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Writing a Business Letter

What is the point of a business letter?

A business 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?

1 . 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.

2. 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.'

3. 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.

4. Tone.   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?

Business 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:

(1) heading (return address and date)

(2) inside address (of the recipient)

(3) salutation ("Dear Dr. Faustus:")

(4) body

(5) compliment close ("Thank you for your time. Sincerely yours,"

(6) signature

Finally. 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.




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