Business Letters / November 30, 2018 / Denise Barnes
There is an answer though. Use the formality of structure that makes the business letter the bullet-proof form of communication it has come to be. Combine that with the short straight-talking style of writing more common to emails and you have a good compromise. Let s start with the structure - or rather the etiquette which supplies the structure. There are variations between accepted etiquette used in the different English language markets. Here are the main British forms of address. I have also included the US/Canadian equivalents where I know them but I m afraid I m not aware of those used in Australia NZ or SA. Formal letters The addressee will either be a title e.g. "The Chief Executive Officer" or to an organization or company when you don t know to whom your letter should be addressed.
This is especially true when businesses want to formalize an agreement or an understanding. So far emails are great for all of the preparatory work but a formal business letter is still most often needed to "seal the deal". There are two overall categories of business letters: business-to-business and business-to-customer. BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS LETTERS Most business-to-business letters are written to confirm things that have already been discussed among officials in meetings on the telephone or via e-mail. Can you imagine the letters that would have to go back and forth to cover all of the questions and possibilities that can be covered in a one-hour meeting a half-hour phone call or a few quick e-mails? The main purpose of a typical business letter is to formalize the details that were arrived at in those discussions and to provide any additional information that was agreed upon.
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.