Business Letters / December 1, 2018 / Kristy Wall
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.
The purpose behind business letters What purpose does a business letter actually serve? Firstly it helps you to communicate with your other business acquaintances. In fact it is like any other means of communication but there is one major difference to it. Business letters serve to document details of vital facts and figures that can be pulled up and analyzed any time afterwards. It is for this very reason that the absolute care diligence and due attention must be given to this exceptionally important writing task. Effective Business Letter Writing Basics Business letters are not deemed to be authentic if they are not written on the letter head of the organization it is being sent from. Irrespective of the occasion for which the letter is being written the language must always be formal. People should ideally be addressed by their titles such as: General Manager Dear Mr. Dear Ms. Director and so on in the event of you not knowing the names of the people. In case you do know their names then you can use them because it adds just that small tinge of familiarity without unduly affecting the essence of the correspondence.
When you write to a title the salutation is "Dear Sir " "Dear Madam " or if you want to play it safe "Dear Sir/Madam." When you write to an organization it s "Dear Sirs " Dear "Mesdames " or again if you want to play it safe (but labor the point) "Dear Sirs/Mesdames." Your sign off will be "Yours faithfully" (UK) or "Yours truly" (US and Canada.) Less formal letters This is where you have a name. And this is where you can get into hot water if you re not sure of the gender of the person. Someone called J C Jennings could be a Jack or a Joanna. Someone called Leslie Matthews could also be either (traditionally the female version of the name is spelled "Lesley" and the male "Leslie " but I know at least one lady Leslie.) Equally beware of unisex names like Jody Jo Bobbie Alex Rob Robin Carol (yes really ) Billie Chris Darryl Eddie Sam Jackie Nicky Frances (f) vs Francis (m) Freddie Gabrielle (f) vs Gabriel (m) Georgie Gerry/Jerry Charlie Nat Harry Jessie (f) vs Jesse (m) Stevie Mel Pat Ronnie Sacha Sandy etc. And that s before we get started on names from non English-language cultures. People these days usually don t advertise whether they re "Mr" or "Ms" or whatever.