What do you associate “business writing” with? Seriousness? Stress? Uncertainty? There might be a lot of answers to that question, and yet, a need to write a business letter follows us wherever we go. Starting from a formal e-mail to a professor, making a stop at the “Job Application Letter” station and finishing with a thank you note or a letter of complaint, we will eventually realize the importance of gaining certain business writing skills.
What Is the Purpose of Business Writing?
Writing a business letter may seem complicated at first, as it, indeed, has certain composing and formatting restrictions. However, if we look closer at what is needed, we will notice that these rules were created to make communication simpler and more straightforward. Business letter format does not allow to mention anything unnecessary or get emotional.
The Kinds of Business Letters You Should Remember
While there is no need to be aware of all kinds and types of business writing out there, there are certain letters that we will most likely need to write.
You Are Most Likely to Ever Submit at Least One:
This is a letter that is aimed at showing the strengths of the candidate aka their professional background, skills and qualification.
Usually, they are submitted with the other documents when one applies for a job and contain a recommendation from the previous employer or professor with a brief evaluation of one’s characteristics and recommends them for a certain position or university.
This letter holds the explanation of the enclosed documents or products and what was the purpose of sending them.
Letter of Complaints
The aim of this letter is to submit a complaint about dissatisfaction with the provided services or products.
A formal apology is to show the receiver that a person is truly sorry for the situation caused by them personally or by a representative of their company and usually includes the offer of a possible solution of the situation.
Thank You Letter
It is a polite way to show the appreciation for an invitation to the job interview, an offer or a favor, as well as for a recommendation written for you.
Why Is It Hard to Perform Business Writing?
There might be two main factors that make any kind of business writing seem hard to master.
First of all, it is the fear that the addressee’s reaction will be not as desired. The better the reputation of the addressee is (it can be a reputation in the society or importance of this person’s role in the sender’s eyes), the harder it is to send anything to them. The words seem wrong, our letter or a resume seems no different than anyone else’s and we do not see a reason for the receiver to react positively to it.
The second reason is the realization that with the amount of mail the receiver gets and reads every day, our letter will get ignored because we do not know how to appropriately draw attention to it. Indeed, business writing rules have restrictions that do not leave much space for creativity, and yet, there are ways to make your message special.
Is There Anything I Can Do About It?
As they say, where there is a will, there is a way. It will be best to learn how to write a business letter; creating a few different copies in advance will also be a good idea, as you will have a few versions to choose from. You can ask a person who is experienced in writing formal e-mails so they can either complete one for you or check yours. As well, there are a lot of templates online for each type of writing you need.
Pluses of Using a Template:
- It is easier to compose anything having the provided structure.
- It is more convenient for the receiver to understand what is needed, as they usually read only those letters they find potentially useful, and only look through the key points in the rest.
- It will limit you to the required amount of information as well as the kind of it. Business writing is when little is more, and a business letter template is a good way to sort the gold from the chatter.
Minuses of Using a Template:
- It might get lost in the stack of mail. This may happen more often with the templates that are first in Google, as there is a higher chance that the receiver has already seen it being customized, and not once.
- It might look unprofessional. The first plagiarism checker will detect that you only added little content to the readymade paper and the potential employer or any other receiver is less likely to take this letter seriously.
The solution to both will be to create your own template or ask a person who knows how to do it to complete one for you and then customize it according to the situation. There are quite a lot of those who can help you create an original and catchy template.
Start off on the Right Foot
Begin your letter with the details about the receiver and then a salutation. Here are some tips on how to start a business letter:
- “Dear Mr/Ms + surname” is a good beginning if you know a gender of a person you contact.
- “Dear + name + surname” should be used if you do not know the gender of the receiver as the name is either gender neutral or a foreign one.
- “To Whom It May Concern” should be used if you send the letter to the university or any other institution and are not sure who is going to read it.
Please note that “Dear + name” is not the best idea to start the letter to a person you never contacted before. It is still a professional formal salutation, but it is best to be used no sooner than in a response to the first reply from the addressee’s side.
After this, you will need to clarify the purpose of your writing. Use a phrase like “I am writing to inform (complain about; confirm; apply)” if you contact the receiver for the first time and “I am contacting you regarding your inquiry (our conversation; your offer; your request.)
All Is Well What Ends Well
There is a list of the phrases that show how to end a business letter. Some of the most common ones are “Respectfully, …”, “Sincerely yours, …”, “Cordially, …”; after that, add your name and a position if needed, as well as contact details in case the receiver does not have them yet.
You might know what information you want to put in but have no idea how to format a business letter. Most types of it have the following requirements for their format:
- Standard font (Times New Roman or Arial, for example.) No underlines, phrases in bold crazy fonts that are hard to read.
- Oneinch margins on all sides.
- Black and white rule: do not add any colors. The only exception might be a logo of the company you represent.
- Block paragraphing. This helps to highlight the structure and find the crucial points easily.
- Include salutation at the beginning of the letter and a closing after the body of it.
- Avoid contractions. “Aren’t” is not a formal standard.
Make sure to double-check the name of the addressee, especially if it is not a commonly used one. Even if you are sure you typed in the right one, your computer’s autocorrect could have had a different opinion on that. Knowing how to address a business letter includes knowing that mistakes like this might prevent the recipient from reading it at all.
These are the basics of business writing and making a good impression via text, and they can be used both for the enclosed document and an e-mail. Hopefully, they help you feel more confident while writing to anyone from now on.