Writing a professional, polished business letter or business email is easy once you know the basics. Most business letters are written in a simple format that is easily adapted to any company’s needs, and business email follows a similarly simple format. Read on to learn more about how to make your business correspondence look its best.
How to Write a Business Letter: The Basics
A business letter always contains a few standard parts:
- The date
- Information about its sender and recipient
- A salutation
- A body consisting of a few concise paragraphs
- A closing
- The sender’s signature
- The sender’s typed name, title, and contact information
- A list of enclosures, if necessary
If your company has letterhead, you can use this instead of typing out the information. If not, your company’s address should appear either right or left justified at the top of the page. Write out each word in the address instead of using abbreviations. For example:
400 Leafy Lane
Los Angeles, California 90002
Write the date out rather than abbreviating with numbers only. For example, “March 1, 2015” or “1 March 2015.” The date should be left justified and should be positioned two or three lines above the recipient’s address.
Recipient’s name and address:
Add the recipient’s name, their title if known, and their address. Write out each word in the recipient’s address. This information should be left justified a few lines above the salutation. For example:
Mr. Jack Reacher
Craft Supply Provider, Inc.
602 Spinner’s Road
Los Angeles, California 90001
Choose your salutation based on whether you know the person to whom you are writing, how well you know them if so, and the relationship’s level of formality. A salutation is more than a simple greeting; it is an indicator of respect. There are several options to use depending on the situation:
- To Whom It May Concern: Use this generic greeting only if you don’t know whom you are specifically addressing.
- Dear Sir / Madam: This is another generic greeting that should only be used if you don’t know who will be reading your letter.
- Recipient’s Title and Last Name: This is a widely accepted method of incorporating a salutation into business correspondence. Examples include: “Dear Dr. Jamison” or “Dear Professor Williams.” The salutations “Dear Mr. Smith,” “Dear Ms. Kennedy,” and “Dear Mrs. Rollins” are additional examples of this kind of greeting.
- Recipient’s First Name: Use this only if you and the recipient already enjoy an informal relationship. An example is: “Dear Maria.”
- The Recipient’s Whole Name: If the recipient does not have a title and you are unsure of their gender, you should greet them using their entire name. For example: “Dear Pat Brown.”
Always add a comma after a salutation, unless you are using “To Whom It May Concern,” in which case a colon is appropriate.
The body of your business letter should contain a few concise paragraphs that convey your message clearly. Strike the right tone by avoiding lengthy, meandering sentences and getting straight to the point. If you are not sure how to start, consider using “I am writing you regarding…” as the opening phrase.
Your reader will get the best impression when your meaning is crystal-clear. You should explain your position using as few words as possible an. At the same time, feel free to be conversational if it is appropriate. Business correspondence should be friendly and helpful if possible.
Summarize your points clearly in the last paragraph and outline your expectations or your planned course of action. This is a suitable place to mention that the recipient may contact you with concerns or questions. Be sure to thank the recipient for his or her attention to the letter or to the matter at hand.
Like its salutation, a business letter’s closing is an indicator of respect that should reflect the formality of your relationship.
- Formal Closing: A closing such as “Sincerely,” “Yours sincerely,” “Respectfully,” “Yours Truly,” “Regards,” and “Cordially” are suitable for all types of business correspondence.
- Informal Closing:Less formal closings such as “Best wishes,” “Warm regards,” “Best,” “Thank you,” and “All the best” are still professional, but are best for letters to people with whom you enjoy an ongoing, friendly business relationship.
Use a comma after your closing, no matter which you choose. Left justify the closing.
Leave about four lines of text empty so you have room to sign your name. Use blue or black ink for a clean, professional look.
Sender’s typed name and contact information:
Type your name, then add your title on the next line. Skip a line, then type your telephone number. On the next line, type your email address. For example:
Vice President of ABC, Inc.
This information should be left justified.
Enclosures (if applicable):
If you plan to enclose anything with your business letter, type the word “Enclosures” followed by a colon and make a note that tells the recipient what else to look for in the envelope. For example:
Enclosures (2): brochure, flyer
Enclosures: two brochures
This information should be left justified and should be positioned a few lines below your contact information.
Letters for business are basically commercial letters written in a formal tone, most commonly used by business establishments to covey certain business related news to its customers, members, employees, suppliers, contractors etc. Each business letter style might differ from another depending on the relationship between the organization and the receiver of letters of business. Today letters are vital and have huge significance as they serve to create a tangible permanent record, are formal, confidential and seek to deliver a well-acknowledged message.
1.The Basic Structure of a Business Letter
The basic structure of a good, effective business proposal letter can be briefly divided into 3 prime parts. These are: Introduction, Contingents and Conclusion.
The introduction explains the main reason for the writing the business letter. The first part of the letter helps the reader to get a grip of the intention of the letter and comprehend the context in which this business letter should be accounted. There may be many prime reasons disclosed in the introduction part like complaints, job inquiries etc. The second part is the contingents; here you mention the important details revolving around the purpose of the concerned letter. It tells in a detailed manner about your intentions and what you want to achieve. This part is the most vital portion of a business letter, as the reader sends his reply or does the needful according to his understanding of the contingents. If you are writing a business proposal letter, make sure that this vital part contains the whole idea about the business proposed and its future aims and goals. The last part is the conclusion, where you indicate your intended response and your wishes about the stated proposal or subject of the letter. It’s important to indicate your expectation from the reader before you close your letter.
2. Important Features to Be Followed While Writing Letters of Business
There are certain pre-requisites or features which must be considered while you’re writing the letter and before you dispatch it to the addressed receiver. Following these points and writing the letter according to those will help you to make an effective and good business letter. First of all avoid the use of any casual tone, be formal, specific and precise. There is no harm in a business letter being friendly, but the professional tone should mark the overall letter. Writing in precise and specific terms will avoid the chance of any misunderstanding or false illusions. Organising your letter and the information you are providing should be in a logical and systematic manner. The use of terms and the writing style should be lucid and easily comprehendible by your expected reader. Be persuasive and compelling with your words, show the positives of your business proposal or the subject of the letter. Anticipating the reaction of your reader and address all his queries with you proposed solutions. To avoid any errors or grammatical mistakes which can leave a negative impression on your reader, you must proofread your letter once it’s completed.
3. Business Letters Format
Special focus should be given to fonts and format of a business proposal letter. The most commonly used format of a letter is the block format where the whole letter is left oriented and single spaced. Only the paragraphs have a double space between them. Modified block format is another popular format used where though the body of the whole letter and the addresses in done in left side with single spacing, the date and the end point is tabbed to the middle point and then continued with writing. The most unpopular format is the semi-block, it resembles modified block, but the paragraphs are set in form of margins instead of being left justified.
As for the fonts, the most common and accepted font is Times New Roma, size 12, but many establishments which are a little liberal might entertain business letters written is Arial or other fonts. Make sure you check the organisation before you send them a letter.
Writing a letter is not an arduous task if you are ready to follow the above mentioned guidelines and conduct a good business research before dispatching your letter. If you are writing the letter to a new organization or person, it’s always advisable to do a business research prior to writing the letter. Conducting a business research will assist you in writing a letter, which will be more valuable than writing without the knowledge of the organisation. Be alert while choosing your pronouns and words as it makes an impression on your readers. Letters are always more effective and good if they are able to communicate with the person first.