A letter is a written message from one person to another person. Purpose of a Business Letter A business letter is a formal way of communicating between two or more parties. There are many different uses and business letters. Business letters can be informational, persuasive, motivational, or promotional. Business letters should be typed and printed out on standard 8.5" x 11" white paper.
Elements of a Good Letter The most important element of writing a good letter is your ability to identify and write to your audience. If you are addressing your letter to the department of human resources, avoid using highly technical terms that only engineers would understand, even if your letter is addressed to an engineering company, chances are that the personnel in human resources does not have an engineering background.
The next element is that you make sure your present your objective in a clear and concise manner. Don't be vague about your objective, most people will not have the patience to sit there and guess at the meaning of your letter or the time to read a long-winded letter, just get to the point without going into unnecessary details.
Another important element to remember is to remain professional. Even if you are writing a complaint letter, remain polite and courteous, simply state the problem(s) along with any other relevant information and be sure to avoid threats and slander.
Determine your AUDIENCE, e.g. the Director of Marketing, the Office of Customer Relations, the Board of Directors, all stockholders, a particular stockholder.
Determine your PURPOSE for writing this letter, e.g. to inform stockholders about your company’s financial performance and strategy, and/or to request continued or additional investment in the company.
Keep the TONE of your letter formal and informative .
Determine the LETTER FORMAT you wish to use, e.g. block style or semi-block style (see samples).
Set the line spacing on your computer to 1 . All business letters are single-spaced, with double spaces between the different parts of the letter and between paragraphs.
Type a letter head with your company’s name, address, phone and fax number. If you do not have a company, type only your address (called the RETURN ADDRESS ), but not your name, at the top of the letter.
Type the address of the person(s) to whom you are sending the letter ( INSIDE ADDRESS ). Double space.
If you wish to indicate what this letter is in reference to, type RE: under the inside address, e.g.
RE: Inquiry about your product "XYZ" (Double space.)
Type the SALUTATION (greeting) , followed by a colon, e.g.
Dear Professor Smith:
or Dear Ms. Bauer-Ramazani:
or Dear Stockholders: (if the letter is a generic one that goes to all stockholders.)
Type the BODY of the letter. Follow OFAC: Occasion, Facts, Action, Closing. Double space after the last paragraph. ( See separate explanations for writing the body of the letter.)
Type the CLOSING , followed by a comma, four returns (blank lines), your signature, your name in typed form, and your title e.g.
Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Instructor
If you are enclosing some additional information (handouts, exhibits, etc.) with your letter, double space and type it under the closing, e.g.
Encl.: Presentation Abstract
The BODY of the Business Letter (full-block style)
Each component of the business letter ( Occasion, Facts, Action, Closing ) must have its own paragraph. As in all American writing, each paragraph must begin with a TOPIC SENTENCE , which indicates the main idea of this paragraph through the use of specific keywords.
All paragraphs are single-spaced, WITHOUT indentations. Double-space between paragraphs.
EXAMPLE of the BODY of a business letter: A letter of complaint to the Customer Relations office, a letter of application to the Director of Admissions of a college/university, a letter/report to the stockholders of a company, reporting on the financial performance of the company , etc. The body is the same for all letters, but the inside address and salutation addresses a particular stockholder.
Contents of Body Paragraph 1 ( Occasion ): 3-4 sentences
Tell the addressee the purpose of this letter. Refer to a need or interest of the reader. Preview what major points the letter will address.
Contents of Body Paragraphs 2-4 ( Facts ): Specify all the information needed for action by the reader. Each paragraph has its own topic/main idea which must be supported with details. The words in boldface become keywords that should be included in the topic sentence for each of the paragraph.
Contents of Body Paragraph 5 ( Action ):
State clearly what action you want the reader of this letter to take next. If necessary, indicate what action the reader can expect from you, e.g. “I will call you in order to .... on (date).”
In the semi-block format, your address, date (the date can actually go on either the left or the right side), the closing, signature, and printed name are all indented to the right half of the page (how far you indent in is up to you as long as the heading and closing is lined up, use your own discretion and make sure it looks presentable). Also the first line of each paragraph is indented. The indentations of the first line of each paragraph is the only diffrence between the semi-block and the modified block formats.