Writing business correspondence
There are three steps to effective business correspondence writing.
Step 1: Think
We've learned that we need to think before we speak. Similarly before we write, we also need to think about what we want to say, and what we want to achieve.
A customer sent Debbie a purchase order, but some of the requested items are on back-order. Debbie is writing a letter to inform her customer about the situation and get the customers approval for a late delivery.
Step 2: Draft
After we work out the content and the purpose of the document we can start putting ideas on paper.
The easiest way is to write down our thoughts quickly in point form.
At this step, we shouldn't be concerned about any specific details, our choice of words, or the order of the content.
Here's Debbie's rough draft. It contains:
Step 3: Finalize
After we have all the ideas written down we then have to organize and put them together.
Here are a few tips:
Lets look at how Debbie finalizes her content so far.
She is courteous and empathizes with her reader.
Her choice of words is precise, and direct, in plain English.
She puts down her content in a logical order starting with:
When we have the content worked out, we need to work out how we are going to send it, so we can put our content into the right format. We can send our document by letter, facsimilie or email.
Lets look at each one of them.
Step 3: Finalize - Letter
Here is Debbie's content in a letter format.
This part contains the sender's company name and address. Most business letterheads already have these details pre-printed.
A letter should have the date when it was written.
This part contains the receiver's name, position, the company name and address.
Usually we start a letter with a greeting like 'Dear Sir or Madam', or Dear Mr. Mortenson, when we know the receiver's name.
'Re' or 'Reference' indicates the subject or purpose of the letter.
This part is the content that we've previously worked out.
We usually end a business letter with a complimentary closing, such as 'Yours sincerely' or 'Yours faithfully'.
Finally a letter needs to be signed and followed by the sender's typewritten name and position.
Step 3: Finalize - Facsimilie
Here is the same document ready to be sent by facsimilie.
Most companies have pre-printed fax covers which already have all of the sender's details.
It's a good idea to specify how many pages there are so the receiver can check if they got all the pages.
Step 3: Finalize - Email
Here is the same document in email format.
Notice that in the email we specify the receiver's detail by his email address only.
'CC' is an abbreviation for 'carbon copy'. We can send a copy of this document to other people by typing their email addresses here. Debbie is sending a copy of this document to Bill so he's informed about the situation.
We can't sign the email document, but we should still include our name and position.
In this topic, we have learned that business correspondence writing can be divided into three steps.