Whether you are writing to a business client or a close friend, there are several aspects of letter writing that need to be included in all your correspondence. Unfortunately, the art of letter writing has been largely lost in recent years, as more and more people make the permanent switch to digital forms of communication. However, you can set the right tone for your written discourse by revisiting the various principles of writing a letter.
Select high quality writing materials
The quality and texture of the paper you choose for your letter is crucial to the tone you want to deliver. For instance, if you are writing a professional letter to a client, it’s best to use a word processor and some high quality A4 printing paper – which should always be white.
The most appropriate envelopes for business correspondence are usually the self-sealing C5 or DL varieties. An experienced envelope supplier can talk you through the best options for your needs.
If you are writing to a specific individual in another business, it’s usually a good idea to handwrite the address. If your correspondence is directed to a department or organisation, typing an address and displaying it in an envelope window is probably the most appropriate course of action.
If you are writing a personal letter to a friend of relative, there are several things you can do to make your correspondence more heartfelt. For instance, selecting a thick and textured paper will mean your message feels great in the hands of the recipient. Writing with a fountain pen will add an element of elegance, and selecting an A5 sheet will personalise things.
If you need to, use a ruler to ensure you write in straight lines, leaving at least half an inch blank at each side of the paper. Also, take the time and effort to produce your best handwriting to show the recipient that your letter is important to you.
Include your own address and contact details
Every letter you send should have an address positioned in the upper right-hand corner of the page. At a minimum, it should include your name, street number and name, city and postcode. If you live in a particularly large conurbation, it’s also a good idea to include your suburb.
Letters that are being sent abroad should always contain the name of your country too. Business correspondence should include a phone number and email address immediately after your postal address – unless these details are included on a letterhead.
The recipient’s address should always be positioned to the left of the page, and below your own address. Include the recipient’s name and postal address as a minimum. However, if you are writing to a business colleague, it’s good etiquette to include their position and department too. You should never include a phone number or email in a recipient’s address, however.
Start with the date and an appropriate salutation
Always date your letters – whether they are being sent to friends or business contacts. The date should be positioned on the right-hand side of the letter in line with your address, but it should be one line lower than the final line of the recipient’s address.
If you are writing to a business contact whose name you know, you should start your letter with ‘Dear Mr/Miss/Mrs’ followed by their surname. If you don’t know the marital status of a female recipient, stick to ‘Ms’. However, when writing to someone you know well, use their first name instead. Where no name is known, it’s best to use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
Sign off in the appropriate way
The closing to your letter should start two lines after the final line of your content – to the left of the page. If you used the person’s name in your opening salutation, then end your letter with ‘Yours sincerely’, followed by your name. However, if you started your letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, you should sign off with ‘Yours faithfully’. Business letters should be signed off with a printed version of your name and your signature immediately above it.
The art of letter writing is as important as it ever was. Well crafted, attractive correspondence can create a positive impression amongst business clients, and leave your friends and family feeling like you care.