finish your letters like an adult.

23 Jul

Dear Grown Men,

Today, I’m going to be educating you on two finer points of writing that have been both butchered and forgotten among today’s gentlemen. First, I’m going to talk about how to write a proper closing. Second, I’m going to force you to stop using the P.S. For the remainder of this post, every time I say the world letter, I’m also referring to emails – because the rules for email are the same as the rules for letters.

gut groan man, i dont capitalize, right in full sentences, or even read my emails before i send them 🙂

I know you don’t – and it makes you look uneducated. The rules for a proper letter are ALWAYS in play when writing an email. Back to the post.

The closing of a letter is the spot right above your name where you say, essentially, see ya later. The actual term for this part of a letter is called the valediction, which, I’m pretty sure teachers knew wouldn’t fly with 5th grader vocabulary and switched it to the much easier closing. In any event, the closing is my favorite part of the letter.

The closing is your final opportunity to convey the tone of the letter and respectfully leave the conversation. Here are some rules for the closing:

1- No more than four words. The real beauty of the closing is getting someone to feel something with perfectly chosen words. As the cliché goes, less is more.

2- You must always have a closing. I don’t know how we lost this, but it’s not okay to end with simply your name. And, while I fear I may have been guilty of this, it’s got to end. There is no reason not to give someone even a trite good-bye. Your letter might be a full on rant to the manager of Fatty Mart for not allowing you to buy full cases of beef jerky at a discount. But that poor manager still deserves, at least, a meager amount of appreciation for reading your insanity.

3- Be appropriate with your valediction. For instance, I have a few of them that I use for specific occasions:

Default (always works): Kind regards,
Writing to a friend: Peace and good things,
Responding to someone who’s mad at me: Respectfully,
Someone I don’t know: Sincerely,

4- The closing is a fantastic time to be funny and bring back a joke from earlier in the letter. For these, I like the Arrested Development style jokes that you have to really be paying attention to in order to get. Here me say this though, you may not be funny – and that’s okay! Just know when to say when, less you make a fool of yourself. I’ll end this post with an example.

That’s all for the closing, now I’m going to blow your mind with this next point. The P.S. must die.

Here’s why the postscript exists. Back in the day, when gentlemen wrote with pens or, further back, when they wrote with a quill, they would spend a great deal of time crafting the document. However, as is naturally the case, they might forget something and be faced with the quandary of going back and rewriting for a half hour, or simply make a generally accepted concession and tack on a P.S. The P.S. was a tremendously helpful tool and is still a great option for those of us who are hand writing a note.

Did you catch that? Hand writing a note. Today, a vast majority of our letters are typed and there’s simply no need for us to tack on P.S. because we forgot something. All we have to do is scroll up, revise, and move forward. The modern day postscript has become a way for us to not think and just tack on light-bulbs that turned on after we finished our stream of consciousness rant. For real, nothing typed may have a postscript – it’s lazy.

And, as a side note, P.P.S., P.P.P.S and the like are literally never acceptable. Even if you’re freaking chiseling that note into granite, you’ve got to start over.

That’s all for today. Have a tremendous weekend.

Forever Fatty Mart,
GM

P.S. It was an easy joke.
P.S.S. For real, you can never use this.

20 Responses to “finish your letters like an adult.”

  1. Coco 23 July 2010 at 10:58 am #

    “Forever Fatty Mart” just made me crack up.

    Sloppy writing is a huge pet peeve of mine, so I nodded my head the entire time I was reading. Now I feel kind of dizzy, but I enjoyed this post very much.

    • You're a Grown Man 3 August 2010 at 8:16 am #

      You’ve got to be aware of blog whiplash – it’s a real problem.

      Glad you liked the post though…thanks, as always, Coco.

  2. Kurt 23 July 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I haven’t handwritten anything longer than a post-it note in a long, long time. Sad to say, my handwriting has atrophied into something that my elementary school teachers would beat me for if they had license to.

    • You're a Grown Man 3 August 2010 at 8:17 am #

      Yep, I’ve got the same problem. When people see my writing, they say, “Oh, you should be a doctor.” Burned.

  3. mikejmurray 23 July 2010 at 11:17 am #

    GM,

    I have to respectfully disagree with the P.S. If used correctly, it can add a level of sweetness to a letter. It isn’t always put in simply because you forget something. I view it more as a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. In fact, sometimes I’ll start a letter knowing full well what the P.S. will be.

    Peace & Good Things,
    Michael

    P.S. Can’t wait for your next post!

  4. Teresa Jusino 23 July 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Thank you – THANK YOU – for educating people on the correct use of the “P.S.” I only use it in typed stuff as a JOKE.

    • QueenPinky 23 July 2010 at 11:10 pm #

      I agree with P.S. as a joke! Totally.

  5. Heather 23 July 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Good stuff. When I first got email I was sending messages exactly the way I would have hand-written (or typed) them. Then, I noticed a kind of slang, and a certain slackness–and just thought I should lighten up (which I did).

    I’m back to being more ‘proper,’ though. Not keeping tidy in your internet communication gets to be a habit that carries into other areas sometimes. Though, I tend to think the emerging generations have a whole new set of rules–which is why it’s nice to have a voice keeping things in line.

    groan man hahahahaha!

  6. spiritofshizuku 23 July 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    My mother thanks you (she asked me to say, “thank you,” for her) and I thank you for writing this.
    It’s so nice to have this validation about how to write good emails. My mom has always tried to get my older sister and me to write our emails like we write our letters and my sister would always say something like, “Emails are different, Mom!”
    I admit that I have been lax in writing good emails. There are times that I do write my emails the right way, but a lot of times I don’t, because sometimes I don’t have the guts to do something that almost no one else does. This post is just what I needed to make the change to always do it the right way!

    Also, the valediction (one of my new favorite words, thanks for expanding my vocabulary) that my mom has always told me to use for business is “Yours truly.”

  7. Sholeh 23 July 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    I would say that everyone needs to write a letter by hand every so often, just to stay in practice. 🙂

    • JHat 7 February 2011 at 5:49 pm #

      Hear, hear! Hand-written letters is a noble cause worthy of saving!

  8. QueenPinky 23 July 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    My number 2 pet peeve: Not reading something before sending it to me. It is so hard to interpret “he sad to me hat i was petty”. Emotions, clothes and no capital letters in the whole sentence!

    Ugh.

    As usual you set it straight! Thanks!

  9. lookingforsomethingtofind 24 July 2010 at 3:40 am #

    Dear GM,

    Wow it’s like you read my mind GM, I thought I was the only one who had a proper closing in my e-mails. I also think proper salutations should be used in the body. One thing I do disagree with, is getting rid of the P.S. for two reasons. One sometimes you think of a point, but it just doesn’t fit in the e-mail itself and seems out of place. Two, sometimes I’ll write an e-mail, send it and forget something. I will reply to it, beginning it with PS so the recipient knows it was meant to be part of the main e-mail I just sent.

  10. Michelle Smith 25 July 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Great advice for a Grown Woman, too. I’ve been lazy with my closing.

    Thanks for the tips,
    Michelle

    • You're a Grown Man 3 August 2010 at 9:25 am #

      Michelle,

      You’re quite welcome! I’m glad it’s helpful for Grown Women as well.

      You rule,
      GM

  11. R.A. Stewart 25 August 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Good post. I’m going to quibble with you on one point — maybe it’s a generational thing. When I read “typed,” I remember sitting in front of a manual (or, later, electrical) typewriter, banging away. Actually it’s not totally a dim memory, as I still keep a manual in working order and sometimes type manuscripts and letters on it. Of course that raises the question, what would be an accurate term for the physical act of creating text on a computer? Keyboarding?

    Anyway — that digression aside, your point is well taken. Electronic correspondence should get something of the care that pen-on-paper correspondence used to get. (Pen-on-paper, or even typebar-on-paper, correspondence should not be relegated to obsolescence either.)

    To standards,

    RAS

  12. Allen Patterson 6 October 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    Dear GM,
    Thanks for the great reminder on the closing. Now maybe you could write something about spelling – like this sentence – “Here me say this though, you may not be funny – and that’s okay!” 😦

    You didn’t say it, but I’d be willing to bet that emoticons aren’t proper, either. Oh, well…

    😉

    Kind Regards,
    AP

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