Letter Writing andReports and ProposalsIntroduction • Writing good business letters is an art that all technical people should master. • when writing a business letter, the writer produces a one-sided conversation with the reader in the sense that he/she has to anticipate the readers questions and provide answers to those questions.What is a Business Letter? • A business letter is a letter written in formal language, usually used when writing from one business organization to another, or for correspondence between such organizations and their customers, clients and other external parties.Functions of the Business Letter 1. It provides a record of the activity for someones file. 2. It allows the writer to provide more context or explanation than is usually possible on a form. 3. It helps the audience( reader ) remember what is to be done. • Why write one? • Written to give information • Written to serve as evidence in cases of dispute • Written to build goodwill • Written to remember facts • Written because they are convenient • To Whom is one written? • What should be in one? • What is proper format?How Business Letters are Organized • Business letters are more personal than most other forms of technical writing. • They emphasize the reader/writer relationship by the use of such pronouns as I, we, and You.
• Business letters share some organizational features with technical reports. They need to: orient the reader to the topic at hand, explain why the writer is writing, provide enough information to help the reader understand what he/she is to do. • To be able to provide this information, you need to generate ideas, analyze your audience, decide what you need to say, and define your problem.What are the types of Business Letters?Formal Business • May or May not be typed on Letterhead – Letterhead • Already contains your return address • You don’t retype itTypes of Business Letters • Letter of Transmittal • Letter of Inquiry • Claim/Complaint Letter • Good News Letter • Bad News Letter • Letter of Application • Many othersLetter of Transmittal • Most examples of this letter type will contain three short paragraphs. • The first paragraph will state WHAT is being transmitted and WHY it is being transmitted. • The middle paragraph will DESCRIBE in moderate detail the item being transmitted; for example, if a report is being transmitted, the description would include the major sections of the report and its major conclusion(s).
• The final paragraph will express HOPE FOR SATISFACTION with whatever is being transmitted. • Modified block with indentions is the usual format for this type of letter. ALWAYS include an enclosure notation.Letter of Inquiry • Most examples of this letter type contain three short paragraphs. • The first paragraph specifies the SUBJECT of the inquiry and indicates WHY the inquiry is being made. • The middle paragraph lists the specific items or questions that the letter writer wants or wants answered; usually the items or questions are presented in bulleted list form. • The last paragraph tactfully indicates a deadline by which the items being requested or the answers to questions need to be supplied. • Usually modified block with indentions format is used with this letter type.Claim/Complaint Letter • Most examples of this letter type contain three short paragraphs. • The opening paragraph states the PROBLEM that the letter writer has encountered and makes a specific CLAIM that will correct the problem. • The next longish paragraph narrates the sequence of events involved in the creation of the problem, and it describes the problem in detail. Dates, serial numbers, and other factual data are the heart of this paragraph. • The last paragraph tactfully requests timely correction of the problem. • Usually modified block with indentions format is used with this letter type.Good News Letter • Most examples of this letter type contain three short paragraphs. • The first paragraph makes the “GRANT,” that is, the solution to the problem/complaint that the complainer has requested. • The next longish paragraph explains in detail how the problem arose in order, if possible, to show that is was not a result of bad faith or business practice on the part of the company. • The last paragraph HOPES FOR SATISFACTION on the part of the complainer regarding the solution that has been offered.
• Usually modified block or modified block with indentions format is used with this letter type.Bad News Letter • Letters of this type may contain three or more than three paragraphs, depending on the degree of detail that is presented. • The opening paragraph is usually short and neutral with regard to the issue (i.e., We received your letter of August 29, 2007, in which you . . .). • The middle paragraph(s) explains in detail the upcoming bad news, but does not actually state the bad news (i.e., we cannot comply with your request to solve the problem) until near, but not at, the end of the paragraph: i.e., “bury” the bad news. • The last paragraph returns to a neutral topic. • Full block format is usually used with this letter type.Letter of Application • This letter usually has three or four paragraphs. • The opening paragraph states the specific POSITION for which you are applying; if possible, it indicates how you gained knowledge about the position. • The middle paragraphs discuss the specific QUALIFICIATIONS you possess that make you a good candidate for the job; you should mention your resume near the beginning of the first of these paragraphs • The last paragraph REQUESTS AN INTERVIEW at the convenience of the company. • Modified block with indentions is the usual format for letters of this type. ALWAYS include an enclosure notation.Suggestions for Letter of Application • Make it one page long. • Proofread the letter of application and resume VERY carefully; let there be NO mistakes in them. • Make every effort to mail the application letter to a specific person in the company; if need be, make a call to find out the name of the person to whom to mail the letter and resume. • Mail the letter and resume in an envelope that is large enough that the letter and resume do not need to be folded.
• A day or two before the deadline for sending in the letter of application, call the company and verify that the letter has been received.What are the Required Parts of a Business Letter? • Letterhead or Heading • Dateline • Inside Address • Salutation • Body • Complimentary Closing • Signature • Typists Initials • Optional: – Enclosure – AttachmentWhat’s in The Heading (yourinformation) • Single Spaced – followed by four lines • Always includes the date – As the last entry • Business Letter (no letterhead) – Your return address • Only abbreviation is Postal Code - NJ – May include Phone#, Fax#, Email@ – Date • Formal Business Letter (on letterhead) – Date only
What is the Inside Address (addressee’sinformation) • Person’s Name, Title • Company Name/Department • Company Address • Single Spaced – Followed by one blank lines (Enter Key twice) • What is the Salutation? (a greeting)Dear Mr. Sloan • Dear Dr. Smith • Dear Ms. Jones • Gentlemen • Dear Sir or MadamWhat is the Body? (The actual letter) • Brief and to the point! – Strictly Business • Guideline – 3 paragraphs (at least) – Brief Introduction – Contents - What I want – Conclusion and Thank you • Each paragraph: – Single Spaced – Followed by one blank lines (Enter Key twice) • Complimentary Close • Sincerely
• Yours truly, • Respectfully yours, • Followed by three lines (Enter Key 4 times) – After printing you will sign the letter hereSignature • Your Full Name – Mrs. Regina Sikorski • Your Title (if appropriate) – Computer Club Moderator • Followed by one lines (Enter Key twice) – If optional parts are requiredOptional Parts • Typist Initials – If your secretary typed this for you – RES/js • Enclosure – If something else is in the letter or package – Followed by one lines (Enter Key twice)What are acceptable formats for a Business Letter? • Block – All parts are Left Justified to the margin • Modified Block – All parts Left aligned – Heading, Close, Signature at tab position 3.25 – Indentation – choose either
• No paragraph indentation • All paragraphs first line indent .5What are acceptable punctuation styles for a Business Letter? • Open – No punctuation after • Salutation or Complimentary Closing – Dear Mrs. Smith – Respectfully yours • Mixed – Punctuation after • Colon (:) after Salutation – Dear Sir: • Comma (,) after Complimentary Closing – Sincerely,
Example: Block/mixed punctuation Software Connections 1551 Riverwalk Pensacola, FL 32507 (904) 555-4422November 3, 2009Mrs. Edith NealPensacola High School719 Vista BoulevardPensacola, FL 32501Dear Mrs. Neal:Are you and your business students in a midyear slump? Do your classes need energizing?Software Connection has the solution to your problem.On Friday, November 20, Software Connection is sponsoring a Soft-A-Wareness seminar forlocal schools. Students will have an opportunity for hands-on experience with the latest businesssoftware. Professional programmers will be available to answer technical and career questions.Drawings for free software will be held every hour—and a free lunch will be served to allseminar guests.Make plans now to attend. Simply indicate on the enclosed postage-free card how many studentsyou will be bringing, and mail it by November 6. We will do the rest!Sincerely,Erin HigginsPresidentslsEnclosure
Basic Letter Formats • There are three common formats for the business letter:1. The unblocked format.2. The semi-blocked format 3. The blocked format. 4. The AMS simplified letter format.The unblocked format The first line of the paragraph is indented a few spaces The writers address, the date, the closing, the writers signature , and the typed version of the writers name and job title are indented two thirds of the way across the page.
The semi-blocked format The first line of the paragraph is lined up with the left margin There is an extra blank line between paragraphs to signal the start of a new paragraph. The writers address, date, closing, and signature are indented as in the unblocked format.
The blocked format The first lines of paragraphs and all the other address, date, closing and signature information are lined up with the left margin. There is an extra blank line between paragraphs.
The AMS simplified letter format • Sometimes, the writer does not know the name or marital status of the reader. As a result, he/she will have a problem writing a salutation Dear……..). This has given rise to a new letter format called the AMS simplified letter format. • In this format, the salutation is omitted. • The subject line replaces the salutation and is typed in all capital letters. • In other respects, this format resembles the blocked format, with every line beginning from the left margin.( see figure 11-19. p. 219).
The Use of Letterhead Stationery • When a writer is representing a company or organization, he/she should use the organizations letterhead stationery for correspondences with people outside the organization. • When using letterhead, the location of the writers address, city, state will be changed.( see figure 11-1. p. 209) • These are usually given in the letterhead typed at the top of the page. • If a letter requires more than one page, the additional pages are called continuation pages are typed on plain paper, not letterhead.
THE PURPOSE OF REPORTSReports are an effort to convey information. Written reports are especially useful to present complexinformation in a way that facilitates problem solving and decision making. Written reports arenecessary under three circumstances: 1. When the person who must make the decision is too far removed-either in distance ortechnical expertise-from a particular operation to observe it directly or accurately. 2. When an organization will need to retain particular information for comparative studies orfuture reference.3. When a particular situation is so complex that it requires careful analysis by one or more persons. The main purpose of a business report, then, is to convey information from persons in a position toobserve a situation directly to the persons responsible for making a decision based on thoseobservations.or ………….. Convey information
Assist decision-making Solve a business problem Record historical informationFunctions of ReportsThere are Two Types of Business Reports 1. Information reportsAre written to present data without analyses or recommendations. • Examples: – Trip reports – Compliance reports2. Analytical reportsProvide data analyses and conclusions on the issue that the writer has been asked to investigate.
Such reports often provide recommendations for the readers to consider, but only on request. • Examples – Feasibility reports – Justification or recommendation reports – Yardstick reports
Typical Informational ReportsPeriodic or activity reportsDescribe production, sales, shipping, service, and other recurring activities.Trip, convention, conference reportsDescribe an event, summarize three to five main points of interest, itemize expenses, and analyze theevent’s value.Typical Informational ReportsProgress and interim reportsExplain continuing projects including work completed, work in progress, future activities, andcompletion date.Investigative reports
Examine problems and supply facts; provide little analysis.Informational Report ContentIntroduction Identify the report and its purpose. Present a brief overview of the report’s organization, especially for longer reports. When readers are unfamiliar with the topic, briefly fill in the background details.Informational Report ContentBody Group facts or findings into three to five roughly equal segments that do not overlap. Organize by time, component, importance, criteria, convention, or some other method. Supply functional or talking heads (at least one per page) to describe each section. Use an informal, conversational writing style unless a formal tone is expected. Use bullets, numbered and lettered lists, headings, underlined items, and white space to enhance readability.Informational Report ContentSummary/Conclusion When necessary, briefly review the main points and discuss what action will follow. If relevant, express appreciation or describe your willingness to provide further information. Analytical Report Content Introduction Explain why the report is being written. For research studies, include the significance, scope, limitations, and methodology of the investigation. Preview the report’s organization. Summarize the conclusions and recommendations for receptive audiences.
Analytical Report Content Findings Discuss the pros and cons of each alternative. For receptive audiences, consider placing the recommended alternative last. Establish criteria to evaluate alternatives. In “yardstick” studies create criteria to use in measuring each alternative consistently. Support the findings with evidence: facts, statistics, expert opinion, survey data, and other proof. Use headings, enumerations, lists, tables, and graphics to focus emphasis. Conclusions/Recommendations Develop reasonable conclusions that answer the research question. Justify the conclusions with highlights from the findings. Make recommendations, if asked. Use action verbs. Explain needed action. Typical Short Analytical Reports Justification/recommendation reports Make recommendations to management; provide data to solve problems and make decisions. Feasibility reports Analyze problems and predict whether alternatives will be practical or advisable. Yardstick reportsApplying the Writing Process to ReportsIn Seven Steps1 Analyze the problem and purpose. 2 Anticipate the audience and issues. 3 Prepare a work plan. 4 Research the data. 5 Organize, analyze, interpret, illustrate the data. 6 Compose the first draft. 7 Revise, proofread, and evaluate.
Helping the Reader• Organizing Information• Using Headings• Interpreting DataOrganizing InformationReader comprehension, not writer convenience, should govern report organization. Possiblemethods:TimeArrange data by chronology: e.g., 2006, 2007, 2008.ComponentArrange data by classifications: location, geography, division, product, or part. A report discussingcompany profits could be organized by each product. Organizing InformationImportanceOrder data from most important to least important, or vice versa.CriteriaArrange data by evaluative categories. In a report comparing fax equipment, organize by suchareas as price, warranty, speed, print quality, etc.ConventionOrganize data according to prescribed categories. Proposals, for example, are organized by staff,budget, schedule, and so forth.Structural Cues for ReportsIntroductions Discuss purpose and significance of report. Preview main points and order of development. Transitions however
on the contrary therefore moreoverStructural Cues for ReportsHeadings Write short but clear headings. Experiment with wording that tells who, what, when, where, and why. Include at least one heading per report page.Structural Cues for ReportsHeadingsBalance headings within levels. All headings at a given level should be grammatically similar. Forexample:Creating Team MotivationTreating Employees Like Customers(not Employees Should Be Treated Like Customers)Structural Cues for ReportsHeadingsIntegrate heading gracefully. Try not to repeat the exact wording from the heading in thefollowing sentence. Also avoid using the heading as an antecedent to a pronoun.For example, avoid: CUSTOMER SURVEYS. These are…REPORT, CHAPTER, AND PART TITLESThe title of a report, chapter heading, or major part should be centered in all caps.First-Level Subheading
Headings indicating the first level of division are centered and bolded. Whether a report is single-spaced or double-spaced, most writers triple-space (leaving two blank lines) before and double-space (leaving one blank line) after a first-level heading.Second-Level SubheadingHeadings that divide topics introduced by first-level subheadings are bolded and begin at the leftmargin.Third-level subheading.Because it is part of the paragraph that follows, a third-level subheading is also called a paragraphsubheading. It should appear in boldface print.Interpreting DataYou are looking for Meanings Relationships Answers!Interpreting DataDevices for tabulating and analyzing data• Table - systematic columns and rows• The Three Ms Mean - arithmetic average Median - middle point in a range of values Mode - most frequent valueInterpreting Data• Correlation - relationships between variables• Grid - boxes of rows and columns to sort data• Decision matrix – grid that allows comparison among weighted criteria• Mean, Median, Mode• Mean: Average value
• Median: Middle point in range of values• Mode: Most frequent value
PROPOSALS Proposals• Communicate what you plan to do or offer• Explain how you will implement what you propose• Convince potential customers that you can beat the competition• Stress unique qualifications of your organizationOften stand alone in selling your solution or servicesTwo Purposes• Commercial proposal: Sell a specific product or solution to meet a particular need• Qualification proposal: Attempts to demonstrate that you can devise and implement steps to an effective solutionClassifications
• Internal vs. external• Solicited versus unsolicited• Oral versus writtenForms of Proposals• Letter proposals• Preliminary proposals• Detailed proposals• Oral proposals• Thesis or dissertation proposalPlanning the Proposal1. Screening2. Creating a capture plan3. Formulating solution and implementation strategies4. Budgeting and scheduling the proposal effort1. Screening• Should your company consider competing for the job?• Is your company capable of doing the work?• Will this job enhance your reputation?• What are your chances of winning?• What is the total value of the project or sale to your company?2. Creating a Capture Plan Customer Analysis• Problem identification• Needs analysis• Customer‟s previous procurement background
• Proposal evaluator3. Creating a Capture Plan Situational Analysis• Competitor analysis• Internal analysis• Theme development4. Formulating Strategies: Technical strategy Management strategy Cost strategy or estimate The Proposal Writing Process• Be persuasive• Write effectively• Use graphical appeal Proposal Format• Cover
• Executive summary • Introduction • Need or problem statement • Technical solution or methodology • Management profiles • Budget • Conclusion and recommendations • Bibliography • Appendices Finishing the Proposal • Package your proposal professionally • Evaluate your proposal in light of the RFP or IFB • Be attentive to details • Be prepared to present the proposal orally Thesis Proposals • Problem statement • Hypothesis or research questions • Literature review • Methodology • Anticipated results • Statistical analysis of data • Expected value or implementation MEMOS The Business Memo • The memorandum, usually called a memo, is a common form of internal communication in business and academia. Memos have many purposes, including informing employees, giving directions, outlining procedures, requesting data, supplying responses, and confirming decisions. But essentially there are three basic reasons to write a memo: • To persuade to action (we should do this) • To issue a directive (do this) • To provide a report (here‟s what was done, or here‟s what we found out)Every good memo includes: • A clear statement of purpose, stated upfront: I am writing because . . . • Information about what the reader needs to know: The facts are . . . • Statement of any action requested, ordered, or undertaken: I will, or I propose that you . . . General points to remember
• Audience: Write for your audience and give them what they need: What is their education, background, company status? What do they need to know to understand and act upon your memo?• Informative subject line: Be upfront as to what the memo is about.• Length: A memo is usually no more than one page long.• Coherent: Keep the memo structure simple and logical. The memo should focus on communicating about one problem or issue, and each paragraph in the memo should focus on one idea.• Concise: Check for needless words. Keep the memo to one page or less, and use attachments or separate summaries for additional information.• Common language: Use accessible language, favoring clear, direct, simple words over the showy and fancy. Be specific, not general; concrete, not abstract.• Factual Tone: Use a neutral or positive tone where applicable; avoid emotionally- charged words. Strive for a professional, „business-like‟ voice.• Formatting: Follow standard guidelines for hard-copy memos. • Use an easy-to-read 12-point font. • Margins should be 1 inch all around (some memos use 1.25 inch margins), left justified. • Leave a 1.5 inch margin at the top (unless using letterhead), and type the word MEMORANDUM, bolded and centered on the first line. Double-space to begin the memo. • Paragraphs are block-style (first line not indented) and single spaced. • Dont use an opening salutation or a complementary close. • Dont sign a memo at the bottom. Add your initials beside your name in the heading. This indicates that you have read and approved the memo. Standard Memo Format: Heading, Opening, Body, and Closing• HEADING: The heading follows this general format (double-spaced): To: (readers‟ names and job titles) From: (your name and job title, and your hand-written initials next to your name) Date: (complete, current date) Subject: (what the memo is about, the main idea of the memo summarized)• The subject line serves a similar function as a title to an essay: it should tell your reader what you‟re writing about in clear terms and in few words.• For example, "Clothes" could mean anything from ties and jackets are required in the workplace to the institution of causal Friday. If the subject line reads, “Office Party Dress Code,” the subject is clear. OPENING: The opening segment of the memo makes the purpose of the memo clear.• The first sentence or two functions much like the thesis statement of an essay, stating the main point and purpose of the memo, and what you want the readers to know or act upon.• The opening should be brief, the length of a short paragraph. Use language and key words that alert reader to your subject and purpose.
• For example, “In response to your request for suggestions about X, I propose….” Or, “After investigating X, I suggest that the company do Z….”.• BODY: The body of the memo, like the body of an essay, develops the main point stated in the opening.• It includes information about the event, circumstance, or problem being addressed.• It also provides justification for actions or policies undertaken, requested, or recommended.• Organize material in the body logically, usually in two to four short paragraphs. Present your information in order of importance (most to least important) or by enumerating items (first, second, third).• Use graphic devices such as bulleted lists, headings, columns, bolded text, white space and other methods that make the information easy to scan and comprehend.• Each paragraph within the body of the memo should be short, no more than eight or so printed lines, and it should focus on a single idea expressed in a main sentence.• When you include supporting information from a source, use language cues that tell your reader you are referring to source information:• E.g. “According to my investigations,” or “Market research completed by the Orion firm has found that. . . ”. This is called using a signal phrase to introduce your supporting evidence and attribute it to its source.• CLOSING:• The closing segment should be a brief, courteous ending to your memo.• It usually presents information about actions taken or requested, relevant dates and deadlines.• If no action is requested, it may offer instead a simple closing thought.• Examples: “I would be glad to meet with you about this on . . . .” ; “Thank you for your attention to this matter.” ; “Please review this information and respond to me by . . . .”.• ATTACHMENTS:• If you attach any documents, lists, graphs, tables, etc. to your memo, add a notation at the end of the memo about what is attached, placed below the closing.• Any attached materials should also be referred to in the body of the memo. Types of memosMost business memos are written for one of three purposes:• Persuading readers to do something• Communicating a directive• Providing technical information1. Persuasive Memo Example