Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Business letter writing


If writing a business letter in English takes you much longer than in your own language, here are a few guidelines that you may find helpful.

Plan before you write.

Look up the words you need before you start.

Note the points you want to make, and order them into logical paragraphs.


Write as you would speak in a business conversation.

The tone should be friendly and polite.


Make sure you check the gender of the addressee (the recipient), as well as the correct spelling of the person's name and title.

Use Ms. for women and Mr. for men.

You can use Mrs. for a women if you are 100% sure that she is married.


To avoid any confusion, write the month instead of using numbers. (e.g. January 15th, 2007, or 15 January 2007)

Be concise and clear.

The easier it is to read a letter, the better.

◊ Keep sentences and paragraphs short and simple.

◊ Use straightforward vocabulary to avoid any misunderstanding.

◊ Ask direct questions.

◊ Rewrite any sentence that does not seem perfectly clear.

◊ If the recipient is not a native English-speaker, it is preferable to avoid words and expressions that are too technical or complicated.

Remember this word order principle :

Who - Does - What - How - Where - When

(Subject - Verb - Object - Manner - Place - Time)

Examples :

▪ Mr. Brown will travel by plane to London on Monday, June 5th.

▪ A technician will install the equipment in your office on Tuesday morning.

▪ I will confirm the transport arrangements as soon as possible.

Avoid old-fashioned words

Although they are used in legal documents and contracts, words like 'herewith', 'hereby', 'herein', 'aforementioned', etc. are rarely used in letters.

The following style of sentence is preferable :

"You will find more information on our products in the enclosed brochure."

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