A business letter is a method of formal correspondence. It is a written form of communication that uses strict formatting and language. This kind of letter is often used in business concerns to convey official messages.
Business letters may be written, typed, or printed on a piece of paper. Modern versions of the letter can be e-mailed. It can be used in a number of functions like a cover letter for résumés, business requests, and memos.
Parts of the Business Letter
The letterhead can be an icon or graphics placed at the topmost part of the letter. This contains the name of the company, its insignia, address, and the official phone numbers of the company. This is the first thing that the letter receiver will see so make sure that it is printed well, and that it contains accurate information to make it look credible. When writing on behalf of a company, use its letterhead. If you are writing a business letter on your own behalf, use a personal letterhead with your information.
The heading is a 4-line text located at the upper left side corner. Most business letters prefer the full-block method or style of writing wherein all parts start from the left with no indentation.
The first line contains the name of the receiver in all caps (e.g. MR. STEVEN SMITH). The second and third lines contain the name and address of the company. The last line contains the date when the letter was written.
It usually starts with the word ‘Dear’ or ‘To’ preceding the name of receiver. How to address the receiver depends on the writer.
The receiver may be addressed as Ms., Mrs., Mr., Sir, or Madam. The last two examples are considered safe if you are not sure whether the receiving party is married or not. The full name or last name of the addressee may be written. They may also be addressed by their profession such as Dr., Prof., Dir., Hon., or President.
The punctuation at the end of the greeting depends on the level of relationship the sender has with the receiver. If they are on personal terms, a comma (,) may be used. If they have not met, or are just acquaintances, a colon (:) should be used.
Body of the Letter
The body of the letter is important to build a semblance of rapport with the receiver.
If the receiver is a stranger, the sender should begin by an introduction of oneself and the company he or she is representing. Follow it by stating the purpose of writing the letter. It must be straight to the point, emphasizing in the body why the letter is important and why the receiver’s response (if applicable) is necessary. Close the letter by stating how the sender wants the receiver to respond (give a deadline, give personal contact numbers, etc.)
Have a complimentary close to compliment the mood of the letter. Examples of such are “Sincerely yours,’ “Respectfully yours,” and “Respectfully.” Always use the comma as punctuation for your complimentary close. After that, place your full name 3-4 lines after the complimentary close and sign above it.