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Business Correspondence


Submit business correspondence assignments using acceptable practices for format and appearance. Choose the appropriate type of correspondence based on a situation. Construct effective business letters that properly address each situation while maintaining favorable relationships. Apply the rules for letters.

Principles of business correspondence

Business writing is clear. It uses simple words, short sentences and paragraphs that are easy to understand. Words used are direct to the point. Business writing is formal. It is written in standard formal English. It refrains from using abbreviations.

Business writing is objective. It conveys its message in a detached, impartial point of view. You dont express your personal feelings and opinions, youre just presenting the intended message.
Business writing is factual and accurate. It gives only facts pertinent to the message of the letter. Business writing is contemporary. It is in a conversational tone.

Basic Rules

Getting to the point

a. b. c. d.

Being Concise Paragraphing Use of Lists Framing Effective Questions


Use of NonDiscriminatory Language Punctuation, Grammar and Spelling Tone

a. b.



Choosing the Right Tone Conversational Tone

Basic rules: Getting to the point

Being Concise

Use of short sentences Start document with purpose

Creation of single screen view messages Elimination of unnecessary words

E.g.. Avoid bad miscommunication in email writing. (the word bad is a modifier which is used unnecessarily)

Use lesser number of words


Short Sentences Short Paragraphs (2 to 5 sentences)

Creates white space Quicker to read Engages the reader

Opening Paragraph

Five Ws - Who?, What?, When?, Where?, & Why?

Basic rules: Use of lists

Benefits of using lists:

Writer organizes thoughts Reader sees main points Important points are not overlooked

Formatting a list:

Use numbers or bullets Items should be parallel Capitalize the first word of each point Be consistent with punctuation

Basic rules: Spacing of a list

Double spacing makes reading easier Double spacing takes more valuable screen space

Single spacing does not enhance the list

Single spacing takes less room

Basic rules : Non-discriminatory language

Non-discriminatory language is language that treats all people equally Use language that is free of religious, age and sexual bias Discriminatory language can come between you and your reader

Basic rules: Methods to Avoid Errors

Use Spell Check function. Always Proof Read document.

Basic rules: Tone

How can I make sure my messages have the appropriate tone? Ask the following questions:

Why am I writing this document? Who am I writing to and what do I want them to understand? What kind of tone should I use?

Basic rules: Tone

What kind of tone should I use with a negative message?

When addressing faults or issues concerning an individual, maintain a professional tone that does not attack the individual but that makes your position on the issue clear.
Example: Incorrect: I do not understand why you made such discriminatory remarks. Correct: Discriminatory remarks are not tolerated in this organization.

The 10 Cs of effective business letters Letter Styles

Parts of a Business Letter

Guidelines for writing a good letter

To begin with

Identify the name of the person you are writing to

Focus the readers attention with a brief opening Maintain the you viewpoint

The 10 Cs 1.CLARITY
Immediate comprehension of the letters message. Ways to achieve clearness: a.) think first then write you must think beforehand and figure out why you are writing and to whom you are writing. b.) use simple familiar expressions since your aim is to inform your readers, you should use simple words like possible instead of feasible. c.) omit wordiness avoid using unnecessary words that do not contribute to the clearness of message. d.) avoid jargon use words that are understood by the average readers that will not confused them. e.) keep your sentences and paragraphs short f.) use the active voicesubjectverbobject

Instead of procure utilize viable
Wordy according to the law affixed his signature a great length of time aimed at a large number of for the purpose of

Use get use workable

Clear legally signed long for many for

Brief but complete in its idea. Ways to achieve:
a.) Eliminate unnecessary words (We wish to inform you that) we have already shipped your order for two (2) dozens blouses. b.) Avoid redundancy or repetition of words with the same idea Please file (away) this letter. Big (In size) c.) Economise on adjectives E.g. The bombastic, graft buster, religious, faithful Ms. Santiago is having a sumptuous meal with friends and supporter, nibbling succulent, crisp-coated, fresh, delicious inihaw na bangus. BETTER: The graft buster Ms. Santiago is having a sumptuous meal of inihaw a bangus with her supporters.

Use definite words rather than general words Abstract & general: We sell the best fabric. Concrete and specific: We sell yards of Vonnel that are soft, warm and inexpensive. Euphemistic cardiovascular accident custodial engineer senior citizen Sexist language stewardess mankind Concrete stroke janitor old people Preferred flight attendant humanity

Use positive expression Use Instead of can cannot do do not success failure Avoid impossible unfortunately doubtful worried failure wrong
Negative Our office is closed after 4 p.m. Positive Our office is open until 4 p.m.

Seeing every transaction of your readers point of view rather than your own point of view. The YOU ATTITUDE. Thinking and writing in terms of the readers and motivated by what the readers want and need.
Weak Revised Weak Revised : : : : I hope you respond to our questionnaire. (You) Please respond to our questionnaire. I think that you are a wonderful asset to our department. You are a wonderful asset to our department.

Weak Revised

: :

I am hoping that you will join the committee. (You) Please consider joining the committee.

Has unity of ideas and purpose. Its parts are parallel and there are no unnecessary shifts in tense, subject, number, person. Incorrect : Listening is a skill that we should all improve. When you listen, I sometimes hear things that change my life. Listening is a skill that I would like to improve. When I listen, I sometimes hear things that change my life.


Quality of words to stick together to present a single idea and to ensure a smooth flow of thought.
There should be logical organization of ideas, correct order of modifiers, correct use of transitional elements and parallel ideas.

Ways to achieve coherence: a.) choose the pattern on logical organization i.) deductive generalization going to the details. ii.) inductive details to the generalization.
b.) correct order of modifiers (adjective and adverbs) WRONG: In answering the telephone, politeness should be observed. RIGHT: In answering the telephone, you should be polite.

Ways to achieve coherence:
Connectives: Addition Attitude also fortunately too naturally furthermore in a sense Gen. to Specific in fact especially for instance Reason because since as Contrast but however nevertheless Cause and Effect thus therefore consequently Time then now next

Reference Summary the former in summary the latter to sum up the following in conclusion

Refers to the personality of the writer as reflected in his writings. To achieve character in your letter, be original in your letter, in your style, use fresh, everyday expressions and use the personal pronouns. Stereotyped Modern Kindly advise Please let us know... I have to honor to inform you I am pleased to inform you Ways to achieve character:

a.) use personal pronouns use I, you, or we rather than the

undersigned, or the writer. b.) make it personal/conversational Use We are replying to Instead of This is in reply to

Provide complete information to save time, money and effort. a.) prepare all needed information b.) know the purpose of writing the letter c.) plan the letter to answer all questions of the reader d.) check letter form important details e.) aim for the desired response

It should be presentable in appearance

Contents are free from typographical errors, errors in word selection, in dates and figures, capitalization, punctuation marks

It should stimulate your readers desire to read

Letter Styles

Full Block Modified Block

Full Block Style

Modified Block Style

Parts of a Business Letter

Heading Inside Address Salutation Body Complimentary Closing Additional Information


For Modified Block Style If not using letterhead, begin writers full address at the horizontal center of the page. Insert date beneath the last line of the address or letterhead. For Full Block Style. Insert date two spaces below the last line of the letterhead or writers address. For All Styles. Spell out street, avenue, etc. Spell out the name of the City and the postal code

Inside Address

For long letters

2 spaces below the date

4 spaces below the date full name title full address (including zip)

For short letters

Include the readers

Inside Address

Attention line

may write to an organization saying anyone can answer but may want a particular individual to handle the matter

Reference line

used when referring to a memo or letter you have received before

Subject line

Attention: Customer Relations Department Subject: Defective parts for SL-100 Calculators


Recipients title and last name:

Mr., Ms., Dr., Captain, Professor

No name or title?

Dear Sir , Sirs or Madam

Use Sir when addressing to a single person like a Director or Manager Use Sirs when addressing to a group of people like the Board or Committee

Avoid To Whom It May Concern

Body Of a Letter

Opening Main Message


Says Why you are writing

Introduction Background Basics

Main Message

Gives Details
Fact & figures / give instructions/ask for/give information;provide details Response & Action What action is required / what action will you take.


Usually talks about the future Mostly requires a simple closing

Complimentary close.

Putting your reader first

Ask questions to get a clear picture of your readers.

Who are my readers? What do they already know about the subject? What do they need to know?

Will they understand technical terms?

What information do they want? What do I want them to do? What interests or motivates them?

Putting your reader first

If you imagine yourself in your reader's position, you're more likely to write a good letter

What prejudices do they have? What worries or reassures them? What will persuade them to my view? What other arguments do I need to present? How are they likely to react to what I say?

Keeping to the point

Keep to the point of your letter Draw up an outline to plan your letter. Follow these steps:

Make a list of the topics you want to cover List key words, examples, arguments and facts. Cut out anything that's not relevant to your aim or audience. Sort the information into the best order for your readers.

Getting the right tone

Use a tone that is friendly but efficient. To do this, write as you would speak and talk on paper Change your writing style to a conversational style.
Use Contractions such as it's, doesn't, I'm, you're, we're, they're, isn't, here's, that's, we'll gives a personal and human feel to your writing.

Getting the right tone

Use Personal References

Use words such as I, we, you, your, my, and our in your writing. Using I, we and you also helps you to avoid using passive verbs. It makes your style more direct and clear.

So instead of writing:

Our address records have been amended ...


Weve changed your address in our records

Getting the right tone

Use Direct Questions

Original: We would appreciate your advising us whether you want to continue this account or transfer it. Redraft: Would you like to continue your account or transfer it? Original: Please inform us whether payment against these receipts will be in order. Redraft: Can we pay against these receipts?

Keeping it simple

Good writing is effortless reading

Uses short sentences and simple words

Plain English is clear English.

Use active verbs rather than passive verbs

Passive: It was agreed by the committee... Active: The committee agreed...

Writing in plain English

Keep your sentence average length low Use simple words rather than complex ones. (Too often we use words such as additional, indicate, initiate and proliferate for extra, show, start and spread. ) Edit wordy phrases Avoid jargon and technical terms Avoid abbreviations Avoid abstract words and phrases

Writing a strong opening

Your first job in writing any letter is to gain your readers attention.
Its an important principle of effective writing to put the most important information first.

Writing a strong close

The closing paragraph should bring your letter to a polite, businesslike close. Avoid using weak phrases and overused business phrases like these: Thanking you for your... Hoping for a prompt reply... Thanking you in advance for your assistance...

Writing a strong close

I would again apologize for the delay in replying and I trust that this has clarified the points you have raised, however, if you wish to discuss any points I have not clarified, or need any further information, you may wish to telephone or contact me accordingly I look forward to hearing from you and in the meantime, should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me I regret that I cannot be of more assistance in this matter, and should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me

Avoiding overused phrases

Many business letters contain hackneyed phrases that detract from a clear, natural style.

Original: We trust this is satisfactory, but should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us. Redraft: We hope you are happy with this arrangement but if you have any questions, please contact us. Original: Further to your recent communication. Please find enclosed the requested quotation Redraft: Thank you for contacting us. I enclose the quotation you asked for


Keep it Short

Cut needless words and needless information. Cut stale phrases and redundant statements. Cut the first paragraph if it refers to previous correspondence. Cut the last paragraph if it asks for future correspondence.

Avoiding Lengthy phrases

Avoid In the near future In the event that In order that For the purpose of With regard to I am of the opinion that

Use shortly in case so that for Regarding I think

Business letter writing checklist

Keep it Strong

Answer the reader's question in the first paragraph. Give your answer and then explain why. Use concrete words and examples. Keep to the subject.

Keep it Sincere

Answer promptly. Be human and as friendly as possible. Write as if you were talking to your reader.

Simple words
Instead of

Use end use

Terminate Utilize

Assistance Endeavor Ascertain Procure Advise Alteration

help effort confirm get suggest change

Nevertheless Substantial

even then quite a lot

Simple Words
Instead of

Read Previous FREE Letter

Peruse Aforementioned Without Charge Correspondence

Other members of staff

At this point in time In the near future Allocate Conclude Designate Assisting

Now Soon Give End Name Helping

Avoid double entry

Viable alternative Revert back Past history Forward planning End result Added bonus Particularly distinct Free gift

alternative revert past planning result bonus distinct gift

Waste Words
In my previous job, I successfully managed a group of ten. In my supervisory capacity, I was responsible for maximizing our departments productivity whilst minimising our outgoing expenditures.
Successfully Supervisorial Capacity Maximising Minimising Outgoing Expenditures How do you manage unsuccessfully? You have already stated you are a manager Big, vague & meaningless in this context Clumsy, conversational word Ditto What payments are outgoing? wouldnt expenses say enough?

Previously, I managed a group of ten. Besides their training and performance, I was also responsible for keeping productivity high and expenses low

Waste Words
The figures for this year are final, and you can see that, compared to last year, they are disappointing enough to make us want to improve them, so that when they are reviewed next year, we will have met this objective.

Compare this years figures to last years, and the results are disappointing. Lets make improving them our objective in time for the next review.

Some Dos
The Five Must Dos
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Avoid LONG Sentences Cut CLUTTER Words Use ACTION Verbs Talk WITH the Reader State Your Message FIRST

Some Dos
Avoid Long Sentences

Break sentences at and and but joints.

Break at a new idea or change of idea.

Look at any sentence that exceeds three typed lines (about thirty words). Break such sentences into smaller units.


We have discussed the possibility of storing steel on the existing roof with the roofing subcontractor. But he strongly recommends against this, suggesting that a failure could occur to the roof as 40 tons of steel are involved.

Some Dos

(But is like the reverse gear of your language)

Some Dos
DO NOT USE AND CARELESSLY. Break sentences at their and joints. Supply MEANINGFUL TRANSITION WORDS that prepare the busy reader for what the new sentence has to say.

Some Dos


In addition, moreover, besides, then


But, however, on the other hand

For RESULT / Effect Use:

Thus, therefore, consequently, so

Some Dos

No; never; wont; cant; unfortunate; inefficient; intolerable; failure; regret; neglect; negligence; sorry; problem; useless; wrong; complaint

Try stating the message in a more positive tone

Energy Words
ENERGY WORDS I thought youd like to read the article Ive enclosed At last! Cost-effective Created Discover A challenge Explore When you Im sure PASSIVE WORDS Enclosed for your perusal, please find I am writing to tell you about Cost-efficient Put together Learn about A problem Look for If you I hope

Energy Words
ENERGY WORDS Ten days from now PASSIVE WORDS In the near future

At least six out of ten people

I look forward to meeting you in person

Most people
If you would like to meet so I can tell you more As soon as possible We believe

Immediately Im sure

Be Simple, Do not Complicate

Before High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process. Before If there are any points on which you require explanation or further particulars we shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required by telephone. After If you have any questions, please ring. After Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.

Be Simple, Do not Complicate

It is important that you shall read the notes, advice and information detailed opposite then complete the form overleaf (all sections) prior to immediate return to the Council by way of the envelope provided. Before Your enquiry about the use of the entrance area at the library for the purpose of displaying posters and leaflets about Welfare and Supplementary Benefit rights, gives right to the question of the provenance and authoritativeness of the material to be displayed. Posters and leaflets issues by the Central Office of Information, the Department pf Health and Social Security and other authoritative bodies are usually displayed in libraries, but items of a disputatious or polemic kind, whilst not necessarily excluded, are considered individually.
After Please read the notes opposite before you fill in the form. Then send it back to us as soon as possible in the envelope provided.

After Thank you for your letter asking permission to put up posters in the entrance area of the library. Before we can give you an answer, we will need to se a copy of the posters to make sure they wont offend anyone.

Changing Directions

Having said that, youll also want to consider But thats still only the beginning However, you may be wondering Yes, price is one advantage, but there are more Look at it another way Quite rightly, you may want to know about our services too There are other benefits as well, such as. You may be equally delighted to know that On the other hand Just as important In addition to Besides While price is important, so is the service youll get And of course youll want to know about the three ways you can pay

Visual Arrangements

Paragraphs: Indenting vs. Blocking Breaking up the print: Consider

Indentation of lists Bulleting of points Bold some words Underlining

Visual Arrangements

Consider Font Style and Size

Must be appealing to the eye / readable Must convey appropriate tone Generally speaking, no smaller than 12pt font

Common Types of Letters

Complimentary Letter Problem Letter Good News Letter Bad News Letter Persuasive / Sales Letter

Complimentary Letter

Specifically state the event. State your feelings about event. State the effect the event has on your organization / profession etc.

Problem Letters

State the facts positively.

State the problem specifically.

State what you would like done. End cordially.

Good News Letters

State the good news

Explain the background of the good news. End on a positive public relations note.

Bad News Letters

Begin with good will.

State what you cannot do in a positive way. Offer alternatives. State what you can do.
State what the reader needs to do. Close on a positive public relations note.

Persuasive / Sales Letter

Get attention of reader by stating dramatic information or by appealing to readers pride. Give the features of your product / idea.

State the benefits.

Urge reader action.

5 short steps

Determine your writing purpose. Know your reader. Outline/organize your message. Write the first draft. Edit your letter according to:
Content and lay-out; Grammar; Clarity; Conciseness; and Style.

Final Tips

Plan before you write.

Look up the words you need before you start. Note the points you want to make, and order them into logical paragraphs. Tone Write as you would speak in a business conversation. The tone should be friendly and polite. Names
Make sure you check the gender of the addressee (the recipient), as well as the correct spelling of the person's name and title. Use Ms. for women and Mr. for men. You can use Mrs. for a women if you are 100% sure that she is married. Dates To avoid any confusion, write the month instead of using numbers (e.g. January 15th, 2011, or 15 January 2011)

Final Tips

Be concise and clear. The easier it is to read a letter, the better. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and simple. Use straightforward vocabulary to avoid any misunderstanding. Ask direct questions. Rewrite any sentence that does not seem perfectly clear. If the recipient is not a native English-speaker, it is preferable to avoid words and expressions that are too technical or complicated.

Final Tips

Remember this word order principle : Who - Does - What - How - Where - When (Subject - Verb - Object - Manner - Place - Time) Examples : Mr. Brown will travel by plane to London on Monday, June 5th. A technician will install the equipment in your office on Tuesday morning. I will confirm the transport arrangements as soon as possible.

Avoid old-fashioned words Although they are used in legal documents and contracts, words like 'herewith', 'hereby', 'herein', 'aforementioned', etc. are rarely used in letters. The following style of sentence is preferable : "You will find more information on our products in the enclosed brochure."