Writing a Business Letter
A business letter is a letter that is written to conduct some kind of business. The business may be an application for a job, a complaint about a product or service, an inquiry, or a letter requesting some kind of action. It is different from a friendly letter in both its format and content.
A business letter should be typed. Use a word processing program and choose a plain font such as Courier or Times New Roman set to size 10 or 12. The left and right margins should be justified, meaning that text is aligned on both the right and left sides of the letter. In a business letter, all margins should be at least 1/2 inch, if not larger, and all text begins at the left margin.
The first part of a business letter, the HEADING, is located at the top of the page, starting at the left margin. Type your address here. If you are using business letterhead that already has the address, there is no need to retype this; otherwise, use your full mailing address, as it would appear on the envelope. Do not include your name here, but if writing on behalf of a company, include its name:
Vacations R Us, Inc.
327 Happytime Street
Funville CA 55333
The second part of a business letter is the DATE. Be sure to skip a line and then type the full date as follows. This is an extremely important part of any business letter, as it may be used not only for later reference by you or the receiver, but may also be used for filing purposes.
September 15, 2000
After the date comes the OPENING of the business letter. The opening consists should consist of the persons name that you are writing to, his/her title and department name, the name of the company you're writing to, and its mailing address as follows:
Mr. Jerry Jackrabbit
Manager, Sales and Service
Come Bath With Us, Inc.
723 Shower Avenue
Washville WA 55444
Dear Sir/Madam: OR Dear Mr. Jackrabbit:
The "Dear …" is the GREETING part of the OPENING. When typing the greeting, if you know the person's family name that you are writing to, then use it; otherwise, simply use "Dear Sir/Madam:" Remember to always use a colon (:) at the end of a business greeting.
The next part of a business letter is the BODY of the letter. The first paragraph should clearly state the purpose of the letter:
I am writing to make a complaint...
I wish to apply for the position of secretary...
I am writing to ask...
Finish the body of the letter, expanding on the things mentioned in the first paragraph. Remember NOT to indent each paragraph, but DO skip a line between them.
Be sure you explain things with enough detail so the reader of your letter can take the action you desire. For example, if you are applying for a job, clearly list the qualities and experience that make you a suitable candidate for the position. If you are writing a letter of complaint, give all the relevant information that has lead you to complaining. Before you end your letter, refer to any attachments that you may be enclosing so that the reader understands why they are there:
I have enclosed a copy of my resume, which provides further details of my employment background...
I have enclosed a copy of the document in question...
Your final paragraph should invite your reader to contact, indicating what action you are seeking.
I would welcome a chance to further explain my case at a personal interview...
I look forward to your immediate attention to this problem...
The final part of a business letter is the CLOSING. Always close a business letter in a professional manner. Use such closings as "Yours sincerely,", "Yours faithfully,", or "Sincerely yours,". Be sure to leave 3 blank lines between the "Sincerely yours," and your types name, because in between those you will write your signature. Also remember that you can type your job title under your typed name.
Finally, your business letter should be folded in three by folding the bottom of the page two thirds of the way towards the top, then folding the top of the page downwards. The letter should then be inserted into a business-sized envelope and clearly and neatly addressed.
The following is a sample of a real business letter:
Jonathan B. Rogers
11 Nankou Lu, Hebei District
October 16, 2001
Tianjin Foreign Languages High School
Opening11 Nankou Lu, Hebei District
We have been informed that our apartment building will be torn down soon, and that we will have to move to a new location. We have also heard a rumor that we may possibly be relocated to live at the Tianjin Foreign Language Institute, while a building for the foreign teachers is being built. I am writing you on behalf of my family and myself. I would like to express our desire to continue living here at our school on Nankou Lu in the Chinese teacher's apartment building. We understand that there are currently four apartments available there. We also understand that you are concerned for our safety, but I would like to share with you why we feel that living here in the teacher's building on Nankou Lu is better for us.
First, Mrs. Rogers and I have a son, whom we home school. He comes to my office with me every day to do his schoolwork. Thus, there would be three of us to be picked up every day and carted to the school.
BodySecond, because of the greater distance between the two schools, and the much longer time needed to travel from home to the school here, we will have to rise up much earlier than we already do. Even now, while living here on campus, we must rise at 6:00am in order to have enough time to take a shower, get dressed, get breakfast, eat it, and be ready to leave for the classroom building next door. Maybe if we live at the Foreign Language Institute, we will have to rise at 5:00am or 5:15am in order to have enough time to get ready and then travel to the school here. I feel that this is too much stress and strain for our son, my wife, and myself.
Third, as you may already know, a foreigner's life is not easy in the Chinese society. There are many things that exist that cause the foreigner to feel that he/she is not allowed IN the circle. This gives some foreigners a feeling of great sadness and isolation. There are other foreigners who prefer the separation from Chinese society, opting to try and live here as they would in their motherland; however, Mrs. Rogers and I are not of this kind. We have come to China 'for the love of China', and for no other reason. We love China. We love Chinese people. We love Chinese art, music, dance, and food. We love to make friends with Chinese people, and our desire as human beings is to be IN the circle, not on the OUTSIDE looking in, like the pitiful child that no one wants to play with at recess time. We feel that living so far away from our school, our teacher friends, and our students, will only create a stronger sense of isolation, making fallow ground in which the seeds of loneliness and discouragement can grow. Living here at our school gives us a sense of belonging, a better sense of being IN the circle, and more opportunity to be with friends which we have made, eliminating the opportunity for those undesirable seeds to sprout.
BodyAnd finally, we know that our safety is of great concern to you, as it also is to us. We understand that those of you who are over us are responsible for us, and that we should have security while living under your care. An idea that came up was that of placing a locked gate at one of the Chinese teacher's building's stairway entrances, leading to the available apartment, allowing those living behind the door to have a key in order to gain access. Should a security guard be required for us, I would like to let you know that Mrs. Rogers and I are prepared to help cover the cost associated with hiring security, so that we may be able to live here in the Chinese teacher's apartment building at Nankou Lu.
Mr. Zhang, again I ask that you would please take our thoughts and feelings into consideration as you make your final decision regarding where we shall live in the near future. Lastly, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Jonathan B. Rogers
Foreign English Teacher
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