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Writing Business Letters That Get The Job Done

Despite the widespread use of e-mail in commerce today,traditional business letters are still the main way that the majority of businesses officially communicatewith their customers and other businesses.

This is especially true when businesses want to formalizean agreement or an understanding. So far, emails are greatfor all of the preparatory work, but a formal businessletter is still most often needed to "seal the deal".

There are two basic categories of business letters:business-to-business, and business-to-customer.


Most business-to-business letters are written to confirmthings that have already been discussed among officials in

meetings, on the telephone, or via e-mail.

Can you imagine the letters that would have to go back andforth to cover all of the questions and possibilities thatcan be covered in a one-hour meeting, a half-hour phonecall, or a few quick e-mails?

The main purpose of a typical business letter is toformalize the details that were arrived at in thosediscussions, and to provide any additional informationthat was agreed upon.

Over the years, certain general standards have evolved inthe business world that the vast majority of businessesuse in drafting their business-to-business correspondence.


There are many different types of business to customerletters. They include: sales and marketing letters,information letters, order acknowledgement letters, orderstatus letters, collection letters, among others.

As with business-to-business letters, over the yearscertain general standards have evolved in the businessworld that the vast majority of businesses use in draftingletters to existing and potential customers.

Of course, going in the other direction are customer tobusiness letters. These include: order letters, orderstatus inquiry letters, complaint letters, and others.

Since these are customer-generated letters, there is noparticular expectation that they follow any particularletter-writing standard. Typically, they are handled justlike any other piece of personal correspondence.


Here are a few tips I have picked up while writing literallyhundreds of business letters over the past 20+ years. This isa slightly modified version of the tips included in my eBook,"Instant Business Letter Kit".

1. Limit Them To One Page

By definition, business letters should be short and to thepoint, preferably one page in length. Studies have found thatbusy business people do not like to read beyond the firstpage, and will actually delay reading longer letters.

2. Relegate Technical Details To Attachments

Often, it is necessary to include detailed technicalinformation as part of a business letter package. In suchcases, use the main letter as a cover letter that lists andbriefly explains the attached (or enclosed) documents.

3. Keep Them Formal and Factual

Generally speaking, the tone and content of business lettersshould be formal and factual. Feelings and emotions do nothave a place in business letters.

4. Carefully Plan Your Letter

Before writing the letter, take a few minutes to list all ofthe specific points you need to cover. Sometimes it may evenmean a call to the recipient or his/her company to confirm aspecific point. Remember, the purpose of the letter is to tieup all of the details on the subject at hand, so that moreletters won't have to be written back and forth.

5. Be Customer Friendly

When writing directly to customers, always focus on theirneeds and their perspective. Put yourself in their positionand imagine what it would be like receiving your letter.Everyone can do this, since we are all customers of someother business in some part of our lives.

6. Use Non-Discriminatory Language

Make sure that you avoid language that is specific to gender,race, or religion in all business letters, either to otherbusinesses, or to customers. For example, use "workforce"instead of "manpower", or "chairperson" rather than "chairman".Most style guides contain detailed lists of the offensiveterms and some suggested substitutes.

To see a fully-formatted "real-life template" of a businessletter, you can check out the following link:

© 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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