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Sender’s address addresses on the envelopes

Many businesses use address labels with their own name and address printed along the top or bottom edge, or use envelopes printed with their logo and address. This helps the post office if the letter or package has to be returned to the sender for any reason. If you are concerned that your letter may not reach its destination, or that the post office will not be able to deliver it, you should write or print your own name and address on the back of the envelope, making it clear that you are the sender. This is standard practice in most EU countries and in North America.


Postage stamps should be affixed to the top right hand corner of the letter above and to the right of the address. The stamp or stamps should be stuck on the right way round, with the top edge aligned to the top edge of the envelope. It isn’t necessary to emulate the overly-particular character in a well-known British TV comedy series, who uses a ruler to align the stamp perfectly – postal sorting offices use laser technology to scan, locate and frank the stamp on the envelope and their machines are quite capable of dealing with slight misalignments. However, for the sake of a neat appearance, don’t stick the stamp on any old way!

If your letter is heavier than the maximum weight allowed for a standard first or second class stamp, make sure you affix stamps of the correct value.

Abbreviated forms on the envelope

In addresses, there are several conventional abbreviations used in customary titles (e.g. Dr, Prof, The Rev, The Right Hon) and in the street names (e.g. St, Ave, Blvd, Rd). There should be no full stops in these abbreviations when written on the envelope.

Writing well length

All correspondence should be long enough to explain exactly what the sender needs to say and the receiver needs to know. You must decide how much information you put in the letter: you may give too much (see Figure 10), in which case your letter will be too long, or too little (see Figure 11), in which case it will be too short. Your style and he kind of language you use can also affect the length.

The following three letters are written by different people in reply to the same enquiry from a Mr Arrand about their company’s products.

Too long

Figure 10

Dear Mr Arrand

Thank you very much for your enquiry of 5 November which we received today. We often receive enquiries from large stores and always welcome them, particularly at this time of the year when we know that you will be buying in stock for Christmas.

We have enclosed our winter catalogue and are sure you will be extremely impressed by our wide range of watches. You will see that they include ranges for men, women, and children, with prices that should suit all your customers, from watches costing only a few pounds to those in the luxury bracket priced at several hundred pounds. But whatever price bracket you are interested in, we guarantee all our products for two years.

Enclosed you will also find our price list giving full details of prices to London (inclusive of cost, insurance, and freight) and explaining our discounts, which we think you will find very generous and which we hope you will take full advantage of.

We are always available to offer you further information about our products and can promise you personal attention whenever you require it. This service is given to all our customers throughout the world, and as you probably know, we deal with countries from the Far East to Europe and Latin America. This fact alone bears out our reputation, which has been established for more than a hundred years and has made our motto ‘Time for everyone’ – familiar worldwide.

Once again, may we thank you for your enquiry and say that we look forward to hearing from you in the near future?

Yours sincerely

Here are a number of things wrong with this letter (Figure 10). Though it tries to advertise the products, and the company itself, it is too wordy. There is no need to explain that stores are buying in stock for Christmas – Mr Arrand is aware of this. Rather than drawing attention to certain items he might be interested in, the letter only explains what he can already see, that there is a wide selection of watches in the catalog covering the full range of market prices. In addition, the writer goes on unnecessarily to explain which countries the company sells to, to give its history, and to quote its rather impressive motto.

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