Important Aspects to Follow When Writing Business Letter by vyp99896


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									                                                                          Business Writing

                     Business Writing Workshop Agenda
                               July 10 and July 17, 2008 9:00-11:00
                                      Library Seminar Room

I. Introductions

II. Business Writing Basics (pp. 1-2)

III. Email Writing (pp. 3-4)

IV. Letter Writing (pp. 5-7)

V. Condensed/Web Writing (p. 8)

VI. Homework assignment and closing thoughts

Extra information may be found at or
by going to my NGCSU Home Page @ and clicking
on the "Business Writing" link.

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                                                                                 Business Writing

                              Business Writing Basics
Rhetorical Awareness
      Workplace writing is persuasive (you want the reader to take action).
      Workplace writing, since it's persuasive, must consider the rhetorical situation:
          Purpose (why the document is being written)
          Audience (who will read the document)
          Context (the situation in which the document is created).

User-Centered Design
    Always think about your audience based on:
           their expectations (What information do your readers expect to get?);
           their characteristics (Who, specifically, is reading the work?);
           their goals (What do your readers need to know to succeed?); and
           their context (For what situation do the readers need this information?).
    Identify vital information and make it easy to access and understand ("Effective
      Workplace Writing").

Five Ways to Ensure Organized Writing
1.    Get to the point within 50 words.
2.    Use headings in reports, recommendations, and other messages to make information
      skimmable. Headings will force you to categorize information.
3.    Allow only one main idea per paragraph.
4.    Allow only one idea per sentence.
5.    Limit words per sentence to 15 to 20 words. Short sentences won't get confusing.

Let Purpose Guide Your Tone of Voice
     If your purpose is to get all employees excited about the annual convocation, your
      message could include an exclamation point or two, a bit of slang, and some silliness--
      Informal Writing.
     If your purpose is to announce that a parking lot will be closed for a week for line
      repainting, then exclamation points, slang, and silliness would not fit this bad-news
      message. Instead, include a brief explanation, some empathy, and links to maps about
      where to park during the lot closure--Semi-Formal Writing.
     If your purpose is to warn one employee that his tardiness is jeopardizing his job, then the
      tone and language in this message will be serious and straightforward, with a bit of
      encouragement--Formal Writing ("Business Writing Blog").

1. The secret of Business Writing is one grain of sand.
       Identify the single idea you're trying to get across. Jot it down in one sentence on a note
       pad next to your typewriter or computer keyboard. Your one-line synopsis is a grain of
       sand that will help you begin and will keep you grounded, focused, on target.

2. Give the who, what, when, where, and why of Business Writing.
       Be a reporter and give basic information all people want to know. Train yourself to

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       answer in your writing all the questions your reader might ask.

3. Adopt a plain Business writing style.
       A bureaucratic memo is more difficult to read and understand than one written in plain
       style. Bureaucratic writing buries meaning under run-on sentences, big words, and long
       paragraphs. On the other hand, plain business writing:
              States the purpose clearly,
              Lists major points,
              Includes headings and lists,
              Uses short sentences and paragraphs,
              Seeks to express, not impress, and
              Avoids jargon.
       In business writing, plain is beautiful. The next time you want someone to understand
       your writing, put away the fancy words and convoluted sentences. Say it simply.

4. Be active.
        A sentence written in the active voice is the straight-shooting sheriff who faces the
        gunslinger proudly and fearlessly. It is honest, straightforward; you know where you
               Active: The committee will review all applications in early April.

       A sentence written in passive voice is the shifty desperado who tries to win the gunfight
       by shooting the sheriff in the back, stealing his horse, and sneaking out of town.
              Passive: In early April, all applications will be reviewed by the committee
              ("Eleven Ways to Improve . . .").

Giving Feedback on Others' Writing
If you are a manager, supervisor, or editor, or in another role that requires giving feedback to
people on their writing, consider these suggestions on the etiquette of feedback:
1.      Point out effective aspects of the work, not just negative ones. On printed documents,
point out at least one good feature per page:
     --Your tone is perfect--it's warm without being informal.
     --These bullet points are clear and very easy to skim.
     --You have done a fine job of avoiding jargon. Excellent!
2.      Suggest changes rather than heavily editing a document or rewriting it yourself:
     --This long paragraph contains a lot of great information. Breaking it into shorter
        paragraphs might help your readers find information faster.
     --A summary of the key results would probably be useful.
3.      Ask questions that will help the writer think about the effectiveness of the document.
     --What do you want to accomplish in this section of the report?
     --Have you covered all the important points in the first screen?
     --Do you have specific data that might convince readers?
4.      Communicate negative comments only to the writer--not to others--when possible
        ("Business Writing Blog").

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                                                                                Business Writing

Email Writing
How do I compose an email to someone I don't know?
    Include a meaningful subject line to clarify what your message is about and may also
      help the recipient prioritize reading your email.
    Open your email with a greeting like Dear Dr. Jones, or Ms. Smith.
    Use standard spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. THERE'S NOTHING WORSE
    Write clear, short paragraphs, and be direct and to the point. Don't write unnecessarily
      long emails or waste the recipient's time
    Be friendly and cordial, but don't try to joke around (jokes and witty remarks may be
      inappropriate and, more commonly, may not come off appropriately in email).

What are some guides for continuing email conversations?
Once you have exchanged emails with a person on a given subject, you may leave greetings out
of your follow-up emails. Some other points to consider about continuing conversations over
      Respond within a reasonable time frame, though "reasonable" will depend on the
        recipient's expectations and the subject being discussed.
      Trim back the old messages from replies; most email programs keep copying older
        messages at the bottom of email.
      If someone asks many questions, you may embed your answers into the sender's
        message copied at the bottom of your email. However, if you're going to do this, be sure
        to say so at the top, and leave generous space, for example:
                > How long are you staying?
                Less than two weeks.
                >Will you have time to visit with us?
                I'm really hoping to, but my schedule will be pretty tight. Let me
                get back to you about that after the weekend.

What about sending attachments?
The ease of transmitting files to a particular person makes email very attractive. However:
      Never send an attachment to someone you don't know the first time you contact them
       unless, of course, the contact has posted a job ad requesting a resume in a Word
      Avoid unnecessarily large file sizes, digital photos especially.
      When you must send a large file or set of files, do the recipient the courtesy of sending
       an email telling them what you'll be sending and why ("E-mail Etiquette").

General E-mail Pet Peeves
1.    Misspelled words
2.    Missing punctuation and punctuation errors
3.    Incorrect grammar
4.    Acronyms and abbreviations that aren't clear
5.    Insufficient detail
6.    Incomplete information
7.    Too much information

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8.    Convoluted information
9.    Information repeated
10.   In replies, requested information not provided
11.   Incomplete sentences (Example: "Will handle this.")
12.   Too long
13.   Symbols, that is, smiley faces and other emoticons
14.   Backgrounds and color (make messages hard to read)
15.   Multiple questions scattered throughout email (makes it difficult to answer them)
16.   No subject line
17.   Subject unclear
18.   No clear purpose
19.   No desired outcome
20.   Unclear deadlines
21.   No clear request or directions
22.   Request for confirmation of receipt (in Outlook)
23.   Wrong name (not being careful about which address you choose from your contact list)
24.   Using "To" when the message should be a "CC" (This makes it hard to know who is
      responsible for replying and taking action)
25.   Using "Reply all" instead of "Reply"
26.   Careless use of BCC (blind copy)
27.   Repeated notices of events
28.   Multiple emails on the same subject (some forwarded, some repeated)
29.   Unnecessary messages (The reader asks, "Why me?")
30.   Personal email sent companywide
31.   Phishing (sending email as a scam to get private information)
32.   Chain letter email
33.   Political email
34.   Marketing spam
35.   Delayed replies, that is, replies after several days
36.   Extensive replies ("Thank you. . . thank you . . . you're welcome")
37.   No reply
38.   Huge paragraphs
39.   Emailing when talking on the phone is more efficient
40.   No phone number provided

                                                                   ("Business Writing Blog")

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                                                                                     Business Writing

Letter Writing
Parts of a Business Letter
         The date line indicates the date the letter was written or finished. Write out the month,
         day and year two inches from the top of the page. Depending on which format you are
         using for your letter, either left justify the date or center it horizontally.
Sender's Address
         Including the address of the sender is optional. If you include it, place the address one
         line below the date. Do not write the sender's name or title, as it is included in the letter's
         closing. Include only the street address, city, state and zip code. Another option is to
         include the sender's address directly after the closing signature.
Inside Address
         The inside address is the recipient's address. If you do not have a specific contact person's
         name, do some research. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. If you are
         unsure of a woman's preference in being addressed, use Ms. If the person to whom you
         are writing might be a Dr. or has some other title, use that title. Usually, people will not
         mind being addressed by a higher title than they actually possess. To write the address,
         use the U.S. Post Office Format. For international addresses, type the name of the
         country in all-capital letters on the last line. The inside address begins one line below the
         sender's address or one inch below the date. It should be left justified, no matter which
         format you are using ("Writing a Basic Business Letter" OWL--Purdue).
         Dear Personnel Director,
         Dear Sir or Madam: (use if you don't know who you are writing to)
         Dear Dr., Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. Smith: (use if you know who you are writing to, and
                  have a formal relationship with - VERY IMPORTANT use Ms for women
                  unless asked to use Mrs or Miss)
         Dear Frank: (use if the person is a close business contact or friend) ("Business Letter
                  Writing Basics").
         For block and modified block formats, single space and left justify each paragraph within
         the body of the letter. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. When writing a
         business letter, be careful to remember that conciseness is very important. In the first
         paragraph, consider a friendly opening and then a statement of the main point. The next
         paragraph should begin justifying the importance of the main point. In the next few
         paragraphs, continue justification with background information and supporting details.
         The closing paragraph should restate the purpose of the letter and, in some cases, request
         some type of action ("Writing a Basic Business Letter").
                  Suggested phrasings:
The Reference                                           The Reason for Writing
With reference to your advertisement in the             I am writing to inquire about
Times,                                                  . . . apologize for
. . . your letter of 23 March,                          . . . confirm
. . . your phone call today,
Thank you for your letter of March 5.

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Requesting                                          Agreeing to Requests
Could you possibly?                                 I would be delighted to
I would be grateful if you could

Giving Bad News                                     Enclosing Documents
Unfortunately                                       I am enclosing
I am afraid that                                    Please find enclosed
                                                    Enclosed you will find

Closing Remarks                                     Reference to Future Contact
Thank you for your help.                            I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Please contact us again if we can help in any       meeting you next Tuesday.
way.                                                seeing you next Thursday.
. . . there are any problems.
. . . you have any questions.
                                                                ("Business Letter Writing Basics ")

       The closing begins at the same horizontal point as the date and one line after the last
       body paragraph. Capitalize the first word only (for example: Thank you) and leave four
       lines between the closing and the sender's name for a signature. If a colon follows the
       salutation, a comma should follow the closing; otherwise, there is no punctuation after
       the closing.
               Suggested phrasings:
                       The Finish
                       Yours faithfully, (If you don't know the name of the person)
                       Yours sincerely, (If you know the name of the person)
                       Best wishes,
                       Best regards, (If the person is a close business contact or friend)

      If you have enclosed any documents along with the letter, you indicate this simply by
      typing Enclosures one line below the closing. As an option, you may list the name of
      each document you are including in the envelope. For instance, if you have included
      many documents and need to ensure that the recipient is aware of each document, it may
      be a good idea to list the names.

Typist initials
       Typist initials are used to indicate the person who typed the letter. If you typed the letter
       yourself, omit the typist initials ("Writing the Basic Business Letter").

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A Sample Letter:

July 16, 2008

Enrollment Management Committee
82 College Circle
Dahlonega, GA 30597

To Whom It May Concern:

I congratulate you on an incredibly successful INTRO III, completed just yesterday.

Despite the many stresses encountered with a record number of students in attendance, your
programs overcame the obstacles you faced and gave these new students a feel for not only how
smoothly North Georgia College and State University works but also how we truly put students'
needs first.

I realize you do not often receive attention or accolades for the work you do, so I thank you
wholeheartedly and completely for using your talents to make our new first-year students feel
like NGCSU will be their home away from home. You are fantastic!!

Yours faithfully,

Todd Campbell
Coordinator, First- and Second-Year University Experience Programs
82 College Circle
Dahlonega, GA 30597


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Condensed/Web Writing
Students and Web users have short attention spans, mainly due to the immediate availability of
information. As a result, gone are the days when we can send letters of three or four pages or
packets of information. Instead, we have to keep our writing concise so we focus on the most
important aspects and leave the finer details to our Websites, a Handbook, or the Catalog.

Reading on the Web takes roughly 30% longer than normal writing:
     light shines directly in the reader's eyes;
     the screen is landscape, not portrait, so the user sees only about half of the page at once;
     pixels make the reading more difficult due to size.
So, to succeed at Condensed/Web writing, you'll need to:
    1.   Put the most important information in large letters toward
           top of page, ideally in first two paragraphs. The larger the text,
           the more important the info.
    2. Cut unneeded words.
    3. Use shorter words and sentences, even fragments.
    4. Limit paragraphs to 5 lines; sentences to 25 words.
    5. Keep page lengths to one page; anything longer should have links to relevant
           subheadings and a "Return to Top" option.
    6. Use bulleted or numbered lists (chunks) to convey information.
    7. Give reader something to do--e-mail, call, write, whatever.
    8. Repeat nothing.

A couple of helpful books:
Krug, Steve. Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.
Sammons, Martha C. The Internet Writer's Handbook, 2nd edition.

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                                                 Let's Go R. A. F.!

        Role                  Audience             Format        Task            Situation
Financial Aid Staff   Brand New Student          E-mail       Express      A confusing new
   member             Brand New International    Grant          ideas or      policy
Financial Aid            Student                    proposal    opinions   Acceptance to
   Supervisor         Current Student Worker     IM/Text      Inform          NGCSU
Graduate              Child of a family friend      message Persuade       Alternate income
   Admissions         Todd Campbell              Letter                       sources
   Staff member       Dr. Eric Carl Link,        Memo                      Annual evaluation
Graduate                 Professor of English    Postcard                  Denying Work
   Admissions         Dean Whitaker-Lea          Presentation                 Study
   Supervisor         Asst. Director of          Report                    Denying acceptance
Registrar's Office       Materials               Web page                     to NGCSU
   Staff member          Management Donna                                  Denying financial
Registrar's Office       Kindon                                               aid
   Supervisor         Director of Human                                    Granting partial
Undergraduate            Resources Brenda                                     financial aid
   Admissions            Findley                                           Granting full
   Staff member       Your Boss                                               financial aid
Undergraduate         Your Employee                                        Increase in student
   Admissions         Associate VP Pat Donat                                  population
   Supervisor         Associate VP Terry                                   Lack of open
                         McLeod                                               classes
                      Associate VP Kathy Sisk                              Letter of reference
                      VP Mac McConnell                                     Long-term Absence
                      VP John Clower                                       Questioned P-card
                      VP Linda Roberts-Betsch                                 purchases
                      President David Potter                               Transfer Credits
                      Chancellor Erroll B.                                    Accepted
                         Davis, Jr.                                        Work-related Issues

       You are a _____________________________ (Role) who has to write a
_______________________ (Format) to ___________________________________ (Audience)
in order to _____________________ (Task) the _____________________________ (Audience)
concerning ____________________________ (Situation).

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                                                                               Business Writing

1. Use commas correctly.
2. Write out contractions for formal writing. (e. g. can’t=can not, shouldn’t=should not, etc.)
3a. Write out all numbers that will NOT require more than two words(e. g. three hundred, five
       thousand, ten, seven, eleven, four score)
3b. Use Arabic numerals for numbers longer than two words(e. g. 1145, 1066, 377)
4. Avoid “alot,” “a lot,” or “lots;” you can create better adjectives.
5. Present points and ideas in a logically organized, coherent manner.
6. Make sure pronouns and antecedents agree: singular pronoun to singular noun/plural
    pronoun to plural noun.
7. Make sure subjects and verbs agree: singular noun to singular verb/plural noun to plural
8. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Examples:
                   Affect          A+ffect=Action (verb)
                   Effect          E+ffect=thing (noun)
                   Accept          v. To take what is offered
                  Except           prep. Omitting (“Invite all except him”)
                    Ever           adv. Always
                   Every           adj. Each one
                  Ensure           v. To make certain
                   Insure          v. To protect through State Farm, Allstate, etc.
                     It’s          “It is”
                     Its           Belongs to “it”
                    Lose           v. Misplace; not find; not win
                   Loose           adj. Not tight
                    Loss           n. Failure to win; decrease in amount
                    Lost           v. Misplaced; adj. unfound
                    Than           Compares two things
                    Then           Looks like "when," means time
               Themselves          Reflexive pronoun, third person plural
                Theirselves        NOT A WORD

           There                 T+here=location
                  Their          T+heir=ownership or possession
                 They’re         “They are”
                   To            prep. Move in direction of
                  Too            adv. Also, in addition, MORE
                  Two            1+1
                 Weather         Temporary atmospheric conditions
                 Whether         Choice between two items
                 Who’s           “Who is”
                 Whose           Belongs to “who”

10. When in doubt, read your work aloud to yourself and then read it backwards. Note any
sections that sound funny or that you stumble through reading--those might need editing. We
learn grammar more through hearing than seeing, so often your ear or your voice will pick up
errors better than your eyes will.

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