English used in offices is not quite the same as everyday English. It is somewhat formal in style because it is usually used between two persons who are more concerned about business rather than the maintenance of their personal relationship.
To do business, it is most important that the other party understands clearly what you want to say. To be a writer in clear business English, you can resort to the following to skills: detail and format.
Purpose included in first paragraphComplete and accurate detailsInformation conciseAudience and information matchPurpose not as clear nor in first paragraph
Some information missingNot as conciseAudience and information don’t match as wellPurpose unclearIncomplete, inaccurateNot conciseAudience and information do not match Organization
Information is pertinentLetter concludes with what is expected of writer or readerLimited to one page if possibleKey information easy to spotStraight forward mannerLetter indicates what is expected of writer or readerLimited to one page if possibleKey information can be located with a little workReader confusedNo indication of what is expected of writer or readerLetter length is not appropriate Key information difficult to locate Style and Terminology
Language clearCourteous voiceTechnical terms and vocabulary used only when necessaryLanguage occasionally unclearCongenial voiceTechnical terms sometimes used when not neededLanguage unclearUncongenial VoiceTechnical terms clutter text or unnecessary Format, Layout and Conventions
Layout attractive and balanced; block styleLetter addressed to a specific personStandard business letter format, which includes—date, inside address, salutation, closing, a return address either in the letterhead or with the dateKey ideas standout (bold, italics, numbered list)Free from error (mailable document)Appropriate layoutLetter addressed to a specific personStandard business letter format missing some piecesKey ideas emphasized inefficientlyMailable with reservation; no spelling errors Layout clutteredLetter not addressed to a specific personStandard business letter format incorrectKey ideas not emphasizedNot mailable; spelling errors
People believe a good businessman is a person who pays sufficient attention to details. Similarly, your attention to the details of what you want to write can ensure the quality of your writing. Compare the following two sentences from business letters.
(1) It is my pleasure to inform you that your application has been approved … .
(2) I am happy to inform you that your application for our MA program has been approved … .
The mention of the detail of the application has at least two implications: the writer is considerate in that he supplies sufficient information so that there will be no mistake in the purpose of the correspondence, and the writer is professional because of his miss-nothing manner.
Format in business communications saves people time and increase efficiency. People in practice found that certain forms served most of the purposes and hence the appearance of format in business writing.
We are all familiar with the forms of business letter, which consists of head, logo, sender ’ s address, date, receiver ’ s address, reference, salutation, body, closing, signature, and enclosure. The body of a letter also follows some format.
Paragraph 1: purpose of the letter. You should tell the addressee what this letter is for. Some detailed information about the cause of this letter should also be mentioned, but should not be too much. The paragraph should not be long; most people write the paragraph in just one sentence.
Paragraph 2: detail of the letter. Here you should provide detailed information about the issue of the letter: its possible causes, present condition, facts you discover, etc.
Paragraph 3: measures to be taken or suggestions made. This part is about something in the future.
According to the report of our credit department, your balance of $9023.00 for household electrical appliances supplied to you on December 6 last year and January 6 this year is overdue on February 6.
We sent you detailed statements of account on December 28 last year and January 28 this year, but as these may not have reached you, you are taking this opportunity of sending you a further copy of this statement. If you have settled this account since receiving our most recent statement, please ignore this reminder and accept my apologies for troubling you further in this matter. If, however, you have not yet settled this account, we greatly appreciate your prompt payment of this sum.
Memo is the shorthand for memorandum, a note that can be formal or informal circulating usually within the organization. It can be used to keep a written record, to instruct to take actions, to inform of decisions, to explain policies, to answer a request, to remind of events, etc.
Memos have a twofold purpose: they bring attention to problems and they solve problems. They accomplish their goals by informing the reader about new information like policy changes, price increases, or by persuading the reader to take an action, such as attend a meeting, or change a current production procedure. Regardless of the specific goal, memos are most effective when they connect the purpose of the writer with the interests and needs of the reader.
Choose the audience of the memo wisely. Ensure that all of the people that the memo is addressed to need to read the memo. If it is an issue involving only one person, do not send the memo to the entire office. Also, be certain that material is not too sensitive to put in a memo; sometimes the best forms of communication are face-to-face interaction or a phone call. Memos are most effectively used when sent to a small to moderate amount of people to communicate company or job objectives.
SUBJECT: (what the memo is about, highlighted in some way)
Make sure you address the reader by his or her correct name and job title. You might call the company president "Maxi" on the golf course or in an informal note, but "Rita Maxwell, President" would be more appropriate for a formal memo. Be specific and concise in your subject line. For example, "Clothes" as a subject line could mean anything from a dress code update to a production issue. Instead use something like, "Fall Clothes Line Promotion."
The purpose of a memo is usually found in the opening paragraph and includes: the purpose of the memo, the context and problem, and the specific assignment or task. Before indulging the reader with details and the context, give the reader a brief overview of what the memo will be about. Choosing how specific your introduction will be depends on your memo plan style. The more direct the memo plan, the more explicit the introduction should be. Including the purpose of the memo will help clarify the reason the audience should read this document. The introduction should be brief, and should be approximately the length of a short paragraph.
The context is the event, circumstance, or background of the problem you are solving. You may use a paragraph or a few sentences to establish the background and state the problem. Oftentimes it is sufficient to use the opening of a sentence to completely explain the context, such as,
"Through market research and analysis...“
Include only what your reader needs, but be sure it is clear.
One essential portion of a memo is the task statement where you should describe what you are doing to help solve the problem. If the action was requested, your task may be indicated by a sentence opening like,
"You asked that I look at....“
If you want to explain your intentions, you might say,
"To determine the best method of promoting the new fall line, I will...."
Include only as much information as is needed by the decision-makers in the context, but be convincing that a real problem exists.
If your memo is longer than a page, you may want to include a separate summary segment. However, this section not necessary for short memos and should not take up a significant amount of space. This segment provides a brief statement of the key recommendations you have reached. These will help your reader understand the key points of the memo immediately. This segment may also include references to methods and sources you have used in your research.
The discussion segments are the longest portions of the memo, and are the parts in which you include all the details that support your ideas. Begin with the information that is most important. This may mean that you will start with key findings or recommendations. Start with your most general information and move to your specific or supporting facts. (Be sure to use the same format when including details: strongest to weakest.) The discussion segments include the supporting ideas, facts, and research that back up your argument in the memo. Include strong points and evidence to persuade the reader to follow your recommended actions. If this section is inadequate, the memo will not be as effective as it could be.
After the reader has absorbed all of your information, you want to close with a courteous ending that states what action you want your reader to take. Make sure you consider how the reader will benefit from the desired actions and how you can make those actions easier. For example, you might say,
"I will be glad to discuss this recommendation with you during our Tuesday trip to the spa and follow through on any decisions you make."
Refer to attached documents, lists, graphs, tables, etc.
E.g. “Attached: Several Complaints about Product, January - June 1997”
Dear Sophia: It was great talking to you on the phone the other day, and I want to confirm the arrangements we made for the fashion shoot. As we briefly discussed, the shoot will feature all of your upcoming Spring Kuku Designs collection, and we will be using the Central Park Zoo for our location. We are supplying all models, props and equipment, and we will be picking up all clothing from you on September 25 -- a list of which you will be sending me this week (as we arranged). I will call you as soon as I receive your clothing list. At that time, I would love for us to have lunch together. Looking forward to hearing from you. Yours truly, Pat Klodowsky <or insert signature> cc: Max Photo Inc. Encl: Detailed location site for shooting TO: FROM: DATE: SUBJECT: Sophia Hawkins, Fashion Director, Kuku Designs Pat Klodowsky, Editor, BeeBop Magazine September 10, 1994 Fashion shoot on October 3, 1994
To: Robert Smith,Manager From: Dina Hu, Secretary Subject: Reply to Our Inquiry for Jinhua Hams Date: June 25, 2007 There was a call for you from Chen Shengde, Assistant Manager of Jinhua Ham Company. He says they have received our inquiry about supply and price of Jinhua hams. He quotes as follows: 1. They can supply to us superior hams,packed in in standard export cardboard cartons. The quantity is five thousand metric tons. 2. The price is US $ xxx per metric ton, free alongside ship, Ningbo. 3. Two weeks after they received the letter of credit, they will send them by the first available ship to our country direct. 4. 100% by irrevocable and confirmed letter of credit to be opened in their favor through one A1 bank in Singapore and to be drawn at sight. Please call me (ext. 8970) if you have any questions.