Brief Introduction to Business Letters
Words and expressions:
Full block style（齐头式）
Section A Parts of Business Letters
Most business letters have seven standard parts.
They are letterhead, reference and date, inside address, salutation, body, complimentary close, and signature.
When appropriate, any of the following optional items can be included.
Attention line, subject line, file or account number, enclosures, carbon copy notation, mailing notation and postscript.
Letterhead designs vary with business organizations and occupy the top of the first page.
They may be positioned at the center or at the left margin the top of the page.
A business letterhead, usually printed, contains all or some of the following elements:
The company’s name , address, postcode, telephone number, telex number, fax number, the name of the officer or the director and even some picture or slogan for a symbol of the company.
Reference and Date
A typewritten date is necessarily included in the heading.
The date is usually placed two lines below the last line of the letterhead at left margin for full block style or ending with the right margin for indented style.
It is usual to show the date in the order day/month/year ( English Practice) or month /day /year (American practice).
Avoid giving a date in figures and abbreviations.
The inside address is typed directly below the date line at the left hand margin.
The inside address of a letter to an individual consists of the person’s courtesy title, name, business or executive title ( it should be used immediately after the name) and address.
When the letter is to a group, the inside address includes the full group name and the address.
Care should be taken to address the recipient exactly as on the envelope.
Salutation is placed at the left margin two lines below the inside address and two lines above the body of the letter.
Considered a polite greeting with which a friendly business letter begins, the personal salutation must be appropriate for the first line of the inside address.
If the letter is addressed to an individual, It is usual to use:
Dear Mr. Smith,
Dear Ms. John,
Dear Prof. Hobart,
Dear Dr. Walter,
The trend is towards Ms. As the courtesy title for all women regardless of their marital status.
When addressing a letter to a firm, Dear Sirs, Ladies and gentlemen or Gentlemen (American English ) would be used.
An attention line is considered a part of the inside address and it leads the letter to a particular person or department when the letter is addressed to a company.
It is usually between the inside address and the salutation or above the inside address ,as shown in examples:
Attention: Import Dept.
For the attention of Mr. Donnan, Sales manager
Attention of Mr. Standard, General Manager.
The subject heading is regarded as a part of the body of a business letter.
Usually it is in the upper case or initial capitals/underline and placed between the salutation and the body of a letter to call attention to what content the letter is about. For example:
Dear Ms. Smith,
Our Catalogue No.2,
The first paragraph of the body is introductory.
It will always begin with reference to the previous letter received and provide an introduction to what will be discussed.
Here are examples as follows:
(1),Your letter of 9’’ September to our Beijing
(2),We refer to quotations of 8’’october and our mail offer of 1’’ December regarding the supply of Speedo swimming caps.
(3)We acknowledge, with thanks, receipt of your binding application form for the 76’’ international Exhibition in March, 1998.
(4),We are pleased to inform you that the arrangements have now been made to ship the cotton underwear under your Order no.456.
(5), We regret up to the time of writing we have not heard anything from you about the shipment under the captioned contract.
The complimentary close is simply a polite way to end a letter.
The expression for the complimentary close should match the salutation.
It appears in the middle of the page and two lines below the closing sentence for indented layout.
While it starts at the left-hand margin for fully blocked letters.
Only the initial letter in the first word of any complimentary close is capitalized.
The signature mainly consists of the addresser’s signature, he typed name of his and his business title.
Name of the company if it is previously printed on the letterhead.
The addresser should sign the letter by hand and in ink above the typed name which the typed post follows immediately.
Signing on behalf of somebody else ,it is usual to write for pp or per pro before he letter.
Enc. Or Encs. Is typed two lines spaces after the signature of the address when something is sent along with the letter.
An enclosure can be anything in the envelope in addition to the message itself.
Examples are as follows: Enc.: 1 Price List
If the enclosed are more than on, the number should be marked.
When you find something forgotten to be included in the letter body before the envelope is to be sealed up.
You may state it after the signature in a postscript with a simple signature again.
The adding of a P.S. should, however, be avoided as far as possible.
For examples: PS: the catalogue was sent to you on July 7th.
Section B Format of a Business letter
Full block form and modified block form with indented paragraphs are the two main patterns of layout in current use.
The former is now the most popular practice of displaying business letters.
Its remarkable feature is that all typing lines, including those for the date,
Inside name and address, salutation, subject heading, each message paragraph and complimentary close, begin at the left-hand margin.
Business letters with the full block form, along with open punctuation or mixed punctuations, re paragraphed by equal line spaces.
For this letter-style the open punctuation pattern is used, the end of the date line, the inside address lines, the salutation, the complimentary close and the signature block lines are unpunctuated, but a comma is necessary between the day and year in the date line and the full stop is retained after the abbreviation such as company, Inc. and Ltd.
While the mixed punctuation pattern, the most welcomed style today, requires an absence of punctuation marks from the date line, the inside address lines and the signature block lines except a colon or comma after the salutation and the complimentary close.
Modified block form with indented paragraphs indented style is the traditional British practice with the heading usually in the middle and the date on the right-hand side.
The complimentary close may be in the center or commence at the center point. The mixed punctuation is often used.
CHINA NATIONAL IMP. & EXP> CORP>
Add: 6, JIANGGUAODAJIE, BEIJING , CHINA
Tel: (86-10) 67483650
Fax: (86-10) 67483651
4 February 1998
Resunic Trade Links
Regd Office Thriuvamkulam Cochin 678201
EXORTING/IMPORTING ITEMSOF OUR CORP
We now have pleasure in receiving your letter dated 23th
J. K. DRAW
Encl. As stated
Section C Writing Rules for Business Letters
Business correspondence is still a basic activity involved in trade, and remain a very important form of communication even nowadays.
They deliver their companies’ images to the public.
Business letters are often an arrangement or regarded as evidence of a contract.
They are written for information exchange and bridge over the desires between buyers and sellers.
The most effective letter should be easy to read and easy to understand. They must be friendly and courteous.
We should bear in mind the point that business letters play an important role in the development of goodwill and friendly trade relationships.
Generally speaking: consideration, completeness, correctness, concreteness, conciseness, clarity and courtesy.
Try to put yourself in his or her place to give consideration to his or her wishes , demands, interests and difficulties.
Find the best way to express your better understanding and present the message.
That enables a request to be refused without killing all hope of business or allows a refusal to do favor to be made without harming friendship.
Correctness means not only proper expressions with correct grammar , punctuation and spelling, but also appropriate tone which is a help to achieve the purpose.
It is likely to convey the real message in a way that will not cause offence even if it is a complaint or an answer to such a letter.
Business letters must be factual information accurate figures and exact terms in particular, for they involve the right, the duties and the interest of both sides often as the base of all kinds of documents.
Therefore we should not understate nor overstate as understatement might lead to less confidence and hold up the trade development. While overstatement throws you into an awkward position.
As you work hard for completeness, keep the following guidelines in mind:
Why do you write the letter, what are the facts supporting the reasons, whether you have answered all the questions asked or not and what the reader is expected to do.
What the letter comes to should be specific, definite rather than vague, abstract and general.
Take, for example, some qualities or characters of goods that should be shown with exact figures and avoid words like short, long or good.
Give specific time (with date ,month, year and even offer hour, minute if necessary).
But avoid expressions such as yesterday, next month , immediately and etc.
Conciseness means complete message but briefest expression with no sacrificing clarity or courtesy.
A good business letter should be precise and to the point.
Single words are more efficient than phrases.
Wordy languages and redundancy require more time and money to type and to read.
They are not what modern business people want.
Keep constantly in mind what you want to say in your letter.
It is welcomed if you express yourself clearly and directly in the simplest language.
Plain, simple words are more easily understood.
A properly paragraphed message is required for the purpose of clarity.
For instance ,we use semimonthly instead of bimonthly for two times a moth., because bimonthly may mean both two times a month and once every two month.
Courtesy means to show tactfully in your letters the honest friendship, thoughtful appreciation, sincere politeness, considerate understanding and heartfelt respect.
Answer letters in good time and write to explain why if you fail to do it promptly.
Even if you don’t think the recipient is right, you should still respond tactfully and politely.
Sometimes it is a help to use you-attitude instead of I-attitude.