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7 Essential Letter Writing Strategies

Based on the feedback that I have been getting from visitorsto my Web site, letter writing isdefinitely the area where most people are looking for helpor guidance when it comes to day-to-day writing.

Over 55% of the visitors to my site are seeking some sort ofletter writing information or assistance. The followinglists the Top Ten letters that people request informationon, in order of popularity:

* recommendation letter

* resignation letter

* thank you letter

* reference letter

* business letter

* complaint letter

* cover letter

* sales letter

* introduction letter

* apology letter

The 7 Strategies

Here are a few practical letter-writing tips and strategiesto help you when writing that next letter:

1. Keep It Short And To The Point

Letters involving business (personal or corporate) should beconcise, factual, and focused. Try to never exceed one pageor you will be at risk of losing your reader. A typicalletter page will hold 350 to 450 words. If you can't getyour point across with that many words you probably haven'tdone enough preparatory work. If necessary, call therecipient on the phone to clarify any fuzzy points and thenuse the letter just to summarize the overall situation.

2. Make It Clear, Concise, And Logical

Before sitting down to write, make a brief point-formoutline of the matters you need to cover in the letter.Organize those points into a logical progression that youcan use as your guide as you write the letter. The logicalblocks of the letter should be: 1. introduction/purpose,background/explanation, summary/conclusion, action requiredstatement. Use this outline process to organize yourapproach and your thoughts, and to eliminate any unnecessaryrepetition or redundancy.

3. Focus On The Recipient's Needs

While writing the letter, focus on the informationrequirements of your audience, the intended addressee. Ifyou can, in your "mind's eye", imagine the intendedrecipient seated across a desk or boardroom table from youwhile you are explaining the subject of the letter. Whatessential information does that person need to know throughthis communication? What will be their expectations whenthey open the letter? Have you addressed all these issues?

4. Use Simple And Appropriate Language

Your letter should use simple straightforward language, forclarity and precision. Use short sentences and don't letparagraphs exceed three or four sentences. As much aspossible, use language and terminology familiar to theintended recipient. Do not use technical terms and acronymswithout explaining them, unless you are certain that theaddressee is familiar with them.

5. Use Short Sentences And Paragraphs

Keep your sentences as short as possible, and break the textup into brief paragraphs. Ideally, a paragraph should notexceed two to three sentences. This will make the lettermore easily readable, which will entice the recipient toread it sooner, rather than later.

6. Review And Revise It

Do a first draft, and then carefully review and revise it.Put yourself in the place of the addressee. Imagine yourselfreceiving the letter. How would you react to it? Would itanswer all of your questions? Does it deal with all of thekey issues? Are the language and tone appropriate? Sometimesreading it out loud to one's self can help. When youactually "hear" the words it is easy to tell if it "sounds"right or not.

7. Double Check Spelling And Grammar

A letter is a direct reflection of the person sending it,and by extension, the organization that person works for.When the final content of the letter is settled, make surethat you run it through a spelling and grammar checker. Tosend a letter with obvious spelling and grammatical errorsis sloppy and unprofessional. In such cases, the recipientcan't really be blamed for seeing this as an indication asto how you (and/or your organization) probably do most otherthings.

The foregoing basic letter writing strategies and tips aremostly common sense. Nevertheless, you would be amazed howoften these very basic "rules of thumb" are not employedwhen people write letters.

2005 by Shaun Fawcett

Shaun Fawcett, is webmaster of the popular writing help He is also the author of severalbest selling "writing toolkit" eBooks. All of his eBooks andhis internationally acclaimed f-r-e-e course, "Tips and TricksFor Writing Success" are available at his writing tools site:

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