How to Write Business Letters

Acquiring the ability to write in a logical, coherent manner requires a lot in terms of preparation. It can almost be compared to making a presentation where the key mantra is rehearse, rehearse and rehearse, prior to the final appearance. This ensures perfection with regular practice.

How to Write Business Letters

These are stages of how to write business letters which discussed below:

Effective Business Communication

On most occasions, problems arise because of the improper assignment of time for the three stages of business writing. Maximum amount of time is spent on writing the draft and minimum time is spent on revising the material.. The schematic pattern observed for writing is mostly as follows:

The three stages in the writing process are:

  1. Pre Drafting
  2. Drafting
  3. Post Drafting

Pre Drafting

This is the preparatory stage in which you are supposed to collect information that you feel is relevant to the given topic For this, you need to know the purpose of your writing At this stage, it is best not to evaluate the material; just gather and move on to the next step.


This is the time for selection. As you start writing and organizing details, you are expected to remove anything that seems irrelevant or unnecessary, in short you need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Post Drafting

This is actually the most important stage- organization of the loose data. What sequence should you use for the information you have chosen? What comes first and why? Some logical rearrangement and your draft are ready.

Within the framework suggested, the task of the writer is simplified if he identifies the following steps prior to commencing work:

  • Define the problem
  • Gather material
  • Organise material
  • Revise
  • Complete the task

Define the Problem

There should be a proper definition of the problem and clarity of purpose. Writing could aim at persuading, informing, regulating or collaborating. Depending on each motive, the style of writing would change because each motive also determines a specific level of reader’s participation. In order to persuade, for example, one has to write very forcefully and logically.

The style should be logically foolproof and so convincing that in the end, the reader is compelled to think in the way the writer wants or at least reflect on the points that the writer has penned down long after he has finished reading it.

Gather Material

Once you know what your topic and motive behind writing are, you need to start collecting relevant material for writing. You need to use various sources for obtaining information. You can go through the internal reports and details at an organization’s office or records.

You can also collect information from outside sources like newspapers and the internet. Libraries are a great source of information collection. Interviewing people can also be a direct source of gathering information.

Library Usage Chart
Library Usage Chart

Organize the Material

The material gathered through research can now be put together in a shape. Once again, the order depends upon the purpose of your writing. Most of the time, one collects a lot of material; unfortunately, some of it might be redundant. Therefore, going through the material and locating the relevant details is very important in this stage.

When you come to drafting the paragraph, do not pay too much attention to grammar. Just arrange the information according to your motive and main idea. At this point, it is important to follow the logical flow of writing rather than correcting grammatical errors. Your mind cannot work on logical flow as well as grammatical correctness simultaneously.

Revise the Text

Though you should not spend time correcting grammatical errors at the previous stage, you need to devote most of your time to revising the organized draft.

You will now pay attention to errors in content flow, logic, and grammar. It is advisable to take a short break before this stage and return to writing with a fresh mind after five to ten minutes.

Finish the Text

Even after revision, you need to give the finishing touches to the draft at this stage. You need to look at the finer aspects of formatting, spacing, and textual errors. The draft needs careful reading for working on these niceties, even if you have read and re-read it several times before reaching here.

Preparing Notes

Preparing notes is a difficult and time-consuming process that requires great concentration. If notes were to be prepared in a systematic manner, they would necessarily follow a five-step process:

  • Read the text carefully.
  • Select the key words in the passage or words that communicate the main idea.
  • Construct a sentence that captures the essence of the paragraph or state it in brief, i.e. without verbs or conjunctions. The process can be expedited.

    For the opening statement you have to carefully study the essence of the writing research for key words.. If the statement needs to be copied, as it contains the original, care should be exercised at the time of copying it, so that there are no punctuation or spelling errors.
  • Note down the page number.
  • Note down the bibliographical details.
  • Points (4) and (5) are essential because the reader may wish to refer to the original for cross verification.

Notes can be prepared in the following manner:

Preparing Notes

Name of Author: Page No.Name of Book Publishers: Place of Publication:
Goal-oriented communicationCommunication is of two types: transaction-oriented and relationship-oriented. The former is goal-oriented.
Relationship oriented communicationFurthering and cementing social relationships

If notes for letters or reports are being prepared, reference numbers are used instead of bibliographical details so that it is easy to retrieve the information when the need arises.

How to Compose Business Messages

To compose a business message sounds rather simple. Minister preparation of messages and misunderstandings are liable to arise even between people working in the same department or occupying consecutive work stations or knowing each other pretty well.

In case of oral communication, the same can be immediately clarified but in the case of written communication, it could be dangerous for business relations.

Errors of judgment and interpretation do arise if a written message is not properly formulated. Some of the basic tenets to be kept in mind are as follows:

Short and Simple

Try to keep your business message as short and simple as possible. Avoid ornamental language whereby confusion of the core message may occur. Similarly, avoid unnecessary facts or details that simply keep the reader guessing why you included them.

Do not offer too much or too little. Just as you keep the material at the required minimum, be careful in using technical language or terminology. Use it only when you are sure the reader belongs to the same discipline.

Choosing Correct Words

In order to frame a concise message, appropriate words should be chosen Vocabulary used should be such that both the sender and the receiver are conversant with it, The motive behind using each word should be clear in your mind For example, if five people were asked to respond to the word, red probably all of them would come up with a different answer which may well be as follows: blood, color, passion, rose and communists.

If words are chosen with care, the connotation is also correctly understood. When choosing the right words, try following these simple tips.

Understandable and Simple Words

Avoid heavy jargon Use simple everyday words Remember that definitions and technical descriptions are best used by researchers and scientists They are not meant for everyday use of the language.

Appropriate Technical Words

However, when you need to describe something technical, you cannot let go of the jargon. You must call a laser printer a laser printer, even if you think all your readers cannot understand the term. You can always provide a short glossary at the end or a simple explanation in brackets when you use the term the first time.

This strategy, however, can only be observed if the piece of written communication is of a long nature. E.g. are port.

Concrete Words

Abstract words sound very good in figurative and artistic texts. For practical purposes, concrete and tangible words are better.. Avoid using. Heaven sun leashed their flood gates today. Instead, use It rained heavily today. Even confusing words such as tomorrow, day after tomorrow, soon, etc.

Verbs and Nouns

In written communication, verbs and nouns should be used as they spell out a positive and concrete rendering of the statement. Adjectives and adverbs should be totally done away withat the time of composing business messages unless, of course, one wishes to be extremely creative. Analyse the following statement.

  • Your project was extra ordinary brilliant.
  • It‘s hard these days to find competent workers like you.
  • You have made us really happy with your performance Statements like these are too showy. Restrict the flow of emotions by being specific and concrete and specify the content rather than the pleasure that one obtains out of one‘s accomplishment. Suppose we were to rephrase the statements and write them as.

  • · Your project excelled in the areas of.
  • Despite difficult circumstances, you were able to meet the target. · Your dedication and sincerity is deeply appreciated.In all the three statements, there is an objective assessment of the situation and the individual. This is brought about by a choice of well thought out words that neither express too much nor too little.

Positive words

In all three statements, there is an objective assessment of the situation and the individual. This is brought about by a choice of well-thought-out words that neither express too much nor too little.

Let us look at the following statement

It is next to impossible to complete the assignment today. The reader is bound to get disappointed by this statement However, we change these entenceand write it in the following manner, without changing the original meaning: The assignment would be completed by tomorrow morning.

This is much positive in tone. Do remember that the original message is not compromised here, but the method and tone of stating the same has certainly changed and made a difference to the listener. Thus, the chances of his holding a grudge against you are minimal in the second case.

Similarly, you can see the difference between the following pair of messages:

I believe things went a miss last week. Probably everyone makes a mistake. Let‘s see how things can be sorted out. Politeness is a good strategy to be adopted in difficult situations. Issues are sorted out amicably and cooperation is sought.

Correct words

Before starting the actual work, we should be very clear as to what we want to communicate, Even when translating our ideas from our native language to English, the essence of the message should be intact.,The following sentence looks fine: The presenter has but little time to convey himself. If you look closely, the choice of the word himself is inappropriate because one cannot convey himself one can only convey the message.

Therefore, we can restructure the sentence correctly as follows: The presenter has but little time to convey his ideas. This is an example of precision of ideas and correctness of words used.

Sentence structure

Once you are done with the right choice of words, the arrangement of words into sentences becomes an important factor. This arrangement gives coherence to the idea. You need to construct a simple sentence as far as possible. There should not be superfluous or extra words.

We cannot write new innovations, as innovations, by definition, are new. This is only an example of how we include unnecessary details unconsciously in our sentences. The only way out of such confusions is careful reading and re-reading of the text message before sending it.

Paragraph construction

As you become comfortable with writing sentences the next challenge that arises is its placement in the right or sequential order, in short, you need to work on writing a paragraph. Every paragraph must focus on just one central idea or two if they are closely related.

Some authors write one-liners and want to pass them off as intermittent paragraphs. They possibly want the text to look stylistically rich. However, the reader is generally confused unless the text is highly artistic in purpose and manner.

The paragraphs should be further joined to one another logically; they should not be disjointed. As we have already seen, the main idea or topic is presented at the beginning.


In all types of communication, the writer should focus on giving preference to the reader. One way of achieving this is the minimal use of ‘I’ and the maximum use of ‘you’. This way, the reader believes he is given importance and respect. He feels his opinion is equally important and hence reads the letter more positively. This 75 prompts him to take quick and immediate action. See the following two statements.

I was very happy to learn that you had cleared your internal examination. Now I can recommend you for a promotion at the earliest.

Congratulations on your successful completion of the examination. You would be happy to learn that your name can now be recommended for promotion.

The reader can easily feel that he is being given instructions. Your writing must not appear imperative at any point, even if you are actually instructing. This balance is a delicate one and can be achieved with practice.

Style and Tone

The tone in writing refers to the writer’s attitude toward the reader and the subject of the message. The overall tone of a written message affects the reader just as one’s tone of voice affects the listener in everyday exchanges.” (Ober88) Business writers should consider the tone of their message, whether they are writing a memo, letter, report, or any type of business document Tone is present in all communication activities.

The following questions will help you to determine the appropriate tone for your message.

  • Why am I writing this document.
  • Who am I writing to and what do I want them to understand.
  • What kind of tone should Issue.

Why am I writing this document?

how you should express the message you wish to convey. Obviously, you want the message to reach your audience and you will probably want the reader to take some action in response to your message.

When you consider the message and how you wish to express it, the tone of your message will become apparent.

Who am I writing to and what do I want them to understand?

Who is your audience? Whether it is an employer or a fellow worker, it is essential that you consider your reader before writing any document. Your message will be much more effective if you tailor the document to reach your specific audience.

What kind of tone should I use

The business writer should strive for an overall tone that is confident, courteous and sincere; that uses emphasis and subordination appropriately; that contains non-discriminatory language; that stresses the “you” attitude; and that is written at an appropriate level of difficulty” (Over 88). The only major exceptions to these guidelines are when you need to write a negative business message, such as when you deny a job offer or a customer request.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when considering what kind of tone to use in your letters and how to present information in that tone.

  • Be confident.
  • Be courteous and sincere.
  • Use appropriate emphasis and subordination.
  • Use non-discriminatory language.

Be Confident

You can feel confident if you have carefully prepared and are knowledgeable about the material you wish to express. The manner in which you write should assume a confident tone as well. As you prepare business documents, you want the reader to do as you ask or to accept your decision. In order to make the document effective, you must write confidently,

The reader will become more inclined to accept your position and will notice the confidence that you have. Employers are inclined to hire individuals that appear confident and sure of their abilities, This does not mean however; that you should appear.

For example:

Consider the following sentence:

You must agree that I am qualified for the position. Here the writer is over confident and discourteous and is sure to leave a bad impression on his prospective employer. Hence this tone and style of writing is not recommended.

Now consider the following statement and compare it to the previous one

My qualification sin the areas of accounting and customer service meet your job requirements. The writing shows a certain amount of self-confidence and a less pompous attitude. Be Courteous and Sincere.

My qualification sin the areas of accounting and customer service meet your job requirements. The writing shows a certain amount of self-confidence and a less pompous attitude. Be Courteous and Sincere.

Consider the words and phrases you use in your document and how your reader will likely receive them. If you are respectful and honest, readers will be more willing to accept your message, even if it is negative.

For example

You didn’t read the instructions carefully, thus your system has shut down. In case the other person is new he is likely to feel demeaned or offended. Instead you could try using the following approach:

You can help your readers to understand which of your ideas you consider most important by using emphasis and subordination. You can choose from a variety of strategies to emphasize an idea or to subordinate it.

To emphasize an idea, place it in a short sentence. A short and simple sentence will most effectively convey an important idea. You can provide further explanation, sufficient examples, or evidence in following sentences. To subordinate an idea,place it in a compound sentence. Read the following examples for better clarity:


Smoking will no longer be permitted in the building. The committee on employee health and safety reached this decision after considering evidence from researchers and physicians on the dangers of second-hand smoke.


The committee on employee health and safety has finished considering evidence and they have reached the decision that smoking‘s will no longer be permitted in the building.

Ideas placed in the first paragraph of a document or message receives the most emphasis, followed by information placed in the last paragraph. You can subordinate an idea by placing it in middle paragraphs of your message because these paragraphs receive the least emphasis.


Experiments have been conducted to test the hypothesis.


In most non-scientific writing situations, the active voice is preferable to the passive for the majority of your sentences. Even in scientific writing, over use of passive voice or use of passive voice in long and complicated sentences can cause readers to lose interest or to become confused. Sentences in the active voice are generally—though not always— clearer and more direct than those in passive voice. You can recognize passive-voice expressions because the verb phrase will always include a form of be, such as am, is, was, were, are, or been.

The presence of Abe-verb, however, does not necessarily mean that the sentence is in passive voice. Another way to recognize passive-voice sentences is that they may include a “by the…” phrase after the verb; the agent performing the action, if named, is the object of the preposition in this phrase.

The language you use to describe your ideas can also suggest how important that idea is. Use phrases such as “most important,” “major,” or “primary” when discussing ideas you want to emphasize and phrases such as “a minor point to consider” or “least important” to discuss ideas you want to subordinate.


Our primary consideration must be cost.


A minor point to consider is appearance. Repeating important ideas is good way to emphasize them as well. Be careful not to overuse this strategy; you will lose your readers’ interest if they believe you are needlessly repeating information.

Any information that stands out from the rest of the text will be emphasized. Bolding, underlining, CAPITALIZING, indenting and highlighting will convey emphasis to your reader. Do not use this strategy frequently or the design effect will be lost.

Use Non-discriminatory Language

Non-discriminatory language treats all people equally without using any discriminatory words, remarks, or ideas. The business writer must communicate in a way that expresses equality and respect for all individuals. Discriminatory language can come between your message and your reader. Make sure your writing is free of sexist language and free of bias based on factors like race, religion, age, gender etc.

  • Use neutral job titles. Not: Chairman
    But: Chair person
  • Avoid demeaning or stereo typical terms.
  • Search Google or type a URL Not: After the girls in the office receive an order, our office fills it within 24 hours.
  • But: When orders are received from the office, they are filled within 24 hours.
  • If you do not know a reader’s gender, use a non-sexist salutation. Not: Dear Gentlemen.
  • But: To Whom it May Concern:
  • Not: Each student must provide his own lab jacket.
  • But: Students must provide their own lab jackets. Or each student must provide his or her own lab jacket.

Stress the Benefits for the Reader

Stress the Benefits for the Reader: Write from the reader’s perspective. Instead of simply writing from the perspective of what the reader can do for you, write in a way that shows what you can do for the reader. A reader will often read a document wondering “What’s in it for me?” It is your job to tailor your document accordingly.

Not: I am processing your order tomorrow.
But: Your order will be available in two weeks.

Stressing reader benefits will help you to avoid sounding self-centered and uninterested.

Write at an Appropriate Level of Difficulty

It is essential that you write at an appropriate level of difficulty in order to clearly convey your message. Consider your audience and prepare your writing so that the reader will clearly understand what it is that you are saying.

Accordingly, do not use simple terms or insufficient examples if the reader is capable of understanding your writing, A competent writer will match the needs and abilities of their reader and find the most effective way to communicate with a particular reader.

What kind of tone should I use with a negative message?

It is especially important to consider tone when you are writing a negative message. In a negative message, such as a document that rejects a job offer or denies a request, be sure to assume a tone that is gracious and sincere. Thank the reader for their input or involvement and carefully state that you cannot comply with their wishes. Follow this response with an explanation as necessary.


Thank you for offering me the position as General Manager at Simon’s Inc. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept the position. I did not think that the position you offered me would utilize my communication and customer service skills to the degree that I wanted Therefore, I have accepted a position as Assistant Director at a different company.


Thank you for offering me the position as General Manager at Simon’s Inc. I appreciate your prompt and generous offer. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept the position. I have accepted a different position that will allow me to utilize my communication and customer-service skills.

In some negative messages, you may need to address faults or issues concerning an individual. When writing messages such as this, maintain a professional tone that does not attack the individual but that makes your position on the issue clear.

Dictionary and Thesaurus Usage

A dictionary, also referred to as a lexicon or wordbook is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations and other information or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a lexicon. According to Nielsen, a dictionary may be regarded as lexicographical product that is characterized by three significant features:

  • It has been prepared for one or more functions
  • It contains data that have been selected for the purpose of fulfilling those functions.
  • Its lexicographic structure slink and establish relationships between the data so that they can meet the needs of users and fulfill the functions of the dictionary.

Further, each word may have multiple meanings,Some dictionaries include each separate meaning in the order of most common usage while others list definitions in historical order, with the oldest usage first.

words can appear in many different forms, but only the underlined or un conjugated form appears as the headword in most dictionaries. Dictionaries are most commonly found in the form of a book, but some newer dictionaries, like Star Dict and the New Oxford American Dictionary are dictionary software running on PDAs or computers. There are also many online dictionaries accessible via the Internet.

A thesaurus is a book that lists words grouped together according to the similarity of meaning (containing synonyms and sometimes antonyms), in contrast to a dictionary, which contains definitions and pronunciations.

The largest thesaurus in the world is the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, which contains more than 920,000 words.


Begin a writing exercise without paying heed to the use of punctuations. After having written the passage, you will find that the entire piece of written communication does not really make much sense. Correct and appropriate use of punctuation adds much to the meaning of the sentence. Some of the commonly used marks are commas, full stops, question marks, exclamation marks, quotation marks, colons, semicolons, apostrophes and dashes/hyphens.


  • While I was eating, the cat scratched at the door.
  • If you are ill, you ought to see a doctor.


You should not do the reverse of this. For example, the following two cases are wrong:

Use a pair of commas to separate an inserted element from the main body of the sentence. For example;

John and Inga, the couple from next door, are coming for dinner tonight.

You can test this by removing the a side from the sentence.If the sentence still reads correctly, you have probably used the commas as you should. In the case above, this would render: John and Inga are coming for dinner tonight.
Do not use commas to separate essential elements of the sentence. For example:

  1. Students who cheat only harm themselves.
  2. The baby wearing a yellow jumpsuit is my niece.

Use commas to set off all geographical names, items in dates (except the month and day), addresses (except the street number and name) and titles in names.

  1. Birmingham, Alabama, gets its name from Birmingham, England.
  2. July 22, 1959, was a momentous day in his life.

Use a comma to shift between the main discourse and a quotation.

  1. John said without emotion, I‘ll see you tomorrow.
  2. I washable, she answered, to complete the assignment.

Use commas if they prevent confusion:

  1. To George, Harrison had been a sort of idol.

Full Stop

The primary use of a full stop is to end a sentence.

  1. We use punctuation for clarity in language.
  2. She was wise in that she did not accept the promotion.

Its second important use is for abbreviations.

  1. Jesus Christ was born in c.4-6AD
  2. Mr. Jones was happy to see his wife.

Question Mark

The question mark is a fairly easy punctuation mark to use. It has one use and one use alone. It goes at the end of a sentence, which is a question. For example:

  1. How many children will be at the party.
  2. You do not include a full stop when using a question mark. You also do not use a combination of question marks and exclamation marks in formal writing.

One thing to be careful of is to not include a question mark when it is not needed:

  1. I wonder how many people will come to the party. While you are expressing a thought that seems to require an answer, you are doing so with a statement. This is the most common mistake made when using a question mark.
  1. I wonder how many people will come to the party.

While you are expressing a thought that seems to require an answer, you are doing so with a statement. This is the most common mistake made when using a question mark.

Exclamation Mark

Use this only when issuing a command or speaking forcefully As in the case of the question mark, do not follow this with a period and do not combine it with other punctuation marks. Only one symbol is needed. Two or three exclamation marks in a row are completely unnecessary.

  1. What a great success.
  2. Don‘t worry.

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to quote another person‘s words exactly, whether they be spoken or written. For example:

  1. John said, We are going shopping.– Here, note the capitalization of We.You should do this unless you are quoting urinary-on sentence:
  2. John said we are going shopping because they had no milk. Note the omission of the comma in this case also.

When introducing a quotation after an independent clause, use a colon and not a comma to begin:

  1. As D. H. Nachos explains, The gestures used for greeting others differ greatly from one culture to another. (not an independent clause)
  2. D. H. Nachos explains cultural differences in greeting customs: Touching is not a universal sign of greeting. (this is an independent clause)

Quotation marks can also be used to denote irony or sarcasm or to note something unusual about it:

The great march of progress has left millions improve is he an hungry.


A colon should be used after a complete statement in order to introduce one or more directly related ideas, such as a series of directions, a list or a quotation or other comment illustrating or explaining the statement. For example:

  1. The daily newspaper contains four sections: news, sports, entertainment and classified ads.
  2. The strategies of corporatist industrial unionism have proven ineffective: compromises and concessions have left labor in a weakened position in the new flexible economy.
  • The colon is also used to separate chapter and verse from the bible (I Parlipomenon 12:30), to separate hours, minutes and seconds: 13:49:08 and as eyeballs in smiley faces.


Use a semicolon to joiUse a semicolon to joi Use a semicolon to join related independent clauses in compound sentences. For example:

  1. Jim work Jim work Jim worked hard to earn his degree; consequently, he was certain to achieve a distinction.
  2. Jane overslept by three hours; she was going to be late for work again. · The semicolon is also used to separate items in a series if the elements of the series already include commas. For example:
  1. Members of the band include Harold Rostein, clarinetist; Tony Aluppo, tuba player; and Lee Jefferson,trumpeter.


The apostrophe has two main uses:

  1. To form possessives of nouns, e.g. students’ council, women’s club.
  2. To indicate contractions, e.g. wouldn’t,can’t

Dash or Hyphen Dash

Use the dash to emphasize a point or to set off an explanatory comment; but don‘t overuse dashes or they will lose their impact. A dash is typically represented on a computer by two hyphens with no spaces before, after or between the hyphens.

  1. To some of you, my proposals may seem radical–evener volutionary.
    It is also used for an appositive phrase that already includes commas
  1. The boys–Jim, John and Jeff–left the part yearly.


Use a hyphen to join two or more words serving as a single adjective before a noun:

  1. Chocolate-covered peanuts.
    Don‘t use the hyphen when the noun comes first:
  1. The peanuts are chocolate covered.
    Use a hyphen with compound numbers: Forty-five
    You should also use a hyphen to avoid confusion in a sentence:
  1. He had to re-sign the contract.
  2. He had to resign his job.
    Use a hyphen with the prefixes ex- (meaning former), self-, all-; with the suffix -elect; between a prefix and a capitalized word; and with figures or letters:
  1. Ex-husband
  2. Self-assured
  3. Mid-September
  4. All-inclusive
  5. Mayor-elect
  6. Anti-American
  7. T-shirt
  8. Pre-Civil War

Deleting Redundancies/Using Simple Words

In your writing, to think twice. The use of redundant phrases in your writing is a habit worth breaking, Here is a short list of some to look out for:

AvoidChange To
close proximityproximity
completely unanimousUnanimous
consensus of opinionConsensus
each and everyeach or every
end resultresult
exactly the samethe same
he/she is a person whohe/sh
basic essentialsEssentials
in spite of the fact thatalthough
job functionsjob or functions
new innovationinnovation
one and the samethe same
personal opinionopinion
refer backrefer
summaries brieflySummaries
surrounding circumstancescircumstances
past historyhistory
very uniqueunique
and alsoand or also

Note: Some redundancies contained in phrases have been legitimized over time and should be left alone: safe haven, hot water heater, new beginning, tuna fish, never before, and joined together and false pretences.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.