Effective Business letter is an important medium of exchanging business information among the business people. But writing an effective business letter is not so easy. It requires proper planning, imagination, approach, layout and after all skill of the writer. The following steps are to be followed in drafting an effective business letter:
Effective Business letter
Proper Planning: Proper planning is the first and foremost important step in drafting an effective commercial letter. At the first phase of writing a letter, the writer must have a sell thought plan of what to write, when to write, whom to write, how to write and where to write. A well thought planning will lead the writer to complete the letter successfully and a well planned letter best serves the purpose of the writer.
Determining the Objectives: Identifying the purpose of writing a letter is an important matter because the objectives will tell the writer what he will write, to whom he will write and how he will write. Business letters are written for different purposes and the purpose determines the type of letter. So, a business letter must have a distinct prime objective along with some secondary objectives. Thus, the writer of a letter must determine why he wants to write it before writing.
Identifying the Audiences: The third step of writing a business letter is to identify the target audiences or probable readers of the letter. Identifying the audiences helps the writer of the letter to assess the level of knowledge and understanding of the readers, their positions, educational status, psychological set up, their probable action or reaction, etc. it also helps the writer select proper writing style, language and other elements. The best approach of assessing the reader is to put the writer in the reader’s position and read the message from reader’s viewpoint.
Gathering information: The writer of a letter is to collect necessary information that is accurate and relevant. Since letter contains purposive information, the facts and figures are to the collected from reliable source and should be correct and genuine. Generally, for letter message information are collected from office, concerned persons, files, documents, events and writer’s won experience.
Organizing the Information: After gathering necessary information for the letter, it is important to decide how the information is to be arranged in the letter. There are two approaches for organizing the information in the letter – Direct Approach and Indirect Approach. The subject matter and the objective of the letter will determine which approach should be applied in a business letter.
- Direct Approach: In direct approach, the main point or the main news comes first at the beginning of the letter and other information come letter. This approach is use when the message caries good news, requires less or no persuasion and direct presentation. Letter of inquiry, quotation, order, appointment, notice, tender, invitation etc. are written by using direct approach.
- Indirect Approach: Indirect approach is used when it requires presenting unfavorable or unpleasant news in the letter. In this approach, some pleasant, amiable and humorous statement come first and the bad news is then introduced with necessary explanation. Indirect approach is also used in case of persuading the readers.
Selecting the Letter Format: Selecting the letter format is an important decision in writing a business letter. Letter format refers to the way of arranging different paragraphs or elements in the letter. There are five distinct styles of writing letter-
- Indented Style: In indented style each element of a letter is written leaving two to four spaces from the left margin.
- Block Style: In block style, the date, complementary close and the signature are aligned with the right margin and all other parts except the letterhead are set flush left.
- Completed Block Style: In this style, all the parts except the letterhead are aligned with the left margin. Open punctuations followed in this form.
- Semi Block Style: The semi block form is the combination of block and indented forms. In this style, block form is used for the inside address and for the complementary close while indented form is used for the body of the letter.
- Hanging Indented Style: This style is like that block style except that the first line of each paragraph is aligned with the left margin but all other lines in each paragraph are indented form is used for the body of the letter.
Deciding on the Contents: In this stage, the writer of a letter should decide what elements he will include in the letter. A business letter has different elements or parts depending on the style of the letter. The contents of a letter help the writer to present the message logically and conveniently.
Drafting the Letter Primarily: After completing all the above mentioned stages, the writer of a letter is to draft the letter for the first time as a rough. In primary drafting the writer can start writing his letter from any part or point and can rub or rewrite as many times as he wishes.
Reviewing or Editing: This is the last step of writing a letter before it is produced finally. In this stage, the primary draft is reviewed and revised several times so that it can be modified or developed further. The writer must read the letter as many times as required to be sure that it is free from all types of errors. The style, format, tone, language, paragraphs, spelling, accuracy, brevity and grammar should be checked or verified duly before sending the letter.
Writing the Final Letter: This is the last step of writing a good business letter where the letter is written or drafted finally for distribution. The final letter must be reproduced on quality paper either in printed form or by hand written. It should be neat and tidy, accurate and free from defects.
From the above discussion, we find that writing and effective business letter is really difficult. One can be apt in writing a good letter if he follows the above stated process or steps minutely. Above all, writing is an art and one should articulate it.