Business Letters / December 3, 2018 / Helga Bell
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.
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.