Importance of Business Writing Skills
Why do you feel written communication skills are so important in business today?
Technology has made everyone in the workplace a writer, and writing is a highly visible skill. When you send an
email or other written communication, it is out there for people to see. It reflects on you and, if you are an
administrative professional, it also reflects on your boss, so it’s essential to get it right. Today, your reputation
and success in business are increasingly dependent on your ability to communicate well.
What’s the most common mistake you see people make when it comes to their written
communication at work?
Actually, two mistakes top the list. The first is carelessness, often because of deadlines and tight schedules. In
the rush to get out an email, too many people fail to check it for grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as
overall content. Is it clear and purposeful? Does it provide the necessary information? Is there an action item,
and is it clearly stated along with a deadline? The second error is not considering the audience. Business writers
need to think about who will see their communication and then tailor it accordingly. And always remember that
email can be forwarded, so you never know who will end up reading it.
What’s your top piece of advice to an administrative professional who wants to improve her written
Take note of well-written communications and learn from them. If you’re unsure about how to write something,
don’t make a guess and hope for the best. Resolve your questions by using a stylebook or a dictionary, which
are available both online and in print. Also remember that communication is part of your personal brand, so you
want to be as professional as possible.
More people are communicating via smartphones and tablets. What are your favorite tips for doing that
Write a descriptive subject line. Be concise. Cover all the bases. When possible, paste in the contents of
attachments so your recipient doesn’t have to download material. Don’t compromise your writing standards.
Mobile devices don’t give you license to write sloppy communication.
Nature of Business Letters
A letter is a written message sent to an individual or a group of people. It may be a
business letter or a social letter. A business letter which is the main focus is used to
transact official business; hence, its tone and style should be fromal and business like
while a social letter is a friendly letter intended to convey personal messages to people
close to the writer.
Aims of Business Letters
All business letters are classified as sales letters because no matter what the purpose is,
you still sell something to the reader. This can be a service or an idea. Hence, selling
here as implied by the word business does not only involve monetary considerations
but also another factors such as explanations, friendship, goodwill, apology, acceptance,
proposal, invitation, complaint. Suggestions, comments and others. More than these,
they serve as a part of the company’s permanent records, written documents, and
Effective Business Letters
A business letter is not effective if it is impersonal, longwinded and difficult to
understand; when the writer utilizes overused, trite phrases and expressions and an
overformal approach; when one or more of the following elements considered essential
for standard business letters are missing: heading, inside address, salutation, body,
complimentary closing and signature; and finally, when the layout that is, its visual
appeal and balance does not follow the standard one.
Typewritten Letters vs. Handwritten Letters
All business letters should be typewritten or encoded because they are easier to read and
they give the letter an official and formal look. However, there are some companies and
institutions which prefer handwritten letters specifically application letters because they
can reveal an aspect of the personality of the writer.
According to Dumont and Lannon (1985), Format is the mechanical arrangement of
words on the page: indention, margins, spacing, typeface, headings, page numbering
and division of letter sections. IT contributes to the readability and general appearance
of the letter which attract the reader to pay attention to it. It also influences reader’s
perception of the message.
Formats for Business Letter Writing
Full Block Style
All parts of the entire letter are left justified. This is considered as the most popular and
easiest of all types because the encoder no longer concerned with indentions, thus,
saving time and effort; however, this style shows an imbalanced letter. The left side
seems so full while the right side becomes barren.
Modified Block Style
The body of the letter is left justified. However, the date and complimentary close begin
near the center going to the right margin. This gives a balanced look to the letter.
Semi Block Style
It is much like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead
of left justified. It is the most balanced of all styles.
Simplified Letter Style
This style popularized by National Office Management Association (NOMA) omits the
salutation and the complimentary close; however, it has a subject line written in capital
letters. All lines are flushed at the left margin. But when there is a listing in the body,
this is indented 5 spaces from the left margin except when the items are numbered or
Writing Materials To Be Used
Our letter reflects our professionalism; hence, we have to see to it that our paper
conforms to the standards set by the society. It should be written on a 8 ½ “x 11”
stationery or bond paper. This should be white, clean, unruled, uncrumpled,
unfolded and of sufficient weight and thickness. Its surface must not be glossy to
avoid running or blurring ink. It should also be free from finger prints or other marks.
As a rule, the writing material should not show cheapness or extravagance.
For encoded letters, the widely accepted font is Times New Roman size 12. However,
other fonts such as Arial and sizes as 13 and 14 may be used depending upon the
kind of readers you have and length of the body. The ink must be sufficient to have
good result. It should be free from erasures and any other marks.
The standard size of the envelope to match the short bond paper is approximately 4’
x 9 ½ “. It has two regular parts; the outside address and the return address. They
both contain the name, title, position, agency and the address of the addressee and
the sender respectively. The outside address is in the middle of the envelope while
the return address is in the upper left hand corner. On the other hand, the special
mailing instruction is placed below the stamps.
If a business envelope with a window is used, the letter is folded in such a way the
inside address appears through the window. A window envelope has an open space or a
space covered with a transparent paper, through which the address on the letter
enclosed is visible. This is usually used for bills and statements of accounts.
Folding a Standard Letter
A business letter is folded twice into horizontal thirds and placed into an envelope. This
makes the letter easy to unfold after opening the envelope. If an envelope window is
used, the address of the letter should be face out of it by having the second fold in the
same location but opposite direction. The letter will then be folded in a Z shape.
It refers to the absence or presence of punctuation marks at the end of the lines of the
conventional heading, inside address, salutation and complimentary closing. Almost all
business letter have punctuation marks at the end of the lines of the salutation (colon)
and complimentary close (comma). If they are present, the letter is closed but if not
both present, the letter is mixed. If there are no punctuations, it is called open.
Main Parts of Business Letter
A complete and effective business letter contains all the essential parts: heading, inside
address, salutation, body, complimentary close and signature. All these arts follow their
respective positions in the letter with respect to other parts.
Margin and Spacing
The left margin is 1.5” while the right margin is 1”. This is to give space for the
fastener or the binding on the left side. The top margin is pegged at 1”; however, it
can be adjusted to achieve balance. The bottom margin is 1”. Double spacing is
observed between parts of the letter. If the body of the letter is short, it can be
It tells the source of the letter and the date it was written. IT also furnishes the
addressee of the contact information of the letter-sender especially if the letter merits
2 Kinds of Heading
When letter-senders are not connected with any agency or their letters have
nothing to do with their agency, they should make use of this kind of heading. It
contains the residential address of the writer. It makes use of 2, 3 or 4 lines, usually
three lines. For semi-block style, it is located at the right side. It begins near the center
of the paper or a little to the right of the vertical center of the page contrary to the
notion that the end-lines should follow the right margin. However, if the style is
modified or full-block, it is flushed at the left margin of the letter.
Considering the Three-Line Heading, it contains the number of the house and the name
of the street.
Contains the name of the city and the province or the town. They start with a capital
letter and a comma is used to separate the divisions.
It contains the date when the letter was written.
December 19, 2013 (American English Style)
19 December 2013(British English Style)
B. Modern Heading
It is composed of the letterhead and the dateline, this kind of heading is used
when letters have bearing with agencies concerned. It is usually contains the name of
the company, the address, the logo, telephone/fax numbers, motto, names of officials,
services offered, advertising message and others depending upon the preferences of
It contains pertinent information regarding the addressee. This includes the
name, title, position, agency, and the business address of the agency. It also serves as
an aid in case the envelope be damaged and the outside address becomes
unreadable. 3 to 4 lines are normally used. If an 8 ½ “ x 9” paper is folded in thirds to
fit in a 9” business window envelope, the inside address can appear through the
window. Nevertheless, it follows the ff pattern:
Address of the Agency
When the line is too long, its continuation may be moved to the next line with 3 to 5
indentions from the left.
Traditional Courtesy Titles
It is used to refer to either married, widower or unmarried man with no
other titles such as Dr. or Professor. Always abbreviated, this starts with a capital letter
and ends with a period.
Mr. Resty D. Lagajeet
Mr. Eduardo B. Balubal
In the early 17th century, this referred to the contraction of the word mistress
which originated from old French “Maistresse”, the feminine counterpart of “Maister”
which means master. Since the word mistress has a different connotation now which is
no longer applicable for Mrs., mistress can no longer be used as its meaning; hence, it
is used not to refer to widows and married ladies.
Mrs. Rose G. Sacayanan
Mrs. Fernie W. Carreon
If you want to include the maiden name of the addressee, put a hyphen between the
maiden and married names.
Mrs. Haidee Perez-Centeno
Mrs. Lerma Baptista-Egipto
This is used to designate unmarried ladies and popular personalities
Miss Eden Corsino
Miss Sharon Cuneta
This title is used when the sender does not know or is not sure of the marital
status as well as the professional status of the female addressee who does not have a
This is used to refer to instructors who have already reached the rank professor
Prof. Janeth D. Palma
This is used to refer to politicians who hold or who held key positions in the
Hon. Randy R. Ting
The Honorable Randy R. Ting
This can be used to refer to persons who finished doctorate degrees in any
branch of studies. This includes Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor in
Public Administration and others.
Dr. Benedicta H. Cumagun
Mrs. Benedicta H. Cumagun, Ph.D.
This title is used to refer to a minister, priest or a rector.
Rev. Diosdado F. Talamyan
The Reverend Diosdado F. Talamyan
Addressing Married Couples
If the letter is addressed to a married couple,
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Gamos
Dr. Jaime and Mrs. Haidee Centeno
Dr. and Mrs. Joel Egipto
Dr. Benedicta and Mr. Bernardino Cumagun
Drs. Benedicta and Benedicto Cumagun
Other Points to Remember
It is adviseable on the part of the lady-sender to indicate her marital status in
brackets before her typewritten or printed signature to enable the addressee know the
proper title to be used in the inside address of the response-letter.
When the abbreviation Jr and Sr follow the name,
Alejo Cue Jr.
Alejo Cue, Jr.
When attention line is used, the inside address bears no specific name of
Attn: Mr. Adarito Corsino
If the addressee hold concurrent positions in an organization, the title of the
higher nature should be taken.
Dr. Liduvina C. Reyes, CESO III
Vice President for Academic Affairs
College of the East
If there are more than one addressee, the names are written in alphabetical
order, according to position or rank or seniority.
Mrs. Chona S. Agustin
Miss Grace D. Cajayon
Mr. Edward H. Caldez
College of Liberal Arts and
Cyril Colleges of the North
Tuguegarao City, Cagayan
The article “The” is included in the name of the organization if it is really a part
of the name, however, if it is not, it should not be written.
In cases when the address of the addressee is unknown and the writer wishes to
request a third party to receive the letter, then the abbreviation of “Care of” (c/o) can be
used on the second line.
Mrs. Haidee P. Centeno
c/o Miss Grace Ayonayon
116 Rizal Street
Tuguegarao City, Cagayan
This part is traditionally known to be thee greeting of the letter. IT is similar to saying hi,
hello or good morning.
Most Formal Salutations
My dear Sir, My dear Madam
Less Formal Salutations
My Dear Mr. Ancheta
Dear Dr. Tamacay
Friendly or Intimate Salutations
My Dear Grace
The choice of the slautation depends upon the relationship of the letter-sender
to the addressee. The salutation “Sir” should be reserved for official and military letters
and for those who holds a high position than the writer.
When using Messieurs (Messrs.) Misses or Mesdames (Mmes.) in the salutation, first
names must not be included.
Messri. Cauilan, Edillo and Villanueva
If the letter is addressed to an agency having almost the same number of males and
females, “Ladies and Gentlemen” should be used.
If the addressee’s gender is not known, use a nonsexiest salutation such as “To Whom it
May Concern”, “Dear Manager”, “Dear Director”. Since this is extremely impersonal, this
should be avoided.
Slautations like “ To Our Customers” “Dear Customers” are only good for form letters of
announcements to a group of people.
This is the most important part of the letter for it carries the message or the main text
of the sender to the addressee. It should be made clear, concise, complete and
concrete. It should be readily understandable. Its grammar, punctuation marks and
word choice should be correct since this contribute to the clarity of the message.
Double spacing or single spacing can be used for lines within the paragraphs. If the
body is short, double spacing
Sentences in all paragraphs should be complete. Participial endings such as the
following should not be used:
Hoping for your kind consideration
Anticipating for your approval
Expecting for your favorable response
This is similar to saying goodbye. It should jibe with the salutation in terms of tone
either most formal or formal, less formal or friendly.
Dear Mr. Anghad: Very truly yours
Dear Mr. Orel:
Respectfully yours and Yours respectfully are used only to address politicians occupying
key positions in the government and when letter are highly formal.
This refers to the handwritten/typewritten signatures of the sender. Hence, in most
cases, it occupies two lines. However, it sometimes includes the position of the
sender, the agency and the contact number when there are not specified in the
LERMA B. EGIPTO/Lerma B. Egipto
Human Resource Manager
Cagayan Colleges Tuguegarao
This part of letter is used to authenticate the statements in the body; that these
came from the volition of the sender, thus, taking responsibility of all these, hence,
When the real sigantory is out leaving a letter unsigned and the letter need an
immediate attention, the writer or any person next in rank can affix his signature on
top of the printed name after placing “for” before the name or “By direction” in the
first line implying that a superior is authorizing the person to sign on his behalf.
For: Joel L. Egipto
By Direction: Joel L. Egipto
Optional Parts of a Business Letter
This line is used when you want your letter to be taken care of by a particular person in an
agency or you want the organization to respond even if the person you write to is
unavailable. It is written two spaces below or above the salutation. It ideally end with a
Attn: Miss Grace S. Ajayon
Attention: Miss Grace S. Ajayon, College Instructor
If a letter has to pass through to an office within an organization for recommendation or
endorsement purposes, the “through” line can be used. This is written two spaces below
the last line of the inside address and is preceded by the word “Through” ended with a
JOEY TANG COLLEGE
San Fernando, Pampanga
November 20, 2013
Mr. Adarito V. Corsino
Through: Mrs. Gregoria F. Gocal
Dean, College of Arts
To be continued…
Egipto, J.J. L. Ph.D. (2011).Writing business letters. Metro Manila. REX Book Store