Although the words attachment and enclosure often are used interchangeably in business letters, they represent different methods of including items. In the strictest sense, an attachment is considered to be part of the letter while an enclosure is treated as a separate document. For some organizations, such as the government, the use for each is delineated by the correspondence sent, while for others either use is acceptable.
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An attachment is a document that is part of the business letter. It adds or further describes the information within the letter. Some examples include a spreadsheet that provides a visual explanation of financial billing or forecasts, a chart that gives a graphic view of the business trends or a budget. When sending an attachment, include the word, Attachment on the bottom right side of the letter with a semi-colon and the number of the attachment, or you could add in the body of the letter that the item is attached.
An enclosure is a document that is in addition to the business letter. It can stand alone as its own document and does not require the business letter to explain what the document is or how to interpret it. When sending an enclosure in a business letter, place the letters Enc with a semi-colon or write the word Enclosure at the bottom of the letter on the left-hand side. Then put the name of the document. This alerts the reader that a second document is included in the correspondence.
Business letters often require enclosures, which are additional pages that are not part of the letter but are attached to it, usually because the information they contain is referred to in the body of the letter.
A business letter is a written representation of the sender. Professional business letters make a good impression, while poorly crafted letters indicate that the sender is unprofessional and often call into question whether the sender is a viable business associate. Business letters use formal language and block format with no indents. Include sections for the heading, salutation, body, signature line and a designation of the number of enclosures at the bottom.
1. First Lines
Type the heading just beneath the letterhead logo. The heading consists of the date, name and address of the sender, and a reference if desired. Space down two to three lines below the lowest portion of the letterhead, and at the left margin type the current day's date, spelled out rather than abbreviated. Press “return” twice to skip a line, then write out the first and last name of the sender with company title.
On the next line, write out the name of the company even though the letter is drafted on letterhead. Press “return” and use the next few lines to write out the company address of the location where the sender typically works.
2. The Reference Line (Optional)
A reference indicates what the letter is about and is helpful to the reader when the letter is discussing something documented, such as an account with a designated number. If a reference is desired, press “return” three times to skip two lines and type “Re.:” which is the abbreviation for “regarding,” followed by a period and a colon. Press the space bar twice to skip a space and type an account number or any other number the letter is in reference to. It is also permissible to use an incomplete sentence to indicate what the letter refers to, such as “Telephone conversation of July 8, 2017.”
3. The Salutation
Enter the salutation two lines down from the reference line, taking care to address the reader formally, such as “Dear Mr. Clayton” or “Dear Ms. Jones.”
4. Referring to Enclosures
Refer to the letter's enclosures and/or the information referenced in the reference line at the beginning of the letter's body to get straight to the point of the communication.
For example: “Please find enclosed copies of the June and July 2010 account statements for the above-referenced account,” or “Please find enclosed copies of the June and July 2010 account statements for account number 1234 as previously discussed in the above-referenced conversation."
5. The Letter Body
Draft the rest of the letter's body by telling the reader why the enclosures are attached and what the reader is supposed to do with them. Usually the sender is sending the enclosures because they were requested or because the sender needs the reader to use them to solve a problem. Either way, explain to the reader what he is supposed to do with the enclosures. Short-letter bodies are one paragraph. If two or more separate thoughts are included in the body, break each thought into its own paragraph with a line between each.
6. Closing the Letter
Skip one line and type “Sincerely” followed by a comma, or some other professional indication that the sender is bringing the letter to a close. Space down at least four lines and type the sender's full name. Sign the letter in ink between the “sincerely” and the typed name.
Type “Enclosure” two lines down from the typed named below the signature for one attachment, or “Enclosures (2)” for two enclosures. If there are more than two enclosures, type the appropriate number in the parenthesis.
About the Author
An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.
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