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Writing skills pay big long-term dividends

Dear Abby: I am delighted that you still offer the booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions." When I was in my early teens, I ordered this booklet from you. It taught me not only how to write letters, but it gave me confidence to write – letters and more.

I have continued to write letters throughout my life. My skills, honed at such a young age, helped me in completing the often required writing during college and in my working life. I am called upon to write many letters, reports and memoranda. I am always complimented on my style and form, as well as the speed with which I am able to produce the needed documents. Although I often use email for communication, my writing skills serve me well. I now do some creative writing as well, having built on the skills I attained through your booklet.

Most important of all, it is a wonderful feeling to have stayed connected with friends and family over the years. A letter is an enduring reminder of love and friendship -- one that exists far longer than a phone call. I owe so much to the booklet I ordered from Dear Abby years ago. Thank you! – Katherine in Stockton, Calif.

Dear Katherine: Thank you for your beautiful letter and for letting me know how helpful my booklet has been for you. Letter-writing and emailing can be difficult for many people who aren't used to organizing their thoughts on paper or while viewing their computer screen.

Some don't know what to say, while others are afraid they'll say the wrong thing. But anyone can write a letter or email by following a few basic rules. My booklet, "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," contains not only the fundamentals, but also examples for almost every occasion. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to Dear Abby – Letters Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. With the holiday season upon us and people sending greetings and thank-you's through the end of the year, this is the perfect time to send a handwritten letter or a well-written email.

While letter-writing or emailing may always be a chore to some people, there are occasions when the most appropriate, sensitive and elegant means of communicating one's thoughts is by the written word.

Dear Abby: Why don't men wear their wedding rings? I can understand if they work in construction or something. But I see men at my medical office wearing suits, and while they wait for their appointments they talk about their wives, with no ring in sight. What gives? – Single And Wondering in Kansas

Dear Single And Wondering: What "gives" is that some men are not comfortable wearing jewelry, and their wives don't insist upon it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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