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Business Letters-  Its Essentials,  Parts,  Types, Salutations Notes – CSEET

Business Letters- Its Essentials,  Parts,  Types, Salutations Notes – CSEET

Introduction

When you speak, you can smile, and the listener can see your smile. Regardless of your choice of words, the listener recognises that you wish to be pleasant in conveying your message. You can also watch your listener and change your approach if you see any favourable reactions. A person reading a letter cannot see your smile, hear your voice, or observe your gestures. The message is complete when it leaves your hands; you can’t change your approach if the reader reacts unfavourably. Thus there is need to draft a business letter very carefully.

A business letter is usually a letter from one business entity to another, or between such organizations and their customers or clients and other related parties. The overall style of letter depends on the purpose of the letters and relationship between the parties concerned. A business letter is sometimes useful because it produces a permanent written record, and may be taken more seriously by the recipient than other forms of communication.

It is known fact that rules exist for business letter writing, as some typically posed questions are: How should I end this type of letter? ,What is the rule for addressing a person you don’t know?, How should this offer be laid out?, and many alike. Over the period of time, the norms, or conventions, for drafting a business letter have been stabilized. But still the writer of a letter has lot of discretion at his end to word and style the letter. In the following chapter we would discuss the standard form and contents of a business letter, style of writing it, and tips for writing good business letters.

Note that the today’s business letters with their conversational tone and the application of psychology are the big improvement over the letter of bygone days.

The Essentials of a Good Business Letter

In spite of the latest technological advancements, the importance of a business letter has not been reduced. Rather we witness that most of the software are available for helping and guiding for producing an effective business letter. In any case, they are only tool and may be used if necessary. However, we must understand the mechanical details of a business letter.

Letterhead

Letterhead, along with other printed materials like business cards and brochures, are a visual representation of any business. A letterhead is the printed stationery, which carries the essential information about the company or the organisation. Since the first contact with a company is usually made through its letterhead, companies spend considerable time, effort and money on getting it designed. A letterhead generally carries a company logo, tagline, the name and address of the registered office, corporate office of the company, Corporate Identity Number (CIN) and its contact numbers and website and e-mail addresses of the company. Sometime the letter head carries the addresses of the various offices of the company like in case of bank, the letter head of branch office caries the branch office address and contact details.

A Letterhead generally carries:

  • Company logo
  • Tag line
  • Name and address of Registered Office, Corporate Office
  • Corporate Identity Number (CIN)
  • Contact numbers
  • E-mail addresses of the company

Reference Number

A reference number helps us in retrieving the letter at a later stage. It may contain the initials of the letter writer, the department from which the letter originates, and the distinctive number allotted to it. It is for an organisation to decide what the contents of a reference number should be. Some business letters show the reference numbers of both the correspondents or display printed pre- numbered stickers for the purpose.

Date

The date must be written in full without abbreviating the name of the month. For example, 1.6.2019 may preferably be written as 1 June, 2019. This removes the possibility of any misunderstanding as Americans are likely to read the date given in numerals as 6th of January, 2019. The date may be written either below the reference number or to its extreme right.

Special Markings

A few spaces below the date, one may show special markings such as Confidential, Air Mail, through Registered Post/Courier/Speed Post etc. When the contents of a letter are confidential, then care should be taken to super scribe the envelope also with the same marking.

Inside Address

The complete name and address of the recipient is written below the special markings. It must be ensured that the inside name and address is exactly the same as that used on the envelope.

Attention Line

If the letter is addressed to a company or one of its departments but the sender wishes it to be dealt with by a particular individual, then an attention line may be inserted either above or below the inside address. This may read like:

For the Attention of Mr. Harish Arora, Manager (Industrial Credits)

Salutation

The choice of a salutation depends on the extent of formality one wishes to observe. The following list shows different salutations in descending order of formality:

Sir

Dear Sir/Madam

Dear Mr./Ms X

‘Dear Sir/Madam’ may be used as a standard salutation. When informality is aimed at, then the surname of the addressee is preferred for use by most correspondents. The use of first name was traditionally avoided in business letters but salutations in business now are becoming increasingly direct.

The use of “Respected Sir” should also be avoided, as the word respected, not being an adjective, is grammatically unacceptable.

Subject Heading

It is useful to provide a subject heading in longer letters. This helps the reader find out in the first instance what the contents of the letter are. Subject headings may be written in initial capitals with rest in lower case and underscored or in capitals as shown:

Sub: Erection Work of Bikaner Project (or)

Sub: ERECTION WORK OF BIKANER PROJECT

The usual place for a subject heading is either above or below the salutation. In brief letters, a subject heading may be redundant, in some circumstances a subject heading may also be useful in short letters as it would ensure that the letter reaches the right person, at the earliest, who would be dealing with that subject matter. It would be of immense help especially if it is addressed to a large organisation which has a central department where all mail are received and sorted.

Main Body

The main body of letter may be divided into three parts. Most business letters begin with a brief introduction, which states the purpose of the letter.

This is followed by a longer middle section, which presents relevant facts in a logical and coherent manner. This section may be divided into several paragraphs, each dealing with a separate point and written coherently.

The conclusion is a polite rounding off. It may mention the feedback required.

Some of the expressions are given below:

We thank you in anticipation.

We look forward to a favourable response.

We will be glad to furnish additional information.

We expect you will continue to extend patronage to us.

We hope it is the beginning of a long business relationship.

We regret it may not be possible to deliver the goods immediately.

It is not advisable to round off every business letter with the phrase “ Thanking You”. If the intention is to really thank the recipient, then a complete sentence may be used since a phrase beginning with an “ing” word is neither a complete sentence nor grammatically acceptable. This again would depend largely on the practice being followed in an organisation.

Complimentary Close

The complimentary close should match the salutation in terms of formality or lack of it. The following table may be helpful

SalutationComplimentary Close
SirYours truly
Dear SirYours Faithfully
Dear Mr. XYours Sincerely

A common error is to use an apostrophe in Yours (Your’s). Care must be taken toavoid it. “Truly” and “sincerely” are often misspelt. It should be remembered that truly does not have an ‘e’ in it while “sincerely” retains both the ‘e’s.

Signatory

After leaving four to five spaces for the signature, the name of the sender may be written in capitals within brackets followed by the designation as shown below:

(AMBUJ CHANDNA)

Regional Sales Manager

Enclosures/Copies Circulated

List of enclosures or details of those to whom copies of the letter are being circulated may be given below the designation of the sender. In some cases, copies of the letter may require circulation while keeping the original recipient in the dark. The abbreviation in such cases is suitably changed to bcc in the letters being circulated alone.

Annexures

If we wish to annex some documents with the letter, then information about these may be listed at the end.

Type of Business Letters

Business Letters are basically of two types:

  1. Formal Business Letter -Formal business letters are the typical or standard business letters meantfor legal or official correspondence. These include letters regarding business deals, order, claim,dispute settlement, agreements, information request, sales report and other official matters.
  2. Informal Business Letter -Informal Business Letter is used for casual correspondence but doesn’tnecessarily has to have a casual tone of language. These letters include memorandums, appraisals, interview, thanks, reference letters, cover letter, customer complaint letters, e-mails and others which are less important or regular.

Layout of Letters

Layouts of letters are of two types-Blocked and Semi Blocked. Given below are examples of the two types of layout:

Blocked Format

In the blocked format of letter layout, the date of the letter, all references, subject, salutation, the paragraphs in the body of the letter, conclusion and signature, all commence at the left margin as is shown in the specimen below. Another point to note is that in this format no commas are used after inside address, salutation or complimentary close.

Sundar Chemicals Limited

Regd. Office: 28 M G Road, Chennai-600 023.

Phone: 011-8387666 email: Secretary@sundarchemical.com

 

Comp/Mar 01/26

 

March 15, 2019

 

The Manager

X Traders & Company

256, Anna Road

CHENNAI-600 070

 

Ref: Order No. 288/2019

 

Dear Sir,

We are thankful to you for promptly complying with our request to supply a Digital Printer Model ZX1 as per our Order No.285/2019 dated 10 th March 2019.

However, after the machine was installed and a test run was conducted, it was found that clear photocopies were not being produced. We referred the matter to your engineer Mr. Srivasanwho has informed us that this problem is due to some inherent manufacturing defect in this machine.

We are still within the guarantee period of one year within which the machine will be replaced if there are any manufacturing defects.

Therefore, we request you to kindly replace our Printer model ZXI with a new machine that has no defects, at the earliest.

Yours faithfully

(Maninder Singh)

Administrative Manager

Semi-Blocked Format

This style is often termed as modified block style letter. In the semi-blocked format of a layout of a letter the date of the letter, conclusion and signature are aligned to the right of the letter. The subject or reference is centrally aligned. The paragraphs of the body of the letter all commence with a slight indent and commas are used in the inside address (however a common practice now is to omit the use of comma in the inside address), salutation and complimentary close.

 

Sundar Chemicals Limited

Regd. Office: 28 M G Road, Chennai-600 023.

Phone: 011-8387666 email: Secretary@sundarchemical.com

 

Comp/Mar 01/26

March 15, 2019

The Manager

X Traders & Company,

256, Anna Road,

CHENNAI-600 070

Ref : Order No. 288/2019

Dear Sir,

We are thankful to you for promptly complying to our request to supply a Digital Printer Model ZX1 as per our Order No.285/2019 dated 10 th March 2019.

However, after the machine was installed and a test run was conducted, it was found that clear photocopies were not being produced. We referred the matter to your engineer Mr. Srivasanwho has informed us that this problem is due to some inherent manufacturing defect in this machine.

We are still within the guarantee period of one year within which the machine will be replaced if there are any manufacturing defects.

Therefore, we request you to kindly replace our Printer model ZXI with a new machine that has no defects, at the earliest.

Yours faithfully,

(Maninder Singh)

Administrative Manager

 

Either of the two formats can be used while drafting letters. However, care must be taken to follow any one format completely throughout the letter. The overall style of letter depends on the purpose of the letters and relationship between the parties concerned. A business letter is sometimes useful because it produces a permanent written record, and may be taken more seriously by the recipient than other forms of communication.

Note : As a result of globalisation of commercial activities in recent years, there has been an increased use of American spellings in day-to-day correspondence in respect of international trade, the word ‘favour’ is spelled as ‘favor’, ‘labour’ as ‘labor’, ‘centre’ as ‘center’ etc. Even the rules of grammar are getting relaxed. Both the conventional as well as the simplified American spellings are in vogue, but care must be taken to be consistent with whichever spelling you are following/using.

Essentials of a Good Business Letter

The following points are considered as essentials of a good business letter and before writing any letter, these points should be observed by the draftsman.

 

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD BUSINESS LETTER
COMPLETENESS
CLARITY
SIMPLICITY
ACCURACY
BREVITY
SINCERITY
COURTESY
STYLE
  • Completeness

The letter must be complete in itself. It should contain all the information required by the addressee. The important and relevant matter should not be left out. Incomplete letters do not produce the desired effect on the mind of the reader. When a letter is incomplete, an unnecessary delay is caused in seeking clarifications. The writer should try to grasp all the relevant facts and arrange them logically and systematically to incorporate them in the body of the letter.

  • Clarity

The writer must be clear about what he wants to convey and then he should try to express it in simple and straight forward language. Clear writing and clear thinking should go hand in hand, and person who thinks straight is usually able to write straight. Before writing, the writer should plan the message to be conveyed in order to avoid vagueness. Planning helps to produce the orderly kind of letter that creates a good impression because its message is clear.

  • Simplicity

Business letter should be in a plain and simple style, clear and easily understood. Accordingly the language of business letters should be very simple. The use of winding expressions and high sounding phrases should be avoided.

  • Accuracy

A business letter should not have any false or misleading statement. There should be no mistakes which usually creep in a letter due to negligence. Mistakes, however small, should be avoided, as they cause much inconvenience and trouble. All facts and figures references should be as accurate as possible and documents like bills of exchange, invoices, statements of accounts should be carefully prepared and checked.

  • Brevity

In a business letter unnecessary words and superfluous matter should be avoided. As brevity in letter is the soul of a commercial correspondence, the writer must see that every sentence he has written in impregnated with an appropriate meaning.

  • Sincerity

Whether a person is writing a personal letter or a business letter, he needs to write it with sincerity. In other words, he must be himself and not an imitation of somebody else. The business letter may seem to be a common piece of writing, if all letters are modelled to a set style. It must have originality of the sort that expresses the thoughts of its writer in his own style.

  • Courtesy

In a business letter courtesy should be present everywhere, as it pacifies anger and pays in the long run. Courtesy means that the general tone of the letter should be mild and there should be consideration for the feelings of others. Curt and rude letters have got no place in the business world. Courtesy should not be sacrificed for the sake of brevity. Discourteous and unpleasant language should be avoided even while writing letters of complaint or letters of refusal.

  • Style

The words used in a business letter and the way in which they are used express the writer’s personality and give the letter what is called its style. Style in writing as in other walks of life is a quality peculiar to the individual. It is determined by the background, training, experience of a person and the way he thinks. If one writes with naturalness and ease, the letter so produced will reflect the personality of the writer. It is correctly said, therefore, that Style is the man.

Business Messages

Businesses messages include messages from the Chairman of the Company to the shareholder, employees or related to sales and purchases, products, and services, confirmation or cancellation of orders, invoices, company announcements and notifications, employee related news such as promotions, awards, increments, bonus, appraisals, resignation and termination. These messages are very crucial for the business be it in the form of an advertisement in print or in electronic mode or in the form of the any other internal or external communication. Good business messages are essential to keep the business relationships in good health too. There are many types of business messages which a business can write to another business on day to day basis.

In business messages, the self-centered approach preparing communication to see each situation form own points of view may lead to a writer oriented approach, resulting the message is prepared on the view point approach wherein the writer places emphasis on himself and his interests rather than on the interest of the readers and stakeholders.

Generally, these type of approaches do not cater the positive responses in the readers, because they too are self-centered resulting the reader does not focus on what you want them to do. It is always advised that to achieve more positive effects of the Business message, the writer should write on the reader’s point of view.

The ‘You’ attitude in Business Writing

The ‘you attitude’ is writing style that emphasizes readers rather than the writer. To write business letter the writer should not focus or put our self in the place of receivers. However the desires, problems, circumstances, emotions and probable reactions of the recipient are to be taken into consideration. Business letter must be written form ‘you viewpoint’ instead of ‘I or we viewpoint’. You viewpoint emphasize reader’s interest and help to win the reader’s mind and attention. For example:

I or We attitude : We are sure that our new discount policy will attractive to you.

You attitude : You will surely appreciate new discount policy.

I or We attitude : I am happy to hear that you have selected our Company.

You attitude : Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you.

I or we Attitude : I will give you 10% discount on credit card purchase

You attitude : You can get 10% discount on credit card purchase

Thus it can be stated that by adopting you viewpoint following benefits can be enjoyed:

  • Creation of friendly atmosphere
  • Motivation the reader
  • Establishment of mutual trust
  • Can create favorable outcome even in a bad-news situation
  • Accomplishment of the goal of the letter
  • Enhance goodwill of the firm

To summarise, it can be said that the ‘you attitude’ is not only important but also essential for effective letter writing and business messages.

Positive Messages

Positive messages include messages where the audience is expected to react in a neutral to positive manner. Positive messages tend to consist of routine or good news. These messages might be items such as congratulations, confirmations, directions, simple credit requests, or credit approvals. Following messages are considered as positive communication when:

The receiver likes or expects this news (product shipped on time)

The receiver needs little education or background to understand the news (travel arrangement for the conference)

The receiver considers the message routine, even if not completely positive (parking lot closed for three days for new striping)

Negative Messages

Negative messages include messages where the audience is expected to react in a negative manner. Negative messages consist of bad news. In these messages, the sender’s goal is to convey the bad news in a manner that preserves the business relationship. While the sender must deliver bad news, the sender wants to avoid an employee quitting or a customer finding another vendor. These messages might be items such as refusal to provide a refund, cancellation of an event, inability to support an event and more.

Following messages are considered as negative communication when:

The receiver may be displeased (cost for repair is to be borne by receiver, not the the company)

The receiver needs a little persuasion (new log-on procedure takes longer but is more secure)

The receiver may be somewhat uncomfortable (new performance appraisal system underway but employees are used to the old ways of performance appraisal)

Persuasive Messages

The third, overlapping category is persuasive messages. In this type of message, the audience is expected to need encouragement in order to act as the sender desires. In some cases, the receiver is more like a positive audience; for example, when you’re asking for a recommendation letter or when you’re inviting someone to attend an after-hours work function. In other cases, the receiver is more like a negative audience; for example, when you’re requesting additional payment as a result of a shared error or when you’re providing an extension to an impending due date.

Following messages are considered as persuasive communication when:

The receiver may be reluctant (please speak to the new employee group)

The receiver is being asked a favor (please write recommendation letter)

The receiver may be invited to something somewhat outside regular duties (please supervise a new book club that will meet on campus after work)

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