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Drafting formal written documents


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Trimite pe Messenger
Managerial Performance and the Need for Data
Project Documentation: Procedures, Forms, Memos, and Such
Business Plan - Venetian Lion
Socialising - The Impact of Culture on Business
Motivation, Leadership and Delegation
Schedule Development and the Network Diagram
Development of Management
Team Organization
Performance Assessment: Tracking and Monitoring



make familiar with general formal rules in business letter writing

use appropriate tone, attitude and vocabulary

Letter Layout and Style of Formal Business Letters

When preparing for a successful and effective written business message, it is important to have in mind several steps to take even if your organization has the best modern office technology for inputting ideas, processing messages, and storing, retrieving, reproducing and disseminating them: planning, organizing, composing, drafting, editing and revising. The written message must also be proofread and corrected before being mailed, sent by fax or by Internet.

Apart for the specific purpose of the written message, there is the underlying general purpose of building goodwill. In a refusal o a collection letter, the purpose should be twofold – to refuse the request or ask for money, but also to maintain the customer’s goodwill. For this reason, the writer must take into account his message adapting to the recipient’s views and needs, even if the sender has never met him or her. It is of great help to picture the recipient, - a business or professional person; a superior (boss), colleague, or subordinate; man or woman; new or longtime customer; young, middle aged or elderly; educational level, attitudes. All types of communication will also take into account areas in which the recipient is well informed, pleased or displeased, positive or negative, or neutral; interested, enthusiastic or uninterested or unreceptive.

The next step is to choose the ideas to be written. When replying to a letter the main points to be dealt with can be jotted briefly in the margin or on a memo pad. For a welcome letter for a new customer, that selected your bank, for example to open an account, only one or two sentences will not suffice. He should be made aware of your bank policy concerning the opening accounts, and the message will also contain information about overall services available to them and the sender’s association eagerness to become his financial headquarters.

After deciding what ideas to include it is important to select any specific facts, updated figures or quotations according to the sender’s organization policies, procedures.

The order, in which the ideas are outlined, is often as important as the ideas themselves, as disorganized writing reflects disorganized, illogical thought process or careless preparation. The organizational plan will be pendent on the reaction expected from the recipient: direct-request; good-news, bad news, or persuasive request plan.

These are considered flexible guide patterns.

A direct approach can be used when the message conveys good news, favorable or neutral information or exchange routine information between companies. The direct-request plan is used when the main purpose of the letter is making a request that requires no persuasion.

Direct-Request Plan/Good-News Plan

1. Main idea/Best news

- request, main statement, or question

- reasons

2. Explanations

- all necessary details

- easy-reading devices

- educational material

- promotion material

3. Courteous close, with motivation to action

- clear statement of action desired

- easy action

- appreciation and goodwill

The indirect-approach is used when an unfavorable reaction is expected to the information or request conveyed by the message. The main idea will never be present in the first paragraph. Some relevant, pleasant, neutral or receiver-benefit statements and then some reasonable explanations before the introduction of the unpleasant idea will take its place.

Bad-News/Persuasive-Request Plan

1. Pleasant, neutral or reader’s interest statements

2. Explanation

- details, tactfully stated

3. Decision implied/statement of request and offer of additional help or suggestion

4. Positive, friendly close/action

- invitation to future action/clear statement of action desired

- easy action (stamped envelope, etc); dated action

- willingness of further help

- recipient benefit

Mind the following formal characteristics of a business letter shown in the following pieces of correspondence:






The World Business Organization


Department of Commissions



Mr. Hernando Zerda N.


International Trade Office




Fax 563 447 2465


2 November 2000



Dear Mr. Zerda,



With regard to your query number T.S.134 to the ICC Banking Commission, please be advised that our initial response to this query, set out in our letter to you of 15 September, 2000, has been amended by the Banking Commission at its meeting of October 3-4. The full-amended text is the official response of the Banking Commission to your query. Please find below the opinion of the officers of the Banking Commission.





1. Sub-article 39b covers the situation where the credit prohibits partial shipments and the quantity of goods shown in the credit is not given as individual items or packing units. This could be where there is no quantity described or where the quantity is expressed as a unit of weight such as metric tons. In these circumstances, the beneficiary has the ability to ship up to 5% less or 5% more provided the credit amount is not exceeded. If the shipment falls within 5% less than a quantity stated it will be deemed to be a partial shipment.


2. When issuing credits, banks wish to be aware of the total liability hereunder therefore the credit needs to express a maximum amount that could possibly be drawn hereunder. The credit would then have a clause that states that only one drawing is allowed hereunder and the drawing may be for any value not exceeding the value of the credit. In this way the provisions of Article 39 would not apply.



The opinion rendered on this query reflects the opinion of the ICC Banking Commission.


Neither the ICC nor any of its employees, nor any member of the Banking Commission, shall be liable to any person for any loss or damage arising out of any act or omission in connection with the rendered opinion.

Yours sincerely,

Ron Kats,

Policy Manager - Banking Commission

The letter shown is sent from an institution (International Chamber of Commerce to an individual as an answer to his inquiry. The first main parts of a business letter is the letterhead that is printed on the top of the sheet of paper, usually of white color, It can be replaced by the sender’s address which is usually placed on the top left hand side of the letter. It is of considerable assistance to business correspondence when letters include the sender’s name and appropriate letters at the top:

“From Dir. Marshall, Sir David Smith, K.L.T.” (The custom of printing letters after people’s names has arisen in modern times and has been determined by the great expansion of the Orders of Chivalry and higher honors, together with the multiplication of degrees and appointments. In business and officially it is polite to get all that lettering right: Letters are but abbreviations, and customs has evolved certain standards abbreviations and most people seek guidance about conventions.)

A reply is often wrongly addressed because the writer has no knowledge of the letter’s recipient or sometimes his or her rank. When the writer is a woman, the practice gives the recipient the advantage of knowing whether she should be styled with a title (Lady Brown) or, much more often, Mrs. or Miss Brown. One also knows that the correct form of address is Mrs. Joan Davidson, instead of, according to her signature, “Mrs. Davidson Joan”, or “Mrs. J. Davidson”. “Esq.” or “Mr.” may be omitted because it sounds pretentious, but it presents no difficulty to which it replies.

This system has some advantages over typing the name under the signature. It is not customary to include the letters after the name here and seldom a title.

The inside or the receiver’s address is positioned on the left hand side, also, under the letterhead. It will contain either the surname of the addressee if the writer knows it, on the first line of the address, preceded by a courtesy title or the person’s initial(s) or his or her first given name. The writer should know or be able to assume the addressee’s position in the company (Sales Manager, The Finance Director, etc). The letter can be also addressed to a particular department of the company. If the sender does not have any information about the person or department, the letter should go to, he can simply address it to the company itself. In UK, after the name of the addressee the followings are written in the order:

Name of the building

Number building and name of the street, road, or avenue

Name of town or city and the postcode

Name of the country

Or the number of the fax code or/Internet address

Both the addresses may be “blocked” (i.e. each line is vertically aligned with the one above), or indented.

There are no rules stating that one style or other must be used, but any of them used, the writer must be consistent, i.e. not to block the sender’s address and then indent the inside address or the body of the letter.

A comma, except for the last line, can follow each line of the address but the majority of firms now use the open punctuation, i.e. without commas.

In order to direct the letter to a certain addressee, there is also the alternative “Attention line”:

For the attention of the Security Department:

For the attention of the Deputy General Manager

Which is placed between the date and the salutation line.

The date is written below the sender’s address, separated by it with a space, on the right hand side of the page. The month should not be written in figures, as they can become confusing. Should be abbreviated, as it simply looks untidy. It takes a moment to write the date in full, but it can take a lot longer to find a misfiled letter that was put in the wrong file because the date was written in a confusing way.

As a salutation line is usually used “Dear…”. The American Style of including both the Christian and the surname is growing in Europe, for example “Dear John Watson”. The younger generation considers it to be useful in the business world where informality is on the increase.

When corresponding with a firm, letters should be addressed to an individual, whenever possible, such as the Chairman, The Managing Director, The Secretary or The Manager. When a firm writes to another firm “Gentlemen” is used instead of the usual “Dear Sir”, which is also adopted by a private individual when addressing to an organization or group.

“ Mesdames is not normally used in business letters and it can be avoided by writing Dear Madam” or “Dear Mrs. Stephenson”. “Messrs” has become archaic but it is still used for the profession of law or to firms with personal names: “Messrs Berkley & Co. “Messrs John & Mary Bloomfield”, but it is never used when the firm’s name bears a lady’s name: “Josephine Dowel & Associates”.

The body of the letter may be full-block or indented, according to the sender’s wish. The length of the letter depends on the subject, but the right length includes the right amount of information. The letter should also make all the necessary points in a logical sequence, with each idea or piece of information linking up with the previous one in a pattern that can be followed. No jumping around statements or switching to other subjects are allowed. Before passing to the drafting of the letter, it is advisable to make a plan and then check if all the necessary information was included and put it into the right order.

The first paragraph of the letter will settle the tone of the whole letter, and gives the reader his first impression about the writer and the company. The writer should thank his correspondent if he is replying to him, setting also the purpose of the letter.

The main paragraph will concern the points that need to be made, answers to give or questions to ask.

When closing the letter a thank-you line should be included in the letter as a reply if there was not such a line in the beginning. The letter will invite for further enquiries or correspondence and mention that the writer looks forward to hearing from the addressee soon.

Simplicity and clear style, accuracy of the business letter lead to a better understanding and closer relationship of the business partners. But the style should not, however, be so simple that the letter become discourteous, and sound rude: complex sentences, passive rather than active, full forms, rather than abbreviated ones should be used.

The stereotype formal style of ending business letters has become almost obsolete, except for official and formal letters to Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Governors, senior officials. The following endings of letters are now generally used, but the very formal style may occasionally be preferred:

Formal: I remain (or am)

Your Grace, Most Reverend Sir, Right Reverend Sir, Your Excellency, My Lord, Mr. President, Mr. Chairman, Sir, Madam, etc.

“Yours Faithfully,” (or “Yours truly”)

“Faithfully” is used on a matter of business, but “truly” is used when the writer does not know the recipient, but the subject of the letter is not business. For social style of ending a letter “Yours sincerely” (or “Yours very sincerely”) is commonly used.

It is important that the letter actually have the right documents enclosed: if, in the body of the letter a document is mentioned as enclosed, the writer makes sure that it is that document itself enclosed, with it specific number of pages registered also on the bottom of the letter.

The signature of the sender is laid on the right hand side of the letter, after the name of the writer and position typed not to induce confusion for the receiver. When the person entitled to sign the letter is not available, then a “p.p.” is mentioned down before the signature to make the receiver understand who signs the letter actually.

When not having a letterhead, the sender's address is written on the top right-hand side of the page. As for the date, the abbreviation 'th' can be left out after the date: e.g. June 12 instead of June 12th. The inside address (receiver's address) is written below the sender's address, on the opposite side of the page. When writing the salutation line, the surname of the addressee is to be written when it is known, preceded by a courtesy title. If you know nothing about the 5) company you are addressing to, the letter can be addressed simply to the company itself. If the letter begins with 'Dear Sir/ Sirs/ Madam', it will close with 'Yours faithfully', but if it begins with 'Dear Mr. Peter/ Mrs. Weldon/ Ms. Duddles, it ends with 'Yours sincerely'. At the end, it is common and safe to sign with the given name and title.

So that your written and oral communication will be easily understood, friendly and accurate, make your message clear by using words that are familiar to your receiver. Aim for unity, coherence, and emphasis in your sentences and paragraphs. Have an average sentence length of around 15-20 words and an average sentence length of around 4-5 lines in letters and 8-9 lines in reports.

To make figures stand out clearly, you may find headings to be useful. Give your reader examples with appropriate easy-to-read characteristics or other visual aids. The courteous communicator is sincerely tactful and appreciative: he omits expressions that irritate, belittle, or have questionable humor and he also grants and apologizes and answers mail as soon as possible.

Overall corectness requires correct language level and accurate facts, figures, word choices, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Nondiscrimination toward people because of their gender, race, ethnic origin or physical disableness is necessary.

The body of the letter should be displayed in a block form or indented. Whichever style you use, you must be consistent and use that style all through the letter. Mind the different styles of the two letters:


Dear Sirs:

Thank you for your letter of 7th March in which you enquire about insurance cover for your shipments of computer components from Sydney to Rio de Janeiro.

In view of the very different nature of the consignments, I would recommend that you adopt two different solutions. I suggest that you take out our marine all-risk valued policy. This provides cover against all standards risks such as wreckage, fire, theft and damage while loading and unloading, but you would be also strongly advised to include a 'with particular average' clause. Thus, in the event of barratry (voluntary damage to goods in order to save the rest of the cargo) you would receive compensation.

This solution would mean a policy at 70p% and therefore a total premium of $564,390, but the extra outlay is less worthwhile. for the extent of cover provided.

Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours faithfully,

T.L. Lawrence

Insurance agent

The Commercial Bank Ltd

Stratford Street Branch



Blvd. des Italiens


Dear Sirs,

We are still missing your reply to our letter of December 16 (a photocopy is enclosed).

As we have not advised our customer due to the difference in the amount claimed and the invoices, please advise us as soon as possible whether the documents may be released against payment of FF 32,305,413.

As already advised, the relative documents are held at your disposal.

Yours faithfully

D. Bartolomeo

Encl: Letter No. 237/December, 16 2001


I. Look at the following letter structure and identify its main parts and their position: a) date; b) letterhead; c) subject line; d) inside address; e) copies; f) body ; g) reference line; h) salutation line; i) signature; j) complimentary line.

II. Correct the following sentences so that the meanings become clear. If necessary use more than one concise sentence:

From one insurance company to another insurance company:

Frankly, the information we have while it may disclose some contributory negligence on our assured's part which of course, is questionable, we still feel that your assured had he not been driving at the high rate of speed, that he was could have swerved to his right and avoided our assured's vehicle but due to the fact he was coming down a hill at such a tremendous rate of speed with no control over his car and struck our assured there was enough room to the right of our assured to have turned slightly and, therefore, avoided the accident.

III. Match the following 'main parts' of a business letter with their 'content' and those from the letter before: 1. letterhead; 2. inside address; 3. attention line; 4. addressing line (salutation line) 5. reference line/ subject line; 6; body of the letter; 7. date; 8. complimentary close; 9. signature; 10. enclosure; 11. copies.

a) draws attention to the topic of the letter and it can be used as reference throughout the letter; b) usually at the end of the letter when copies are sent to people other than the named recipient (c.c. - carbon copy); c) main part of a business letter containing: name and type of the company, the address of the main office or registered office, telephone, fax, the registered number with the country or city in which the company was registered, the logo of the company; d) ending line of a business letter before the signature: G.B. Yours faithfully, Faithfully yours, Sincerely; U.S.A.: Yours truly; e) the address of the addressee; f) It will include the typed position in the firm; p.p. (per pro) means for and on behalf of; g) the content of the letter; h) reference to a certain person in the recipient firm: for the attention of / private and confidential; i) courtesy titles: Dear Sirs (U.S.A. Gentlemen)/Sir/ Madam/ Sir or Madam; Dear Mr./Mrs./Miss./Ms.; j) copies of the letter sent to other recipients or different other documents attached; k) written below the sender's address or in the right hand side of the page: month never written in figures or in short.

IV. Write Letter, Fax, or e-mail next to each of these descriptions:

1. This is used in routine day-to-day communication where the correct choice of words is not so important. The subject title is important to help the reader find it in files later. The style is informal and very direct. The content is very short as only the basic information is mentioned.

2. This is used for those situations where the writer wants to make a good impression or where the correct choice of words is important (e.g.) for a first contact with a possible new customer or for making a complaint). The style is careful and polite and there is much use of standard expression.

3. This is used for some day-to-day communication, particularly to transmit copies of documents that are not in electronic form. Then style is intermediate and depends on who will read it: informal, direct language can be mixed with some longer, standard expressions.


Politica de confidentialitate



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