6. Letters and emails
The letterhead templates on the BGS Brand website are set up to help you format your letters correctly. This Guide also includes examples of correctly formatted letters: one with an address block and one without an address block. Letters should contain the following information in the sequence shown below.
Note: The correct font for letters is Arial size 10, black. Body text must be left-aligned, not justified. These settings are the default settings in the templates.
The date is expressed in the order of day (as a number), month and year (e.g. 1 June 2019), without any punctuation.
The addressee should include:
- courtesy title (e.g. Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr – not or Dr.) and name of the person addressed
- professional title of the person addressed and post-nominal title, where applicable
- the full name of the addressee’s company, where applicable
- postal address (including suburb, state and postcode).
Note: Punctuation is omitted in the addressee block.
A brief heading (see template) that describes the subject of the letter tends to help the reader. The heading should be in sentence case (i.e. all words lower case except the first word and any proper nouns).
If you require subheadings, titles or bullets, use the style included in the template.
If the addressee is well known to the author, the addressee’s first name should be used (Dear Peter). If the addressee is not well known, the addressee’s courtesy title and surname should be used (Dear Mr Smith). Do not use a comma after the addressee’s name.
If the letter is to a group of parents/guardians, the salutation should appear as:
Dear parents/guardians (note the lower case ‘p’ and ‘g’)
This is the most important part of the document. Keep the body text/content concise; letters should be kept to one page where possible.
At the end of the body, include your contact details in case the reader has any queries.
Close the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ (no comma after ‘sincerely’). Insert your digital signature followed by your name (in bold) above your position (not bold). If you hold more than one position, use the position most relevant to this communication.
Please note the following when writing letters:
- Write in the active (not passive) voice.
- Use verbs rather than clauses or phrases based on nouns derived from verbs (e.g. use ‘explain’ rather than ‘provide an explanation’).
- Remove unnecessary capital letters.
- Be concise.
- Use accessible language that is appropriate to the reader (avoid jargon).
Emails to parents are a quick and easy form of communication that can enhance parent/school communication. However, just like letters, they need to look and sound professional. In your online communications, remember that you are representing the School and providing a customer service.
Here are some guidelines:
- Do not alter the default settings on your email (font is Calibri size 11 and text should be in black).
- Bold, underline and capitalisation should be used sparingly as this can be considered ‘shouting’.
- Emails should be brief but courteous (slightly more formal/polite than if you were simply speaking to someone).
- When addressing a parent, ‘Dear’ is generally more appropriate than ‘Hi’; when signing off, use ‘Kind regards’. It is not appropriate to use symbols (such as ‘xx’) or emojis (J) when signing off.
- Avoid areas such as discussing a student with another parent, health issues, staff issues, criticising the School or its representatives. Remember, an email can be used as a legal document. Only send an email that you would be happy for the Headmaster to read and countersign.
- Every email should end with your complete email signature, which should appear as set out under the email signature guide. If you have multiple responsibilities (e.g. Head of English, Head of House, TIC Basketball), list only the most senior title. (If appropriate, you may create a separate signature block for different uses.)
- Please ensure that your position title is written as it appears in the A full list of Staff titles and acceptable abbreviations can be referenced here.
- Your out-of-office message must include your date of return, someone who can be contacted in your place if the message is urgent, and your complete email signature.
Remember this when sending emails:
- When sending an email to multiple parents, use your own email address in the To box and add the distribution list in the Bcc This is important to protect parents’ privacy.
- If you want to send an email to _All staff, you must first seek permission from the Headmaster.
- If you want to send an email to your section of the School, you must first seek permission from the Head of Section.