In the diplomatic corps it is important that all invitations, requests and questions be put in writing. Consequently, if you have any business with an embassy, you will have to write a letter. Like good manners, proper writing skills are expected in diplomatic circles and people are judged by how well they follow protocol. Writing a letter to an ambassador isn't difficult. It just requires you to follow some basic rules.
- Skill level:
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Use the block format. This is the accepted style wherein all text starts flush with the left side of the page. Rather than indenting, leave one space between each paragraph.
Use letterhead and leave a space between the address and the date. If you don't have letterhead, type your address in the top left corner, and then add a space and enter the date.
Leave a space after the date and enter the inside address, starting with "His/Her Excellency (first name and surname), Ambassador of (country). The inside address is what separates business letters from friendly letters, and the address is the same as the one that goes on the envelope.
Leave a space following the inside address, and then write the salutation. The correct format is "Dear Ambassador:".
Leave a space again, and begin the body of the letter. Explain why you are writing to the ambassador. Get straight to the point by saying, "I am writing to request ..."
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Don't use a big word when a small one will do. Maintain a professional tone at all times when you are writing a letter to an ambassador.
Compose another short paragraph, making sure to once again leave a space between paragraphs, and provide any supporting information. If, for example, you are writing to ask the ambassador to speak at a ceremony, provide the time, date and venue details.
Start a final paragraph by thanking the ambassador for his time and for considering your request. Leave a space between the final section and the closing.
End your letter with "Yours sincerely,". Leave three or four spaces for your signature and then type your name.
Check the format of your letter in "print preview" and make sure it is properly positioned. If the letter is weighted toward the top of the page because it is short, leave extra spaces at the top and centre it on the page.
Check for spelling and typing mistakes. Read the letter aloud and listen for the tone. Edit accordingly.
Tips and warnings
- You may want to allow the letter to sit for a day between writing and editing the letter, so your eyes are fresh and you can catch any mistakes.
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