A business letter is a formal means of communication between two people, a person and a corporation, or two corporations. Business letters differ from personal letters because they follow very strictly set rules for composition. Many people are intimidated by the prospect of writing to strict guidelines, however business letters are nothing to be afraid of. They are too useful a tool to be stigmatized by the public. Nowadays the common standard exists for envelopes both in the USA and Europe (including Britain). According to it the information is placed in definite order. The main principle is from private to general, from person to country.
Printed stationery (Letterhead)
Attractive and consistent presentation of your business documents is vital if they are to make a good impression. Your printed stationary should be of good quality, especially when being used for sending to external contacts.
The paper your company uses for its printed correspondence will express
the personality of your company. Your letterhead will show:
A logo or graphic symbol identifying your company
The company’s name
The full postal address
Contact numbers-telephone, fax, e-mail address
Registered number or registered office
It is usual to engage experts to design a letterhead, especially an eye-catching logo with which the company can be identified.
In the past letterheads used to have “Our ref” and “Your ref” printed on them. Today this is rarely the case because with modern word processors and printers it is difficult to line up the printing on such pre-printed stationery. The typist normally inserts the reference on a line on its own. The reference includes the initials of the writer (usually in upper case) and (in upper or lower case, as preffered). A file or departmental reference may also be included.
The date should always be shown in full. In the UK it is usual to show the date in the order day/month/year. No commas are used.
The name and address of the recipient should be typed on separate lines as it would appear on an envelope. Care should be taken to address the recipient exactly as they sign their letters. For example, a person signing as “William Cummings” should be addressed as such in the inside address, preceded with the courtesy title “Mr”. To address him as “Mr W Cummings” would not be appropriate.
When writing letters overseas, the name of the country should be shown on the final line of this section. As the letter will be sent by airmail, this should be indicated one clear line space above the inside address.
If a letter is confidential it is usual this as part of the inside address, one clear line space above it. This may be typed in upper case or in initial capitals with underscore.
If the recipient’s name has been used in the inside address, it is usual to use personal salutation. If your letter is addressed to a head of department or the head of an organization whose name is not known, then it would be more appropriate to use a salutation as shown here.
Dear Sir or Madam
A heading gives a brief indication of the content of the letter. It is usually placed one clear line space after the salutation. Upper case is generally used, although initial capitals with underscore may be used if preferred.
Body of Letter
There is four point plan in communication in business for body of letter.