More on Business Letters

Thus far, we have spoken only about one page letters. Often, you construct multiple page documents. The following are general guidelines, which help you create the clearest presentation possible.

Before you print out your document, it is a good idea to preview your work. As with a single page letter, the look and organization of a multiple page document is important. Too many lines on a page or confusing page breaks can take the edge off a great piece of work. Most word processing software allows you to check how your document looks, so that you can make adjustments before printing it out.

It is up to you to make sure that the documents extending to two or more pages do so gracefully, without “widows” or “orphans.”

A widow is a line that falls at the end of one page and continues on the next. These line breaks can cause lack of continuity in your work and make reading your document more difficult. The worst widows break off with a hyphen in the middle of a word.

The balance of the widowed sentence from the previous page is an orphan. While technically correct, avoid orphans and widows as they give your document a haphazard look.

Generally, the first page of a multiple page document ends with “(more)”. This is a courtesy to your reader and it ensures they will read the balance of your document. Since you are striving to end every page with a complete sentence, the reader may not realize that your letter continues. A simple (more) indicates to the reader that it does.

The following pages of your letter may or may not be numbered. Standard business procedure allows that a simple “Page 2” and so on, can be used on the top left corner of each page. As an identifying precaution, consider adding the name of the addressee and the letter’s date on each page. The top margins of the following pages of your letter can vary in size. Generally, the margins start six lines down from the top of the page. The body of the letter then commences four lines below this. Styles do vary but here is a standard form:

[6 lines]

Page 2

Ms. Lorena Samson

February 29, 2004

[4 lines]

We are continuing to review the night deposit procedures and will present the full report at our meeting.