Questions and Answers

Dixie would like to offer you on this page answers to some questions received from her readers. If you have a question not answered on this site or this page Dixie urges you to contact her.

Before getting to the list of questions Dixie would like to answer the most frequent one that she is receiving more and more often. It usually sounds like this:

FAQ: Letters or Business letters or even All business letters (Yes, just like that, with no further explanation)

So Dixie presumes that those who ask the above question are looking for letter samples. Dixie has a page on this site with links to five great letter collections with hundreds of business letter samples. Dixie hopes they will be easier to find after she lists them on this page. Dixie also invites you to browse her site where she has some good letter samples, too. You can start with her full block business letter page.

Now let's go back to the list of questions asked by Dixie's readers:

Q1: When sending a 'CC' of a business letter to another party, do you need to send a cover letter or just the 'CC letter' itself?

Sending a copy of the original letter to the third party is all you need to do.

CC'ing is very commonly used and when the recipients see that they were just copied, they know that they are reading another person's mail and that they got it for informational purposes.

Read more about using 'CC' in business lettters.

Q2: When using identification initials such as HKL:rm, what do you do if the person initiating the letter (i.e. the boss) does not have a middle name?

This question refers to using the 'p.p.' abbreviation in the signature of the business letter. Usually in this case three of the boss’s initials in uppercase characters and then two of the secretary’s initials in lowercase characters are used. If the boss doesn’t have a middle name use two of his initials or the initial of the first name and the full last name.

Below are three variations of the signature block using ‘p.p.’ the way Dixie has described (note that only the format of identification initials varies slightly, the signature block remains the same):
Yours sincerely,


Howard Lindham,

Yours sincerely,


Howard Lindham,

Yours sincerely,


Howard Lindham,


Updated Q3: How is each type of memos used? Provide examples.

It is practically impossible to describe how each type of memos is used. You write a memo when you feel there is a need for it. And depending on that need you can subdivide memos into types (which probably is not all that necessary). You need a memo on accounting procedures, you write a memo on accounting procedures. As Dixie says on her memo types page, the memos can be on almost anything and everything.

To see some examples of different types of memos check out the following links:

1. four memo types: directive, response to an inquiry, trip report and field/lab report. It is a pdf document, you will need to scroll down to find the samples.

2. the University of Florida memos to Deans, Directors, and Department Chairs from the 1995-1996 Fiscal Year to date. That's a lot of memoranda! You will find there memos on:

and many others.

And if the above is not enough just google memos you are looking for, like "operational memos", "IT memos", "marketing memos" or any other type.

Updated Q4: How should I write an invitation letter?

Invitation letters can be used for different purposes. Very often an invitation letter is needed for visa application. You can find a sample of such letter at the following link:

invitation letter for US visa application

or see this Visa Invitation Request Form that has a list of what is needed from a person invited to an international event. You can fill out the form and download a personalized invitation letter for the Bio International Convention to see a sample.

The following list of statements to be included in the letter may be of help to you, as well:

Or maybe you need an invitation to an event? Then try out this letter.

You might also need to know how to format the letter.

Q5: Where should I place "emeritus" on letterhead? I need to use it for several positions of individuals: e.g. executive members, Vice President, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary and then directors.

If you just need to know how "Emeritus" is used for every individual and are planning to place on the letterhead information about each individual separately, here's a proper example:

William N. Robinson
Former EPA Administrator
Chairman Emeritus, World Wildlife Fund

Instead of Chairman Emeritus you can use Vice President Emeritus, Financial Secretary Emeritus or whatever you need. So, “Emeritus” is placed immediately after the position.

If, on the other hand, all of the individuals you need to mention are Emeriti and you want to place them together, you could choose one of the two ways below:

1. Emeriti: Vice President, Executive Members, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Directors


2. Vice President, Executive Members, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Directors Emeriti

In this case you need to use "emeriti" as it is the plural of "emeritus".

Note: definition of emeritus: retired but retaining an honorary title corresponding to that held immediately before retirement.

Q6: What is the proper way to address a business letter being sent to two different people at the same company?

Consider sending a separate letter to each of the individuals or CC’ing one of them. If you still prefer to send one letter to two different people use the following format of the inside address and salutation:

Ms. Patricia Stedman
Mr. Robert Wilkinson
Helius Inc.
1478 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10073

Dear Ms. Stedman and Mr. Wilkinson

or informal

Dear Pat and Bob

You can also format the address like this:

Helius Inc.
1478 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10073

Attention: Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Stedman

Dear Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Stedman

or informal

Dear Bob and Pat

Q7: What is a reference letter?

Reference letters are sometimes called recommendation letters. They are often employment related. When leaving the organization an employee usually asks some colleague or in most cases, a supervisor to write a reference letter that he or she can present to the future employer. Such a letter is usually positive in nature, it's written by someone who can comment on the skills, abilities, and specific work qualifications of that person. It is preferable to write such a letter on a company letterhead.

Follow the link to see a reference letter sample.

Q8: How to write a sack letter?

Dixie would prefer to use the term "dismissal" or "termination letter". Check out a Sample Decision Notice, it is a guide for addressing and resolving poor employee performance provided by the US Federal Government to supervisors.

Updated Q9: A sample of a business offer letter

Business offer letters can be different, i.e. a job offer letter, a discount offer letter and a number of others. Below Dixie lists a few links to different business offer letters:

Job Offer Letter (scroll down the page to see it)
Offer of a Discount for Speedy Payment
Investment Offer (pdf)
Offer Letter for Lease

Q10: In what order should "enclosure" and "CC" be written at the end of a letter?

You use "Enclosure" first (after the signature or identification initials) and then "CC" one line below it. You can see description of letter elements on Dixie's Business Letter Elements page, Dixie describes the letter elements in the proper order.

Q11: Is the abbreviation for the word "extension" capitalized? Ext. or ext.?

Capitalizing or not the abbreviation for the word "extension" is the matter of personal preference. Both "Ext." and "ext." are used and there's no certain rule about it. And that might be a good thing as it gets tiring when there are too many rules.
Dixie is sure that you'll choose the option that suits you best.

Q12: Should I use "Subject:" or "Re:" in the subject line of a business letter?

You can use either. If you use "Re:" you kind of merge the reference line and the subject line. So in this case you should not use a separate reference line. Using "Subject:" is as common as using "Re:". It's just the matter of preference.

By the way, Dixie has an example of a subject line using "Subject:" on her Business Letter Elements page.

Q13: When "p.p." is used in the original letter whose name is used in the salutation and the inside address of the response letter?

The use of "p.p." in the letter shows that the person who typed it (assistant or secretary) acted as an agent for the letter's author (the boss). The original letter is signed by the boss, and the response letter is also addressed to the boss. The boss's name appears in the inside address of the response letter as well.

Note: Dixie invites you to follow the link to learn more about "p.p."

Updated Q14: How to write a purchase order letter?

Check out the Microsoft Office Online: there is a good purchase order template there.

Q15: Under what circumstances do the initials (lower case) of the secretary appear before the boss's (upper case) at the end of a letter? Example: jl/GT

Dixie would guess that the person who put the secretary's initials before the boss's just didn't know the proper rule. After all, letters are becoming less common nowadays, so fewer and fewer people know those strict rules... And it's easy to get confused sometimes even knowing the rules.

Note: The question concerns identification initials

Updated Q16: Letters to students for good behavior

The following links might be helpful for writing such a letter:

A lot of commendation write-up examples that can be used to write a good commendation letter, pdf
A certificate for outstanding students
Letter of commendation for an employee

Links to Rules and Expectations Letters and Code of Student Conduct

Rules and expectations for middle school students
Classrum behavior management, including a letter to the parents
Responsible computing for students rules
A code of student conduct for elementary and secondary school in pdf

Q17: How to get a safeguarded link in email?

This question concerns coding email messages in html. If you're using Microsoft Outlook, you just need to open the new message, ensure that its format is HTML or Rich Text (consult Help for email formats if you don't know how to do it), put the cursor in the message area (usually after you have filled out the "To" and "Subject" fields) and choose "Insert>Hyperlink" from the menu. An "Insert Hyperlink" dialogue box will appear. Look for the "Address" field: you need to insert the URL (Internet link) there, and in the "Text to display" field insert the text the receiver will see, like "Access Here" or "Press This".

The thing is, different email clients use different methods for inserting links like that, and not all of them have this option. Dixie knows how to do it in the Microsoft Outlook and in Gmail, Hotmail also has this option, but Yahoo! doesn't... If your email client is different you will need to find out how your particular client deals with inserting links. Trying to search the Help of your email client for "Insert Hyperlink" might help.

Updated Q18: Letter asking for donations, for a fundraiser

Several samples of letters asking for donation
A writing guide for fundraising donation request letters
A fundraising guide, pdf
Sample letters and emails for a fundraising letter writing campaign, pdf

Q19: How to order the names of persons (internal and external) copied in a business letter (e.g., copying President & VP of the sender's company and officials of another company)?

The names of people copied in a business letter are usually listed either alphabetically or by rank. When high officials are involved Dixie would suggest using the rank principle. And you will have to use your own judgment in deciding whether your President or the Presidents of external companies come first (if you have several Presidents, of course). Another option would be to have different versions of the same letter for circulating internally and externally. Some companies can have this specified in their policy.

Dixie is always happy to receive your comments, questions and suggestions. Send them to her through her contact form.

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