Too Tired? Too Anxious? Need More Time? We’ve got your back.
Week 6 – Business Letters and Memos
Week 6 – Business Letters and MemosIn today’s world, email is most often used to communicate professionally. However, we cannot lose sight of formal means of communications like letters and memos. This week we take a close look at both types of communications, best practices, and the proper way to write each. Part A – Business LettersA business letter is a professional, formal letter that is sent by one company to another. These letters can be used for professional correspondence between business clients, employees, stakeholders as well as individuals.Whether you need to tell a potential client about your product, collaborate with another company, convince someone to attend your event, or give a thank you note – a well-written business letter can stand out.Business letters demonstrate a level of professionalism and class, however, writing them becomes a tedious task when you are unfamiliar with them. Sections of a business letter: SENDER’S ADDRESS The sender’s address usually is included in letterhead. If you are not using letterhead, include the sender’s address at the top of the letter one line above the date. Do not write the sender’s name or title, as it is included in the letter’s closing. Include only the street address, city, and zip code. DATE The date line is used to indicate the date the letter was written. However, if your letter is completed over a number of days, use the date it was finished in the date line. When writing to companies within the United States, use the American date format. (The United States-based convention for formatting a date places the month before the day. For example: June 11, 2001.) Write out the month, day, and year two inches from the top of the page. Depending which format, you are using for your letter, either left justify the date or tab to the center point and type the date. In the latter case, include the sender’s address in letterhead, rather than left-justified. INSIDE ADDRESS The inside address is the recipient’s address. It is always best to write to a specific individual at the firm to which you are writing. If you do not have the person’s name, do some research by calling the company or speaking with employees from the company. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. Follow a woman’s preference in being addressed as Miss, Mrs., or Ms. If you are unsure of a woman’s preference in being addressed, use Ms. If there is a possibility that the person to whom you are writing is a Dr. or has some other title, use that title. Usually, people will not mind being addressed by a higher title than they actually possess. To write the address, use the U.S. Post Office Format. For international addresses, type the name of the country in all-capital letters on the last line. The inside address begins one line below the date. It should be left justified, no matter which format you are using. SALUTATION Use the same name as the inside address, including the personal title. If you know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation (for example: Dear Lucy:). In all other cases, however, use the personal title and last/family name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation. If you don’t know a reader’s gender, use a nonsexist salutation, such as their job title followed by the receiver’s name. It is also acceptable to use the full name in a salutation if you cannot determine gender. For example, you might write Dear Chris Harmon: if you were unsure of Chris’s gender. BODY For block and modified block formats, single space and left justify each paragraph within the body of the letter. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. When writing a business letter, be careful to remember that conciseness is very important. In the first paragraph, consider a friendly opening and then a statement of the main point. The next paragraph should begin justifying the importance of the main point. In the next few paragraphs, continue justification with background information and supporting details. The closing paragraph should restate the purpose of the letter and, in some cases, request some type of action. It’s important to be concise and clear. Explain any requests politely with sufficient detail so that the recipient can respond appropriately, but don’t be overly verbose. Instead of gratuitous details, superfluous stories or extraneous tangents, business letters should be simple, short and direct. The overall tone of business letters should be respectful and formal. When writing this type of letter, your aim should be is to be cordial, direct, efficient, and civil. Use a clear writing style, being sure that you don’t come across as demanding or disrespectful. CLOSING The closing begins at the same vertical point as your date and one line after the last body paragraph. Capitalize the first word only (for example: Thank you) and leave four lines between the closing and the sender’s name for a signature. If a colon follows the salutation, a comma should follow the closing; otherwise, there is no punctuation after the closing. ENCLOSURES If you have enclosed any documents along with the letter, such as a resume, you indicate this simply by typing Enclosures below the closing. As an option, you may list the name of each document you are including in the envelope. For instance, if you have included many documents and need to ensure that the recipient is aware of each document, it may be a good idea to list the names. TYPIST INITIALS Typist initials are used to indicate the person who typed the letter. If you typed the letter yourself, omit the typist initials. Font Another important factor in the readability of a letter is the font. The generally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used. When choosing a font, always consider your audience. If you are writing to a conservative company, you may want to use Times New Roman. However, if you are writing to a more liberal company, you have a little more freedom when choosing fonts. Punctuation Punctuation after the salutation and closing – use a colon (:) after the salutation (never a comma) and a comma (,) after the closing. In some circumstances, you may also use a less common format, known as open punctuation. For this style, punctuation is excluded after the salutation and the closing. PROOFREAD!As you might have already understood, a business letter is not the place to be sloppy. Triple-check it for spelling and grammatical errors.Also, don’t forget to review the spelling of your recipient’s name. If you spell it incorrectly, that’ll increase the chances of your letter winding up in the trash.At all costs, avoid grammatical mistakes. They suggest that you lack professionalism and attention to detail. Make sure to also do a spell check while you’re at it. Types of Business Letters1. Cover LettersA cover letter is a one-page document that candidates submit along with their resumes. It takes the employer on a guided journey of their greatest career & life achievements.No matter if you’re a student or an experienced professional, a cover letter is an important document to show your skills, experience, and why you’re fit for the position you are applying for.Tips:
Do not try to fit your whole career in your cover letter. It should have a carefully curated collection of stories.
Don’t state a skill that you don’t actually have. You’ll definitely regret it when you’re asked to use that skill in the interview.
Keep it concise and to the point. The employer does not have time to sit down and read an entire memoir.
2. Business InvitesThese letters are a formal way to reach out to a company or an individual and invite them to attend an event hosted by your company.As business events tend to be formal, an invitation letter is most likely to be formal as well. But, if you are organizing a casual event, it should be reflected in your invite and tone.Tips:
Write the letter in such a way that it builds anticipation about the event.
Clearly mention the date, time, and venue.
Set a friendly follow-up to remind them of the event.
3. Complaint LetterThis letter is a way to formally express your disappointment formally. You can report a bad experience, poor customer service, or let a company know that their products didn’t meet your expectations.The key to this letter is that it shouldn’t sound like you are nagging, but also shouldn’t lose its importance if you want to be taken seriously.Tips:
Don’t get too emotional or over-the-top angry. Just state the facts.
Be cordial and professional. Let them know the entire story and how’d you like them to rectify their mistakes.
4. Letter of ResignationA letter of resignation is a document that notifies your employer that you are leaving your job. Whether you work at a coffee shop or a big-shot company, it is proper protocol to submit a letter of resignation before you leave.Tips:
Keep it simple, stick to the facts, and don’t start complaining. Resignation letters are not the right place for complaints & critiques.
Thank your boss and/or the company for the opportunities and describe some of the key things you learned on the job.
If you’re in a high-profile position, consider your words super carefully because your letter would likely be made public.
5. Order LettersAlso known as “purchase orders”, these letters are used to order things or buy material. They act as a legal record, documenting the transaction between the buyer and seller.These letters are generally written by one business to another business to make an order or to modify it.Tips:
Be concise and clear to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion.
Include everything the seller would need to deliver the order and get the payment.
Provide contact information for future conversations or follow-up.
6. Letter of RecommendationThese letters intend to recommend someone for an internship, job, fellowship, or other such opportunities.Before hiring an employee, many employers ask for such kinds of letters. It tells why the person the letter is about is a good person to hire and describes their strengths & abilities.Tips:
Be honest and don’t agree to write a letter to someone you don’t know.
Use specific examples to highlight the person’s strengths, skills, and abilities.
Include why you believe the candidate would excel in the role.
Many times, people overlook the importance of writing persuasive business but the uses of these can be incredibly important to your life and career. As a result of which, people don’t know how to write a business letter.Writing a clear and concise business letter can be simple, as long as you follow the established rules for layout and language. Business Letter Format:
Week 6 – sample business letter.pdf Week 6 – sample business letter.pdf – Alternative Formats
Part B – Business Memos What is a business memo?A business memo is an internal, informative business document. Business memos are like internal press releases; they are ideal for sharing brief yet vital information quickly, often (but not always) with multiple people at once. While less formal than business letters, the language in a business memo should still be professional and polite—particularly when including any action items for the intended recipient(s).A business memo would be suitable for conveying the following:
Changes to personnel, including team additions, departures, and role changes
Updates on upcoming events, such as meetings or company gatherings
Shifts in everyday operations or workflows
You can use memos to address business challenges and announce solutions. Unlike business proposals or business cases, the purpose of a business memo is not to gain approval for a proposed solution; the solution presented in a memo should already be approved. The purpose of the memo is to announce that it is time to implement a solution and to provide instructions, if necessary, on how to do so.Memos are best suited for addressing a single issue or change at a time. How to format a business memo:The purpose of using a business memo to convey a message is to be concise and efficient. Therefore, the formatting of your memo should make the document as easy to read and navigate as possible.While specific formatting details, such as colors and font, will depend on your organization’s internal guidelines, all memos should clarify the following information in the header (at the top of the document):
Date: The date on which you send the memo to its intended audience
To: The name and/or title of the individual(s) or team(s) to whom your memo is primarily addressed
Cc (Optional): The name or title of anyone else who will receive a copy, if applicable
From: Your name; usually, this is accompanied by your handwritten initials and possibly your job title
Subject: A phrase that sums up the memo’s content; think of this as an informal title for your memo
The body of the memo will follow this information—the message you are sending. If the message is straightforward and stated in one or two paragraphs, no special formatting is necessary. But if the issue is a little more complex, headings and/or bullet points can be an excellent way to break up the text and break down the information into more digestible parts. How to write a business memo effectively:Once you understand how to write a business memo, the next step is learning how to write one effectively. The ideal business memo is a quick and easy read; it should be clear and concise, confident and direct, but not mechanical. Most business memos are no longer than a single page in length, yet they convey all of the necessary information in reader-friendly terms. Here are the main tips:
Keep your subject line concise but also precise. Avoid general or vague subject lines like “Upcoming Meeting” in favor of something more specific, such as “Notice of Date Change for Upcoming Marketing Department Meeting.” This way, even busy readers who are only skimming the document will understand what issue is being addressed.
Lead with the main topic of your memo. It should be clear from the very first sentence what this memo is about. If your memo is on the long side, your first paragraph should briefly summarize the following content.
Keep your audience top of mind. Tailor the content of your message to your primary audience’s priorities. Consider what matters most to them and emphasize that element early in your message to grab your readers’ attention. For memos distributed across multiple teams, be sure to use language familiar to all, avoiding jargon that only certain team members may understand.
Include only relevant information. Some supporting information may be helpful, even necessary, to illustrate specific points. However, if you can remove a sentence or paragraph without losing the meaning of your message, it is usually better left out.
Choose the right tone. All memos should be confident and direct, but be sure to consider your content and audience as well. Sensitive HR issues, for example, require a more empathetic tone than minor scheduling updates. When in doubt, use Grammarly’s tone detector. It evaluates the tone of your memo and its appropriateness for your message, ensuring it’s delivered effectively and sounds exactly as intended.
Choose the right communication channel. There are subtle but important differences in sharing a memo via email versus posting it in a chat channel or on a private messaging platform, so be sure to choose your channel carefully when sending your message. An urgent update, for example, may be better suited to something like Slack than to an email that may not be opened right away.
Avoid potentially confusing or misleading mistakes. No matter how simple the message, it is always important to reread what you’ve written to eliminate typos and other issues that could lead to a misunderstanding. Once again, it will help immensely if you read the memo out loud to yourself to detect your tone and make word choice suggestions for clearer writing. If it does not sound clear in your reading, it will not be clear to the reader.
An effective memo improves productivity by getting the right information to the right people as quickly and efficiently as possible. Good memo writing can also improve employee engagement, as team members typically feel more connected to a company when they are kept “in the loop.” Sample business memo:
Week 6 – Sample Business Memo.pdf Week 6 – Sample Business Memo.pdf – Alternative Formats
Please refer to the Week 6 Discussion Board forum for details on this week’s assignment.
After you have read the Week 6 lecture completely, please address the following:
1. Write a business letter to the person or topic of your choice. Decide which type of letter of those noted in the lecture. Please follow the formats explained in the lecture. Be creative, the situation in the letter can be real or made up.
2. Write a memo to the person and topic of your choice. Please follow the format explained in the lecture. Be creative, the situation in the memo can be real or made up
Too Tired? Too Anxious? Need More Time? We’ve got your back.