Home > Personal Writing > How to Write a Business Letter

How to Write a Business Letter

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 10 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Business Letter; Business Letters;

Though many aspects of the business world have changed, writing effective business letters should not be one of them. Unfortunately, many professionals have allowed themselves to lapse when it comes to their business letter writing style and ability. Whether because of the laid-back expectations the Internet has generated or just a more casual atmosphere in the office place, business letters have begun to read more like friendly notes than professional communications.

Here, we'll look at a few tips to ensure that your business letters keep a formal, yet friendly tone.

Use Correct Grammar

Nothing detracts from a business letter more than obvious misspellings or glaring grammatical errors. Too many people have become accustomed to using Spell check to catch every mistake that they forget to proofread their documents.

When you write a business letter, you need to ensure that it's properly formed, making sure that all the words are accurately spelled and used. If you have any questions, invest in a good reference book and/or always have someone else read over your most important business letters for accuracy and readability.

Keep a Professional Tone

Even when you're writing to someone you know well, it's considered inappropriate to be too familiar in your business letter. Though it's acceptable to say, "Dear Sam," instead of "Dear Dr. Snyder", you will want to steer clear of phrases such as, "How the heck are ya?" or "Have you read any good books lately?"

Of course, you don't have to pretend that you have no existing relationship with this person; but if you're writing a note for business purposes, it's critical to have a semblance of professionalism. (If you want to add a personal notation, it's best to do so at the end in your own handwriting, right below your signature line. You can also jot something personal on a separate piece of paper and attach it to the business letter.)

Stick to One or Two Points

A business letter should read succinctly, not wander around; after all, it's a document, not a holiday trip. Ideally, you should have one or two ideas you want to make in your business letter; include more points than that, and it might begin to read like a legal brief.

For instance, if you're writing to remind your colleague that your company will be relocating to a city farther away, you might want to add a point or two about how you'll make sure that he or she doesn't experience a difference in his or her service. Just don't hammer the point over your recipient's head; be specific and move on.

Try to Keep Your Business Letter to One Page

In the same vein, one page business letters tend to fare better than those which are longer. For one thing, it's common to lose the second page of a two-page letter, especially if it's paper clipped and not stapled. Also, individual's attention spans are notoriously short. Thus, the more concise you can be, the better.

If your business letter comes in at just a little over one page, edit it for extraneous language. And if it's still just slightly onto the second page, you can adjust the margins and font type slightly (though it's better never to go below 11 point font, though some may recommend 10 point.)

Include Your Phone Number and Email Address

One of the biggest errors even the most successful business letter writers make is not including their information at the end of the letter. Therefore, the recipient has no means of getting in touch with you quickly. Always include your "particulars" (i.e., phone number(s) and email); hence, any response, be it positive or negative, can be extradited.

End on a Polite Note

Even if your business letter is critical, it's important to end on a polite note. You don't have to gush; a simple: "Thank you" is appropriate. And you can always close with "Sincerely," rather than "Your humble servant"; after all, there's no need to be lovey-dovey. Even if you're tempted to write something nasty or unprofessional, resist the lure. If you've done your job in your business letter, you needn't end it on anything but a non-threatening, rather mundane, note.

The more you write, the better you'll become at the process. Even though you might prefer to send casual emails rather than "old-fashioned" business letters, make sure you occasionally mail out some of the latter. Doing so will make you a more well-rounded business leader; and make no mistakeā€¦ people are still impressed by a well-written letter they receive via "snail mail."

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Re adding one's contact information: I think you meant responses could be "expedited" rather than "extradited".
MG - 10-Nov-12 @ 3:36 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • diya
    Re: What is a Synopsis and How to Write One
    i need your help to write synopsis on the topic of "effect of gamma radiation on sanitary napkins"
    20 February 2018
  • Basharat
    Re: Improving Your Sentence Structure
    Really, informative and helpful in structuring sentences. Could you please help me out in improving my sentences?
    3 February 2018
  • Kiya
    Re: How to Write News Articles
    Thanks . Like the upper comments said its very helpful ! I've always wanted to write stories based on the world problems and etc...
    24 December 2017
  • Shay_Marie
    Re: Learning to Think Like a Writer
    I'm a young women who's graduated high school, and not yet been able to go to collage, but I have a passion for writing, and I…
    24 October 2017
  • Elena
    Re: Plot vs. Character
    I've been studying screen writing for 18 but feel I never can learn enough. I want to master the craft - eventually.
    23 August 2017
  • Chris
    Re: Script Writing Dialogue and Description
    Many, many thanks for the crafting of this scientific and auspicious art form of creativity*** you are hitting the…
    29 July 2017
  • JCarlos
    Re: What is a Synopsis and How to Write One
    I have no problem with writing screenplays but when it comes to writing the synopsis I just can't seem to write it…
    28 May 2017
  • deepu
    Re: Creating Your Website
    Use the prologue to provide backstory. One way to use a prologue is to provide backstory on a character or several characters. A backstory…
    15 May 2017
  • Nikki
    Re: What is a Synopsis and How to Write One
    Am writing a book on an African language and I wanted to know if i have to write a synopsis.
    7 May 2017
  • Giles
    Re: Narrative Journalism
    Hi there You might be interested in Well Told - it's the first conference in the UK to be dedicated to narrative and longform journalism.…
    18 April 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ExploreWriting website. Please read our Disclaimer.