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If there are any documents enclosed with a letter, although these may be mentioned in the body of the letter, it is also common to write Enc. (or ‘Encl.’, ‘Enc’, ‘Encs’, ‘Encs –’ or ‘Enc:’) below the signature block. If there are a number of documents, these can be listed, e.g.:


Bill of lading (3 copies)

Insurance certificate (1 copy)

Certificate of origin (1 copy)

Bill of exchange (1 copy)

Despatch method

Sometimes it may be useful to indicate the despatch method to be used, such as: Recorded Delivery, Registered Post, Airmail, or Courier Delivery. Type this in capitals at the top left of the letter; a pre-printed sticky label may be used instead.

Private and confidential / classification line

If your letter is personal and/or confidential, indicate this at the top left of the letter and, more important, on the envelope, in cases where the letter is intended to be read only by the addressee.

Use ‘personal’ if the letter must be opened by the recipient only; a ‘confidential’ letter may be opened by his or her deputy but should, of course, be treated confidentially. ‘personal and confidential’ may be used together if it is imperative that only the recipient opens the letter and acts upon it. The words are usually typed in capital letters and/or underlined.

There are many variations of this phrase, e.g. Confidential, Strictly confidential, but little difference in meaning.

Subject title / subject line

A subject title at the beginning of a letter, directly after the salutation, provides a further reference, saves introducing the subject in the first paragraph, immediately draws attention to the topic of the letter, and allows the writer to refer to it throughout. It should be short and concise and should match that given by your correspondent if you are continuing discussion of the same topic. The subject heading

The final letter below shows some further features of a business letter.

Figure 4

Compuvision LtdWarwick House

Warwick Street

Forest Hill


SE23 1JF

Telephone +44(0)20 8566 1861

Facsimile +44(0)20 8566 1385

Email staff@comvis.co.uk


Your ref.

Our ref. DS/MR

Date21 September 20—

Ms B. Kaasen

Bredgade 51

DK 1260

Copenhagen K


1 Private and Private and confidential


Dear Ms Kaasen

2Subject titleNon-payment of invoice 322/17

It appears from our records that, despite several

reminders, the above invoice remains unpaid. Unless the account is cleared within 14 days from the date of this letter, we shall take legal action.

Yours sincerely

Donald Sampson

Donald Sampson

Sales Manager

3Copiesc.c. Messrs Poole & Jackson Ltd, Solicitors

Chairman John Franks O.B.E.

Directors S.B. Allen M.SC. N. Ignot R. Lichens B.A.

may quote an important reference number, such as an invoice or order number. It should be underlined (in the fully blocked style it is often typed in capital letters instead) and have no final full stop. For example:

Delivery of goods for order no 192746’



It is not necessary to begin the subject title with Re. (with regard to), e.g. Re.: Application for the post of web designer. When sending email messages this may even be confusing as re is short for reply.

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