In this article I first discuss a genre of writing, the Ars Dictaminis, which became popular in Europe from the 11th century and which flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. In particular I consider the arrangement of letters as advised in Ars Dictaminis treatises and show its influence from Cicero. I then briefly review key tenets of Chinese rhetoric and compare the arrangement of Ars Dictaminis letters with the arrangement of Chinese letters of request recently written by Mainland Chinese. The remarkable similarities in the arrangement of these two sets of letters are noted. Given these similarities I conclude by arguing that the relative status and power of writer and recipient exerts at least as strong an influence on the arrangement of texts as any cultural tradition. Copyright © 2007 John Benjamins Publishing Company.