What is Official Letter? Word “Official” means ‘of or pertaining to an office or post of authority’ Taken in this sense, official letters mean letters that are written in connection with some official matters and official correspondence means an exchange of letters between two or more public offices to discuss official business. Official letter includes:
- Letters were written by officials or public servants in their official capacity
- Letters were written by officials to private individuals on official business
- Letters were written by private individuals to public servants on some official business
CLASSIFICATION OF OFFICIAL LETTER
Official letter may be classified as under:
- Official Letter
- Demi-Official Letter or D.Os
- Official Applications
An official letter, as discussed above, comprises a message that is sent in connection with some official business. It may be by an official or by an individual, in his own capacity or on behalf of a &nartment or organization, to a public office or official.
PARTS OF AN OFFICIAL LETTER: These days almost all public departments, organizations, autonomous bodies and corporations have their printed letterheads which bear their titles, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, etc. However, most formal official letters have the following parts:
Heading: This includes the name and address of the public deparünent and other such information as telephone number, fax number, e-mail address, etc.
Reference: It denotes the reference number of letters, and is mentioned to enable the reader to link the letter with previous/subsequent correspondence on the subject. It is usually indicated alongside the left-hand margin, leaving double space after the last line of the Heading.
Date: Date is usually typed in line with the reference number. It is preferable to mention the date in full.
Inside Address: It consists of the name, designation and official address of the addressee.
Salutation: It is the complementary term used to commence the letter. The usual forms are when writing to an individual, ‘Dear Sir’ (for a man), ‘Dear Madam’ (for a woman). The more formal salutation is ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’, However, in official letters between two public departments, no salutation official letters between two public departments, no salutation is usually required.
Subject: In most official letters, the subject of the letter i.e. the central idea, is mentioned to enable the reader to know at a glance what the letter is about.
Body of the Letter: It contains the message or the information to be communicated. The various points dealt with, should be treated in order of their importance, and a separate paragraph should preferably be devoted to each. It is desirable that the paragraphs making the body of the letter are numbered as 2, 3.
Complimentary Close: It consists of words expressing the regard of the writer towards his correspondent. It is simply a polite way of ending a letter. Complimentary Close should always be consistent with the Salutation. Complimentary Close like ‘Yours obediently’ or ‘Your most obedient servant’ is now eliminated and should not be used.
Signature: It comprises the name and designation of the person who signs the letter. It is placed below the Complimentary Close.
Identification: In most of the official letters, initials of the employees involved in the drafting and typing of the message, are mentioned alongside the left margin, below the signature, for identification purpose.
Enclosure: If a letter contains an enclosure or a document, it is indicated by writing the word ‘Enclosure’, one or two space below the identification initials.
Carbon Copies: If copies of a letter are sent to other persons or departments, it is indicated by using the abbreviation ‘dc’, followed by the name and address of the respective addressee.
Postscript: Postscript is the additional note made at the close of the letter to communicate an idea or information that occurs in the mind of the writer after he has completed the message. It begins with the abbreviation SPS.
COMPOSITION OF OFFICIAL LETTERS
Composition of official letters asks for a special ability, skill, experience and acquaintance with official procedures. The writer of an official letter may use any format to send the message. He may in the Block Form, Semi-Block Form or Full-Block Form. However, in public departments and organizations, there is a secretarial procedure of correspondence which is required to be followed in all official correspondence and movement of official files. Usually, Semi-Block and Block Forms are prevalent in our public offices and departments.
The most important thing about a letter is that it should be complete in all respects, and should successfully communicate what the means to say. A consideration for the ‘C’ qualities can be very helpful in this context. The main part of the letter is its body which has three divisions:
The opening or introduction part of the letter must be appropriate, relevant and to-the-point. In an official letter, there is no room for any formalities. The should begin his message directly and bring the reader to the subject of discussion.
The purpose-part comprises the main contents of the message. Here the writer should say clearly and briefly what he wants to convey. An official letter is unlike a personal letter that has a reflection of the personality of its writer. Contrary to this an official message must be conveyed scientifically, objectively, and without the involvement of any personal feelings and emotions. Contents of the message may be more than one, which should be put in a logical sequence for the purpose of their clear comprehension by the reader.
The conclusion part of the letter should comprise the natural outcome of the message and should tell the reader in very clear terms what action he has to do on his part to serve the purpose of the letter.
DEMI- OFFICIAL LETTER
‘Demi’ means ‘half’. So D.O’s or Demi-Official Letters are half officials and half personal. They are written by:
- One officer to another
- A private individual to an officer
- An officer to a private individual
The subject of a Demi-Official letter is of confidential nature. These letters are often written to:
- Seek prompt, personal attention of the reader
- Avoid unnecessary interference by other people
- Avoid delay that may be caused by routine official correspondence
Although D.Os are highly personalized messages in their approach, they are more dignified and formal in tone.
The Salutation and the Complimentary Close are determined by the relation existing between the correspondents. Usually, to add a personal touch to the message, the Salutation title is followed by the name of the addressee written in ink by the signatory of the letter. Similarly, the Complimentary Close is also by the signatory in ink. In D.Os the Inside Address is always written alongside the left-hand margin below the line of signature.
Official Applications are request-letters asking for some favor. An official application is written to some person or office of higher authority. The purpose of an application moved to a government office or officer may be personal or official. The applicant may ask for a personal favor or relief, or he may forward a request that can be entertained under the law.
An official application is written just like an official letter. It contains name and address of the applicant, the Inside Address, the Salutation, the Subject, the Complimentary Close which is followed by the signature of the applicant.
Hundreds and thousands of applications are sent by the people to higher authorities but all of them cannot be met with, either because they don’t fall in the purview of the authorities addressed or they ask for such favors as cannot be granted to them under the law. It is, therefore, imperative for the writer of an official application that before forwarding his request, he should make a fair and honest judgment if it is a valid request and if it falls in the official jurisdiction of the person or the office to whom it is addressed. He should also be sure that it is a lawful request, and the favor he is asking for can be granted to him without any legal obstruction.