Business Letters / December 1, 2018 / Helga Bell
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.
Readers do not like repetitive messages so do your best to avoid that. Scan every sentence and make sure they are essential to your message. Anything less than that should be deleted from your letter. Be Courteous and Polite This should be mandatory in writing these letters especially if you are talking to someone in a higher position. Depending on the nature of your message every appropriate courtesy should be extended to your reader. Make sure you address him properly as befitting his position. If you are writing a letter addressed to someone in a lower position do not appear condescending. Be Positive This is important especially for sales oriented letters. Use a positive tone of writing when creating your sentences. Substitute negative terms with positive ones. Using the proper words will help keep your reader interested in reading your message. Forget Creativity A business letter is not the medium for you to express your creativity. Do not use fancy words or use flowing narratives that you normally use in creative writing.
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.