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Old 12-03-2004, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 3,475
Writing style experts: How to format a formal letter to multiple recipients?

I want to send the same letter to all the members of a governmental commission. There are about 10 members, plus a chairman.

I'd like to make it apparent to each recipient that every other commissioner was sent the letter too. I do not want to just address it to the chairman and cc everyone in a list at the end, nor do I want to address it to just the "Xyz Commission."

Ideally everyone's names would go at the top, just before the body of the letter (as in: Dear Chairman A, Commissioner B, Commissioner C, etc.). But that makes for an ugly jumble of names or an ugly stack of names. Still, this is the format I'm leaning towards because it satisfies my above requirements.

Is there a "right" way of doing this?
Old 12-03-2004, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NYC
Posts: 3,408
Instead of fiddling with cc:s and whatnot, address a letter to each of the commissioners, and somehow state in the body of the letter that each commisioner was sent the letter.
Old 12-03-2004, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Charm City, Hon
Posts: 3,380
I agree with the above to a point -- address each member in a separate letter, with a "cc: XYZ Commissioners" at the bottom. I presume you're sending them a position or opinion memorandum about something they're going to be making a decision on. If this is the case, another option is to have a memorandum-style field above the body of the letter containing all of the recipients' names and titles.

I see this pretty regularly at work: a group of three senior decision-makers are often written a letter by a person who knows one of them personally. The memo comes in triplicate, with each of their names at the top. They'll be addressed to Mr. Bigshot, Col. Bigwig, and Col. Wossname. The sender maintains the politeness and formality of addressing the group as peers, but each member gets the benefit of a copy for record.
Old 12-03-2004, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New York
Posts: 247
The very unelegant way we do this in the law (although I don't know if it is correct) is like this:


and then we have a Rider listing everyone's name and address.
Old 12-03-2004, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 7,931
I'd address it to the Chair and cc: the other members. I know you don't want to do this, but it's by far the most elegant, and there's no perfectly satisfactory way I know of to solve your problem. My rule of thumb (which didn't originate with me) is that you can address a letter to up to three people, but beyond that you need cc:'s. It's not so much the greeting that creates a problem there, but the unwieldyness of address after address after address before you get to the body.

Alternatively, you could address it to the commission, c/o the Chair, and then cc: the individual members. Alternatively alternatively, you could address it to the Commission and cc: all the members, including the Chair.

I spend too much time thinking about this. I'm the only person I know who makes sure all the cc:'s in a letter are in order (my client, others in my firm in seniority order, our local counsel, our experts, counsel for our co-parties, their experts, anyone else, and finally the other side).

Old 12-03-2004, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 19,649
If you want to send it to the Commission as a body, then you should address it to them as a body. Sending a separate copy to each commissioner doesn't change how it should be addressed:

XYZ Commission
Government Building, Room Number
Washington DC

Dear Mesdames and Sirs:


If you happen to know they're all male or all female, you use just "Dear Sirs:" or "Dear Mesdames:" instead.

Address the envelopes to each one individually and don't bother with a cc: list at the end.

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