If you are part of the world’s working force, then I’ll hazard a guess and say that you’ve probably been called on to write the odd business letter in your time, right? So today, I thought it might be useful to review this type of writing.
There’s no one right way of setting out a business letter. The important thing is to experiment with the different ways and then to settle on one way and to stay with it. The following are suggested layouts for business letters using letterheads and fully typed letters.
Note: these days it is customary to type all business letters unless specifically requested to hand-write them.
A business letter has five main parts: heading, the date, the opening, the body, and the closing. Let’s explore each one of these parts.
This is your name and address.
You can use your fancy letterhead or just type up your business name and address.
The letterhead address can be put anywhere on the top of the page: centred, left side or right side.
However, if you are typing the business address, it should be located in the top right-hand corner.
The date is very important, since it can be useful in determining priorities, for filing and it also can have legal ramifications.
In a typed address letter, the date goes immediately under your address.
In a letterhead letter, the date can go on the left-hand side, or the right-hand side, immediately under the letterhead.
Note that the suburb name is in capitals and that there is NO punctuation in the address.
The method of the date placement showed here is the easiest and least likely to lead to confusion. It looks neat and is clear and concise.
e.g. 30 July 2019
Always write the name of the month; if you are dealing with overseas clients or markets, or even with people who were born overseas, you can run into all sorts of problems if you only use numbers:
e.g. 11-3-19 could be 11 March 2019 OR 3 November 2019, depending on where you come from!
This is the name, title (if any e.g. Manager, Principal etc), and address of the person to whom you are writing and the greeting or salutation.
This information goes on the left-hand side of the page, starting one line lower than your business name and address and the date.
This should be your main subject and what you want to tell your reader.
This includes the final words to your reader – the bit that tells him or her what action will follow or thanks him or her for any help given. It also includes the ‘signing off’ and name of the writer.
It is customary to sign off, ‘Yours faithfully’ if it is a formal business letter or if you don’t know the name of the person; you sign ‘Yours sincerely’ when you do know the name of the person.
It is acceptable to use less formal closings – ‘Kind regards’, ‘Regards’- if the whole tone of your letter has been the same, but don’t end a very formal letter in this way.
Your closing signature can be placed on the left-hand side of the letter (which makes it easier on the typist) or on the right-hand side – in line with the address (if the address has been typed in the right-hand corner and / or with the date (if it has been placed in the right-hand corner).
When writing a business letter, you must be sure that no part of your letter will be misunderstood. This is why the language you use should be simple. There are no prizes for using the biggest words in a business letter – especially if your reader is not familiar with the words and has to waste time finding out what you mean.
Worse still – if you are not familiar with the words you’ve used – you make yourself look a right twit! And that is definitely not good for business.
Time is money these days, so you need to ensure that you make your point as quickly as you can in any correspondence.
Like any other piece of writing, a business letter should have a beginning, a middle and an end.
It doesn’t matter how short a letter is, the important thing is to communicate your message effectively. Don’t feel you have to ‘fill up’ the page to make it look ‘balanced’.
Letters Of Complaint
You may need to write to a supplier, government department, or customer/client with some form of complaint. No matter how angry you are feeling, never let this show in the tone of your letter.
You will get the most real satisfaction (in the sense of a positive response) by writing in a courteous manner.
- Indicate when and where you purchased the goods or service under complaint (give as much detail as possible to identify the item).
- Explain exactly what the problem is.
- Indicate exactly what you want from the firm responsible – replacement item/service; refund etc.
Always be clear, concise and courteous – don’t just rave and exaggerate.
A Complaint Letter
Grabja, Caughtja and Gotcha Law Firm
7 January 2019
Territory Camping Supplies
20 Sturt Street
Dear Sir or Madam,
On 20 December 2018, I purchased ten tents for use at a Staff Orientation camp (see enclosed sales voucher for details).
Unfortunately, when we attempted to set up these tents we discovered that the stitching was faulty in three of them.
Would you kindly let me know if you have any replacements available, since our camp begins in two weeks time.
I will retain the defective tents until I hear from you.
Human Resources Officer
A Thank You Letter For Networking
123 Orange Street
Anytown, BRISBANE 061313
September 12, 2017
1234 Main Rd.
The City, SYDNEY 54321
Dear Ms. Langdon,
Thank you for sharing your professional expertise with me during our discussion today. I am more than grateful for the time you spent reviewing my career objectives and recommending strategies for achieving them.
I especially appreciate your offer to connect me to others in your network. Definitely, I plan on following up with the contacts you emailed me right away. Also, I have begun to reach out to local professionals using the online networking resources you recommended to accelerate my job search.
Any additional suggestions you may have would be welcome. I’ll let you know how my career search progresses.
Again, thank you so much for your help. I greatly appreciate the assistance you have provided me.
Writing proper business letters is an important skill to have in the corporate world. I hope you learned this today with this article. Until next time!