A letter of acknowledgement is both a receipt and a public relations tool. Its objective is to let the reader know that items requested in a prior communication, usually an inquiry or an order letter, have been received.
The scope can actually be quite brief, just enough to complete a business communication cycle. Confirming the day in which an item arrived or expressing some appreciation for having a request satisfied may be all that is necessary.
Remember, it's the thought that counts. An acknowledgement letter is a professional courtesy routinely extended by successful people in the building and maintenance of productive business relationships.
Identify Your Reader
An acknowledgement letter should be addressed to a person who requires a receipt for an item sent. If you do not know the name of the sender, you may find it in the complimentary close of a previous letter; an original inquiry or an order letter, for instance. That name should be placed in the inside heading and the salutation of your acknowledgement. It should also be included on the top line of your envelope.
Remember that people do business with people first, businesses second. When you address your reader by name, you recognize their importance and value as an individual human being.
Establish Your Objective
The objective of an acknowledgement letter is to let the reader know that expected items have, in fact, been received. You should be brief.
In the body the writer should mention a specific point, clarifying for the reader that it is an important part of her overall objective, letting him know that further discussion will be expected in their upcoming meeting.
Determine Your Scope
The scope of an acknowledgement letter can be quite brief, a line or two, the objective of which is to notify the reader that a request has been satisfied. When a continuing dialogue is required, the scope may be broadened to include new information.
In the body the writer should provide the name of her assistant, a second contact person with whom he can speak should she be unavailable to take his call. This establishes a line of communication that indicates her serious interest in exploring a further business relationship.
Organize Your Letter
Organizing your acknowledgement letter will establish a logical order in which to present your information. You have already begun this task by establishing an objective and determining your scope. Refer back to them. Together they include much of the content that will become the body of your letter.
A simple outline will get you organized. Begin by creating a list of relevant points and place them in the sequential order that will best help your reader. comprehend your acknowledgement. These points will become the backbone of your draft; your outline will become a checklist.
Draft Your Letter
Working from an outline is the simplest way to draft an acknowledgement letter. You have already organized yourself by creating a list. Refer back to it and turn each fragment into a full and complete sentence expressing a single thought or idea.
In order that your thoughts and ideas are conveyed in a cohesive manner, write in as natural a sounding voice as possible. Try writing your draft quickly and then read it out loud. Concentrate on communicating your objective to your reader. Make sure that the scope of your letter contains all the relevant information included in your organizational list.
Keep in mind that you are writing a rough draft. For the moment you can ignore spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure. Those are technical details that you will pay attention to in the final step when you review and revise your work.
Close Your Letter
An acknowledgement letter should close in a professional manner. Once your last paragraph is written, sign off between a complimentary close such as "Sincerely," or "Thank you," and your printed name.
If you are writing in conjunction with an official duty, place your title below the printed name. Additional information such as dictation remarks, notification of attachments, enclosures and copies sent to other individuals should be placed beneath the title line.
Review and Revise Your Acknowledgement Letter
Reviewing and revising your acknowledgement letter is the final step in the writing process. You will check your draft in this step, making sure that your objective is clear and your scope is concise. Put yourself in the reader's shoes as you examine the rough draft. Ask yourself, as the recipient, whether you are able to comprehend the request quickly and if enough information has been included to enable a timely response.
Look for the obvious errors first. Check for spelling, sentence structure and grammar mistakes. Remember that a passive voice is not as commanding as an active one. You want your letter to be strong, so write with an active voice.
The important thing to keep in mind is the overall cohesiveness of the whole unit. Look for accuracy, clarity and a sense of completeness. Ask yourself if the transitions between paragraphs are working and if your point of view, tone and style are consistent throughout the text.
Examine your word choices carefully. Ambiguous words lead to confusion. Jargon and abstract terms may not be understood at all and affectations, cliches and trite language serve no real purpose and will obscure your objective. You want to help your reader understand exactly what it is that you want, so remove all that is not helpful.
And finally, if you have not written an opening or a conclusion now is the time. The introduction needs to lead into the body of your letter with a firm statement about the subject of your acknowledgement and enough supporting information to keep the reader reading. Your closing remarks need to reiterate your objective with a question that calls for an action.