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How to Write Clear, Readable, Effective Sentences that Readers Love!
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How to Write Clear, Readable, Effective Sentences that Readers Love!

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How to Write a Better Business Letter by Brian Konradt

There’s more to writing a business letter than knowing its basic framework. If you hope to compose a better business letter, you must improve your skills in correspondence.

An essential part of written communication, business correspondence goes beyond knowledge of your native English language. It also includes good social etiquette and proper choice of words.

To guide you towards better business writing, here are certain steps and techniques which you should learn to master:

Step 1: Start on the right tone.

Most letters start out stiff and stilted, simply because the writer hasn’t figured out exactly what tone to use. Based on the subject, should you be formal or informal? Based on your familiarity with the recipient, should you be friendly or detached?

Step 2: Focus on your objective.

If you’re in a predicament over Step 1, then Step 2 can help. As a tip, it’s always wise to go back to the purpose of your letter.

Are you making a general inquiry, or are you making a specific apology? Are you applying for a job, or are you confirming your employment? Are you issuing a request, or are you granting one?

Once you’re clear on what your objective is, your tone will naturally follow. So will the flow of your words.

Step 3: Plan your salutations.

Few people realize that the awkwardness often begins with their salutations or greetings. On one hand, you’d like to be warm and friendly. On the other, you’d like to be as polite and respectful as possible.

In any business letter, ‘Dear’ is a good way to start. But then again, find out if you’re to end it with a ‘Sir’, a ‘Madam’, or a ‘Ms.’

Step 4: Be accurate with content.

Here’s where you can’t afford a not-so-merry mix-up of names and titles. It would truly be very embarrassing if these were your points of error. At most, you could offend somebody unintentionally.

Step 5: State your reference, if any.

Do state if you’re replying to a previous letter sent to you or responding to a new ad on the paper. Mention the date and source of your information.

Once you’ve made a reference, you can naturally make the transition to discussing the reason for your letter. You can also make mention of any documents you’ve attached or enclosed.

Step 6: Exercise tact and diplomacy.

As with any business letter, always be tactful and diplomatic in your approach. This holds true especially when you’re delivering bad news or a negative reply.

Step 7: Close with a positive remark.

What could be more positive than a sincere ‘Thank you’? Express your gratitude and say you’ll look forward to future communication. Offer to be contacted for any help or to answer any queries. In other words, extend goodwill to each other.

Precisely the point, your goal is to finish on a good ending. To say goodbye to any awkwardness at all, here are some closing tips.

Use ‘Best regards’ if you consider the recipient to be a business associate or friend. Write “Sincerely’, ‘Faithfully’, or ‘Truly’ if you’re acquainted but not familiar with the recipient. End with ‘Respectfully’ when you’re more or less on a formal relationship.

True enough, better business correspondence can be learned and developed. What you lack in talent, you can compensate through skill. More than time, it requires practice, patience, and determination. Conscious of words and attentive to detail, it all amounts to attitude!