"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, February 16, 2009

HOW YOU CAN HELP - Writing Letters, Part 2: Format

So after discussing word use, those words have to go on paper or email. There is a proper format to writing letters and emails, and if your documents follow this format, you'll have a better chance to get your point across.

When you write your letter, it's best that it's typed so it is legible. Computers have plenty of word processing programs out there, and sometimes they are even programmed to help you write the letter. Even dusting off the old typewriter is appropriate.

To save time and space, I'm not going to go over how to use different kinds of computer programs. If you have trouble, head on over to your local library or college and ask for help in the computer department. There are always plenty of people out to help.

Research who should receive the letter. Before even starting your letter, research exactly who you need to send it to. For example, in the case of
Cleve Wells, many people are writing to the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) to reconsider his association with him. It's best to not only write to the president of the AQHA, but also to other influential positions in the association. The vice president and members of the board of directors should also be carbon copied (cced) on the letter. Your letter will not only be read by multiple people, but it will also better your chances of the letter getting to someone who will take action on your request.

Font style and size. The font is the type of lettering you use. Choose a font style that is easy to read, such as Arial, Times New Roman, Courier, or Verdana. Don't make your font size any larger than 12 point and no smaller than 11 point. Many fonts can be read in 10 point, but it's best to avoid this size as some people may have a hard time with it.

Check your references. If you're going to quote references in your article, be sure you include where you got the reference from and give exact webpages, magazine issue numbers, etc. These can be included at the end of the letter if you'd like.

Keep your letter at one page. Remember that these are people who receive a lot of mail, so you have to be able to keep it short and sweet. Avoid a lot of descriptive words and run-on sentences. If you can't tell how many pages your email is, print it out.

Always include your contact information. Of course it's okay to be annonymous if you believe you are alerting them to a sensitive issue that you don't want to come back to you. However, association officers and board members should follow basic ethics and not pass around your name if you're writing them about a sensitive issue.

Proper letter format. The following is the proper letter format for a regular letter that you're sending in the mail. The information in the brackets are instructions to be used when writing the letter. An email will have the same format, only without the address block, date, and signature block--that is already included with your email.

Your Name
City, State, Zip

[insert four blank lines]


[insert four blank lines]

Recipient's Name
Company or Association
City, State, Zip

[insert one blank line between paragraphs from here on out]

Re: Reason for your letter [use bold text]

Dear Recipient's Name:

[Include body text here]

[Include one space between each paragraph]


[insert four blank lines, include your signature here]

Your Name
Your Contact Information [include phone number and/or email]

cc: Additional Names, with titles, one name per line.

The following links are for more information on writing a letter or an email.

The OWL at Purdue: Writing the Basic Business Letter

Read Write Think: The Letter Generator

Using English.com: Formal Letter Writing

Write Express: Letter Writing Catagories

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