Tips For Writing Business Letters

1. State your point clearly and concisely

A good business letter must provide all relevant information in a clear and concise manner. Don't use extremely long sentences in your letter. They are not easy to understand. What's more, when your sentences are ridiculously long, your chances of making grammar mistakes are pretty high. So use simple and short sentences that are no longer than two or three lines. Your letter should fit on one side of an 8 ½" x 11" sheet of paper.

2. State your purpose of writing in the first sentence

Few professionals have the time or patience to read long letters. Instead, what they do is to skim the letters quickly. Therefore, it is important to state the purpose of your writing in the opening sentence of the letter. Use active voice. Passive verb forms are suitable in academic and scientific writing. In business letters, they are not very effective.

3. Use a formal tone

A business letter should be written in a formal tone. That means you have to avoid conversational English. Avoid contracted verb forms and idioms. Use simple yet powerful action words and sentence patterns that will create a favorable impression on the reader. If the first few sentences of your letter can capture the reader's interest, he or she will slow down and read the letter more closely.

4. Correct spelling and grammatical errors

It doesn't take a great deal of time or effort to spot the silly grammar and spelling mistakes in your letter. Note that skimmers as well as readers will spot them at one glance. So you have to spell-check and grammar-check your document before sending it. Remember, however, that a spell-check is not always helpful. It merely checks the spelling. It will not be able to detect correctly spelt words used incorrectly. For example, the words 'there' and 'their' are often mistakenly interchanged. A spell checker will not be able to help in such situations. So consult a dictionary if you are unsure of your word usage.

5. Reread your letter

Reread the letter after you have finished writing it. If it is possible leave the letter alone for an hour or two, and then reread it closely. This method makes it easy to spot mistakes which you might have otherwise overlooked.

6. Get a second opinion

If it is an important letter, it is worth getting a second opinion. If you have a competent friend or a colleague who is willing to help you, you can request him or her to read the letter and give comments.

Manjusha Nambiar is an ESL tutor and content developer. Her site perfectyourenglish.com gives English Grammar lessons and formal letter writing tips. Subscribe to her feed and you will win a free Grammar eBook titled '120 Grammar and Vocabulary Mistakes to Avoid'.

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