How to Write Better Business Letters

How to Write Better Business Letters
How to Write Better Business Letters
Writing business letters is a forgotten art. The Internet has made us lazy writers. With a few keystrokes, we can kick off a short e-mail without thinking much about content, much less formatting. Have you ever reviewed your own e-mails and discovered misspellings, incomplete sentences, formatting mistakes, and grammatical errors? Usually we think nothing about how our lazy writing negatively affects our e-mails; other people e-mail us the same type of junk all the time. But, still, writing lousy e-mails should not give us the excuse to be lazy writers all the time, online or offline.

Writing business letters may be one of the best skills a business person can possess, especially during these times when few people possess it. The following tips will help you to construct better business letters. You can also adapt these principles to write better business e-mails, in terms of both format, style and tone.

COMPONENTS AND FORMATTING

All business letters are comprised of the following elements, in this order:

Date

Recipient’s name and address

Salutation

Opening paragraph

Body

Closing paragraph

Closing

Your name and address

The style of formatting will dictate how these elements are situated on the page. The three most common formatting styles are:

BLOCK: Each part of the letter is left-justified, and the text is single-spaced, except double-spaced paragraph breaks.

MODIFIED BLOCK: The opening, body and closing paragraphs are left-justified and single-spaced, but the date, closing and salutation are center-aligned.

SEMI-BLOCK: Exactly like modified block, except each paragraph is indented, not left-justified.

Regardless of which style you choose, you’ll also need to consider the font; your choice is important, as fancy fonts are sometimes unreadable. The most commonly used and widely accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12. It’s readable, professional, and universally used for business letters. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, however, to take liberties here; you can really use any readable font (Arial, Verdana, Helvetica), but always consider what your recipient would like to see.

OPENING PARAGRAPH

Since the principle point of your business letter is to grab and keep the reader’s attention, you’ll need to focus on the opening, the first (and sometimes only) opportunity you have to grab the recipient’s attention. The opening also sets the tone for the entire letter, so it must be as strong and characteristic as possible.

DO get straight to the point. Your recipient doesn’t need a bunch of unnecessary info., especially not right up front. If it doesn’t pertain to or bores them, they’ll just stop reading.

DON’T start with clich
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