The Parts of a Letter
As you are reading this chapter, you will find it helpful to refer to Chapter 4, where various letter formats are discussed. Different formats require different placement of various parts of a letter. Although placement may vary, the content and function of these parts of a letter remain constant. You will easily be able to apply the principles learned here to the formats discussed in Chapter 4.
Every letter should have a dateline. The date appears on a single line two to eight lines below the letterhead or the top margin of the page. With the exception of the simplified-letter format, three lines down from the letterhead is the usual space allotted in most letter formats. Because a letter should be well framed on a page, the placement of the dateline is flexible.
The date typed on a letter should be the date on which the letter was dictated, no matter when it is to be typed or mailed, unless, of course, the letter is a standard form letter sent out time and time again. The months of the year should always be spelled out, and the day should always be indicated by a cardinal number (e.g., 1, 2, 3), never using "nd," "th," or "st" after the number as you would with ordinal numbers.
The order of the dateline is month, day followed by a comma, and year.
May 5, 20X4
Sometimes government and foreign correspondence will feature a reversal in the order of day and month, omitting the comma.