Writing@CSU Guide

Business Letters

The CSU Writing Studio Guides to Writing Business Letters was created by Peter Connor, a former small business owner in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Each guide, located in the list to the left, provides advice regarding a range of issues related to conceptualizing and composing specific types of business letters. You will also find step-by-step instruction and examples.

An Introduction to Writing Business Letters

There are many different kinds of business letters, each identified by the reason for which it was written; a sales letter, for example, or a letter of reference. The hallmark of a well-written business letter is that its objective is clearly understood by its reader. Successful writers help their readers do this by limiting the scope, or the amount of information included in their correspondence.

Keep in mind that an effective business letter always communicates with a person first and a business second. If your letter is a first-time correspondence and you do not know, or are unsure of whom to address, do your best to find out. Addressing your letter to a person improves the likelihood of receiving a reply. It is perfectly acceptable to make a phone call asking for the name of a contact person.

Once you have identified your reader and outlined the contents you intend to include, you can begin drafting your letter. Here are some points to keep in mind. Your letter is about business so keep your tone and style businesslike. Friendly, too, but businesslike. Consider how you would talk if you were sitting across the conference table instead of writing a letter. Try to imitate, on paper, the voice with which you normally talk.

Be careful about your choice of personal pronouns when you write a business letter. Your reader will interpret its point of view by the choices you make. Since your words will be on paper the reader will see, rather than hear how you talk, so check your sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Written words make an impression, just as spoken words do, so keep in mind this one thing; on paper words create a record. Be mindful of what you say. Your letter, stored in someone's file cabinet, can be referenced at any time. Your signature at the bottom of a letter indicates that you accept responsibility for its contents.

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