2 Definition of a Business Letter The business letter is the basic means of communication between two companies, or two parties (one of them being a professional).Most business letters have a formal tone.Because a business letter is communication from one person to another, a letter must convey a courteous, positive tone.Because you generally send business letters to professionals, always include a formal salutation and closing.
3 Purpose of a Business Letter You will write business letters to inform readers of specific information.However, you might also write a business letter to persuade others to take action or to propose your ideas.Writing business letters is like any other document:First you must analyze your audience and determine your purpose.Then you gather information, create an outline, write a draft, and revise it.The key to writing business letters is to get to the point as quickly as possible and to present your information clearly.
4 Audience AnalysisWriting a business letter is like any other type of technical communication.First you have to analyze your audience and determine your purpose.The typical audience is other professionals.These audiences generally require you provide a detailed (yet brief) background about your purpose.
5 Audience Analysis (cont’d) As a student, you may have to write business letters to your instructor, classmates, or colleges.When composing academic business letters, consider what this audience already knows about the subject.For example, if you are writing a business letter to accompany a paper, does your audience already know what the paper is about?What further information do they require?Will you require anything from them as a result of this communication?
6 General FormatBecause a business letter is an effective way to communicate a message, its format should allow readers to quickly grasp information.Information should stand out to readers as they scan the document.Remember, a business letter reflects your professionalism.
7 Return AddressReaders should always be able to quickly locate your contact information.This information is located at the top of the business letter in the return address.This includes:NameAddressPhone number (optional)
8 Inside AddressAfter the return address, you should double space and include the inside address.The inside address is your reader’s full address.This includes the reader’s:NamePositionOrganization (as the company calls itself)Complete mailing address
9 Inside Address (cont’d) If your reader has a courtesy title, such as Professor or Dr., then use it.Otherwise use Mr. or Ms., unless you know the reader prefers Miss or Mrs.Dr. I.M. Reading, ProfessorICU Technical CollegeChicago, IL 60624After the inside address, double space and include the date of the letter.
10 SalutationA business letter should always include a salutation (a greeting).This is to whom the letter is addressed.Salutations add a personal touch to your letter.You should also use a colon rather than a comma because a colon is more professional than a comma.Dear Dr. Reading:Dear Sir or Madam:Put the salutation two lines below the date.The traditional salutation is “Dear” followed by the reader’s courtesy title and last name
11 BodyThe body of a business letter is typically single-spaced and has three paragraphs:Introductory paragraphOne or more body paragraphsConcluding paragraphLike essays written for a college course, a business letter introduces one main idea and then supports this idea.At the end of the letter, always include a way for your readers to contact you.Close the letter with a thank you (i.e. “Thank you for your prompt help…”)
12 Complimentary Close and Signature Business letters should end with a closing, such as:Sincerely,Cordially,Best regards,Yours very truly,Capitalize only the first word in the complimentary close, and follow all phrases with a comma.Include 4 spaces and type (or print) your full name and title.Sign the letter between the closing and the typed (or printed) name and title.
13 Tips Keep the letter brief and to the point. Do not use shortened verb forms – write them outi.e. “do not” instead of “don’t”
14 First ParagraphThe first paragraph of a typical business letter is used to state the main point of the letter.Begin with a friendly opening; then quickly transition into the purpose of the letter.Use a couple of sentences to explain the purpose, but do not go into detail until the next paragraph
15 Second ParagraphBeginning with the second paragraph, state the supporting details to justify your purpose.These details may take form of background information, statistics or first-hand accounts.A few short paragraphs within the body of the letter should be enough to support your reasoning.
16 Closing ParagraphFinally, in the closing paragraph, briefly restate your purpose and why it is important.If the purpose of your letter is applying to a school or for a scholarship, consider ending your letter with your contact information.However, if the purpose is informational, think about closing with gratitude for the reader’s time.