When writing a business letter, using an "Attention" line can help direct your correspondence to the right recipient. Using an "Attention" line is appropriate if you are sending a letter to an entire department, or if you have the title but not the name of the person who needs to receive the letter. If you have the name of a specific individual, you do not need to use an "Attention" line.
Using an "Attention" Line within a Business Letter
Begin your business letter by typing your own address. Skip a line and type the date. Skip another line.
Type the general address of the company to which you are sending the letter. This is known as the inside address.
Skip a line and type the "Attention" line. You may use all capital letters or a mix of capitals and lower case letters. It is preferable to write out "Attention" rather than to abbreviate it as "ATTN" or "Attn." Follow this with the title of the department you wish to contact. If you are contacting a particular individual, there is no need to use an "Attention" line. Instead, use that person's name as the first line of the inside address. There are different opinions over whether to use a colon after "Attention," but in their book, "Essentials of Business Communication," authors Mary Ellen Guffey and Richard Almonte say the colon is optional.
Here are two examples of how an "Attention" line might look:
ATTENTION HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER
Attention: Human Resources Manager
Skip a line and type the salutation, followed by the body of the letter.
Using an "Attention" Line on a Mailing Label or Envelope
Type or write the "Attention" line first. Although different from the format for the inside address of a business letter, this is the format preferred by the U.S. Postal Service.
Follow this with the complete address of the company to which you are directing the correspondence. Be sure to include suite or floor numbers, if you know them, as well as the street address, city, state, and ZIP code.
Check the address for accuracy before mailing the letter.
Some stylists believe that an "Attention" line in a business letter is never necessary. In general, use it only when you believe your correspondence may have difficulty finding its intended recipient.
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