Different types of Business Letters may include Application Letters for jobs, Cover Letters, Business Opportunity Letters and Complaint Letters. The Letter of Application accompanies a resume and is meant to serve as a tool to market the applicant’s skills and knowledge. A Cover Letter is a document of transmittal. It identifies an item being sent, the recipient, and the purpose for its being sent. A Complaint Letter is meant to formally express a grievance and concludes with a request for redressal. A Business Opportunity Letter is written primarily for the purpose of seeking business from a prospective customer.
Sections of a Business Letter
There are three key sections that form a part of a Business Letter as outlined below. It is important to organize the letter along these sections before actually embarking upon the task of writing the letter.
Introduction: The introduction is meant to inform the reader the purpose or context of the letter. It is imperative to identify the reason for writing the letter before undertaking the task of writing the letter.
Details: The writer should provide the details of what he/she intends to accomplish.
Conclusion: This section is the last part of the letter and should clearly articulate what next steps are envisaged or what action is expected from the reader of the letter. The timelines for the expected action should also be specified here.
Drafting the Business Letter
Addressing the reader: It is important to begin with the appropriate salutation. Formal letters should address the recipient as “Dear Mr./Ms.” if the recipient’s name is known. Or it can be “Dear Sir/Madam” if the reader is unknown. It is always preferable to use a formal form to address the person.
Subject: If there is a reference to any prior communication (for example, in the form of advertisements for job applications, phone conversation or email exchanges), it should be referred to in the beginning. A clear subject line sets the context of the communication.
The purpose of writing the Business Letter: This purpose can be to express an interest in a position that is available or to acknowledge receipt of an earlier communication. Having completed the opening sentence, the writer should move on to the specifics.
Closing: This part should focus on the concluding remarks that confirm action taken, references to future contact and thanking the recipient.
Finish: Business Letters should preferably be signed off with “Yours faithfully” or “Yours sincerely”. This will ensure a formal tone to the letter.
Enclosures: This section should refer to any enclosures that form a part of the letter. Enclosures need to be referred to in the main part of the letter. After the sign off, enclosures should be referred to as “Encl.:” and the list of documents should be provided here.
Business Letters should be written on company stationery that includes the writer’s and his/her organization’s name and address. Alternatively, these details should be provided on the top right corner of the page during the drafting. Importantly, a copy of the Business Letter should be retained by the writer for his/her records.