At some point in life, almost everyone will feel the need to write business correspondence. Whether the letter is to close a business deal or complain about defective merchandise, there are at least ten components to every business letter. Here they are in brief outline form:
- Sender’s address: You have two choices here. Most word processors have letterhead templates. Consider creating your own letterhead and storing it as a separate document. In the alternative, your name and address should be the first item that appears on the paper. When you use this format, do not include your name. That and your title are reserved for the bottom of the letter.
- Date: The sender’s address is followed by the date the letter is sent, not to be confused with the date that it is authored. This allows both the sender and the recipient to understand the date the correspondence was effectuated.
- Recipient’s address: Use this portion of your letter to identify the name and address of the person/persons for whom the correspondence is intended. Make sure to include any known job titles as a professional courtesy. For example, Joseph Smith, Chief Bottle washer.
- Subject matter: Include a brief line that also includes names and file numbers, if appropriate.
- Salutation: Professional correspondence is considered a formal method of communication. Unless you have an extremely personal relationship with the person you are writing to, avoid using first names. Use titles: Dear Dr. Smith, Mr. Smith, Ms. Smith, etc. To Whom It May Concern and Dear Sirs/Madames are also appropriate salutations in instances where you have not identified the specific recipient.
- Body of the Letter: The first paragraph of your letter should sum up the basis for your correspondence. Be concise and to the point. The content of this paragraph is what encourages the reader to move on. Be conscious of the fact that a businessperson may merely skim through your letter. In the paragraphs that follow, dig deeper into your concerns and expand on the reason for your correspondence.
- Closing Paragraph: Your closing paragraph should be a call to action. Provide someone with a solution they can give to your issues. Ask for the sale or the job. Sum up the problem.
- Say Thank You: Even in the worst situations, it is common courtesy to thank someone for reading your letter. If you are asking for something in particular, consider this phrase: “Thank you for consideration.”’
- Close: Choose from an assortment of closing, such as “Sincerely” or“Very truly yours”. Go down three spaces and type your name. Under your name, you may place your title, if appropriate.
- Enclosure and copies: In years past, letters were typed on typewriters, with carbon paper in between pages. A cc: on a letter indicates a copy of the correspondence was issued to someone else. Even without carbon paper, there should be this notation to indicate copies were sent to other parties. Also, identify any enclosures to the letter, so the recipient is aware of their existence.
Writefully Inspired prepares a multitude of both professional and personal correspondence. We can help you prepare one letter or a bank of them. Contact us for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908 925-0167.