball.
4. The book keeper's hand writing showed unusual nervousness.
5. The three quarter length standing figure is life size.
6. The well dressed young woman wishes to have an X ray examina-
tion of her hand.
7. Many modern chairs are descendants of period shapes, but modi-
fied for up to date needs.
8. The century old prison housed nearly three times as many in-
mates as it was designed to hold.
9. A day bed is inexpensive, good looking, and very appropriate
for a one room apartment.
10. The business like view point of my brother in law impressed both
the coach and the teams.
1 1 . Three bed rooms, a bath room and a dining room were added to
the old farm house.
12. His class mates consider him the best foot ball player in the league.
13. The companion way was so crowded that no one could see when
the gang plank was raised.
14. The lay out of the advertisement pleased the copy writer.
15. Road side bill boards were assailed yesterday in a report by the
Long Island State Park Commission.
16. It would seem that the poll has effected a nation wide release of
pent up feeling on all sides of the question.
17. A man has small chance to get some where and be some body if
he is entirely dependent upon his next pay check.
18. The most essential requirement of a one room home more over
is that it must look first and fore most like a living room, while carefully
concealing the function of being also a bed room.
C. Write the following list, indicating whether the words should be
written as one word (afterthought), as two words (ill humor), or hyphened
(son-in-law). In some cases authorities differ in these respect. In cases
of doubt consult an unabridged dictionary.
English for Secretaries
1 . air plane
2. all right
3. al ready
4. al to gether
5. basket ball
6. bath tub
7. bond holder
8. book keeper
9. broad cast
10. business men
1 1 . class mate
12. coast to coast hook
13. common weather
14. court house
15. cross reference
16. cup ful
17. dining room
18. earth quake
19. else where
20. every body
21. every where
22. fellow citizen
23. fire men
24. foot ball
25. for as much
26. frame work
27. grand father
28. head quarters
29. him self
30. horse power
31. house boat
32. how ever
33. in as much
34. inter urban
35. land mark
36. law giver
37. letter writing
38. living room
39. more over
40. mud guard
41. non essential
42. note book
43. not with standing
44. other wise
45. our selves
46. out look
47. over charge
48. over due
49. per cent
50. post office
51. school room
52. search light
53. self conceit
55. safe guard
56. Pan American Con-
D. Write the words in the following list, inserting hyphens wherever
they are necessary.
1 . ready to wear dresses
2. eighteen year old student
3. sixteen inch water main
4. life size portrait
5. over the counter market
6. a fifty fifty decision
7. last minute efforts
8. nation wide prosperity
9. gray green walls
10. young daughter in law
Abbreviations, apostrophe in, 200
capitalization of, 157, 281
in letter headings, 18-19
plurals of, 281
punctuation of, 172-173
for state names, 281-282
Acceptance, formal notes of, 132-133
informal notes of, 128
Acknowledgment, letters of, 61-64
Address, on envelopes, 42-46
inside address, 18-21, 23-24, 77
Adjectives, capitalization of, 157-158
Adjectives and adverbs, 242244
Adjustment letters, 69-73
Adverbs and adjectives, 242-244
Agreement, of pronoun with ante-
of subject and predicate, 232-234
Apostrophe, in abbreviations, 200
in contractions, 200
in idiomatic expressions, 200
omission of, in possessive pronouns,
in plurals, of figures, 200
of letters, 200
in possessive of nouns, 200, 218
Application, letters of, 99-108
Appreciation, notes of, 128-129
Army, capitalization of, 154
Article, capitalization of, 164
repetition of, 249-250
Association, capitalization of, 150-151
Attention line, 19-21
Avenue, capitalization of, 150
Bibliography, directions for compil-
Biographical dictionaries, 288
Block form, in envelope address, 44
in letters, 14, 16-18, 20, 27, 34, 35,
Board, capitalization of, 154
Book titles, capitalization of, 163
punctuation of, 203
Buildings, capitalization of, 150
Bureau, capitalization of, 154
Business letters, 13-38, 41, 51-115
of abbreviations, 157, 281
of adjectives, 157-158
of army, 154
of article, the, 164
of associations, 150151
of avenue, 150
of board, 154
of buildings, 150
of bureau, 154
English for Secretaries
Capitalization, of church, 150-151
of club, 150-151
of college, 150-151
after colon, 158-159
of commission, 154
of committee, 154
of company, 150-151
of constitution, 156
of court , 154
of degrees, 148
of department, 154
"Down" style of, 151
of east, 151
of eastern, 152
of educational institutions, 150-
of geographical names, 1 50
of holidays and holy days, 147
of names of days of the week, 147
of individuals, 147-148
of the months, 147
of nation, 154
of national, 1 54
of navy, 1 54
of north, 151
of northern, 152
of political parties, 156
of quotations, 163
of south, 151
of southern, 1 52
of state, 151
of street, 150
of titles, of books, 163
of people, 147-148
of trade names, 1 57
of west, 151
of western, 152
Card catalog in libraries, 294-297
Case, with gerund, 241
with participle, 241
Charge accounts, letters relating to,
Church, capitalization of, 150-151
Claim, letters of, 66-69
Closed punctuation, 18, 37
Closing, complimentary, 30
Club, capitalization of, 150-151
Collection letters, 92-96
College, capitalization of, 150-151
Colon, capitalization of word fol-
rules for use of, 191-192
Commission, capitalization of, 154
Committee, capitalization of, 154
Company, capitalization of, 150-151
Company names, in inside address,
Complimentary closing, 30
Conjunctions, 247-249, 250
Constitution, capitalization of, 156
Contractions, apostrophe in, 200
Court, capitalization of, 154
Credit, letters relating to, 84-89
Date line, 15-16, 77
Days of week, capitalization of, 147
Degrees, capitalization of, 148
Department, capitalization of, 154
Derivation of words, 280
Dictionaries, biographical, 288
Dictionary, study of, 258-282
derivation of words, 280
Division of words into syllables, 265-
Divorced women, form of address,
Doctor, in signatures, 22
"Down" style of capitalization, 151
Duties of the secretary, 2-3
East, capitalization of, 151
Eastern, capitalization of, 152
Education of the secretary, 3-5
Educational institutions, capitaliza-
tion of, 150-151
Enclosure, placement of, 33
Envelopes, how to address, 42-46
Esquire, use of, 22
Exclamation point, 195
Figures, writing of, 165-167, 174,
178, 191, 204-205, 207-208
use of apostrophe in, 200
Financial services,, 287
Folding the letter, 41-42
Foreign expressions, italics in, 203
Formal notes, of acceptance, 1 32
of invitation, 132, 134
of regret, 132, 133
Fractions, writing of, 165
Geographical names, capitalization
Government publications, 290-291
parts of speech, 211-250
adjectives and adverbs, 242-244
prepositions, 246, 250
verbs, 225-241, 249
Heading, 16, 18-19
Holidays and holy days, capitaliza-
tion of, 147
Identification marks at close of letter,
Idiomatic expressions, use of apos-
trophe in, 200
Indented form, in envelope address,
in letters, 14, 16, 17, 21, 27, 36, 37
Index, directions for making, 144
Individuals, names of, capitalization
Infinitive, 228, 239
Informal notes, of acceptance, 128
of invitation, 128
of thanks, 128, 129
Information, letters of, 52, 54-56
sources of, 284-297
Inquiry, letters of, 51-54
Inside address, 18-21, 23-24, 77
Interdepartmental notes, 119
Introduction, letters of, 116-117
Invitations, formal, 132, 134
informal, 128, 129
Italics, 197, 203-204
English for Secretaries
Letter pictures, 34-37, 39, 40
Letters, abbreviations in headings of,
block form in, 14, 16-18, 20, 27,
34, 35, 121
body of, 27-30
closed punctuation in, 18, 37
complimentary close in, 30, 120,
date line in, 15-16, 77, 127, 130
folding of, 41-42
heading of, 16, 18-19, 120, 127,
identification marks in, 32-36
inside address in, 18-21, 23-24,
open punctuation in, 18, 20, 21,
34, 35, 36
reference line in, 17
salutation in, 25-27, 77, 120, 131
signature in, 30-32
subject line in, 27
business, 13-38, 41, 51-115
charge accounts, 89-92
information, 52, 54-56
Letters, types of, recommendation,
refusal of recommendation, 114-
Letters of the alphabet, apostrophe
plural of, 213
Libraries, use of, 284-297
Madam, 25, 26
Manuscripts, preparation of, 142-
Mesdames, 26, 27
Messrs., in inside address, 24
Mimeographed letters, 33
Minutes, definition, 140
directions for writing, 140-141
example of, 141
Miss, 21-22, 26, 30
Months, capitalization of, 147
Mr., 22, 25
Mrs., 21-22, 25, 31
Nation, capitalization of, 154
National, capitalization of, 154
Navy, capitalization of, 154
North, capitalization of, 151
Northern, capitalization of, 152
Notes, formal, 130-134
informal, 122-124, 127-129
Nouns, number, 211-213
possessive case, 218-219
Numbers, writing of, 165-167, 174,
Official letters, 38^0
Open punctuation, 18, 20, 21, 34,
Order letters, 58-61
Outlines, definition, 136
directions for writing, 136-137
Parentheses, 174, 204-205
Participle, 230, 240, 241
People, titles of, capitalization of,
Personal letters and notes, 127-134
Plurals, of abbreviations, 281
of figures, 166, 213
of letters, 213
of nouns, 211-213
Political parties, capitalization of,
Possessive case, with gerund, 241
of nouns, 218-219
of pronouns, 221-222
use of apostrophe in, 200, 218-219
Precis, definition, 137-138
directions for writing, 138
Prepositions, 246, 250
Professional women, how to address,
of abbreviations, 172-173
closed, 18, 37
open, 18, 20, 21, 34-36
points of, apostrophe, 200
exclamation point, 195
question mark, 193-194
quotation marks, 193-194
semicolon, 180, 187-189
of tabulations, 170
Qualifications of the secretary, 6-10
Question marks, 193-194
Quotation marks, 194, 196-197, 203
Quotations, capitalization of, 163
punctuation of, 185, 192, 194,
Recommendation, letters of, 110-114
letters refusing, 114115
Reference, letters relating to, 109-
Reference aids, 284-297
Reference line, 17
Regret, formal notes of, 132, 133
Sales letters, 75-83
Salutation, 25, 77
in business letters, 25-27
English for Secretaries
appeal of work, 1
personal traits, 6-8
Semibusiness letters, 120-124
Semicolon, 180, 187-189
Signatures, in business letters, 30-32
Sources of information, 284-297
South, capitalization of, 151
Southern, capitalization of, 152
State names, abbreviations of, 281-
capitalization of, 151
placement of, on envelopes, 43
in heading of letters, 14, 16-17
Street, capitalization of, 150
in heading, 16
in inside address, 18-19
Street numbers, how to write, 19
Style books, 289-290
Subject and predicate, agreement of,
Subject line, 27
Tabulations, punctuation of, 170
The, capitalization of, 164
Titles, of books, 163, 203
business, 22-23, 148
capitalization of, 147-148
of men, 22-23
professional, 22, 23
in signatures, 21-22
of women, 21-22
Trade names, capitalization of, 157
Transitional expressions, 249
agreement of subject and predi-
infinitive, 228, 239
principal parts, 230
West, capitalization of, 151
Western, capitalization of, 152
Women, forms of address, 21-22
salutation in letters to, 25-26
signatures of, 30-31