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Call No . 4*/'7f//f7r& Accession No. 

This book should be returned on or before the date last marked below. 

F. G. NICHOLS, Consulting Editor 

English for Secretaries 




F. G. NICHOLS, Consulting Editor 











Skar and Palmer BUSINESS LAW 



The Fundamentals of Correct Writing 
Applied to Correspondence 



Coauthor of "The Secretary's Handbook" "The Handbook of Social 

Correspondence" "Corrective Exercises in English" "English 

for American Youth" "The Book of Modern Letters" 







All rights reserved. This book, or 

parts thereof , may not be reproduced 

in any form without permission of 

the publishers. 



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 

vi Preface 

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, 
New York. 

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. 


October, 1943. 



Preface v 

Editor's Introduction be 


I. The Secretary 1 

II. The Form of the Business Letter 13 

III. Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order, Acknowledg- 

ment 51 

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, 

Introduction 99 

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 

Part Two 

X. Capitalization and the Writing of Figures 147 

XL Punctuation 169 

XII. A Review of English Grammar. . .- 211 

Part Three 

XIII. Use of the Dictionary. . . . : 258 

XIV. Sources of Information . 284 

Index 303 


Editors Introduction 

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- 
tional objective. 

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 
personal notes. 

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 


October, 1943. 

Part One 


The Secretary 

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 
to her. 


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 


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 

Stenographer 164 

Correspondent 33 

Assistant to private secretary 20 

Statistical clerk 22 

Bookkeeper 17 

Dictating machine operator 15 

Personnel clerk 14 

Typist 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 

Relatively Important Traits &)d$4 < 
Primary Secondary 

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 

Tact S 

Poise S 

Relatively Unimportant Traits 

Executive ability S 

Independent Value 
Independence S & E 
Responsibleness S & E 
Concentration S & E 
Cooperativeness S & E 
Systematic S & E 

Alertness S 

Ambition S 

Resourcefulness S 
Discretion E 

Versatility E 

Even temper E 

Perseverance E 

Enthusiasm E 

Quickness E 

Tact E 

Memory S 

Organizing ability S 
Poise S 

1 So rated by both secretaries and employer*. 

* So rated by secretaries only. 

So rated by employers only. 

Independent Value 









Even temper 


S & E 
S& E 
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 
work unhesitatingly. 


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. 


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 

or bizarre. 

5. Shoes 5. Clean. Straight of heel. Conservative. 

(Fragmentary heels and toes in poor 

The Secretary 

6. Jewelry 

7. Restraining 

B. Personal grooming 

1. Hair 

2. Skin 

3. Brows 

4. Teeth 

5. Nails 

6. Make-up 

C. Posture 

1. Carriage 

2. Walk 

3. Hands 


A. Voice 


B. Diction 



A. Vigor 

1. Energy 

2. Stamina. 

3. Emotional 


A. Toward the job 

1. Alertness 

2. Enthusiasm 

3. Objectivity 

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. 

A. Dependability 

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, 
and vacations 

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, 

Inc., 1941. 

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. 


1. Heading 

a. Place 

b. Date 

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) 

3. Salutation 

4. Subject line (supplied if needed) 

5. Body of letter 

6. Complimentary closing 

7. Signature 

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- 
sidered important. 

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 
they represent? 

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 
Biddleford, Maine 
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 
Nantucket, Mass. 

Vassar College 
Poughkeepsie, N. Y. 

R. F. D. 3 

Sebago Lake, Maine 

Post-Office Box 45 
Nashville, Tenn. 

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. 
Minneapolis, Minnesota 
January 3, 19 

File No. K-5968 

Third Central Bank 
Third and Central Streets 
Memphis, Tenn. 

In your reply please refer to M. P. Fen ton 


Third Central Bank 
Third and Central Streets 
Memphis, Tenn. 


In replying, please refer to Adjustment Dept. 

Third Central Bank 

Third and Central Streets 
Memphis, Tennessee 

Gentlemen: Your reference: R. T. Cox (3-12) 

18 English for Secretaries 


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 
double spacing. 

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- 
hand margin: 

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 
Chicago, Illinois 

Attention: Mr. Archibald R. Brookfield 

Sales Promotion Manager 

Written on a line with the salutation: 

The Elite Hat Shoppe 
425 Boylston Street 
Boston, Mass. 

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 

Indiana University 


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 
and architects. 

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. 

To Individuals: 

Dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Miss) Brown: This is informal 
American usage. 

My dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Miss) Brown: This is formal 
American usage. 

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) 
To Organizations: 

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 
of women. 

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 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 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 
new page. 

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 

Fio. 1. 

Fio. 2. 

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 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: 

Yours truly, 
Elizabeth Dearborn 
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 truly, 
Joseph Clark 
Joseph Clark 
Yours very truly, 
/?. E. Blaisdell 
R. E. Blaisdell 
Sales Department 

The firm or organization name may follow the writer's 

Yours truly, 
Graham Sterling 
Graham Sterling 
Personnel Director 
Allen and Sons 

32 English for Secretaries 


Yours truly, 
James French 
James French 
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, 
Edward Williamson 
Managing Director 

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 
usually added. 

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 


Inside address 


Body of the letter 


Written signature 
(showing indi- 
vidual responsi- 

Typed signature 


Signature identifi- 
cation with 


Belts and May 
13 Sixth Street 
Erie, Pennsylvania 


January 18, 19 

Very truly yours, 
Andrew Jensen 

Andrew Jensen 
Credit Manager 


The Form of the Business Letter 



Inside address 

Salutation and 
subject line (or the 
subject line may be 
written two spaces 
below the saluta- 
tion, centered). 
Punctuation may 
or may not be 
used after the word 


Typed name of 
firm (showing 
company responsi- 

Wntten signature 
Typed signature 

Signature identifi- 
cation with 
reference, usually 
placed one or two 
spaces below the 
last line of the sig- 
nature. If it i* 
necessary for 
marginal balance, 
this line may be 
written on the 
same line with the 
last item of the 

R. B. Ashton & 
20 Brock Street 
Akron, Ohio 

Gentlemen : 


January 18, 19 

Subject: Policy 13947 


Very truly yours, 

Fulton, Gordon & Co. 

Burton Drake 
Burton Drake 
Advertising Manager 

36 English for Secretaries 


Inside address 

Attention line 

File number 

Body of letter 


Finn name 
Written signature 

Typed signature 

Identifying initials 
Inclosure line 


Nash and Horton 

160 Columbus Avenue 
Dayton, Ohio 

Attention of Mr. Arthur Lyons, Manager 


Your file No. 954 

February 4, 19 

Yours truly, 


Mary Norton 
Mary Norton 


Two inclosures 

The Form of the Business Letter 


(When the paper contains no letterhead, the address of the writer must be 



Inside address 


Body of letter 


Title for reply 

21 Main Street, 
Barre, Vermont, 
February 15, 19 . 

Miss Agnes Read, Treasurer, 
Exville Alumnae Association, 
Exville, Minnesota. 

Dear Miss Read: 

Yours sincerely, 
Alice W. Fenton 
(Mrs. Henry Fenton) 

38 English for Secretaries 


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- 
hand margin. 

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. 

His Honor, 

Mayor of New York 

City Hall 

New York, N. Y. 

The Honorable 

Mayor of New York 

City Hall 

New York, N. Y. 

The word Honorable should not be placed directly before 
the surname. 

The Form of the Business Letter 


Correct: The Honorable Henry Blank 
Incorrect: The Honorable Blank 





The Honorable- 

Yours respectfully, 
Arnold Sherman 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives 
Washington, D. C. 



The President of the 
United States 

Inside Address 
The President 
The White House 
Washington, D.C. 

Associate Justice of The Honorable 

the Supreme Court Associate Justice of the Su- 
preme Court 
Washington, D.C. 

Member of the 
President's Cabinet 

United States 
(or State) 

Member of 

The Honorable 

The Secretary of State 
Washington, D.C. 

The Honorable 

The United States (or State) 

Washington, D.C. 

The Honorable 

The House of Representatives, 
Washington, D.C. 

Mr. President: 



Dear Mr. Justice 



Dear Sir: 



My dear Senator: 



Dear Sir: 

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: 


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 
clogged letters? 

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 



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 
and crease. 


Fio. 3. 


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 
and crease. 

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. 


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 



The Registrar 
University of Maine 

Luther Norton 

1892 Bouvier Street 

Hartford, Connecticut 

State Teachers College 



Attention: Mr. R. K. Bond 

The Form of the Business Letter 45 


George Thomas 

4217 Cleveland Street 

Peoria, Illinois 

Mr. Malcolm Henderson 
Department of English 
Blank University 
Albany, N.Y. 

Helen Warren 
South Hadley 

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 
letter writing. 

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- 
ness asset. 

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. 

NYC, 6/10/43 

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- 
pany name? 

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., 
Interior Decorators? 

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 
35 Spruce 
Phila, Penn 

19. Write correctly the following inside address for a letter to an 

Alice Krant 
9th Ave., 

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, 
Elizabeth Kerr 
(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? 

Registered Mail 
Dictator's initials 
Secretary's initials 


Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order, 


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 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- 
mercial letters. 

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 Madam? 
Dear Miss? 
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 
would be. 

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 
to her. 


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, 
Bangor, Maine 
October 9, 19 
B. Altman & Co. 

Fifth Avenue at 34 Street 
New York, N. Y. 
Gentlemen : 

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. 

Yours truly, 

Mrs. Edward Smith 

Letters of Inquiry, Information, Order 59 

19 Otia Street 
Medford, Mass. 
April 25, 19 

Superintendent of Documents 
United States Government Printing Office 
Washington, D. C. 
Dear Sir: 

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.) 

Total $1.35 
Enclosed you will find a money order. 


L. K. Drysdale 
1 Enclosure 


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. 

Yours truly, 

Benjamin Lawson 

60 English for Secretaries 


200 Pine Street, 
Orono, Maine, 

December 18, 19 . 

Printers' Ink Publishing Company, Inc. 
185 Madison Avenue 
New York, N. Y. 
Gentlemen : 

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 
Chicago, Illinois 

Mr. Ernest Warren 
Kent State University 
Kent, Ohio 

You will find enclosed my check for $4 in payment of both sub- 


Mrs. Clara Wood 

West Chester 
June 15, 19 

Taylor and Brown Company 
Tremont Street 
Boston, Mass. 

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 
as possible. 

Very truly yours, 
James Stevenson 
James Stevenson 


Blue Earth 
June 2, 19 

The Brown-Scott Company 

240 Hennepin Avenue 

Minneapolis, Minn. 


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 

TOTAL $6.84 

I am enclosing samples of both the yarn and the crepe. Your usual 

prompt attention to this order will be appreciated. 

Very truly yours, 
Isabel Cook 
(Mrs. John H. Cook) 

Two samples 



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 
March 20. 

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 
Toledo, Ohio 

November 5, 19 
Your File C-2731 

Nelson Furniture Co. 

8 South Michigan Avenue 

Chicago, Illinois 

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 

received. ' 


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. 

Yours truly, 

The Benson Corporation 

Leo Boynton 

LB:S Leo Boynton, President 


Norton Brothers 
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 
appreciate it. 

Very truly yours, 
Howard Anderson 

15 Marshall Street 
Newton Centre, Mass. 
June 5, 19 

Smith Patterson Co. 
52 Summer Street 
Boston, Mass. 

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, 

Eleanor Stone 

(Mrs. Howard Stone) 


20 Main Street 
Orono, Maine 
June 1, 19 

The Carson Company 

173 Main Street 

Bangor, Maine 

Attention Adjustment Department 


May I call your attention to the following oversight made in 

filling my order of May thirtieth. 

I ordered 

Quantity Article Color Size Price Total 

4 yards crepe rose 36" $1.90 87.60 

12 yards organdy blue 36" .95 11.40 

Total 19.00 

I received 

4 yards organdy rose 36" .95 3.80 

12 yards crepe blue 36" 1.90 _22JM> 

Total 326^60 

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, 
Bertha Whittier 
(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 
future business. 

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 
by express. 

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, 
Trade, Laboring 

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 


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. 


Gentlemen 84 

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 
your family. 

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, 
I am 


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. 

(5) 1 

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. 

(6) 1 

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 
entire year. 

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 
Wells Studios). 

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 
careful outline. 

The next step is an effective opening paragraph. Would a question, 
an exclamation, a quotation, a statement of fact, a news item prove 
most arresting? 

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 


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 
seeking credit. 


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 
$15 each. 

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- 
closed form. 

We trust we may be able to return this courtesy if the opportunity 
should arise. 

The enclosure 
Credit standing? 
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 

Occupation Married 

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. 

Please Print 


Employer's Address. 


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 



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 
modern letters. 


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 
and esteem. 

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 
please you. 

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 
Blank Company. 

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 

Formal Notifications 

Personal Appeals 

Timely- topic Appeals 

Threatening Collection Letters 

Effective Appeals 

Original Appeals 

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 
been received. 

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 
remittance in. 

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. 
Amount $20.75 
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 
to it? 

So please send us this remittance by return mail. Thank you ! 

96 English for Secretaries 


Good morning! 

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 
investigate immediately. 

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. 
McKay's complaint. 

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 
Association, 1940. 

SELLMAN, E. G. Effective Collection Letters That Bring in the Money Today. 
New York, The Ronald Press Company, 1939. 


Letters of Application, Reference, 
Recommendation, Introduction 


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 
subject matter. 


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. 

O) 1 

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 
correct title. 

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 
prospect's self-interest. 

5. Show you have an appreciation of the functions of the job you 
are seeking. 

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). 

(2) 1 

Dear Senior: 

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 
Times Square 
New York, N. Y. 

Dear Sir: 

Your advertisement in The New York Times states that you are 
looking for a stenographer who has some knowledge of business 
office routine. 

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. 

Yours truly, 
Ethel Canfield 

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 
to advance. 

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 
the University. 

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, 
Albion, Michigan. 

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. 


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 
general character. 

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 
correspondence supervisor? 

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 
of weakness? 


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 

Ridgefield, Conn. 

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 



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 
GUN/lrs Treasurer 


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 profession. 

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 
you desire. 


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, 
discourteous attitude. 

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 
imilar circumstances. 

1 . Write a letter of recommendation for an exceptionally competent 
iccountant who is applying for the position of credit manager in a 
lepartment store. 

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 
the position. 

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. 


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 
enjoy him. 

I am, dear Mr. Roosevelt, 

Sincerely yours, 
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 

(Informal, Formal) 


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. 

Miss Cook 

Printing schedules for the catalog are as follows: June 23, two 
machines; June 26, ten machines. 

G. S. Kelly 
June 20 

Mrs. Stone 

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? 

Edith Archibald 
May third 


120 English for Secretaries 


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, 
Cleveland, Ohio, 

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. 

Yours sincerely, 
Mary Haycraft 


Miss Anita Palmer, 
Hotel St. Clair, 
Columbus, Ohio. 


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. 

Cordially yours, 

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. 

Yours sincerely, 
Ernestine Canfield 

Ernestine Canfield 
Secretary to Mr. Tilden 
Mrs. Edward Leslie, 
128 Broad Street, 
Bloomfield, N. J. 


1417 Sixth Street, 
Minneapolis, Minn., 

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. 

Yours sincerely, 
Lillian Campbell 

Lillian Campbell 
Secretary to Dr. Peabody 
Mrs. Richard Patterson, 
2615 Park Avenue, 
Minneapolis, Minn. 

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 
next October. 

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- 
man's organization. 

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 
to deliver. 

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. 


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 
true. 55 

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. 

Yours sincerely, 

Jane Lovatt 
Pleasant Avenue 
October twelfth 

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. 

Yours sincerely, 

Marjorie Fenton Graham 
3 Old Army Road 
May twenty-fifth 

Gorham, Maine, 
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 ! 

Yours sincerely, 
Louise Morris 

Dear Harriet, 

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 . 

Yours sincerely, 


15 Evergreen Avenue 
Tuesday afternoon 


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 
birthday gift. 

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. 


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 
the signature. 

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- 
graph form. 

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 
to attend. 


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 

An Acceptance 
(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 


The Faculty 

of the 

University of Exville 

have the honor to invite 

Mr. Peter Grant Stanley 

to be present at the 

Inauguration of 
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 

Inauguration of 
President Elizabeth Zabriskie 

at the 

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 
and place. 

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 

Publication, Proofreading 


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 

A. Subtopic 

B. Subtopic 
II. Main topic 

A. Subtopic 

1. Sub-subtopic 

2. Sub-subtopic 

h. Fourth rank 
b. Fourth rank 

1) Fifth rank 

2) Fifth rank 

a) Sixth rank 

b) Sixth rank 

(1) Seventh rank 

(2) Seventh rank 

B. Subtopic 


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 
his city. 


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 
of view. 

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 
Company, Inc. 

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 
or valuable. 


Definition. Minutes are the official records of meetings 
of an organization and of the transactions as they occur in 
the meetings. 

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 



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 
important transactions. 

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 


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 
page. ^ 

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 

prepositions . 

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 

Part Two 


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 
of Illinois. 

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 
Norwalk, Connecticut 

In a signature: 

Yours truly, 
Arnold Bates 
Credit Manager 

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 
small loans. 

10. The federation represents sixteen national retail organizations. 

11. Mr. Brown was chosen chairman without consulting any of the 
county committees. 

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 
are needed. 

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 
at commencement. 

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. 


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 
hospitable south. 

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 
are needed. 

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 
evening classes. 

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 
in February. 

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 
tabulated matter. 

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 
each case. 

1. Railroading is not a variety of outdoor sport: it is a service. 

2. The following question came up for discussion: What policy should 
be adopted? 

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- 
ander Wentworth." 

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 
are needed. 

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 


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. 


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 
number: 8^. 

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 
a month. 

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. 



In Sentences 

1 . Place a period at the end of each declarative and im- 
perative sentence. 

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 
between hills. 

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 

interrogation point.) 
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. 

Punctuation 171 


1. Safety of principal 

A. Risk 

1. Credit 

2. Market 

3. Unpredictable 

B. Measurement of safety 

1 . Kind of contract 

2. Assets 

3. Earning power 

a. Factors affecting earning power 

(1) Management 

(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. 


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 
original letters. 

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 


Answer promptly 
Identify yourself 
Ask questions tactfully 
End calls courteously 

In Headings 

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: 

John Thompson 
Fred Korey 
Arnold Grove, M.D. 

b. The machines were listed thus: 


Adding and listing machines 
Transcribing machines 
Duplicating machines 

c. The Exhibitors 

American Book Company 

Burroughs Adding Machine Company 

Ginn and Company 

Royal Typewriter Company, Inc. 

With Abbreviations 

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. 

Punctuation 173 

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. 
In Signatures 
Omit periods after the signatures in letters. 

Yours truly, 
Arthur Brooks 
General Manager 

174 English for Secretaries 

With Figures 

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 
mistaken economy. 

With Parentheses 

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 
preceding statement. 

a. Trim stock to 19% inches (one side). 

b. A bill for the relief of John Y. Smith; without amendment 
(Kept. No. 582). 

Punctuation 175 

With Quotation Marks 

Place a period inside quotation marks. 

The article states, "After the survey was completed, the difficulty of 
interpretation remained." 

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 
danger spot. 

d. Barker, Violet, The Youthful Spirit 

8. Use a comma to separate a name from a title that 
follows it. 

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. 

Punctuation 177 

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 
be designated. 

6. The publication of newspapers magazines and books is a highly 
specialized field. 

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 
the surname. 

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 
Needham, Mass. 

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 
four: 31,064. 

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- 

Punctuation 179 

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 
was evolved. 

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 
trading drastically. 

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. 

Punctuation 181 

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 
everything well 

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 
this check 

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 
and damage 

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- 
ment fund. 

Punctuation 183 

4. In accordance with our conversation this afternoon I am enclosing 
a booklet. 

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 
new price. 

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 
meaning clear. 

The firm dismissed all executives who disapproved of the new 

Punctuation 185 

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 
subnormal cold. 

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 
to carelessness. 

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 
dotted line. 

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 
the call. 

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 
you ask. 

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. 

Punctuation 187 

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 
and sound. 

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. 

Punctuation 189 

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 
not propaganda. 

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- 
chandise account. 

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. 

Punctuation 191 


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, 
Irene Stern. 

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 
is new. 

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 
act, asserting: 

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 
for youth. 

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 

Punctuation 193 

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 
remove paper. 

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 


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 
indirect question. 

The visitor asked how her life insurance could be tied up with her 
Social Security. 

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 

Punctuation 195 

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 


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. 

Punctuation 197 

Many modern publications prefer italics indicated in 
manuscript by underlining, rather than quotation marks, to 
indicate titles. 

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 
to bed." 

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. 

Punctuation 199 

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 

Punctuation 201 

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. 

Punctuation 203 


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 
indicates italics. 

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 
long letter. 

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 
quotation marks. 

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 
be concluded. 


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 
monetary policies. 

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 
natural fiber. 


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. 

Punctuation 205 

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 
and carefully. 

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 
one is. 

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 
large-scale details. 

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 
on punctuation. 

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 
written material. 

Punctuation 207 

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 
other mark. 

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} : 
half-yearly, self-control. 

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: 
one-half year. 

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, 
pre-Easter events. 


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 

Punctuation 209 

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 

54. proofreader 

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- 
cedent, 223-234 

of subject and predicate, 232-234 
Antonyms, 279 
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 
Atlases, 293 
Attention line, 19-21 
Avenue, capitalization of, 150 


Bibliography, directions for compil- 
ing, 298-300 

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 

Capitalization, 147-164 
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- 
lowing, 158-159 
rules for use of, 191-192 
Comma, 175-185 
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 


Dash, 205-206 
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 

abbreviations, 281-282 

antonyms, 279 

derivation of words, 280 

homonyms, 279 

pronunciation, 266-267 

spelling, 259-262 

syllabication, 265-266 

synonyms, 273 
Directories, 285-287 



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 
Encyclopedias, 284-285 
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 


Gazetteers, 293 

Gentlemen, 25-27 

Geographical names, capitalization 

of, 150 

Gerund, 240-241 
Government publications, 290-291 

Grammar, 211-257 
parts of speech, 211-250 

adjectives and adverbs, 242-244 
conjunctions, 247-250 
nouns, 211-219 
prepositions, 246, 250 
pronouns, 220-224 
verbs, 225-241, 249 
sentences, 252-255 


Heading, 16, 18-19 
Holidays and holy days, capitaliza- 
tion of, 147 
Homonyms, 274 
Hyphen, 207-208 

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 

of, 147 

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 

Ladies, 27 

Letter pictures, 34-37, 39, 40 

Letterheads, 14 

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 
types of: 

acknowledgment, 61-64 
adjustment, 69-73 
application, 99-108 
business, 13-38, 41, 51-115 
charge accounts, 89-92 
claim, 66-69 
collection, 92-96 
credit, 84-89 
information, 52, 54-56 
inquiry, 51-54 
introduction, 116-117 
mimeographed, 33 
official, 38-40 
order, 58-61 
personal, 127-134 

Letters, types of, recommendation, 

refusal of recommendation, 114- 


sales, 75-83 
semibusiness, 120-124 
Letters of the alphabet, apostrophe 

in, 200 
plural of, 213 
Libraries, use of, 284-297 


Madam, 25, 26 

Manuscripts, preparation of, 142- 


Margins, 28-30 
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 
Mood, 238-239 
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 

interdepartmental, 119 
Nouns, 211-219 

collective, 216-217 

gender, 211 



Nouns, number, 211-213 

plural, 211-213 

possessive case, 218-219 
Numbers, writing of, 165-167, 174, 

Official letters, 38^0 

Open punctuation, 18, 20, 21, 34, 

35, 36 

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, 

Period, 169-175 

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, 

Pronouns, 220-224 

agreement, 223-224 

case, 220-222 
Pronunciation, 266-267 

Proofreading, 145-146 
Punctuation, 169-208 
of abbreviations, 172-173 
closed, 18, 37 
open, 18, 20, 21, 34-36 
points of, apostrophe, 200 

colon, 191-192 

comma, 175-185 

dash, 202-206 

exclamation point, 195 

hyphen, 207-208 

parentheses, 204-205 

period, 169-175 

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 

Secretary, 2-10 

appeal of work, 1 

definition, 2 

duties, 2-3 

education, 3-5 

personal traits, 6-8 

steppingstones, 5 
Semibusiness letters, 120-124 
Semicolon, 180, 187-189 
Sentences, 252-255 
Signatures, in business letters, 30-32 
Sources of information, 284-297 
South, capitalization of, 151 
Southern, capitalization of, 152 
Spelling, 259-262 

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 
Syllabication, 265-266 
Synonyms, 273 

Tabulations, punctuation of, 170 
Tense, 225-229 
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 


Verbs, 225-241 

agreement of subject and predi- 
cate, 232-234 
infinitive, 228, 239 
mood, 238-239 
principal parts, 230 
tense, 225-229 


West, capitalization of, 151 
Western, capitalization of, 152 
Women, forms of address, 21-22 

salutation in letters to, 25-26 

signatures of, 30-31