Letter Writing Image courtesy of the Graphics Fairy

The Correct Thing In Good Society

At The Writing-Desk

The Correct Thing
To use good jet black ink.
To use handsome, thick, plain white paper.
To fold and direct a letter neatly, and to put on the stamp evenly, and in the proper corner.
To put on as many stamps as the weight of the letter or parcel demands.
For the autograph fiend to enclose a stamped and directed envelope when writing to his intended victim.
To enclose a stamp when writing to a stranger on your own business.
To use sealing-wax, if you know how to make a fair and handsome seal.
To fold a letter right-side up, so that the person who receives it will not be obliged to turn it, after taking it out of the envelope, before he can read it.
To use black-edged note-paper when one is in mourning.
To use postal cards for ordinary business communications.
To write legibly.
To write straight.
To spell correctly.
To write numbers, dates, and proper names with especial care and distinctness.
To date a letter at the beginning, on the right-hand side, and a note at the end on the left-hand side.
To use both the day of the week and that of the month when dating a letter, and in business communication to give the year also.
To have one’s address engraved at the top of one’s note or letter paper.
To give one’s full address when writing to a person who does not know it, and from whom an answer is desired.
To sign a letter with the full name, or with the last name and initials.
For a lady to sign her last name and initials, instead of her Christian name, when writing to a comparative stranger, to a younger person, to a servant, or when writing on business.
To sign a business letter, “Your obedient servant,” “Yours very truly,” “Yours very sincerely,” or “Yours respectfully.”
To sign a letter to a superior, “Yours respectfully,” or ” Your obedient servant.”
To write “Please address Mrs. or Miss J . T.” where it is desirable to let your correspondent know by what title to address you.
To preface a business letter with the name and address of your correspondent.
To make the signature correspond with the general tone of the letter; that is, to sign a formal letter in a formal but courteous manner, and a friendly or affectionate letter in a friendly manner.
To use figures for giving dates or the number of a house or street.
To direct a letter to a married lady with her husband’s full name or last name, and initials.
To write “Dr. and Mrs. Paul Jones.”
To write “Esq.” after a gentleman’s name when addressing any letter except a note of invitation, and when he has no other title.
To address a letter to a judge, member of Congress, mayor of a city, member of a State legislature, ect., as “Hon. Montclair Smith,” and in the case of a member of Congress, to add M. C. after the name.
To answer all letters promptly.
To remember that a written communication is necessarily more formal that a verbal one, and therefore must be uniformly courteous, and should rarely contain jokes or personal allusions which might be misconstrued.
To remember that “the written word remains,” and therefore to write with due caution and clearness.
To be concise, but never curt.
To remember that the adoption of a courteous and dignified tone shows greater self-respect than would the assumption of an undue familiarity.
To avoid egotism on paper, as elsewhere.
To read over letters before sending them off.
To write to a friend or hostess after making a visit to her house, thanking her for her hospitality.
It is Not the Correct Thing
To use pale or colored ink.
To use ruled note-paper, except for business communications.
To use note-paper of bright, variegated, or very dark colors, or envelopes of eccentric shape.
To use a monogram or other device on an envelope.
To use stamped or yellow envelopes, except for familiar or business correspondence.
To mail a letter without a stamp on it.
To use sealing-wax if you don’t know how, or if you have not time to make the seal carefully.
To make a seal with a thimble or other miscellaneous objects not intended for the purpose.
To direct an envelope wrong side up.
To use postal cards for private correspondence.
To write a business communication on a postal card, where it may annoy the recipient to have his business or occupation thus publicly set forth.
To write only the two first letters of a word, and to represent the remainder by a series of unintelligible loops or runs.
To write like Horace Greeley.
To write up hill and down dale.
To use a great number of flourishes.
To cultivate a clerk like or commercial hand, except for business correspondence.
To imitate the handwriting of another person to such a degree as to lose the original character of one’s own.
To sign a letter with a nickname,-such as “Mamie,” “Bessy,” ect.,-unless when writing an intimate friend.
To sign a friendly letter, written to an equal, “Your obedient servant,” or “Yours respectfully.”
To write “My Dear Sir.” It should be “My dear Sir,” or “Dear Sir.”
To abbreviate words. “And” should never be written “&,” nor “which” “wh.,” ect.
To underline or accent words frequently.
To use slang.
To say, “I take my pen in hand.”
To cross a letter. It is inexcusable to do so, when postage and paper are both so cheap.
To sign one’s name with any title prefixed, as “Mrs.,” “Miss,” “Mr.,” ect.
To write anonymous letters, even with a good intentions. It is considered very cowardly to do so.
To write in haste where one can possible avoid it, unless to intimate friends. Besides the liability to make mistakes or top express one’s meaning imperfectly, haste implies a lack of formality, and therefore respect for one’s correspondent.
To use figures to express quantities, as “4 quarts.”
To direct a letter to a married lady, using her own name or initials.
To write “Mrs. Dr. Paul Jones.”
To write a letter in third person, and sign it in the first.
To put the most important part of a letter in the postscript.
To address an army or navy officer by the title belonging to a lower grade than his own.
To write when angry, or to write threatening letters, thus getting one’s self into much trouble, and perhaps incurring lawsuits.
To write long letters, save the possibility to intimate friends.
To write familiarly to persons whom one does not know well, to one’s elders, or to those who occupy a high position.
To write a letter, and say nothing in it.
To use “he,” “she,” ect., first for one person, and then for another, in the same sentence.
To write “Present,” “addressed,” “Kindness of Mr. Grimes,” or “Favored by Mr. Jones,” on a letter which is to be delivered by a private messenger. These subscriptions are going rapidly out of fashion, though still used by some people.