How to Write an Excellent Business Letter

How to Write an Excellent Business Letter

By Jean Taylor
Although the layout of a letter is important and familiarity with the standard layout helps us to get down to work quickly and methodically, the actual letter we write is the most important activity. We have to say what we want to say as clearly and concisely as possible. If this is the first letter we have written on the matter, we want to start with the maximum impact. If it is one in a chain of letters, we want to recall to our correspondent's mind all that has gone before and update him/her by a further piece or pieces of information.
It is advisable before starting the letter to jot down the points to be made and to number them so they are in the best order. If the letter is to be dictated, it is particularly important to be well-organized, with all the bits of information you need to dictate. A secretary will not be impressed by an executive who does not know the surname of the correspondent, or his/her initials, or the address, and who hesitates over the dictation, searching for odd scraps of paper in pockets, handbags, etc. If dictation is to a machine, the machine has to be told everything, so that the audio-typist can get on with the letter without delay. While a secretary can perhaps look at past correspondence for missing details, the audio-typist is remote from the scene of operations and possibly in a completely different building.
The opening paragraph
The opening paragraph tends to be short and often continues the greeting begun in the salutation if we are on familiar terms with our correspondent. In more formal situations it outlines the subject matter of the letter, reinforcing the subject-heading. It may refer to earlier correspondence, and it always sets the tone of the letter. Thus a letter was intended to make the strongest possible protest about the products or services supplied by the correspondent would not begin in a light-hearted way, but would start seriously and formally. By contrast, a letter acknowledging a large order and anticipating a long and fruitful course of dealings with a customer would begin pleasantly and keep a friendly tone throughout.
The main subject matter
The body of the letter would consist of one or more paragraphs, each dealing with a topic that is an element in the subject matter to be dealt with. Paragraphs should not be too long, unless the subject matter is particularly serious and can sustain the reader's interest because of its urgent nature. If a series of important points is being made, they may be listed (a), (b), (c), etc,. Or if they have a paragraph each, the paragraphs may be numbered. It is in this part of the letter that the writer must explain what he/she feels about the matter, and what he/she feels the next step should be. If detailed recommendations are being made, they may be listed in the final paragraph so that the correspondent can deal with them item by item. Generally speaking, a final paragraph that shows the way ahead (even if the best way ahead is to do nothing) leaves your correspondent with a clear guideline for the future.
Jean Taylor More FREE sample business letters visit
http://www.101businessletter.com
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