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BUSINESS COMMUNICATION: BUSINESS LETTERS

DEFINITION:
Business letter is an old form of official correspondence. A business letter is written by an
individual to an organization or an organization to another organization. Business letters are
written for various purposes. One writes a letter to enquire information, apply for a job,
acknowledge someone's work, and appreciate one's job done, etc.

A commercial business letter is a letter written in formal language, usually used when writing
from one business organization to another, or for correspondence between such organizations
and their customers, clients and other external parties. The overall style of letter will depend on
the relationship between the parties concerned.

PARTS:
* Heading (The Return Address) or Letterhead - Companies usually use printed paper where
heading or letterhead is specially designed at the top of the sheet. It bears all the necessary
information about the organization’s identity.

*Date - Date of writing. The month should be fully spelled out and the year written with all four
digits October 12, 2005
(12 October 2005 - UK style). The date is aligned with the return address. The number of the
date is pronounced as an ordinal figure, though the endings st, nd, rd, th, are often omitted in
writing. The article before the number of the day is pronounced but not written. In the body of
the letter, however, the article is written when the name of the month is not mentioned with the
day.

*Inside Address - In a business or formal letter you should give the address of the recipient
after your own address. Include the recipient's name, company, address and postal code. Add job
title if appropriate. Separate the recipient's name and title with a comma. Double check that you
have the correct spelling of the recipient’s name.

The Inside Address is always on the left margin. If an 8 1/2" x 11" paper is folded in thirds to fit in
a standard 9" business envelope, the inside address can appear through the window in the
envelope.

*Greeting - Also called the salutation. The type of salutation depends on your relationship with
the recipient. It normally begins with the word "Dear" and always includes the person's last
name. Use every resource possible to address your letter to an actual person. If you do not know
the name or the sex of your receiver addresses it to Dear Madam/Sir (or Dear Sales Manager or
Dear Human Resources Director). As a general rule the greeting in a business letter ends in a
colon (US style). It is also acceptable to use a comma (UK style).

*Subject Line (optional) - Its inclusion can help the recipient in dealing successfully with the
aims of your letter. Normally the subject sentence is preceded with the word Subject: or Re:
Subject line may be emphasized by underlining, using bold font, or all capital letters. It is usually
placed one line below the greeting but alternatively can be located directly after the "inside
address," before the "greeting."

*Body Paragraphs - The body is where you explain why you’re writing. It’s the main part of the
business letter. Make sure the receiver knows who you are and why you are writing but try to
avoid starting with "I". Use a new paragraph when you wish to introduce a new idea or element
into your letter. Depending on the letter style you choose, paragraphs may be indented.
Regardless of format, skip a line between paragraphs.
*Complimentary Close - This short, polite closing ends always with a comma. It is either at the
left margin or its left edge is in the center, depending on the Business Letter Style that you use.
It begins at the same column the heading does. The traditional rule of etiquette in Britain is that
a formal letter starting "Dear Sir or Madam" must end "Yours faithfully", while a letter starting
"Dear " must end "Yours sincerely". (Note: the second word of the closing is NOT capitalized)

*Signature and Writer’s identification - The signature is the last part of the letter. You
should sign your first and last names. The signature line may include a second line for a title, if
appropriate. The signature should start directly above the first letter of the signature line in the
space between the close and the signature line. Use blue or black ink.

*Initials, Enclosures, Copies - Initials are to be included if someone other than the writer types
the letter. If you include other material in the letter, put 'Enclosure', 'Enc.', or ' Encs. ', as
appropriate, two lines below the last entry. cc means a copy or copies are sent to someone else.

TYPES:
*Acknowledgement Letter: This type of letter is written when you want to acknowledge some
one for his help or support when you were in trouble. The letter can be used to just say thanks
for something you have received from some one, which is of great help to you.

*Apology Letter: An apology letter is written for a failure in delivering the desired results. If the
person has taken up a task and he fails to meet the target then he apologizes and asks for an
opportunity to improve in this type of letter.

*Appreciation Letter: An appreciation letter is written to appreciate some one's work in the
organization. This type of letter is written by a superior to his junior. An organization can also
write an appreciation letter to other organization, thanking the client for doing business with
them.

*Complaint Letter: A complaint letter is written to show one that an error has occurred and
that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. The letter can be used as a document that was
used for warning the reader.

*Inquiry Letter: The letter of inquiry is written to inquire about a product or service. If you have
ordered a product and yet not received it then you can write a letter to inquire when you will be
receiving it.

*Order Letter: This letter is as the name suggests is used for ordering products. This letter can
be used as a legal document to show the transaction between the customer and vendor.

*Letter of Recommendation: This type of letter is written to recommend a person for a job
position. The letter states the positive aspects of the applicant's personality and how he/she
would be an asset for the organization. Letter of recommendation is even used for promoting a
person in the organization.

FORMAT:
*Block - In a Block format letter, (1) all text is aligned to the left margin, (2) paragraphs are not
indented. 3) parts and paragraphs are separated by double or triple spacing.
*Semi-Block - In a Semi-Block format letter, (1) all text is aligned to the left margin, (2)
paragraphs are indented.
*Modified Block - In a Modified Block format letter, (1) all text is aligned to the left margin,
except for the author's address, date, and closing; and (2) paragraphs are not indented. The
author's address, date, and closing are usually indented three inches from the left margin, but
can be set anywhere to the right of the middle of the page, as long as all three elements are
indented to the same position.
*Modified Semi-Block - In a Modified Semi-Block format letter, (1) all text is aligned to the left
margin, except for the author's address, date, and closing; and (2) paragraphs are indented. The
author's address, date, and closing are usually indented three inches from the left margin, but
can be set anywhere to the right of the middle of the page, as long as all three elements are
indented to the same position