How to Write a Business Letter

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Learning how to write a business letter is essential for everyone who wants to make a good impression in this harsh domain with harsh competition that doesn’t accept any mistakes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business owner, employee, freelancer or just someone who needs to deal with people in the business world: if you want to get their attention and respect, you need to know how to write a business letter.

Like most formal letters, there are steps you have to follow, learn how to formulate your ideas, how to present your requests or thoughts and how to be concise. First of all, before learning how to write a business letter, look for a template online and see what the most common ones are; choose one you like and that you think represents you or your company better and build your own letter from that example.  Here are a few steps to help you get things started:

  • The format – When you look at business letter formats, you will see that certain things remain the same, or are similar. This is because you need to begin with certain pieces of information that let the receiver know who they are dealing with and preparing them for what they have to deal with. Thus, a business letter usually begins with a letterhead that presents the name and location of the company. If you are a business owner and want to make a good impression, then all your letters should contain the letterhead, either in the right or left upper corner of the page. However, if you are a freelancer or an independent contractor, put your name and address instead of the letterhead. The next thing that you have to write is the date, which has to be written completely with day, month and year; or month, day and year if you’re American. Now it is time to mention the name of the recipient of the letter. You have to write their full name, their title (if they have one), the name of the company they work at and the address of said company. Afterward comes one of the most important parts of the business letter, which is the salutation; you will find numerous examples online, but choosing one at random is not sufficient; you have to use one that best describes your relationship with the person in question. If, for example, the letter is addressed to the company in general, the formula “To whom it may concern” is most appropriate, or “Dear Sir/Madam,”. If you have met the receiver personally, you can simply use their name, such as “Dear Mr. Smith”. The closing is just as important as the salutation, so again you have to find a formula that best describes your expectations, and the tone and content of your letter. “Cordially”, “Yours sincerely”, or “Regards” are safe formulas, and you can use them most of the times. End the letter with your signature, which has to be at least four lines below the closing formula; under the signature you need to type your name and address once more, including phone numbers, e-mail addresses showing the receiver how they can contact you back.
  • The content – People working in the business world know and feel that time is money, so you mustn’t beat around the bush. While you do need to take the time to present your issue comprehensively and with all the details necessary, avoid including information without immediate value. Keep your tone brief and professional, and include your personal comments only where necessary. Divide your letter into shorter paragraphs, each stating a separate and important idea, so it is easier to follow. Remember that you don’t have to worry about sounding very poetic or philosophical, as you won’t impress anyone here with your literary skills; you will rather be appreciated for your conciseness and your ability to jump right to the subject. Try to be as convincing as possible without getting too personal, too heated up, too offensive; try not to show any feelings, except those of patience, respect and being reasonable. Read your letter over and over again and make sure you were able to get your message through as good as possible, and that there is no room for interpretation; if you are not too confident in your skills, ask someone else to read it for you, or wait a few hours or a day before re-reading, as you’ll be able to spot mistakes faster.
  • Conclusions – In the last paragraph of your letter you have to draw a conclusion saying “this is why I wrote and this is what I was expecting of you”. Remember you have to be polite, especially if you are dealing with a business transaction, asking for a favor and so on. Make the recipient feel compelled to respond in a positive manner to your letter and remember to thank them for the time taken to read your letter and ponder on your request.
  • Final touches – Make sure there are no grammar errors; one of the worst sins you could do in a business letter is not knowing how to express your own ideas, or how to write correctly. You will be instantly dismissed and considered unfit for collaboration; the competition is high in every business domain, and there is always someone better waiting around the corner to take your place. If you’re sending the letter by mail, make sure you choose a presentable envelope, preferably one with the company logo. Type or write the receiver’s address on the front and yours on the back, where the envelope is sealed.

The steps of how to write a business letter are simple and easy, and they are also usually taught in schools. However, what you write in the letter is just as important, so take your time before sending it, especially if it can have major consequences for you and your business.

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