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Principles of Letter Writing - Forms - Notes
The Subscription or ending of a letter consists of the term of respect
or affection and the signature. The term depends upon the relation of the
person addressed. Letters of friendship can close with such expressions
Ever yours, etc.
as between husbands and wives or between lovers. Such gushing
terminations as Your Own Darling, Your own Dovey and other pet and silly
endings should be avoided, as they denote shallowness. Love can be
strongly expressed without dipping into the nonsensical and the farcical.
Formal expressions of Subscription are:
and the like, and these may be varied to denote the exact bearing or
attitude the writer wishes to assume to the person addressed: as,
Very sincerely yours,
Very respectfully yours,
With deep respect yours,
Yours very truly, etc.
Such elaborate endings as
"In the meantime with the highest respect, I am yours to command,"
"I have the honor to be, Sir, Your humble Servant,"
"With great expression of esteem, I am Sincerely yours,"
"Believe me, my dear Sir, Ever faithfully yours,"
are condemned as savoring too much of affectation.
It is better to finish formal letters without any such qualifying
remarks. If you are writing to Mr. Ryan to tell him that you have a house
for sale, after describing the house and stating the terms simply sign
Your obedient Servant
Yours very truly,
Yours with respect,
Don't say you have the honor to be anything or ask him to believe
anything, all you want to tell him is that you have a house for sale and
that you are sincere, or hold him in respect as a prospective customer.
Don't abbreviate the signature as: Y'rs Resp'fly and always make
your sex obvious. Write plainly
and not J. Field, so that the person to whom you send it may not take
you for Jane Field.
It is always best to write the first name in full. Married women should
prefix Mrs. to their names, as
Very sincerely yours,
Mrs. Theodore Watson.
If you are sending a letter acknowledging a compliment or some kindness
done you may say, Yours gratefully, or Yours very gratefully, in
proportion to the act of kindness received.
It is not customary to sign letters of degrees or titles after your name,
except you are a lord, earl or duke and only known by the title, but as
we have no such titles in America it is unnecessary to bring this matter
into consideration. Don't sign yourself,
Obadiah Jackson, M.A. or L.L. D.
If you're an M. A. or an L.L. D. people generally know it without your
sounding your own trumpet. Many people, and especially clergymen, are
fond of flaunting after their names degrees they have received honoris
causa, that is, degrees as a mark of honor, without examination. Such
degrees should be kept in the background. Many a deadhead has these
degrees which he could never have earned by brain work.
Married women whose husbands are alive may sign the husband's name with
the prefix Mrs: thus,
Mrs. William Southey.
but when the husband is dead the signature should be--
Mrs. Sarah Southey.
So when we receive a letter from a woman we are enabled to tell whether
she has a husband living or is a widow. A woman separated from her
husband but not a divorcee should not sign his name.
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