Business Letters / November 30, 2018 / Lidia Jenkins
My two "writing help" websites receive well over two million visitors per year looking for information and templates to help them with their writing. With that many visitors I get a pretty accurate idea of exactly what people are looking for in the way of letter writing help. In fact a significant number of people arrive at my site based on the search phrase "business letter". Now at first glance the term "business letter" makes sense. But just wait a minute here! What exactly do they mean by "business letter"? Well it turns out that they re not sure. What it boils down to in many cases is that the person doing the search is involved in some kind of "business" (as owner or employee) and they need to write some kind of "letter" related to their business.
They have a deep mistrust of email and for good reason as its confidentiality can never be guaranteed. Business letters are at least fairly private - you have to assume it s easier and faster to snoop on email than it is to steam envelopes open over boiling water. In other instances too printed letters provide a more tamper-proof formal record of business arrangements complaints employee warnings/terminations and other issues that need to be carved into tablets of stone. (Well paper anyway.) Old fashioned structure modern style Highlighted and ridiculed by the casual nature of email the quaint formality of the old fashioned business letter seems positively Dickensian and totally inappropriate for the way we do business now.
When in doubt don t risk embarrassment; phone the organization concerned and ask. Some people borrow an awful technique from email and use a person s whole name in the salutation e.g. "Dear Suzan St Maur." I don t know about you but this irritates the h*ll out of me and I would not recommend it. So when your letter is addressed to "Mr J C Jennings" your salutation is "Dear Mr Jennings." If the information you have is simply "Joanna C Jennings" you can probably take a chance and write a salutation of "Dear Ms Jennings." I don t know many male Joannas but don t count on it... Writing business letters is a skill that a person should have since it involves creating formal correspondences concerning your company product or service.