Use only authorized abbreviations, and attempt no short cuts of your own. Consult a dictionary when in doubt. Do not say "Phil." for "Philadelphia," or "G'n't'n" for "Germantown." Use "and," not the sign "&." Abbreviations denoting professional standing, as "M. D.," "D. D.," "LL. D.," and "M.A." are used chiefly on title pages. When used on letters the names are not preceded by titles such as" Mr.," " Professor," etc.


The name and address should be written plainly so that "N. Y." will not be mistaken for " N. J.," " Mo." will not be mistaken for "Me.," "Md." for " Ind.," nor " S. C." for "S. D."

Avoid fancy note paper. Avoid postals for private correspondence. Avoid flourishes. Avoid crooked lines. Avoid unusual colors in inks. Avoid grumbling on paper. Avoid slang. Avoid the capital "D" in "My dear Sir." Avoid erasures and blots. Avoid writing with pencil. Avoid frequent repetition of the same word. Avoid too many "and's" and "very's" and "so's" and "well's." Avoid the use of figures instead of words denoting numbers. Avoid awkward folding, of the letter. Avoid matters of private confidence and friendship in business letters. Avoid delays in answering invitations. Avoid displaying temper in letters.

Dating Letters

It is important to date the letters at the beginning, that it may not be overlooked, giving the day of the month and the year. The correct contractions for second, third, etc., are 2d, 3d, etc. In referring to other dates, "inst." refers to the present month, " ult." to the preceding month and" prox." to the following month, as " 23d prox." means the 23d of next month. Care should be taken in using these abbreviations.


Full names, not initials, should be used. It is difficult to know whether " R. Jones" means" Reuben Jones " or " Rebecca," or whether the writer should say "Mr. Jones" or "Miss Jones." One's own name should always be written legibly. Only cashiers are allowed fancy signatures.


The best stationary only is good enough. Paper and envelopes should correspond in color and quality. Business letter sheets are either 5x8 (note size) or 8x10 inches (letter size.)


Over 5,000,000 letters go astray each year on account of mistakes in envelope addressing. Letters are sent with money enclosures and orders for goods, which the sender never hears from, for there is no address in the letter, or the signature maybe omitted; therefore, don't make mistakes.

Official Letters

It is better to say, "To the Commissioner of Patents, etc., Sir," than to say

" To the Honorable A---------S--------, Commissioner of Patents, etc.," and if the writer is an official, it is proper for him to place his title after or below his signature.

One Side

Write on one side only of the paper in business correspondence, that copies may be easily taken.

Ordering Goods

Give complete directions as to method of shipment, whether by railway or other transportation, and state explicitly the kind and amount of goods you wish shipped. Also state the amount of money you enclose in your letter, or how it will be sent.

Return Postage

In writing about your own affairs, requiring an answer, it is proper to enclose ' a stamp or stamped envelope.


A small dictionary of common words is an important adjunct to everyone's writing desk. Good spelling only comes from practice and experience in careful reading.


The general appearance of a letter depends upon the degree of attention given it as to its legibility, correct spelling, paragraphing and punctuating, and also to the freedom from blots, interlineations and erasures. Style also depends upon the beginning and ending of the letter, that they be uniform and artistic in arrangement.


Correspondence by telegraph is expensive, and such communications are called "messages." They should be brief, concise, and give exact meaning. They should not omit necessary words or be capable of more than one meaning. It is always best to write carefully what you wish to state, recast it, if possible, to say the same thing in fewer words. See that the name and address are plainly written, and your own name and address are signed. Omit all forms of salutation at beginning and close of the message. The following shows a concise message :

Philadelphia, Pa. John W. Ferris, Central Block Pueblo, Colorado. Father very ill. Come immediately. Draw on me for funds.

William Ferris.