Secretarial Studies

Section I: Standards of Stenographic Work

The basis of secretarial efficiency rests, in the majority of offices, primarily in the ability to do high-grade stenographic work. It is in the position of stenographer that the secretary formerly got his training for the position higher up, and graduated into the thinking job; and that after all is the job that the ambitious stenographer looks forward to, for it means better pay, less monotonous work, and the opportunity for still higher advancement.

The standards of stenographic work in the following have been laid down by Mr. Wallace Clark, efficiency engineer. Mr. Clark had the background of a long and varied experience as the private secretary for the president of one of our biggest corporations. Afterwards he became associated with Mr. H. L. Gannt in the investigation of time-saving operations in industrial and commercial organizations and plants, and in offices.

In order to put the stenographer in the right attitude of mind toward the introduction of efficiency methods, the purpose of standardizing stenographic operations was outlined in the instructions as follows:

Purpose - The reasons for asking stenographers to follow these instructions are:

  1. To secure uniformity and to maintain a high standard in the transcribing of letters.

  2. To make the work of stenographers easier by giving them instructions to which they can refer when in doubt, and to enable them to write letters in one way; the standard established is acceptable to all dictators.

  3. To relieve dictators of the necessity of training new stenographers.

  4. Writing letters and doing copying work in the methodical way which is outlined in these instructions will not hamper the stenographer's individuality or his general ability The individuality of the stenographer will be shown by his ability to grasp the thoughts of the dictator; by arranging statistical tables in a way to emphasize the important features.

In following these methods the stenographer will learn to do in the best way repetitive operations. These operations have been the important features in observing the work of hundreds of typists after consulting the foremost experts in the country. These opportunities are not at the disposal of any single individual. By following standardized practices the stenographer's mind will be left free for the new and unusual that are constantly arising.

The reasons for asking stenographers to keep the following records are:

  1. To enable stenographers and typists to show what work they are doing.

  2. To equalize the work of stenographers and typists.

  3. To get work out promptly and prevent delays.

  4. To show what the work costs.

These instructions and records will be changed as often as satisfactory improvements are found. The stenographer will perform a service by suggesting changes that will improve the appearance of letters or make the stenographic work easier.

The relations of company and stenographers were stated as follows:

  1. The company desires to treat the members of its working force with absolute fairness and with sympathetic consideration.

  2. If at any time a stenographer considers that he is not being treated fairly he should talk the matter over with the head stenographer.

  3. The company expects just as fair and considerate treatment from its stenographers.

In order to bring about the desired relationship with the office force, the company provides:

  1. Well lighted, heated, and ventilated offices.

  2. Up-to-date equipment.

  3. Lunch room and rest room.

  4. A matron, sympathetic and of broad experience to look after the welfare of employees.

  5. A continuation dictation class once a week to help stenographers improve themselves.

In return for this, the company asks:

  1. Accurate knowledge of the fundamental principles of shorthand.

  2. A good rate of speed in both shorthand and typing.

  3. A pride in the appearance of the work.

  4. Concentration on the work in hand.

  5. Willingness to make intelligent use of the labor-saving and fatigue-reducing devices provided.

  6. An interest in every detail connected with the work.

  7. Team work with all those in the office.

The company desires to maintain in the stenographic department a high standard of character and attainment. In order to accomplish this the following suggestions are made:

  1. Aim to make the stenographic department the best of its kind.

  2. Practice self-control.

  3. Keep in good physical condition.

  4. Dress simply and neatly.

  5. Be punctual in arriving in the morning and after luncheon.

  6. Be courteous to all co-workers but do not indulge in gossip.

Quality of Work - No letter that is imperfect should go out over the signature of the company. That it should be a sample of perfect typewriting goes without saying. The grammatical construction, diction, statements, paragraphing, and punctuation should be above reproach. The best advertisement the company can send out is a well expressed and beautifully typed letter. Will you be a good advertiser for the company?

Under helps to stenographers the following suggestions are made: The student of secretarial studies has been instructed with these details. They are repeated for review because they indicate the business man's emphasis upon them.

Gauging Letters - Gauge all letters from your notes so that you can tell how much space your letter will take. If the letter is long, start sufficiently close to the top of the sheet to get it on one sheet if possible, provided its artistic appearance is not affected thereby.

In arranging letters do not have a second sheet with only one or two lines on it. If, when the bottom of the first sheet is approached it is discovered that it will be necessary to carry anything over to a second sheet, carry over at least four lines to the second sheet in addition to the complimentary closing. All letters should stop at least an inch from the bottom of the sheet.

Inserting Carbon - When inserting the carbon between sheets of paper, place it half an inch from the top and left side of the sheet, so that when the letter has been written, the carbon may be removed with the right hand, holding the letter paper with the left.

Turn the carbon end for end each time it is taken out of a letter so that the wear will be evenly distributed over the sheet.

Withdrawing Paper - When taking a sheet of paper out of the machine, operate the feed roll release with the left hand, and at the same time withdraw the paper with the right hand. This is easier and takes less time than feeding the paper by using the line space lever or platen knobs, and safer than pulling or jerking it out.

Inserting Envelopes and Cards - When typewriting envelopes and small cards, place another one behind the platen before withdrawing the finished card or envelope. In this way the next one will be fed automatically into writing position as the finished card or envelope is removed. Place the second card or envelope in the machine before starting to write on the first one.

Erasing - When erasing over the carbon insert a blotter under the sheet from which you are erasing, but over the carbon sheet. Then erase and the blotter will prevent the carbon from smudging, and also will prevent the wearing of the carbon paper in spots. This method insures a clean erasure, for the pencil eraser takes the first coat off neatly.

Underscoring - When underscoring two or more characters always lock the shift key. Then, while striking the underscore, run the ribbon along by turning the ribbon-spool crank. This gives an even unbroken line.

Dictation - Each day put the date at the top of the page in your notebook for future reference. Do this in pencil with large figures. Cross off your notes with the date on which the transcription was written. This will not interfere with the legibility of the notes when reference to them at some future time is necessary. The dates will show a letter was written on the day on which it was dictated, often an important matter. All papers handed to the stenographer taking dictation should be laid face down; when transcribing turn them up, and they will be found in the order in which they are needed.

Watch for language errors. Occasionally an ungrammatical expression will pass unnoticed while being dictated, which, if written, will appear quite glaring. It is the stenographer's duty to correct such errors, if it can be done without changing the thought intended to be conveyed. If in doubt, ask the head stenographer or the dictator.

Do not hesitate to ask questions either of the dictator or the head stenographer. A dictator rarely objects to answering questions at the end of a paragraph or letter; but there is nothing more exasperating to a dictator than to receive incorrect or poorly executed work, or work which indicates the stenographer did not grasp his meaning.

Arranging Lists in Order - If a list of names is to be copied and rearranged alphabetically, numerically, or otherwise, copy the names on regular index 3 x 5 inches cards, file the cards in the desired arrangement and then copy from the cards. A desk card file provided with proper guides will facilitate the operation.

Checking Lists - In checking any two lists, or in checking cards with a list in which the same information appears in two different arrangements, or, in fact, in checking lists of any character whatever, the most effective method is to use a straight line check; that is, place a perpendicular line opposite the item which has been found to be correct. Under this plan, when the two items next to each other have been checked, these perpendicular lines meet; and when the entire page has been checked, there will be a continuous line from the top of the sheet to the bottom. If any items have not been checked, the break in the line which will occur will make this fact immediately apparent; whereas with the usual type of check, the page should be carefully run over to see that every item has been checked.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Name some of the purposes of standardized instructions to stenographers.

  2. What are the advantages of keeping records of work done in the stenographic department?

  3. What has the employer a right to expect of his stenographic force?

  4. What is the most efficient method of checking items on a list?

  5. Describe briefly the following;

    1. Method of erasing when carbon copies are being made.

    2. Feeding cards and envelopes.

    3. Inserting and withdrawing paper.

Method of Handling Laboratory Assignments

In order that you may understand the procedure in handling the Laboratory Assignments, it will be necessary to note the following:

We shall assume that you are employed by the Standard Products Company, a fictitious corporation with branches in all cities and towns in the United States. Wherever you are situated, you are an employee of the branch of the corporation in that city or town. The corporation it is assumed, deals in every variety of merchandise and carries on an extensive business in nearly every conceivable product. The discussions of various topics in the book are to be regarded as instructions, a part of your training for better enabling you to perform the work required. It is obvious that the variety of training thus obtained will be of value in almost any field of secretarial work.

The questions under Secretarial Problems are typical of all businesses and are for the purpose of testing your knowledge of the points brought out in the discussion.

The solutions under Laboratory Assignments require a comprehensive knowledge of the topics discussed, as well as considerable technical skill. Moreover, they require clear analysis and a careful working out of each step. The business papers of various kinds, required to complete the solution of the problems, are to be made out by you. The necessary blanks for these will be found in the Exercise Book. All letters are to be signed with the corporation name of The Standard Products Company by you. The corporate name should be written on the typewriter following the complimentary closing, thus:


Your teacher is assumed to be the manager of the branch by which you are employed. He will initial all papers, letters, etc., prepared by you when passed by him as satisfactory. Under Laboratory Assignments, it will be seen, there are assignments of dictation and transcribing. The letters required in these assignments will be dictated by the manager.

All papers, letters, and business instruments of various kinds, after being O.K'd are to be kept by you in a folder. These may be kept in chronological order until the section on filing is reached, when instructions will be given as to their proper disposal. The first letters will be written on printed stationery which is provided in the Exercise Book. Envelopes should be addressed for each letter. Inclosures are to be put in the envelopes. It is very important that you acquire habits of systematizing your work and that all papers be kept where they will be available when needed. System and order should be your watch words throughout the entire course.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Dictation. (Dictated by the manager.)

  2. Transcription. (To be delivered to the manager.)

Section II: Motion Study in Office Work

Effective work, and especially volume of work, in any field of effort depends largely upon working along the most direct lines of eliminating false or unnecessary motions, both mental and physical. The following article on motion study in office work by Mr. W. H. Leffingwell, President of the Leffingwell Ream Company, New York and Chicago, Industrial and Management Engineers, reprinted, by permission, in the Gregg Writer from the Efficiency Society Journal, is reprinted here for the purpose of stimulating an interest in the subject by the student of secretarial training to organize his work along purposeful lines throughout the course, and to lay the foundation for successful secretarial work in an office.

Motion study, as I use the term, has a pretty broad application in office work. It refers, not alone to the motions of the hand and body, but, if I may use the phrase, the motions or efforts of the brain.

Taylor's Four Principles - Frederick Winslow Taylor, the father of scientific management, in his work continually emphasized the fact that scientific management does not consist solely of the various mechanical features that he used, but summed up his whole philosophy of management into four principles:

  1. Making a science of business.

  2. Scientific selection of the workman.

  3. The task idea with a large bonus.

  4. Intimate co-operation between the management and the men.

The Two Parts of Motion Study - Motion study consists of two parts:

  1. A study of those motions that precede the particular operation about to be studied, of which there are two kinds:

    1. Mental motions.

    2. Physical motions.

  1. A study of those motions that are contained in the operation, of which there are also two kinds:

    1. Mental motions.

    2. Physical motions.

That is to say, it is often necessary to go back and analyze the operation of the opening of the mail to find out why the goods were not shipped on time.

Motion study, in other words, is analysis. No chemist would undertake to make an analysis merely from the facts on the surface. He must dig deeper, he must get down to elemental things to get the truth.

Study the Motions - There are three important things to be studied and considered in every operation:

  1. The posture.

  2. Fatigue involved.

  3. The problem of concentration.

The Posture - The first question, the posture, is one of the most important, yet is one that can only be solved by continual teaching. Very few people either sit or stand correctly and especially is this very pronounced in office work. An erect posture permits free and uninterrupted circulation of the blood. A person who sits or stands erectly will not tire easily. If he does not tire easily, he will produce much more than one who does. A person who sits all humped up, with sunken abdomen, will tire much more easily, and naturally will not produce as much. Erect postures, however, are only possible when the body is developed properly. Exercise of the muscles of the back and abdomen are needed and naturally this cannot be done in the office. Only by constant teaching can high ideals of posture be obtained.

Much depends, however, upon the kind of equipment the clerks work with. You buy desks and chairs of a standard height, but you cannot hire clerks of a standard size. There are many things that can be done to remedy these faults, such as raising or lowering the height of the chair or desk. Standing desks are also responsible for bad postures. The bookkeeper is commonly supposed to stand at a standing desk, but more than half of his time he is perched on a high stool that is neither comfortable nor adjusted at a comfortable height.

The Elimination of Fatigue - The question of the elimination of fatigue is also important. Much of this is tied up with the question of posture, but in addition there are many things that can be done after the posture is corrected.

For example: The elbows of a typist should be on a level with the table. If they are not, it is necessary for the muscles of the operator's arm to be unduly strained in holding the hands up; more force is required and in general much fatigue is developed. A person operating a numbering machine or a rubber stamp will do more work with less fatigue if the top of the numbering machine is at or below the level of the elbow than if it is above that level. In one case the output of an operator was increased 15 per cent by the simple expedient of lowering the table six inches.

In one case that came to my attention there were ten girls working on index files. Each box of cards weighed nine pounds. These boxes were placed in a large cabinet. It was necessary for the girls to get up from the desk, go to the cabinet, take a box out, put it on the desk, look up the card, put back the box in the cabinet. This was done about 150 times a day by each girl. In the course of a day's work she lifted 2,700 pounds, yet she only handled 150 cards. By substituting a tub desk for the cabinets, all necessity for handling the card trays was eliminated and three girls handled 500 cards each a day without lifting anything but the single cards. By eliminating fatigue three girls did what was formerly done by ten.

Concentration Necessary - The problem of concentration is more difficult. It is very important. Lack of concentration is the cause of most errors in office work.

Few people realize that it is the effort to concentrate which causes most of the fatigue in mental work. In manual labor there is always some outside object; the machine, the work in the machine, the tool, or the object worked upon, that rivets the attention. It is thus comparatively simple to hold the mind on the work; in fact, in some operations it is very difficult to get the mind off the work. In office work, however, we are dealing with pieces of paper and abstract ideas. It requires a distinct effort to hold the mind on these abstract lines, and any outside attraction quickly draws the attention away. Loud talking, shouting from one end of the room to another, loud sneezing, or any other spasmodic noise immediately draws the minds of all clerks in the room from their work. Many minutes in the aggregate are wasted in this manner when a little common sense would avoid them.

The greatest factor in obtaining concentration, however, is getting an interest in the work. Getting clerks interested is a problem of management that we have continually to solve. It is obtained by getting a good esprit de corps. One of the best ways to cultivate this interest is by the measuring of the work, and matching the records of one clerk with another.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What is meant by “motion studies”?

  2. What are “Taylor's Four Principles”?

  3. In the study of the problem, what motions are considered?

  4. What is meant by “posture”? How does it affect physical production? Has it any influence on mental production?

  5. What is meant by “concentration”? How would you go about securing concentration in the work you are doing?

  6. Does change of activity affect concentration?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Make an analysis, for the manager, of your entire day's activities, and give him a written report.

  2. Make a similar analysis of the work of one other co-worker whom you will designate by X, not by name, and write it out for the manager. This is to be a test of your ability to observe correctly and your judgment of values.

  3. Dictation.

  4. Transcription.

Motion Study in Office Work, part II

The Factor of Decision - The importance of decision in office work is also much underestimated. It is commonly supposed that the only person who has to make decisions is the executive. Far be it from me to depreciate the value of quick decisions on the part of an executive, but I really believe that if the power of decision were doubled on the part of the clerks, the aggregate value would be much greater.

Let me explain what I mean by decision in office work by a common example in sport. In a game of baseball, three men are on base and the batter bunts the ball. What would happen if every man on the team was not alert and capable of deciding in a tenth of a second just what he should do? Suppose each man were to go through a long mental process in coming to his decision, would you call that good ball playing? You would not. Well, when you go back to your office watch a few clerks. Watch them pick up a letter, study it through carefully, make several false starts and finally, with a great show of deliberation, finish the task. Then figure out with a stop watch, if you have one, or guess at it if you have not, just what proportion of time was devoted to doing the work and what proportion to deciding. In one case I doubled the output of some mail readers in a mail order company by merely teaching them to decide instantly to do things they knew very well how to do. Whenever you see a clerk pondering for a long time over a problem that he has performed hundreds of times before, you can pretty well make up your mind that he is “woolgathering.” Get him to take an interest in the work, get his mind on his job, teach him to decide just as quickly as the pitcher on a baseball nine has to decide and you will double or triple his output without requiring any more effort on his part.

It is the Little Things That Count - In all motion study, the importance of little things is to be considered. It is the proportion that counts, not the length of time taken for the motion. If I were to carry a piece of paper across this room and back, it might take as much as a minute. Yet, if I only did that once or twice a day in the course of my work, it would only mean that I used up one or two minutes in that kind of work which might be eliminated. I would call that an unimportant thing. If, however, the false motion I performed required only a hundredth of a minute and I made ten thousand of those motions a day, the waste would be one hundred minutes, a very large proportion of the day.

In one operation, that of stamping letters, there are thousands of clerks who do the work with from four to six motions, when only two are necessary. What is more important, the separate motions of the two-motion operation can be performed much more rapidly than those of the four motions. The problem is to find the necessary motions and teach everyone to use exactly these and no others.

After we have made our analysis and our motion studies, and have standardized operations, the next thing is to teach the clerks to perform these operations at the rate of speed required. This does not, as is commonly supposed, result in making the work of the clerks harder, but it always results in getting more work done.

It is not at all an uncommon thing to see two clerks working side by side, doing the same work, getting the same pay, while the output of one is double that of the other.

Measuring the Work Uncommon - The most common thing, however, is to find an office manager who has no idea whatever how much time it takes to perform any operation in his office. If this same office manager bought merchandise he would insist upon counting and weighing it, but so long as a clerk agrees to be in on time and not leave the office before quitting time, he is satisfied. What that clerk does, does not seem to count, so long as it is not too much below the general average.

What Is Your Output - Do you know how many letters your stenographers can write in a day?

Do you know how many they do write?

How many entries can a bookkeeper post in a day?

How much can a bill clerk do?

Do you know any of these things?

After we standardize the methods we set a task and expect the clerk to perform that task. But, we do not leave him by himself to learn how to do it. We teach him. This teaching is itself standardized. We get not only a highly trained crew of clerks working, but we perpetuate these methods in written standards, so that the management can continue the training process after we are gone.

In getting high standards of work done, emulation is one of the strongest factors. We suggest that the records of those who have made high marks be published. If this is done, it isn't long before all the other clerks are striving for similar marks. This injects a new interest in the work.

An incentive is necessary for good work and though the incentive of emulation is very powerful, in all fairness it is important to pay a money incentive also. You cannot expect clerks to do from 50 to 100 per cent more work for the same money as they formerly received.

Motion study in office work is an accomplished fact. Its possibilities have never been wholly learned. Yet rarely do we find an office in which it is impossible to save at least 10 per cent of the pay roll. In some instances savings of 50 per cent are possible. In one department of one of the largest companies in the United States, work formerly done by twenty-five people was, under efficiency methods, done by five.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. If you were analyzing the movements used by a typist, what points would you observe and what steps would you take to overcome incorrect technique?

  2. What is the object of taking up the subject of motion study so early in the secretarial course?

  3. Name the steps you are to take to organize your own work so that it will be more effective.

  4. Explain how the factor of “decision” affects output.

  5. Name the “little things” in connection with your work that have a bearing upon its success.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Make motion studies of the following operations:

    1. Inserting paper.

    2. Adjusting paper.

    3. Removing paper.

    4. Copy a paragraph of fifty words and observe everything you do from securing paper, inserting, beginning copy, including all false movements made during the operation, through the completion of the work and withdrawing the paper. Submit your analysis in writing.

  1. For observation, you will be assigned one co-worker for a part of a period. Report in full on all matters of technique that need attention.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.

Section III: Making the Business Letter Attractive

The best business concerns today lay a great deal of emphasis on the appearance of their letters. They go to the expense of providing high-grade letterheads and stationery of various kinds in order to give their correspondence a setting that reflects the spirit of their organization. The business letter very often is the only contact between customer or client and the writer of the letter. Whatever impression the letter gives is apt to act for or against the writer.

The typing of letters will be in the hands of the secretary, whether he composes them or has taken them from dictation. The matter of correct typing has already been treated in your course in typewriting in school, but we must approach the subject now from a different angle. Whatever letters you prepare in this course are, for all intents and purposes, real. They must be 100% perfect in form, in wording, in arrangement, and in every detail so far as you can make them so. This is the business man's standard, and that is just the same as his standard of the value of a dollar - 100 cents.

Form - The placement of the written matter on the letterhead is the keynote to the secretary's skill. It is obvious that letters, varying in length as they do, cannot all be treated alike. Each is a distinct little problem in itself, although classifiable into defined groups. The letter should present a proper balance on the letterhead. The letter should be so placed on the sheet as to leave practically an even margin all around it. The white spaces of the margin throw the letter out into relief much as does the frame or mat of a picture.

In order to determine how to place the written matter advantageously it will be necessary for the secretary to acquire skill in estimating the space it will occupy from his shorthand notes. A little judgment on the part of the secretary will soon enable him to determine with practical exactness the space required to type a page of his notes.

Do not hesitate to make a letter two pages long if you cannot write it artistically on one page. Avoid crowding at the bottom. Leave a little more space at the bottom than at the sides or top; at any rate, do not crowd the signature down into the lower margin.

Figure I.a shows a correctly placed letter. Study the effect of it. Hold the page off a little way and observe how the dark masses are grouped so as to produce an artistic appearance. A disregard of this simple rule for proper balance is perhaps the greatest cause for ill-appearing letters. Ample margins and frequent paragraphs add tellingly to the appearance of a letter. Study Figures I.b and I.c which show letters of different lengths and types, until you get the idea firmly fixed in your mind. In planning a letter the style of the letterhead must also be taken into consideration. Many letterheads are inartistic in composition, type, and arrangement.

Figure I a) A Short Letter; b) A Letter of Medium Length; c) A Long Letter

Typewriting is but another form of printing, much more limited in the opportunity for artistic value, but possessing flexibility enough to get pleasing results. The secretary should aim at extreme simplicity in arrangement of letters. The best examples of printing may be studied with profit. The standards of the average business letters you may happen to see should not be followed. Most of these have been written by stenographers and secretaries who have not had proper training, do not understand the artistic values of correct placement and, moreover, are not very much concerned about the matter.

Spacing - The question of whether or not to use single or double spacing is one that will depend upon the style in the office. In most business houses today the single spacing is used, with double spacing between paragraphs, rather short lines and plenty of white space around the typewritten mass. In writing very short letters, however, double spacing may be used.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Why is “form” so important in writing letters?

  2. What is the relation of typing to printing?

  3. How may an even touch in typing be secured? Does rhythm affect touch?

  4. Name six important points to be observed in typing.

  5. What bearing does the speed of reading shorthand notes have upon speed in typing?

  6. Why should letter sheets be of standard size?

  7. What observations are to be followed in typing addresses?

  8. What caution is to be observed concerning punctuation marks?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Dictation. Follow the suggestions given in the preceding assignment.

  2. Transcription. Follow the suggestions in previous assignment.

  3. Envelopes. Address envelopes for all letters and return the letters to the manager with the envelope slipped over the top of the letter.

Making the Business Letter Attractive, part II

Details of Artistically Typed Letters - The second requisite to artistic appearance in a letter is even touch in typewriting. Without this, no matter how well arranged the letter may be, it will create an unfavorable impression. The type should give a clear, sharp impression, and all impressions should have the same degree of density. This depends mainly on two factors - the kind and quality of ribbon, and the evenness of impression of the typist's touch. The type must be clean. Attention must be given to the striking of capitals and other full-size characters in order to give them a density equal to the other letters. Punctuation marks naturally should be struck with a light touch and should never puncture the paper. Typographical errors should be entirely eliminated. If it is necessary to make a correction use the eraser with skill. Pernicious as the eraser is it must be used occasionally. Letters should never be struck one over another or x'd out. Make erasures clean. The lines of a letter should be of as nearly equal length as possible. By returning the carriage instantly upon the signal the ragged appearance of the right hand margin may be avoided.

Letters should be of the regulation letter size - 8½ x 11 inches in all cases. Modern filing systems have been designed on the basis of this size. Half sheets are a misfit in the files.

It is customary nowadays to omit the punctuation after the date line and also after the lines of the address. The omission of punctuation marks in these points is sanctioned by good authorities, and it adds much to the appearance of the letter. There is really no necessity for punctuation marks at these points, as they add nothing to clearness. The object of the punctuation mark is to assist the reader in clearly interpreting the printed or written sentence. Start the date line and complimentary closing at a point which make them balance with the rest of the letter. Titles following signatures should also be placed to balance with the letter and signature. It is not necessary to place punctuation marks after these. Punctuation marks may also be omitted on envelopes.

Figure II a) Envelope with Blocked Address; b) Envelope with Indented Address

A correctly proportioned envelope with the address well displayed has also an important bearing on the impression the letter will make. Figures II.a and II.b show envelopes with the addresses correctly placed. As in the address in the letter itself, the punctuation marks may be omitted from the envelope. The arrangements will serve as a guide in addressing any size or shape of envelope, the spacing and indention being varied to meet the requirements of clearness and balance. If the name is a very long one - as, for example, “The State Agricultural and Mechanical College of South Carolina” - it should be divided into two lines separated by a single space. As a rule use double space on the ordinary size business envelope; triple space gives a better appearance on large envelopes. Always see that the address is complete and accurate. Never use the word “City” in addressing envelopes for letters going to the same city in which they originate; always write the name of the city. Avoid abbreviations. Unless another title is given (such as “Hon.,” “Rev.”) prefix “Mr.,” “Mrs.” or “Miss” to the name. In letters addressed to firms prefix the title “Messrs.” “Messrs.” is not used, however, in letters addressed to corporations. The words, “Personal,” “Transient,” name of the county, the post-office box number, or the sub-station, may be placed in the lower left-hand corner of the envelope.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Describe the fundamentals of artistic display of business letters.

  2. Give three important factors in securing effective typing.

  3. How may the secretary estimate from his shorthand notes the amount of space necessary for typing?

  4. How should the date and address on a business letter be punctuated? Illustrate.

  5. Name the important points to be observed in addressing envelopes.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Dictation. The letters dictated by the manager will be of varying length. At the end of each letter make a note of the type of letter for your guidance in typing, whether long, short, or medium.

  2. Transcription. In transcribing, follow the suggestions for correct arrangement, typing, etc., using the stationery provided in the Exercise Book for the purpose. The corporation signature is to appear on each letter.

  3. Envelopes. Address envelopes for all letters. Slip the top of the letter under the flap of the corresponding envelope. All letters are to be submitted to the manager for approval.

Section IV: Titles of Address, Salutations, Signatures

Custom decrees that every name must carry with it a title. The titles generally used are Messrs., Mr., Mrs., Miss, Hon., Dr., Prof., and occasionally Esq.

Messrs., the abbreviation of Messieurs, the French for gentlemen is applied to business firms that are in the nature of partnerships; as, Bond Bros. & Company, Robertson & Smith, Barnett & Fox. Such partnership names can generally be distinguished by “&” preceding the word “company.” Although many such firms are in reality corporations, the rule is a safe one to follow; the legal status of the company has nothing to do with the form of address. Broadway Cap Company, Great Lakes Dock Company, are obviously corporation names and should not carry the title Messrs.

Mr. is the title applied to a man who has no other known title, as, Mr. Harris Grey.

Mrs. is the title of a married woman; as, Mrs Truman P. Handy. A widow in signing a letter should use her own given name, or initials, and should prefix Mrs. in parentheses before the name; as (Mrs.) Mary Benjamin. A married woman should sign her own given name, and write underneath, in parenthesis, the name of her husband with Mrs. prefixed; thus, Sarah Brock (Mrs. Arthur S. Brock). If a woman holds an official position she is given the same title that in the same case would be given to a man. The salutation for a woman is Dear Madam, whether she is married or single.

Hon. (the abbreviation of Honorable) should be prefixed to the names of those who occupy, or have occupied, important government positions - cabinet officers, senators, ambassadors, governors, lieutenant governors, members of congress or of state legislatures, judges, mayors, etc.

Rev. is the title given to clergymen. Rev. Dr. may be applied, when the given name or initials are unknown, to a clergyman who is the holder of a scholastic degree containing the letter “D.”

Dr. is properly applied to any one, either a man or woman, who is the holder of a scholastic degree containing the letter “D.”

Prof. is applied only to one holding a professorship in an educational institution conferring degrees. It is not properly applied to teachers in secondary schools or to teachers in general.

Esq. is used to some extent in the legal profession, but it is gradually giving way to the title of Mr. The two titles - Mr. and Esq. - should not be used together.

The titles Professor, Governor, Lieutenant, President, Captain, General, etc., should not be abbreviated except when the given name is written. Example: Gov. Grover Cleveland. If the given name is omitted, the title should be spelled out - Governor Cleveland.

No two of the foregoing titles may be used together, except in the instance noted above of Rev. Dr., and then only when the given name is omitted - Rev. Dr. van Dyke. It is a mark of discourtesy to omit titles of distinction.

Do not use non-professional titles in the addresses on letters.

General Manager, President, Secretary, etc., following a name are used merely as titles of designation and do not affect the prefixed title, whatever it may be.

The President: To the President, Washington, D. C., Sir: or Mr. President; The President is the only official whose name may be omitted in the address.

The Vice-President: To the Hon. Calvin Coolidge, Vice-President of the United States, Washington, DC., Sir:

A Cabinet Officer: To the Hon. Charles E. Hughes, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C., Sir:

A United States Senator: Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge, U. S. Senate, Washington, D. C., Senator: (My dear Senator, if the writer is an acquaintance.)

A Justice of the Supreme Court: Hon. William H. Taft, Chief Justice of the United States, Washington, D. C., Sir:

A Congressman. Hon. Julius Kahn, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C., Sir:

A Governor: To His Excellency Nathan L. Miller, Governor of New York, Albany, N. Y. Sir: or Governor:

Note: In addressing communications to departments of the Government, address the office rather than the individual.

Army and Navy - A General: Gen. John J. Pershing, Chief of Staff, War Department, Washington, D. C., General: A Minor Commissioned Officer: Maj. William A. Flower, The War Department, Washington, D. C., Major:

(Give the rank in the salutation to any officer of the army or the navy above the rank of Lieutenant; “Sir” is the proper salutation for a Lieutenant or noncommissioned officer.)

The Admiral: Admiral (Name), Navy Department, Washington, D. C., Admiral: (There is at present no Admiral.)

A Rear Admiral: Rear Admiral Spencer S. Wood, Navy Department, Washington, D. C., Rear Admiral:

A Commander: Commander Henry J. Aiken, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D. C., Commander:

Clergy, Protestant - A Bishop (other than a Methodist): To the Right Reverend Wm. T. Manning, Bishop of New York, New York City, Right Reverend Sir:

A Methodist Bishop, A Clergyman, or Rector: Rev. Edwin H. Hughes, Boston, Mass., Reverend Sir: or Reverend and Dear Sir:

Clergy, Hebrew - A Rabbi: Rev. Dr. Joseph Silverman, New York City, Reverend Sir: or Reverend and Dear Sir:

Clergy, Roman Catholic - A Cardinal: His Eminence, William Cardinal O'Connell, the Cathedral, Boston, Mass., Your Eminence:

An Archbishop: Most Reverend Patrick J. Hayes, D. D., Archbishop of New York, New York City, Most Reverend and Dear Sir: or Your Grace:

A Bishop: Right Reverend Edward P. Allen, D. D., Mobile, Alabama, Right Reverend and Dear Sir: or Right Reverend Bishop:

A Female Superior of Order: Reverend Mother Xavier, St. Elizabeth's Convent, Convent, N. J., Reverend Madam: or Reverend Mother:

Priest: Reverend G. H. Mueller, St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, Cranford, N. J., Reverend and Dear Sir: or Reverend and Dear Father:

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What is the object of introducing the subject of titles at this point in the study?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Type the following names and addresses correctly in the form they should appear in a letter, inserting the salutations:

    1. Mr. Arthur S. Carey, 32 Oak Street, Northampton, Massachusetts.

    2. Mrs. Samuel A. Huntington, 4321 Okenwald Ave., Chicago, Illinois.

    3. Williams & Wright, 32 Bond Street, London, England.

    4. Henry A. Farrell, Ph.D., 193 Crescent Street, Denver, Colorado.

    5. James L. Merriam, D.D., The Rectory, Laurel, Mississippi.

    6. The Governor of your State.

    7. The President of the United States.

    8. The Vice-President of the United States.

    9. The Secretary of the Navy.

    10. The Senior Senator from your state.

    11. The Representative from your district.

    12. The Priest or Minister of your church.

    13. The Bishop of the diocese in which you live.

    14. Captain Roger S. Bolton, The War Department, Washington, D. C.

    15. Lieutenant Marshall J. Worth, The War Department, Washington, D. C.

  1. Dictation.

  2. Transcription.

Commercial Abbreviations

The following list of commercial abbreviations is given for study and reference. The use of commercial abbreviations is rarely understood by young stenographers, and for this reason, if for no other, they should be sparingly employed. A knowledge of them, however, is almost imperative in business nowadays because of the frequency with which they are used. There is a growing tendency among the best business houses to eliminate as many abbreviations as possible, except in reports, accounts, and matter of a statistical nature. In the ordinary run of business letters, such words as “ultimo,” “instant,” etc., are better written out when occurring in the body of the letter. There is one safe rule to follow when in doubt - write the equivalent words in full.

Common Commercial Abbreviations - The printers' “Style Book” says: Set without space between letters of abbreviation. This rule, however, is not closely followed in typewritten abbreviations, such as, for example, C. O. D, and the more common practice is to place one space after the period, in harmony with the spacing after initials. The reason for this is that each initial stands for a separate word; if the words were written separately a space would be used. Many general abbreviations, as Mr., P. M., etc., are omitted from the list. Some abbreviations occur only within sentences and should begin with a small letter. When such abbreviations as cts., f. o. b., amt., etc., occur within a sentence, use small letters.

A1 Highest Grade
Acct., a/c Account
@ Account of, at rate of
Ack'd Acknowledged
Advg., ad. Advertisement
Agmt. Agreement
Agt. Agent
Amt. Amount
Ann. Annual
Anon. Anonymous
Ans. Answer
Ass'n Association
Av., Ave. Avenue
Bal. Balance
B/S Balance Sheet
Bk. Book
Bbl. Barrel
Bdl. Bundle
Bds. Boards
B/L Bill of Lading
B. O. Buyer's Opinion
Bldg. Building
Bu. Bushel
Ctf. Certificate
Chap. Chapter
C. I. F. Cost, Insurance, Freight
C. O. D. Cash on Delivery
Coll. Tr. Collateral Trust
Cwt. Hundredweight
Co. Company
c/o Care of
Com. Common (stock)
Comm. Commision, Committee
Cong. Congress, Congressional
Cons. Consolidated, Consolidation
Conv. Convertible
Corp. Corporation
Cr. Creditor
Cts., C. Cents
Cum. Cumulative
Deb. Debenture
Dept. Department
Dict. Dictionary
Direct. Directory
Disc. Discount
Dist. District
Div. Division, Dividend
Do. Ditto, the same
Doc. Document
Dr. Debtor
Ea. Each
Earn. Earnings
Econ. Economics
Elec. Electric
Empl. Employment
E. O. D. Every other day
E. & O. E. Errors and omission excepted
Equip. Equipment
Et al And others
Etc. (Et cetera) and so forth
Ex., Exch. Exchange
Exp. Expense, Express
Ext. Extension
Fgt., Frt. Freight
F. O. B. Free on Board
Ft. Foot, feet
Gal. Gallon
Gen'l General
Gov't Government
H., Hr. Hour
H. P. Horse-power
I. C. C. Interstate Commerce Commission
Impr. Improvement
In. Inch
Inc. Income (tax, mtg.,) Incorporated
Ind. Indenture
Ins. Insurance
Int. Interest
Inv. Investment, Invoice
Lb. Pound
Legis. Legislation, Legislature
L. C. L. Less than carload
Ltd. Limited
Meet. Meeting
Memo., Mem. Memorandum
Mfg. Manufacturing
Mfr. Manufacturer
Mgr. Manager
Min. Minute
Misc. Miscellaneous
Mo. Month
Mtg. Mortgage
Nat'l National
No. Number
O. K. All right
Org. Organization
Oz. Ounce
P. Page
Pk. Peck
% Per cent
Pkg. Package
PP. Pages
Pref. Preferred (stock)
Pt. Pint
Qr. Quarter
Qt. Quart
Rec'd Received
R.R. Railroad
Ry. Railway
Ref. Reference, Refunding
Reorg. Reorganization
Rep't Report
St. Saint, Street
Sav. Bks. Savings banks
Sec'y Secretary
S. F. Sinking fund
... Something omitted
? Something supplied
Sq. Square
States Standard abbreviations for states, with the exception of the following, which should be written out: Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine , Ohio, Samoa, Utah.
S. S. Steamship
Subsid. Sunsidiary
Supp. Supplement
Synd. Sundicate
Syn. Synonym, Synonymous
Tel. Telegraph, Telephone
T. F. Till forbidden
Tr. Trust, Trustee
Vol. or v. Volume
Wk. Week
Yd. Yard
Yr. Year

The authorized forms of O.K. are: O.K.'d,, O.K.'s. The correct possessive form of Co. is Co. 's. The plural of B/L is written Bs/L, also B/Ls, but the former seems to be more logical. The plural of most abbreviations is formed by simply adding s; as, hrs., sts., mfrs., etc. The tendency is to drop the apostrophe in abbreviations like bldg., mfg., etc.

It will be noted from the foregoing that there seems to be no consistency in the employment of capitals or small letters used in writing abbreviations. There is no rule that can be followed invariably. The principal tendency is toward writing the abbreviations with small letters wherever possible. This is logical for the reason that if we wrote the words in full, initial capitals would not be employed. On the other hand with the ordinary typewriter it is not convenient to write capitals since the shift key has to be used to write the period.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Why is a knowledge of commercial abbreviations necessary?

  2. When are abbreviations properly used?

  3. How does the typing of commercial abbreviations differ from the printers “style book” practice?

  4. What rule is followed in capitalizing abbreviations?

  5. Give the names of states that are to be written in full instead of abbreviated.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Dictation. Follow the instruction given in the preceding assignments.

  2. Transcription. Follow the instruction given in the preceding assignments.

Section V: Handling Dictation Effectively

A good workman is known by the method he follows in accomplishing his task. The secretary who takes no dictation whatever is the exception. The first step toward handling dictation effectively is to have all your tools in working order. All the mechanical details of your work should be systematized, and the sooner you transfer these to correct habit, the more effective your work will become. Your notebook in which you take dictation should be dated daily. Names should be written with exactness and with particular attention to the spelling. This can be ascertained from the original letters. In cases where the letter being dictated Is an initial letter, you should ascertain the spelling of the name, and the correct address. Common names may be written in shorthand. The list of common surnames given in Gregg Speed Studies will be useful in forming correct outlines for these. Unusual names, or those in which doubt about the spelling may arise, should be written in longhand. Wherever it is possible use shorthand, for it is far swifter and you will have time to write a correct shorthand outline much more accurately than you can one in hurriedly scribbled longhand.

Notes should be taken systematically. Dictation is rarely so swift that a skillful writer cannot find time to decide upon the punctuation, capitalization, paragraphing, and other details of the letter while taking the dictation. The dictator will frequently pause in his dictation to decide upon the exact wording he wishes to use, or to develop an idea more completely. Such moments of respite should be utilized by the secretary in going over notes already taken in rewriting an outline, here and there, and in determining the form, punctuation, etc., of the letter.

When changes are made in a letter by the dictator, the secretary should use care to make them correctly. Occasionally a dictator will want to make an interlineation which is so long that it is inconvenient to write it in the space between the notes already written. A convenient way to take care of this is to indicate the first interlineation by the figure 1 over a caret and then take down the matter to be interlined on the next page of the notebook. Nearly all stenographers show a surprising lack of system in such matters.

Figure III: Secretary's Efficiency Desk

In transcribing make it a rule to read each sentence or letter intelligently. Do not type anything that does not make sense, simply because “you have it in your notes.” If you cannot get sense from your notes, you should go straight to the dictator and find out what was meant. Put aside letters in which you encounter difficulties of this kind and take them up with the dictator after the rest of your letters have been typed, unless they are letters which he has requested you to return immediately.

When the notes have been typed, draw a pencil line vertically through the page to show that it has been transcribed. The secretary should remember that he may find it necessary to consult his notebook on occasion, sometimes months after the notes were taken, and he will be expected to read his shorthand readily. Consequently, the notes should be taken with as great care as if they were the only possible record. Notebooks should be filed systematically so that in case reference to them is necessary, it may be done without waste of time.

When the secretary is called for dictation, he should be constantly on the alert, keeping his mind closely concentrated on his work. Many dictators do not enunciate their words distinctly. It will be necessary at all times to follow the sense of the dictation. Mishearing is a frequent source of errors in transcribing. Unfamiliar words should be looked up in the dictionary. If the secretary will take the trouble to make a list of these at the end of each business day, and consult the dictionary for the spelling and meaning of the words, he will find that his vocabulary is growing at a most encouraging rate.

The secretary must see that his written record of what was dictated is irreproachable from the English point of view. Dictators are not always grammatical in their statements, accurate as to facts, or happy in their choice of words. It is the duty of the secretary to inquire tactfully about questionable statements when necessary, and to help the dictator to make them clear. Corrections in English, of course, should be made without comment, but it will be necessary to get authoritative facts.

The dictator should not be interrupted while dictating a letter. Wait until the letter is completed before asking any questions. If the secretary is in doubt about a word as the matter is dictated, write the word you understand, placing a circle around it. Very often the word will be suggested when the sentence is completed, or it may be repeated later on. If not, the matter may be discussed with the dictator after the dictation period is finished.

It occasionally happens that instructions, or even letters, must be taken over the telephone. The secretary will therefore make it a rule when he answers the telephone to provide himself with pad and pencil so that he will not be delayed in taking such messages.

The accuracy of dictation will depend somewhat upon the conditions under which one writes. The secretary is entitled to proper surroundings, but at the same time he should accustom himself to inconveniences, since it is not always possible to provide ideal working conditions.

The student of Secretarial Studies should make it a practice to follow the foregoing suggestions in all his work in school in order that his technique of handling dictation may become automatic.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Name five features of a secretary's work that should receive attention early in his experience as a stenographer.

  2. Give the steps used in taking notes systematically.

  3. How are changes in dictation noted by the stenographer or secretary?

  4. How are the transcribed notes marked to show that transcription has been completed?

  5. What steps must the secretary take about matter that does not seem to make sense?

  6. What test should the secretary put to each sentence he is typing?

  7. If a word or part of a sentence is not understood during the time of dictation, what should the secretary do?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Dictation.

  2. Transcription.

Organizing Transcription

In transcribing, speed and accuracy are greatly facilitated by working out a plan of procedure and following it. Certain preliminary steps must be taken before the actual transcribing can be begun. The secretary must see that his machine is in proper working order - oiled, type cleaned - and that all supplies such as stationery, blanks, etc., needed for completing his work are at hand. His desk should be provided with whatever reference books are necessary to carry on his work effectively as, for example, a dictionary; the office style book, if there is one, or, in lieu of this, the style book of the University of Chicago or some similar work; books on English, synonyms, and whatever books relating to the business that he must refer to, even occasionally. The stationery, telegraph blanks, carbons, envelopes, and advertising literature needed in his work should be placed in convenient receptacles in his desk, with the most used supplies nearest at hand. Much also depends on the type of desk the secretary uses and how scientifically all his working tools are arranged for easy access. With these preliminary steps disposed of, success in transcribing will depend very largely upon two factors:

  1. Ability to read shorthand quickly and accurately.

  2. Ability to type correctly without giving conscious thought to the mechanics of the work.

If the secretary-student is weak on either of these he should correct the weakness by study and practice.

Read critically all the shorthand that time will allow, both shorthand plates and your own notes. Analyze characters, memorize the correct forms, and use them in taking dictation. Fundamentally, good transcribing rests on good shorthand. The secretary who cannot read his notes rapidly enough to utilize his full speed in typing should practice until his reading speed is increased to a point that will enable him to benefit by his typing speed. Reading shorthand notes is merely a matter of practice if the proper foundation of correct shorthand writing has been acquired. In taking fast dictation be sure to write shorthand just as you have been trained to write it, as correctly as you can according to the principles of the system, but write each word anyway, whether you can determine the best outline or not.

Try to make the execution of the notes as accurate as possible.

Think of the sense of each sentence as the dictation is being taken. Indicate the ends of sentences. Failure to do this is perhaps responsible for more mistakes in transcribing than any other one thing. If the dictation is not rapid and if there are pauses here and there, plan the arrangement of the letter and decide upon the punctuation. Many of the punctuation marks can be inserted in the notes. If this is done, speed in transcribing will be greatly increased. At every lull in the dictation run back over your notes and “fix them up,” making corrections and revisions that will enable you to read them more quickly and accurately. Indicate necessary capitalization by placing two short dashes underneath the outline.

By observation the length of the letter may be calculated and the use of single or double space determined. This should be indicated in your notes. If there is no opportunity to do this during the dictation it should be done before beginning to transcribe, at least during the early stages of your experience as a secretary. Read the notes of each letter through before starting to write. Type at a rate that insures accuracy, as the correction of errors in typing often more than offsets any gains from typing speedily.

Much time is wasted by the beginning secretary in placing the paper in the machine, in adjusting it, and in other mechanical operations that should be subjected to motion study. Correct operation should be a matter of habit. In transcribing do not hurry at first. In the first transcribing there will be a strong inclination to watch either the keyboard or the copy. Refrain from doing this as it merely distracts attention, and results in errors and a limited production. Learn to transcribe in an orderly way. Make every effort count. Concentrate your mind on your work.

These suggestions have to do with the technique of shorthand and typewriting, but there are many other elements entering into the question of rapid and correct transcription. The most important of these is the organization of the matter to be transcribed. The secretary may have in his notebook fifty or one hundred letters. Some of them may be more important than others, and may be wanted for an earlier mail. If instruction is given about these while dictation is being taken the fact should be noted in the margin of your notebook. Before starting to transcribe, run over these notations and instructions and select the letters that are to be transcribed first. If inclosures are to be sent, these should be properly assembled so that as you write each letter its proper inclosure may be attached to it. Many secretaries find it an advantage to address the envelope first and place inclosures in it before starting to transcribe the letters. This naturally necessitates determining the size of the envelope used. After letters have been transcribed and inclosures attached, they should be placed face down with the flaps of the envelope on the top of the letters. If it is the business of the secretary to file the original letter with carbons these should be attached and placed in a tray ready for filing at the first opportunity. Letters should be filed as soon as possible. If corrections are made on letters, the secretary should see that the carbons are also corrected.

After deciding upon a plan of transcribing, follow the established practice to the letter until you discover ways of improving it. In other words, make the procedure of transcribing automatic. By following the suggestions laid down here in all your work in this course, you will acquire correct habits of transcribing that will carry over into your work as a secretary in the business office.

Preparing Mail for Signature - Letters should not be sent to the dictator for signature until the secretary is sure that everything has been done to make them complete as to content and appearance. Read carefully all letters before removing them from the machine, and make a proper analysis of all statements, figures, inclosures, etc. Inclosures may either be placed in the correct envelope or attached to the letters with clips. One precaution must be constantly observed with regard to the use of clips. They are quite likely to pick up other papers. This must be guarded against by constantly verifying all letters, documents, and inclosures. If inclosures are to be sent in a letter this fact should be indicated in the lower left-hand corner, as, for example: Inclosures 1, 2, or 3 as the case may be. This serves to call attention to inclosures. In some cases where important papers or a number of miscellaneous papers are to go in one letter these should be listed by name in the lower left-hand corner. The secretary must leave ample space for the signature. This may be determined by the nature of the signature. A practice has grown up of having the signature typed as well as pen-written. It is a practice that is to be commended for the reason that it eliminates many errors in reading signatures. Signatures are, as a rule, notoriously illegible. Many business men labor under the delusion that an illegible signature is necessary to protect them against forgery - that it is a mark of distinction to be able to write a name so nobody can decipher it. Like all delusions there is little basis for this. The typewritten name should be placed directly below the space for the real signature. Examples of this will be found under the heading Arranging Business Letters Attractively.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Describe the initial steps necessary in handling dictation effectively.

  2. How should a notebook be arranged by the secretary?

  3. How may the secretary utilize the time during pauses in dictation?

  4. How are interlineations in notes made?

  5. Describe the steps in organizing transcription.

  6. What is the practice with regard to inclosures?

  7. How are carbons filed?

  8. Describe the method of preparing mail for signature.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Chart the steps you follow in transcription.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.

Section VI: Effective Handling of Correspondence

Outgoing Mail - How much contact the secretary will have with the mail, both outgoing and incoming, will depend upon the work of the office in which he is engaged; but the more he knows about it, the better he will be able to serve when the occasion demands. As has been said before, the secretary's life in the office is made up of details. He never knows when he will be called upon to perform a given duty, and very often these duties extend beyond what he is ordinarily expected to do.

In larger organizations there is a mailing department and so far as outgoing mail is concerned all the secretary will need to do will be to see that his employer's mail is delivered to the person who collects the mail from the various departments, “signed, sealed, and delivered.”

Every detail of the transaction up to this point is in his hands. Some secretaries are so methodical as to keep a record of every piece of mail sent out, the purpose being to save themselves from any embarrassment in case of delay. This is a questionable practice, however, for the time spent in keeping records will probably amount to more than is necessary for the secretary to attend to the folding, sealing, stamping, and mailing himself. Important documents or letters should be sent by registered mail, in which case a receipt for them is available in case questions arise. Whether or not this work on the part of the secretary is necessary will depend upon the general efficiency of the office force dealing with this particular activity. In smaller offices the secretary may look after the mail of the entire office, in which case it will be necessary for him to be familiar with the practice here outlined.

Gathering the Mail - Gather the mail, together with the carbon copies of letters, and bring it to your desk, or to the mailing table provided for that purpose, which should be provided with stamps of various denominations, and a cup and moistened sponge. All the letters, which will be slipped under the flap of the envelope in each case, with the addressed side up, should be placed in a stack, unless the quantity is too large, when they may be divided into convenient units. If you yourself have written the letters, you will separate the carbons before sending the mail to be signed.

Folding and Sealing Letters - In folding a letter for the ordinary business envelope (No. 6½), fold upward from the bottom, bringing the lower edge to within approximately one-fourth of an inch from the top. Then make two folds from left to right, making the second fold so that the edge of the last will come within about one-fourth of an inch from the first fold. Grasp the upper right-hand corner and insert the letter in the envelope without turning it over. The flap of the envelope should be left open. Stack all the letters with the address away from you and spread them on the table in a row. By drawing your thumb across them they will be spread sufficiently to leave the gummed edges of the flaps exposed. Run a sponge over these, seeing to it that the sponge is not so moist as to “lick up” all the mucilage. The flaps can then be folded down one at a time. A little experimentation will help you to do this effectively without loss of time. Handling all the operations of mailing is mechanical. Work out a plan for performing them and follow it precisely. Two objects will be gained by this: First making a plan enables you to arrange everything in convenient order and thus saves time in handling. Second, if you do a mechanical act habitually, it is more apt to be correct. It tends to eliminate mistakes.

Figure IV: How to Fold a Letter Properly

Letters requiring larger envelopes (No. 10) are folded from the bottom twice, the first fold dividing the letter about one-third the distance from the top, the second fold coming within about one-fourth of an inch from the top. The object in leaving this quarter inch in each instance is to enable the receiver to open the letter without the difficulty that would be occasioned should the folds be equal. Follow the same procedure in moistening and sealing as with the ordinary envelope.

Stamps are affixed in the most economical way in the following manner: Place the envelopes in front of you in orderly piles. The stamps, torn along the perforations into horizontal strips, with mucilage side up, and the sponge cup, should be placed at your right side. Moisten a complete strip with one stroke of the hands. A little practice will enable you to do this skillfully. Affix the stamp with the left hand and press it down firmly with the right hand, simultaneously twisting the stamp loose from the strip with the left , hand and moving the envelope along with the right hand to expose the next envelope to be stamped.

Window Envelopes - Window envelopes require a special method of folding in order that the address may appear properly in the “window.”

Points to be Observed in Preparing Mail

  1. Scan each letter to see that it has been properly signed.

  2. Check the address on the envelope with the letter.

  3. See that each letter has its carbon copy.

  4. Be alert to discover any foreign letters and place these in a stack by themselves, so that proper postage will be a matter of exactness.

  5. On all domestic mail (United States) you will be safe in affixing a two-cent stamp on one- or two-page letters that do not contain heavy inclosures.

  6. Weigh all pieces about which there is doubt as to the amount of postage needed.

  7. Stamps inclosed in letters should be wrapped in waxed paper. They should not be sent loose or stuck to the letter.

  8. Clumsy inclosures should not be sent in letters.

  9. Check all letters for inclosures and see that the proper inclosure is made.

  10. After the mail has been made up place it all at once in the mail chute or box.

  11. Check to see that booklets, catalogues, etc., mentioned in letters to be sent under another envelope, are sent. Except in special cases advertising circulars should be sent seperately.

Employer's Confidential Mail - If your work is confined exclusively to the operations of one executive, there will be much of his outgoing mail, owing to its confidential nature, that you must look after personally, even to seeing that it gets into the mail chute. Letters of this character should not be sent unsealed to the regular mailing department.

Usually an executive who has many confidential letters or documents has a special letterhead, which is to be used for the official letters emanating from his office. The executive will instruct you as to the letters that are to be written on the special letterhead until your judgment in the matter has been developed to a point where he can trust you to make the decision yourself. Letters, of course, that relate to the business in general will be written on the regular stationery and can be handled by the regular mailing department, but this procedure will depend largely upon the organization and practice of the office. The secretary must use scrupulous care in handling the executive's personal mail, taking particular pains with every detail of it up to the time it goes into the mail box, to make sure that it truly reflects the dignity of the office.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What connection will the secretary have with the handling of mail in a large office? In a small office?

  2. What is the function of the mailing department?

  3. Describe the method of gathering the mail.

  4. Describe and illustrate the method of folding letters:

    1. Letters of ordinary correspondence length.

    2. Long letters requiring large envelopes.

    3. Letters for window envelopes.

  1. Describe the method of affixing stamps.

  2. How is the employer's confidential mail handled?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Bring to your desk all the letters that you have transcribed since the beginning of the secretarial work. See that envelopes are provided, and that all inclosures are inserted. Sort the letters according to date. If properly kept in the folder, they should be in chronological order. After signing all letters, first with the name of the company as instructed, then with your signature underneath with the word “By” preceding it, insert them in the proper envelopes and seal. (See instructions for “Preparing the Mail for Signature”.) These should be kept for use in the sections on filing. All articles that have been transcribed may be left in the folder. They will be called for later.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.

Effective Handling of Correspondence, part II

Incoming Mail - In the larger offices, where a regular mailing department is a part of the organization and mail-opening clerks look after all the details of opening, sorting, and delivering it to the offices or desks, the secretary will not be concerned with any of the mail except that which comes to his desk. It is important, however, that he should be familiar with the system prevailing in the general office as occasions may arise when he must take a hand, either in tracing letters, or in performing other duties.

Mail received in a large office goes directly to the mail-opening clerks and is sorted. Letters addressed to certain departments or individuals are sent immediately to them. The remaining mail is then opened, sorted, classified, and delivered to the proper departments as speedily as possible. Unless the mail received is unusually heavy, it is generally opened by hand, with an envelope knife. In doing this, care should be taken not to cut through the letters or any inclosures that may be in the letters. By placing the letters face down and running the knife under the flaps, the mutilation of the contents can be avoided. Each letter should be inspected as it is opened, and any inclosure it contains attached to the letter. If any are missing, make a note of it on the letter. The opener should be careful to note in each case whether or not the letter is signed. A surprising number of letters are mailed without signature. In such cases attach the envelope to the letter also, as this may be the means of identifying the writer - either from the business address on the envelope or the postmark. In some offices it is a rule to attach envelopes as a means of showing the date of mailing. In important documents this sometimes is an essential matter.

In most offices a clock dating machine is used to date and time the receipt of mail. In others, a rubber stamp simply giving the date is sufficient. In still other offices, a rubber stamp containing the names of all the departments or individuals to whom mail is to go, is used to stamp all incoming mail and it is only necessary in such instances to check the name or department, and the classification is complete. The rubber stamping or clock-dating stamping should be performed at one time in order to save time. Care should be observed in placing the dating stamp at a place on the letter where it does not obliterate any of the writing.

Study and watch each movement of your work in the mechanical handling of mail to eliminate waste motion, It is important that all mail be delivered to the proper departments as soon as possible after being received. There are two methods of classifying mail. In some offices it is a practice to divide all opened mail into two groups, letters containing remittances, and those that do not. In other cases the classification is made at the time of opening, through the method just described, of using a rubber stamp containing the names of the various departments to which the mail is to go. In such cases any remittances are naturally attached.

The person who opens the mail must be familiar with the organization, so that he can at a glance tell to which department a piece of mail should be sent. In offices where the cash mail is separated from the other, it is then classified into groups, mail containing currency, money orders, out-of-town checks, city checks. These are all listed and sent to the cashier, who handles the remittances in the usual way. The items are usually footed, showing the cash received in each class.

In offices where a very large amount of mail is received daily, either hand-operating or power mail-opening machines are used. In such offices neither the secretary nor the stenographer will have anything to do with the receiving or sending of mail. It will be attended to by clerks employed for that purpose.

The Employer's Mail - The secretary will have charge of the employer's individual mail, and that means not only what is addressed to him, but also the company mail which comes to his desk. This should go through the process of opening and inspection as described in the foregoing. The classification will be somewhat different

You should arrange in groups the letters which you can answer yourself, those that are of a “personal” nature (if marked “personal” they should not be opened unless you have specific instructions to do so), and mail which, while addressed to the employer individually, should go to some other department.

Some employers insist on seeing even this mail and the employer's wishes in this respect naturally must be observed. A great many executives are not personally efficient when it comes to handling mail. There is a fascination about reading letters and even answering them that they cannot resist. As much as possible of this mail should be diverted from the executive, however, for it only takes up his time. It will require the secretary's utmost tact and resourcefulness to guide his employer into proper methods and the problem should be approached diplomatically.

The mail that you decide should go to your employer's desk should be placed on it immediately. You can then proceed to answer the letters which you have decided to handle yourself. Those which you can sign yourself should be attended to at once; the others, which you judge the employer must sign, should be placed on his desk. Checks or other remittances should be sent to the cashier, a notation being made on the letter of the kind of remittance and the amount. Documents, reports, and like matters should be attached to the letters accompanying them.

A certain proportion of the mail received will be of an advertising nature. This may be of interest to the advertising department and can be turned over to that department without further attention. The employer's personal mail should be put in a separate group. If others have access to your employer's office, a place should be provided in his desk where all matters of this nature can be placed for his immediate attention without danger of being inspected by others who may come into the office. The employer's mail should be guarded against prying eyes. The secretary will work out a system for handling all mail in his office; he will study the situation and develop methods of practice that will enable him to insure the greatest accuracy with the least possible loss of time.

Letters which you have answered yourself and are certain will not need your employer's attention can be mailed immediately, but the carbon copies should be placed on your employer's desk for his inspection, as some matters in connection with them may be necessary for his information.

Unless you are following a previously outlined method of handling the mail in your employers office, you should take up with him your plan, so as to acquaint him with the mechanics of it.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. How is incoming mail handled in large offices? In small offices? Give all the steps.

  2. What is done with inclosures?

  3. How is the employer's incoming mail handled?

  4. What is done with advertisements and mail of a similar type?

  5. Make a chart showing the routing of incoming mail in one of our offices embracing the following departments, indicating the type of mail going to each department:

    1. Executive.

    2. Accounting.

    3. Orders.

    4. Manufacture.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Bring to your desk all letters that were prepared for mailing in the laboratory work of the previous sections. These will now be treated as “incoming mail.” Open all letters, following the procedure outlined in the textbook.

    Make a note in each letter of any missing inclosures, if any, and any other points that need attention. The purpose of this is to determine whether you have acquired the proper technique. Re-file these letters and inclosures in the folder to be used when the section on filing is reached.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transportation.