Business letters require good communication skills and knowledge of business letter conventions. This study guide will provide you with guidelines for writing business letters that will transact business quickly, effectively, and courteously.
Business letters represent you when you conduct transactions in writing. For example, you might write to request a price list, apply for a job, or inquire about a refund policy.
Although your letter should not be particularly personal in tone, it should reflect courtesy, clarity, and an understanding of your reader's needs. In business, time is valuable. Make it easy for your reader to help you by writing simply and by including only the information your reader needs.
Make your letters readable and direct. Choose short, accurate words. Use short sentences and orderly paragraphs. Following these conventions will make your letters easy to read, understand and remember. Use personal pronouns, active voice, and action verbs. Avoid formal and stuffy expressions (like "thanking you in advance," "as per," "be advised," or "enclosed herewith") and don't use technical terms unless you are positive your reader will understand them as you do. Don't write to impress; write to explain.
Make your letters readable by using a standard document size of 8.5 by 11 inches. Check your text for clarity, completeness, and readability. Don't ever forget to proofread. Minor errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar hurt your credibility. Make sure that your letters look neat and tidy on the page. Sloppy appearance will detract from even a well written letter.
Want to see what a good business letter might look like?
See an example with explanations on this page:
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