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How to write an impressive and effective business letter or email

Letter writing is an art. A well written letter is a pleasure to read. It’s also very hard work!!!! Letters provide you with an opportunity to make create a positive impression. The impression you make depends on how you present and express yourself.

The following information was sourced from:  , ,

What do you want?

You write letters to:
(1) make a request
(2) clarify an event
(3) decline a request
(4) express appreciation
(5) create a paper trail

Before you start writing brainstorm the letter

Dump your thoughts from your brain onto a sheet of paper.
Why? Why am I writing? What am I trying to accomplish?
What? What do I want? What are my goals?

Keep it short and make it feel alive

Say what you have to say. Most people don’t have the time to read long letters. If you repeat yourself, you’re wasting the reader’s time and your letter will generate a negative response. Keep your message short and to the point.
Speak directly to the reader. Use the same words and figures of speech you use in your day-to-day speech. Think about the reader as a real person. Use words like “you,” “we,” “us,” “our” to make your letter more personal. Everyone who reads the letter will feel that the message is directed at them

A beginning that catches their attention

Common beginnings, the ones we hear all the time, or those that lack emotion, discourage readers from continuing. More original and unusual beginnings, especially those with strong feelings, make readers take notice and prepare them for the ideas to come.

Add an emotion to the following opening lines:

  1. With reference to your letter of 8 June, I …
  2. I am writing to inquire about …  because I …
  3. After having seen your advertisement in … , I would like to express …
  4. After having received your address from … , I …
  5. I received your address from … and would like …
  6. We/I recently wrote to you about …
  7. Thank you for your letter of 8 May.
  8. Thank you for your letter regarding …
  9. Thank you for your letter/e-mail about …
  10. In reply to your letter of 8 May, …

Parts are arranged in the best order

Spend more time on more important parts and less time on less important parts. The trick is to put the parts in the best order so the reader will be entertained and will easily be able to understand how each part relates to the next. (1) Introduction, (2) Point 1, (3) Point 2, (4) Point 3, (5) Conclusion
There is another reason to write your letter chronologically. If you jump from issue to issue, the reader will get confused, then frustrated. Readers have negative reactions to people who write letters that are hard to follow. The reader is likely to get annoyed and angry with you if he can’t figure out your point. If the reader gets frustrated, he will quit reading – and he’ll blame you for this frustration. You don’t want this to happen.
Start new paragraphs and points with  words or small groups of words like “First,” “Next,” “Then,” “After a while,” “Later this year,” “In the near future,” “In my opinion,” “Finally,” to introduce the next part in the sequence.

Make a request

  1. We would appreciate it if you would …
  2. I would be grateful if you could…
  3. Could you please send me . . .
  4. Could you possibly tell us/let us have…
  5. In addition, I would like to receive …
  6. It would be helpful if you could send us …
  7. I am interested in (obtaining/receiving…)
  8. I would appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.
  9. Please let me know what action you propose to take.


  1. Thank you for your quotation of …
  2. We are pleased to place an order with your company for …
  3. We would like to cancel our order …
  4. Please confirm receipt of our order / documents / project update.
  5. I am pleased to acknowledge receipt of your order …
  6. Your order will be processed as quickly as possible.
  7. It will take about (three) weeks to process your order.
  8. We can guarantee delivery before …
  9. Unfortunately these articles / services are no longer available/out of stock.


  1. Please send us your price list / estimate for for project.
  2. You will find enclosed our most recent catalogue and price list.
  3. Please note that our prices are subject to change without notice.
  4. We have pleasure in enclosing a detailed quotation.
  5. We can make you a firm offer of …
  6. Our terms of payment are as follows :

Make an assumption

Assume that their will be a successful outcome. Use the power of ‘suggestion’. Use positive words like when. will, would etc.

  1. We would be happy to …
  2. Would you like us to …
  3. We are quite willing to …
  4. Our company would be pleased to …
  5. We are pleased to announce that …
  6. I am delighted to inform you that …
  7. You will be pleased to learn that …

Present yourself as open-minded to negotiation

One of the most powerful forces you have on your side is the “The Unknown.” You never begin negotiations by telling the other side what your “bottom line” is.  In negotiations people often make the mistake of being direct. They hope that by being ‘strong and up front’, they’ll be rewarded. This doesn’t happen. Present a suggestion but do not make it an ultimatum.

  1. I regret to inform you that your proposal was rejected by our Director but….
  2. I’m afraid it would not be possible to … but it may be possible to….
  3. Unfortunately we cannot/we are unable to …  but we can…
  4. After careful consideration we have decided (not) to …
  5. We are sorry for the delay in replying …
  6. I regret any inconvenience caused by our delay..
  7. We have reviewed you proposal in-depth and would like to offer this compromise…
  8. I would like to apologize for (the delay/the inconvenience) …
  9. Once again, I apologise for any inconvenience..
  10. I hope you can appreciate how big a decision this is for our company…

Present your complaint / problem as unique

You want the person who reads your letter to see you are different. You want them to think “Wow! We’ve never had this before! To avoid “We ALWAYS handle ABC situations this way. We ALWAYS have handled ABC situations this way. We ALWAYS will handle ABC situations this way. We can’t make exceptions for you. If you present your situation as unique, it won’t be listed in the Bureaucrat’s Big Book of Rules and Procedures. Remember: bureaucracies are inflexible and rule-bound. By presenting your situation as unique and more personal, you can sometimes get people in the system to see things differently. If they see things differently, they may be able to handle things differently. Maybe the problem is due to: company size / location / special situation / communication / public opinion / project delays / government permission required / you have very demanding customers / your management has very high expectations / you are losing customers to a competitor because you cannot fulfill their requirements / you persuaded your management to choose this contractor and now management are blaming you for the project delays / red tape is holding up the process. Whatever the problem try to present it as unique and requiring attention asap.

  1. I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with …
  2. I am writing to complain about …
  3. Please note that the goods we ordered on (date) have not yet arrived.
  4. We regret to inform you that our project completion date of— is now considerably overdue.
  5. I would like to query the ——  charges, which seem unusually high.

Never be judgmental

You want the reader to be interested, not defensive or anxious. Provide factual information, and then let the reader draw conclusions. You want the reader to conclude the judgment on their own.

  1. Our records show that we have not yet received payment of …
  2. According to our records …
  3. Please send payment as soon as possible.
  4. You will receive a credit note for the sum of …

A conclusion that makes them think

The last paragraph of your letter should be a clear, concise summary of your letter’s purpose. Single sentence endings usually feel too abrupt, as though the letter ended before the reader was ready.  Mention something personal you know about the person:  a promotion / a hobby / an event they attended or will attend / their family if you know them well / their golfing handicap if you want to tease them etc. This moves your relationship beyond just another standard business letter and makes the person reading the letter feel a human connection with you. Here are some standard endings below – try a little improvisation to make they feel more unique / personal.

Last sentences part one:

  1. If you require any further information, feel free to contact me.
  2. Please advise as necessary.
  3. We look forward to a successful working relationship in the future.
  4. Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  5. Once again, I apologise for any inconvenience.
  6. We hope that we may continue to rely on your valued custom.
  7. I would appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.
  8. I would appreciate a reply at your earliest convenience.

Last sentences part two:

  1. We look forward to a successful working relationship in the future.
  2. We would be (very) pleased to do business with your company.
  3. I would be happy to have an opportunity to work with your firm. I look forward to seeing you next week.
  4. I look forward to your reply.
  5. I look forward to hearing from you.
  6. I look forward to seeing you.
  7. Looking forward to hearing from you.
  8. Looking forward to to receiving your comments.
  9. I look forward to meeting you on the 15th.

Review your letter before you send it

After you write the first draft, go and do something else for a while. DO NOT SEND IT!  A “cooling-off period” allows you to look at your letter more objectively.
1 – Why are your writing?
2 – What is the point you want to make?
3 – What do you want the reader to do?
ALWAYS read your letters aloud. This is a valuable tip from professional editors.
ALWAYS have at least one outside person read your letters. Your “reader” should be someone who will tell you the truth, especially when you did not make things clear. Ask your “reader” to pretend that he or she is a Stranger can they answer the three questions I listed above?

June 29, 2013

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