Knowledge of the Basics of Business Letters will make you communicate effectively. Ineffective communication will result is loss of customer or decline in business. There are many medium to convey our thoughts. Whether we use a typewrite or a word processor or facsimile machine or internet for email, the letter should incorporate the basics first of all. The medium is of little importance when the message is conveyed ineffectively, because any effective letter should be written only a human being, not by a machine. So, first of all let us learn those basics of business letters which make the letters readworthy and trustworthy. By becoming accustomed to these basics, you do justice to your writing skills and you position yourself among the rare group of people who have learned the tricks of getting things done by writing effectively.
1. Paper and Envelope Sizes
You should take care of the Paper and Envelope Sizes. Paper suitable for writing letters comes in various sizes, colors and quality. Paper suitable for writing letters comes in various sizes, colors and quality. The most common paper used for business letters is white A4 size paper (210 mm x 297 mm or 8 1/4 inches x 11 3 /4 inches) with a fairly smooth texture. Letter size paper (8 1/2 inches x 11 inches) or others of approximately similar size are also sometimes used, but as computers gain popularity, the A4 size is the preferred paper size as most printers can handle this size. Some printers use standard size printout sheets which is larger than A4 size, but this is not usually used for business correspondence, except for "computer generated letters" which are becoming increasingly popular for companies that handle standard letters in bulk for their many customers.
Invitations and memoranda are normally written on paper of smaller size such as (148 mm x 210 mm or 6 inches x 8 1/4 inches).
Envelopes come in various sizes, colors and quality as well. The preferred size for envelopes is 9 inches x 4 inches. The other commonly used envelope is the smaller Commercial size envelope (3 1/2 inches x 6 inches). No restriction is placed on the color and quality of envelopes, but a light color makes it easier to read the name and address written on the envelope and good quality paper can withstand wear and tear better.
2. Folding The Letter
The basic rule for folding the letter is to make as few folds as possible. A much-used method is to fold the letter twice along its breadth, the folds being approximately one-third of the length from the top and bottom edges.
This method use only two folds and the folded letter can easily be slipped into a 9" x 4" envelope. The method also has the advantage of allowing the sender to put a cheque or other enclosure within the folded letter. The recipient will always find the enclosures first on opening the envelope. This will ensure that the recipient gets the enclosures. Otherwise, he may miss them or unwittingly throw them away.
Fonts are important. Nowadays the letters or characters of the alphabet are commonly referred to as fonts. There is a staggering number of font types in various sizes available for electronic typewriters and especially for computers now and the number seems to be growing every day. Of course, if you are using an older model typewriter then you cannot choose what fonts to use, unless you change your typewriter every time you want a different font type. That is definitely not practical.
However if you have access to a computer, do not use fancy looking fonts for typing business letters. Fancy fonts are fine for personal letters, but for business letters it is better to stick to the tried and trusted Roman, Courier or other commonly used fonts. Fancy fonts may cause the recipient to think that the sender is not serious enough to do business with.
Normally, the sizes of the fonts used in letters are 10, 11 or 12 points. These sizes are easy to read. Fonts that are too large (larger than 12 points) or too small (smaller than 10 points) are difficult to read and should not be used except for the letterhead. Also as far as possible use only one font type and size or at the most two, discreetly though. A wild mixture of font types and sizes can make the letter looked cluttered and untidy. This defeats the purpose of writing effective business letters.
You can see that the Courier Fonts do not employ proportional spacing (PS), that is, each letter is of the same width. For example" i" has the same width as "n". The first simple typewriters made use of this method. Modem electronic typewriters and computers all allow the letters to be spaced proportionally, that is, bigger letters like "m" occupy more space and smaller letters is "I" occupy less space, just like the fonts used in this book. Proportional spacing makes typed text look much neater and easier to read.
Some Points to Remember :
There are some points to remember. To write a good business letter, some points need to be remembered and used.
1. First of all, you must know what you want to say. It is of no use talking about the foreign exchange rates when all you want is to order some goods. So just write about ordering the goods and not anything else.
2. Be brief but clear. What you want to say should be as upto-the-point and as concise as possible. Busy business people do not have much time to waste reading long letters or irrelevant things. They also do not have the time to decode not-well-written messages. They just want to get their business managed is short and profitably. A well-written (preferably one page) letter that just says what it wants quickly and clearly will get the job done with the minimum of hassle. These two add to the effectiveness of your letter.
3. Be accurate with your facts and figures. A letter that contains vague facts or figures is not an effective letter. The recipient will not be able to act on such a letter, for he or she will not know what to do. For example, how does the recipient go about filling out an order for "a few dozen assorted water-resistant watches"? You have got to state the exact number and the exact model of the watches. Otherwise the recipient will probably throw the letter away and forget the whole matter.
4. Use simple straightforward language. Write as you would speak, but use grammatically correct sentences and spelling. A business letter is not place to show off one's mastery of a language or to impress your business contacts. If you are tempted to use a word you are unsure of, look it up in the dictionary first or better still, use another simpler word that you are sure of. The letter is simply for communication, nothing else. Keep it as simple as possible. Above all do not use abusive or obscene language. That will destroy a good business relationship. Also you might be hauled to court for saying those things. A little courtesy goes a long way.