Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Art of Business Writing Letters part 2

Know when to send the correct letter is the first step to achieving the proper response in business writing.

There are 12 general tips for better business writing:

Get organized- make an outline that way your writing is divided into smaller, easy to handle pieces and parts. Stick to the standard format- introduction, body and conclusion.

Know the reader- find out about your reader that way your writing will be built on their needs, interest and desires.

Avoid “corporatese”- don’t use industry jargon. This jargon is only good when speaking to someone in your industry. Avoid cliches and antiquated phrases and technical terms are useless also. No big words when little words will work just as well.

Favor the active voice- be concise in your writing. It will be more understandable to the reader.

Avoid lengthy sentence- keep your sentences short. Use the Fog Index to determine if your sentences are to long. (

Be specific- people want specific facts, figures, conclusions and recommendations.

Be simple- you want to express not impress

Define your topic- knowing the purpose of your document will give you clear and specific details in your writing.

Adequate content- do research on your topic that way your writing is well rounded and back it up with facts.

Be consistent in usage- if you start in first person, use first person through out your whole document

Shun dull/wordy prose- use the fewest words as possible. Avoid redundancies and over blown expressions.

Short Blocks of text- use short paragraphs and sections to break up your writing.

then there are times when standard organizational format will not work. There are 9 other organizational schemes that will work for you:

Order of location- closes to further away

Order of increasing difficult- easiest to complex

Alphabetical order- logical arrangement

Chronological order- facts in order of occurrence

Problem/solution- problem first then write solution

Inverted pyramid- summary then details

Deductive order- start with finding then end with evidence

Inductive order- start with specifics then lead reader to the specific suggestions

List- use when writing about steps

There are many ways to write letters but only a few are correct and will get you your desired response.

The Encyclopedia of Business Letters, Faxes, and Email by Robert W. Bly and Regina Anne Kelly

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The Art of Business Letter Writing

Why do you write letters? There is a reason and end result you are looking to accomplish. Writing letters accomplishes several things; such as information gathering; promote; record information; sell; support and engagement.

There are basic formatting that needs to be included in your letter: dateline; reference line; special mailing notation; inside address; attention line; salutation; subject line; identification initials. Complementary close is placed two spaces after last paragraph and signature block is two spaces after that.

There are three letter types that can be used in business. Most business writing can fit in one of these categories. All these types have 3-4 paragraphs to appropriately get the message across.

The Good News Letter

This is where the “good news” is given in the first paragraph. It satisfies the curiosity of the reader. The second paragraph is for explaining your main point and offering supporting details to help the understanding of the letter. The third paragraph is for a call to action telling the reader exactly what you want them to do.

The Bad News Letter

The “bad news” is given in the third paragraph. The first two paragraphs are to prepare the reader for the disappointing news. Leading with the bad news the reader will become defensive and most likely not finish reading it. Using the acronym YES will remind you of the correct format.

para1- Y (you)- express your understanding by echoing concern

para2- E (explain)- reason for bad news in detail

para3- S (state)- give the bad news and offer apologies

The last paragraph is the call to action-  this is where you leave on a positive note.

The AIM Letter

Is used to ask for contributions, collect a debt, promote a plan or sell a product or service.

para1- A (attention)- capture by using a “grabber”

para2- I (interest)- describe in detail

para3- M (motivation)- offer solid evidence

The call to action should spell out the action you want. Give the reader some thing to do by adding phone number or email and add a sense of urgency.

Before you start writing your letter, first figure out what the purpose of your letter. Remember each type of letter is for a specific purpose. When answering someone in a positive matte use the “good news” format, answering someone in a negative matter use the “bad news” format and if asking for something use the “AIM” format.

Administrative Assistant’s and Secretary’s Handbook Third Edition by James Stroman, Kevin Wilson, Jennifer Wauson

The Encyclopedia of Business Letters, Faxes, and Email by Robert W. Bly and Regina Anne Kelly

Persuasive Business Writing: Creating Better Letters, Memos, Reports and More by Mary Cross