What is the
point of a business letter?
letter is one of the most important ways to communicate in the business
world. A good business letter not only communicates but also records
information. Use the same techniques of writing you use to write an essay,
keeping efficiency, effectiveness, and your audience in mind.
What are the most important things to think about when writing one?
Organization. Before you write the letter, briefly outline your
thoughts. A forthright, concise letter first states your purpose, then
explains the purpose, and then closes politely.
Purpose. The main idea or intent of the letter should be stated
in the first paragraph. Don't be shy or evasive. If you want an interview,
state, "I would like to schedule an interview." If you are answering a
letter, mention the date and intent of that letter right away. For example,
you might state, "I am writing in response to the letter you sent me on
March 3, 1995, in which you asked for advice about starting a new writing
center at your campus.'
Audience. Identify the reader and address the reader as "you"
just as if you were speaking directly to an individual. Keep your reader's
position in mind, and be friendly but polite. (Politeness is especially
important in a letter of complaint, because a furious or condescending tone
might lead your reader to decide not to act on your behalf.) Also, do not
hesitate to use "I" when appropriate.
A formal tone is required for business letters. However, be sure you
don't use business jargon that is often cold, stiff, and unnatural. For
example, do not say "I acknowledged receipt of your letter and I hereby
relinquish my thanks to you." Read your letter aloud to see if it sounds
"right." Just because a letter is formal, it does not have to be rigid.
What type of
formatting should I use?
letters may be typed in a variety of formats. Concise paragraphs numbered
lists, and indentations are often appropriate in a business letter.
Generally, the letter should contain the following six elements:
heading (return address and date)
inside address (of the recipient)
salutation ("Dear Dr. Faustus:")
compliment close ("Thank you for your time. Sincerely yours,"
do not make ANY technical errors in such areas as grammar,
punctuation, or misspellings. Such mistakes will lead to the recipient
not taking you seriously.