How to Write a Business Letter?
Although we often use e-mail and fax to correspond today, business letters sent by post are still very important. Organizations use them to contact outside parties. They are also used to respond to requests, ask for or provide information, and to sell goods and services.
The purpose of this unit is, therefore, to examine business letter writing. Firstly, we deal with the structure of the business letter. Then we look at the basic types of business letters.
Business Letter Format
A good business letter is brief, to the point, straightforward and polite. If possible, it should be limited to one typewritten page. Because they are so brief, such letters are often judged on very small, but important, things: grammar, punctuation, openings, closings and formats.
Business letters have several formats. However, your company may have specific requirements that you must use. For instance, it might have a particular way of presenting a salutation or may even use a specific type of letterhead. Despite some minor differences in layout, all business letters contain the same key elements and usually in the following order.
1- Letterhead or return address
This is located at the top in the center or on the right of the business letter. It includes your address, telephone, fax and/or email (as well as the company logo).
These are codes that you or your correspondent may use to define a letter. You write your correspondent”s reference in the form: ”Your ref: 01234”. If you wish to include your own reference, you write: ”My ref: 56789” or ”Our ref: 56789”.
Be careful when writing the date. All number dates are written differently in British English (31/12/15) and American English (12/31/15). This can lead to confusion. It may be better to write the date in full (31 December 2015 or December 31st, 2015).
4- Inside address
This includes the name of the person to whom you are writing, his/her job title, the company name and the complete mailing address. These should also appear identically on the envelope.
The salutation in a business letter is always formal. It normally begins with the word Dear and always includes the person”s last name. If you do not know the name, you may use Sir or Madam.
The body is the main part of your letter. The body of a business letter is typically single-spaced and has at least three paragraphs:
- Introductory paragraph
- One or more body paragraphs
- Concluding paragraph
Business letters should end with a closing such as Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully, Yours truly.
8- Your signature
Sign in black or blue ink.
9- Your name
Your first name and then your surname, for example:
10- Your title
If you are using company headed paper, write your job title in this space.
Indicate that one or more documents are enclosed by writing ”Enc: 2” (for two documents, for example).