Essentials of a Business Letter :
Few things can do greater harm to a business house than a badly-worded letter which gives a very poor impression of the organisation and its attitude to business. Grammatical mistakes, slip-shod method and jerky expression reflect adversely on the reputation of a firm. On the other hand, careful handling of business correspondence, with the courteous regard for the needs of its clients, can mark the prosperity of a business house.
A letter consists of following essentials of a business letter.
(i) Letter Heading :
The heading includes the name of the firm, its postal and telegraphic address, its telephone and Fax numbers (and also the nature of its business). Mostly it is printed. In the heading, room is left for the reference number and the date of issue of the letter which should be invariably quoted in the reply and in subsequent correspondence.
(ii) Name and Address of Addressee :
This should be typed close to the left hand margin. The addressee’s name and address should be given in the manner it is typed on the envelope. It is better to avoid use of the word MESSRS for a limited Company, unless it forms a part of the registered name of the firm. However, it is a common practice to use MESSRS while addressing Companies with personal names. But where the name is impersonal, use of MESSRS should be avoided. Care may be taken to address an official (Secretary, General Manager, etc.,) while writing to professional societies, local authorities, charitable institutions, etc.
(iii) Salutation :
This should come immediately beneath the recipient’s address, close to the left hand margin. SIR should be used for all Government correspondence and for very formal business letters. However, DEAR SIR or DEAR SIRS is the most widely used salutation in commercial correspondence. The salutation GENTLEMAN is not widely used in ordinary business correspondence. This is mostly used when an employee addresses his Board of Directors or Chairman.
(iv) Introductory Paragraph :
It should contain a reference to the previous correspondence. Sometimes it begins with REGARDING – (SUBJECT). But in ordinary business letters this practise should be avoided and it should be put to use only in legal matters.
(v) Body of the Letter :
Among the essentials of a business letter, body of the letter is the core thing. A business letter should, as a matter of rule, be brief and precise. If it deals with one fact or item, one paragraph should suffice. If several points are required to be touched upon, a separate paragraph may be given on every new idea. But the paragraphs must be logically arranged.
(vi) Closing paragraph :
It should be worded in a forceful and convincing style. Because it is in this paragraph that the whole argument is summed up. Ordinarily, the letters should end with a courteous phrase expressing hope for a formal reply or assuring the addressee of the best of attention.
(vii) Subscription :
The salutation and subscription must always agree in style. You cannot start a letter formally and end it informally. The most popular subscription in business letters is YOURS FAITHFULLY, though YOURS TRULY can also be used for partly or wholly informal letters. But YOURS SINCERELY is used for personal letters beginning with DEAR.
(viii) A good letter must ensure :
Clarity of thought :
Arrange the words and sentences in such a manner as to convey the exact meaning and nothing else. You should, therefore, be choosy in words and avoid all ambiguity. Redundant words or purple phrases are quite out of place in a business letter which rather create an adverse effect on the readers. Inconsistency of thought and illogical statement must be carefully avoided, because it results in hotchpotch and defeats the purpose of business.
Forcefulness is as important as lucidity. In ordinary routine correspondence it is not necessary, but in a business letter it makes a difference between securing a client and losing him. A forceful and convincing statement makes a difference between securing a client or losing him. A forceful and convincing statement makes an appeal to the emotions of the reader who makes more than a usual attempt to some understanding with the correspondent.
These are the Essentials of a Business Letter.