Most companies prefer to use email for daily business correspondence, but there are still times when you will need to send a formal business letter. A well-crafted business letter with a professional letterhead design can make a strong and lasting impression, but you have to get the details right. In fact, a physical business letter will most likely be studied closer than any email message you send.
So, here’s a quick guide on how to present and compose an effective business letter.
Choose the right letterhead.
Your company’s letterhead design is important when crafting the perfect business letter. Not only does it communicate your brand, it also sets the tone for future communications. Whether you use a preprinted letterhead or have one specially designed, make sure the look, feel and message it communicates is appropriate for your industry. A high quality our logo and company name will make a good first impression.
Compose in standard business letter format.
When composing your business letter, stick to common fonts like Times New Roman or Arial and be sure to use “block” style formats for paragraphs with the left-hand side justified. Keep the text single-spaced with double-spacing between paragraphs. Margins can be left at default settings in your document processing software (i.e., MSWord, etc.)
Use a business letter template.
When it is time to arrange the letter’s contents don’t recreate the wheel. The way you present information in your business letter should follow a prescribed pattern, typically: date; sender’s address (including your email or website address unless it’s already on your letterhead); the recipient’s address; an appropriate salutation; the body of the text; a “call to action” indicating follow-up steps; a closing (such as “Yours sincerely” or, less formal but still professional, “Warm regards”); your signature (in black or blue ink only); and any enclosures you may have included.
Keep your tone professional.
This doesn’t mean your letter has to be dry or humorless, but you should certainly resist employing the more casual style you may use in an email. Strive to be polite and sincere, avoid discriminatory language and don’t patronize the reader.
Use the simplest and most concise language appropriate in order to avoid misunderstandings. Next, organize the contents of the letter in a logical manner. You should try to convey your thoughts clearly and succinctly in the words you choose, so don’t fall back on confusing business jargon or ambiguous language.
Make a connection.
If you’ve got some kind of relationship with the recipient – whether directly or through a colleague – bring it up at the start of the letter. Whatever the contents of your letter, you want to find common ground with the reader.
Anticipate possible reactions.
If you can put yourself in your reader’s shoes, you’ll be better equipped to address their problems, requirements or wishes in the letter. Also, what action do you want the recipient to take? Demonstrate that you have considered things from the recipient’s perspective.
Triple check for mistakes.
Once you’ve finished typing your letter, be sure to proofread it carefully for any errors. Sloppy spelling or punctuation errors can ruin the most carefully crafted business letter so don’t neglect to take the time to check your letter.
Melanie Burgess is a content writer at The Mailing Room, offering business tips and advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Connect with @TheMailingRoom on Twitter.
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