WRITING A BUSINESS LETTER

STEPS:     

  1. Determine your AUDIENCE, e.g. the Director of Marketing, the Office of Customer Relations, the Board of Directors, all stockholders, a particular stockholder.

  2. Determine your PURPOSE for writing this letter, e.g. to inform stockholders about your company’s financial performance and strategy, and/or to request continued or additional investment in the company. 

  3. Keep the TONE of your letter formal and informative.

  4. Determine the LETTER FORMAT you wish to use, e.g. block style or semi-block style (see samples).

  5. Set the line spacing on your computer to 1.  All business letters are single-spaced, with double spaces between the different parts of the  letter and between paragraphs.

  6. Type a letter head with your company’s name, address, phone and fax number.  If you do not have a company, type only your address (called the RETURN ADDRESS), but not your name, at the top of the letter.

  7. Type the address of the person(s) to whom you are sending the letter (INSIDE ADDRESS). Double space.

  8. If you wish to indicate what this letter is in reference to, type RE: under the inside address, e.g.

              RE: Inquiry about your product "XYZ" (Double space.)

  1.  Type the SALUTATION  (greeting), followed by a colon, e.g.

           Dear Professor Smith:

or        Dear Ms. Bauer-Ramazani:

or        Dear Stockholders:       (if the letter is a generic one that goes to all stockholders.)

or        Dear Sir or Madam:      (if you do not know the name or the gender of the person to whom you are sending the letter.). 

Double space after the greeting.

  1. Type the BODY of the letter. Follow OFAC: Occasion, Facts, Action, Closing. Double space after the last paragraph. (See separate explanations for writing the body of the letter.)
     

  2.  Type the CLOSING, followed by a comma, four returns (blank lines), your signature, your name in typed form, and your title e.g.

             Sincerely,

 

             Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Instructor

  1. If you are enclosing some additional information (handouts, exhibits, etc.) with your letter, double space and type it under the closing, e.g.

              Encl.: Presentation Abstract

 

The BODY of the Business Letter (full-block style)

General guidelines:

Each component of the business letter (Occasion, Facts, Action, Closing) must have its own paragraph.  As in all American writing, each paragraph must begin with a TOPIC SENTENCE, which indicates the main idea of this paragraph through the use of specific keywords.

All paragraphs are single-spaced, WITHOUT indentations.  Double-space between paragraphs.

EXAMPLE of the BODY of a business letter: A letter of complaint to the Customer Relations office, a letter of application to the Director of Admissions of a college/university, a letter/report to the stockholders of a company, reporting on the financial performance of the company, etc.  The body is the same for all letters, but the inside address and salutation addresses a particular stockholder.

 Contents of Body Paragraph 1 (Occasion): 3-4 sentences

Tell the addressee the purpose of this letter.  Refer to a need or interest of the reader.  Preview what major points the letter will address.

Contents of Body Paragraphs 2-4 (Facts): Specify all the information needed for action by the reader.  Each paragraph has its own topic/main idea which must be supported with details.  The words in boldface become keywords that should be included in the topic sentence for each of the paragraph. 

Contents of Body Paragraph 5 (Action):

State clearly what action you want the reader of this letter to take next.  If necessary, indicate what action the reader can expect from you, e.g. “I will call you in order to  .... on (date).”


SAMPLE BUSINESS LETTER (full-block style)

Cbr, Inc.
8000 VVVV Street
Anytown, VT 00005

Tel.: (002)888-000, FAX: 002-888-0095
E-Mail:

 

March 21, 2006

Mr. Daniel Bowen
Stockholder
35 Never Street
Somewhere, VT 05439

Dear Mr. Bowen:

At the last meeting (March 15, 20_), the stockholders expressed a desire to review the goals, strategies, and financial performance of CBR, Inc.  I am pleased (I regret) to inform you that CBR, Inc.  has outperformed (underperformed) the industry average.

During the last two years of operation, CBR, Inc.  reached (did not reach) its main goal of . . .  Our profits increased by __ percent (from $_____ to $_____) . . CBR, Inc. was able to satisfy an increasing customer demand by . . .  Our sales volume rose __ percent, . . .

Our future plans include . . .

As these results indicate, the company . . . I hope you will consider . . .  I will discuss the company’s performance and plans at our next stockholders’ meeting on June 15, 20__ and look forward to seeing you there.

Sincerely,

 

Christine Bauer-Ramazani
President, CBR, Inc.

 

Encl.: Presentation Abstract

© 2006  Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Saint Michael's College. Last updated: April 15, 2014