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The English application: Cover letter
Cover letter: date, subject and greeting, contact details.
Your contact details are placed at the top of the cover letter, on either the right or the left side. If you have trouble adhering to the space limit, omit your name from the contact details section; you will anyway be signing your name in the ending salutation.
Many mistakes occur here as the British and American notations differ. While the month is placed first and is followed by the date in the US version, the British notation gives the date first and the month afterwards. You should insert a comma between day and year in the American notation, but the British version requires no comma.
American and Canadian notations:
Month/Day/Year (March 15, 2014)
Day/Month/Year (15 March 2014)
It is common nowadays to indicate the date using only numbers—e.g. 05/10/2013—but it gives rise to misunderstandings. In the British notation, this would be 5 October 2013, but in the US, it would represent 10 May 2013. To avoid such misunderstandings, it is recommended to combine numbers and words in your notation.
Short and sweet
- Date in the US: March 15, 2014
- Date in the UK: 15 March 2014
The address of the recipient follows next. The recipient’s details must be stated in full, including the full name of the contact person. All the accessories of the company name and the designation of the contact person must be provided.
The greeting depends on the information available. If you know the name of the contact person, his/her name and surname must be included in the greeting. The salutation ‘Mr(.)’ is used for a man, while ‘Ms(.)’ is used for a woman. Use ‘Mrs(.)’ only if you know for a fact that the woman contact person is married. Otherwise, stick with the formal ‘Ms(.)’. Note that an academic title also belongs in the formal salutation and must be provided in the greeting accordingly.
Dear Mr(.) XY, Dear Ms(.) XY, Dear Prof. XY,
The dot after ‘Mr’/‘Ms’ depends on the style of English being used. In a UK application, there is no dot after the salutation and it just says ‘Mr XY’. If you are applying in the US, however, a point follows the salutation and you write ‘Mr. XY’.
In case no contact person is mentioned, look for a suitable contact or HR manager—e.g. via online research. The best option is to inquire directly at the company for the name, title and designation of the required contact person.
Note also that a personal greeting is preferred to an impersonal salutation. Use the impersonal salutation only if you absolutely cannot find a suitable contact person.
In the latter case, the following alternative greetings are possible:
Dear Hiring Manager(,) Dear Recruiting Team(,) Dear Sir or Madam(,)
The salutation, ‘To whom it may concern’, is not recommended. It sounds impersonal and gives the impression that you sent a standard letter to multiple companies at one go. The reader should feel that he/she has been addressed personally. Your letter must give the impression that you are applying to only this company because the position here is exactly what you seek.
Once again, comma use depends on the style of English being followed. A comma or punctuation mark after the salutation is usually absent in the British cover letter, but present in the American one.
- Ascertain the name of the contact person if this is unavailable. It is best to call the company and inquire.
- In British English, the title is written without a dot (‘Ms XY‘); in American English, it is written with a dot (‘Mr. XY’).
- In the UK application, no comma follows the salutation; in the American application, a comma is placed after the greeting.
The subject differs in the American and British cover letters. If you apply in the US, the subject is left out. In the UK, however, it is common to write a subject in bold letters.
In the British English application, the subject provides a reference to, for example, a phone call, a personal conversation or a newspaper advertisement.
Sender's Address in a Cover Letter
Date in a cover letter, british english.
Write: 30 October 2003
Position: on the right, one line below the sender's address (in letters with a ready-printed sender's address, the date can also be put in the top left corner)
Example with address on the right:
Example with address in the letterhead:
Write: October 30, 2003
Position: top left corner (sometimes centred) or left-justified one line below the letterhead
Example with address on the left:
Remarks on the Date
Example: 5(th) (of) October(,) 2004
In American English the month is usually put before the day. If you wish, you can put the definite article before the day. It is common to write a comma before the year.
Example: October (the) 5(th), 2004
You can also write the date by using numbers only. The most common forms are:
Example: 5/10/04 or 5-10-04
Note, however, that 5/10/04 usually means 5 October 2004 in British English and May 10, 2004 in American English. To avoid any possibility of confusion, you should spell out the month or use the abbreviation.
Do You Need To Put A Date On Your Cover Letter
Do you need to put a date on your cover letter?
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It is generally recommended to include the date on a cover letter, as it provides context for when the letter was written and can be important for scheduling and follow-up purposes. Additionally, having a date on the cover letter can also indicate to the employer that the letter is current and relevant.
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What Is the Appropriate Date Format for a Cover Letter?
by Leyla Norman
Published on 26 Sep 2017
Cover letters are formal documents that require much attention to detail. An employer looks at your cover letter as an introduction of yourself and your capabilities. It highlights your experiences and career goals. One small aspect of your cover letter that requires as much attention as its wording and format is the date.
When you write your cover letter, it is important to use the long date format. This includes the entire written month of the year, the date and the year, written with four digits. Depending on where you live, the exact formatting of the date will be different.
In the United States, you generally will begin your date with the name of the month. Then, you will write the numbered date next to the month. Follow the date with a comma and a space. Then write the entire year. For example, instead of using the date’s short format, such as 04/24/2010, 4/24/’10 or another similar shortened format, you would write April 24, 2010.
Outside the United States
If you live outside the United States or are applying for a job out of the United States, you would use a slightly different date format for your cover letter. In this case, the date is written before the name of the month. The full year with four digits follows the month. No comma is used. For example, April 24, 2010, would be written 24 April 2010. Another option is to write “th,” “nd,” or “rd” after the numbered date to indicate that the date of the letter is, in this example, the 24th day of the month. It would look like 24th April 2010. If you wanted to write a date for November 3, 2010, you would write 3rd November 2010. This would be read “the third of November 2010.”
The long format of the date generally is the first thing you write on a cover letter. Whether you choose to put it at the top of the left-hand side of the page, in the middle at the top or at the top of the right-hand side of the page will depend on what type of cover letter format you use.