The opening of the letter addresses the recipient with the courtesy title (e.g. “Excellency”, “Royal Highness”, Most Rev. Monsignore), usually handwritten in dark ink.

The body of the letter should never be too long and, if the recipient’s rank requires it, should be drafted in the third person.

The ending should contain a largely formal greeting (usually handwritten, as for the opening) depending on the relationship between sender and receiver. To high offices the letter should end with the expression “be assured of our highest consideration” or similar.

In some cases the letter in the original language may be accompanied by a translation, such as for letters written by a Head of State to another.

The recipient’s address usually appears on the first page, even if the letter is more than one page long, and is written in the bottom left, beneath the signature.