With the advent of modern technology, the value of a handwritten letter has been significantly reduced. Email is simply cheaper, more efficient, and less prone to potential mishaps through the delivery process. This is true in business as well; anyone running a business likely has little time to be sending and receiving snail mail, especially when the much simpler alternative is readily available. However, while classic paper letters have fallen out of favour, the proper way of constructing a business letter has not. Even when using email, there is a certain format that should be exercised for business correspondence, for the sake of both professionalism and clarity.
1. The Value of an Impression
Like anything you or your business produces, a business letter is a representation of who you are and what you do. That being the case, you want any correspondence you write to exude professionalism and quality. This, of course, includes the quality of your actual writing and execution, but a reader’s first impression will come solely from the visual aspect of your business letter. How it looks will immediately set their expectation for its value. For this reason, you should always choose a professional letterhead design for your correspondence. Thankfully, this is as simple as browsing through the many templates available to you online, or on the app of your choice. Xerox.com is an excellent place to find many professional templates.
2. Standard is Preferable
Many students feel the need to be creative or original when it comes to assignments, but the fact of the matter is that certain guidelines are considered standard for a reason. From scholastic papers to business letters, standardized formats are preferred because they are often simple and understandable. Business letters, of course, have their own standard format, called the ‘block style,’ in which the whole of the letter’s text is justified left. The letter should be single-spaced, with the exception of double-spacing between paragraphs, and the margins should be one inch on all sides. These are the typical settings of most word processing programs, though many programs possess formatting tools to assist further.
3. The Critical Parts
Every business letter should possess the following parts in the following order:
- Date: Should be in a month, day, year format, such as October 7, 2018
- Sender’s Address: Include only if the letterhead design you chose does not already list this. A sender’s address should include your company email and physical address, so the individual you are corresponding with can reply without trouble.
- Inside Address: List your personal address and email here so the recipient may get in contact with you. Be sure to use your full name.
- Salutation: As this is a professional letter, you should use a colon after the recipient’s name rather than a comma.
- Body Text: Immediately state the purpose of your letter, and establish any connection or relationship you have to the recipient if one currently exists. If you are addressing some sort of problem, be sure to thoroughly outline the solution to your recipient and assure them that the situation can be handled. What is written in the body of your letter will naturally change depending on the purpose of the letter, but always be clear, concise, and straightforward.
- Closing or Call to Action: As before, the purpose of your letter will affect the content of your closing paragraph. If the purpose of the letter was simply to inform the recipient of something, you will likely not require anything other than a standard farewell. However, if the letter is addressing an issue, the closing paragraph should be used to inform the recipient of what actions they will need to take, as well as what actions your business will take, to rectify the problem.
- Signature Block: Sign your letter in black or blue ink.
- Enclosures: If applicable
- Carbon Copy: If additional copies are going to be sent to other recipients
This is not the only acceptable format for a business letter, but it is one that covers all the bases and details that are wise to include in one.
4. The General Tone
While there are many specific parts of a business letter you need to include, there is an overall atmosphere and tone that needs to be applied as well. As stated previously, one of the most valued aspects of a business letter is conciseness. There is no need to be evocative or emotional. The purpose of a business letter is to convey information to the recipient in a clear manner, so you should avoid unnecessary additions when possible.
Furthermore, execution is critical. Nothing will derail the professionalism of a business letter than simple errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Always proofread your letter before sending it. Better yet, have it proofread and checked by programs and people several times over. Ultimately, a business letter is one part information and one part presentation. The ideal business letter gets the point across in a professional, concise manner than wastes no time or words while exuding an aura of quality.
5. Resources for Students
Writing good papers is an often tedious, exhausting task. Students often burn out when they are struck with numerous writing assignments in a short time frame. Thankfully, there are many writing websites available that can provide fast and professional assistance. AdvancedWriters.com is one of such expert letter writing services, providing students with custom written letters at a fair price. Here you can ensure that you are receiving plagiarism free advice and assistance that will help make your paper, be it business or otherwise, excel.