Business Letter Writing Chapter 1 Chapter 1 Learning Objectives • the importance of business letter writing; • the principles of effective business letter writing; • how to use appropriate styles and tones in business letter writing; • how to write good-news letters and bad-news letters.
1 Starting up As soon as you take one step up the career ladder your effectiveness depends on your ability to communicate your thoughts in writing and in speaking. Peter Drucker Discuss the following questions 1) What are the functions of a business letter? 2) What are the main forms being used in business communication? 3) Why is business writing considered to be one of the most important and valued skills in the business world today? 4) Why is it still necessary to learn how to write business letters when most business communications are now transmitted by faxes and emails?
Means of Communication • Letter • Telephone • Fax • E-mail • Telegram • Telex Return
2 The Principles of Effective Business Writing The Seven “Cs” • Completeness • Concreteness • Clarity • Conciseness • Courtesy • Considerateness • Correctness
2.1 Completeness A good business letter should be complete, providing all the information and data necessary for a specific issue. Five “Ws” (who, what, where, when and why) and one “h” (how) should be considered to verify the completeness of what you write.
Example: An order regarding the name of commodity, specification and quantity "Cellulose Tape 1/2"x 3yds, with plastic dispenser 700 doz./ditto-but 1/2" x 5 yds, 1 000doz.” “纤素带（幅）宽半英寸，长３码，带塑料包装容器，７0０打；同 上，但（幅）宽宽半英寸，长５码，1 000打。” Problem: the second part of the sentence is not clear.“ditto” here refers to“cellulose tape”, but does it include “with plastic dispenser”? So it is not clear and complete whether “cellulose tape 1/2”x 5yds”includes plastic dispenser. Better： Cellulose Tape 1/2"x 3yds, with plastic dispenser 700 doz. Cellulose Tape 1/2" x 5yds，with plastic dispenser 1000 doz.
2.2 Concreteness Concreteness means being specific, definite and vivid rather than vague, general and abstract. Compare the following sentences: (1) Poor: Please send us your catalogues on tools. Better: Please send us your catalogues on hand tools. We are particularly interested in hand tools for use in gardening. Reason：A large company may have several catalogues concerning different kinds of tools and is not likely to send all of them. (2) Poor: All offers by fax are valid for 5 days. Better: All offers by fax are valid for 5 days inclusive of the date of dispatch. Reason：The above sentence does not clearly state or account for specific 5 days.
2.3 Clarity You must express yourself clearly to make sure that the message conveys exactly what you wish to say and is not liable to misunderstanding. Compare the following sentences: • Poor: As to the steamer sailing from Shanghai to New York, we have bimonthly direct services. Better: We have a direct sailing from Shanghai to New York every two months. Better: We have two direct sailings every month from Shanghai to New York. Better: We have a direct sailing from Shanghai to New York fortnightly. (2)Poor: We can supply 60 metric tons of the item only. Better: We can only supply 60 metric tons of the item.
2.4 Conciseness Conciseness means that it must be written in the fewest possible words. Compare the following sentences: • Poor: We have begun to export our machines to foreign countries. Better: We have begun to export our machines. (2) Poor: We hereby wish to let you know that we fully appreciate the confidence you have reposed in our product. Better: We appreciate your confidence in our product. (3) Poor: In compliance with your request, we immediately contacted our head office in London and now wish to inform you of the result as follows. Better: As requested we immediately contacted our head office in London with the following result.
2.5 Courtesy Courtesy means treating people with respect and friendly human concern. Business letters must be courteous without being servile, firm and emphatic when necessary without being rude or aggressive. Compare the following sentences: • Poor: We are sorry that you misunderstood us. • Better: We are sorry that we didn’t make ourselves clear. (2) Poor: You are requested to ship the goods we ordered on May 5 without any delay. Better: Your prompt shipment of the goods we ordered on May 5 will be highly appreciated. (3) Poor: We have received your letter in which you claimed that ten tea sets were damaged in shipment. Better: We have noticed in your letter that a damage to ten tea sets was found in shipment.
2.6 Considerateness Considerateness means you should be considerate of your reader. Considerateness emphasizes You-attitude rather than We-attitude. Compare the following sentences: (1) a. We do not believe that you will have cause for dissatisfaction. (Negative) b. We feel sure that you will entirely get satisfies.(Positive) (2) a. Your order will be delayed for two weeks. ( Negative) b. Your order will be shipped in two weeks. ( Positive)
2.7 Correctness Correctness refers to accuracy in style, language and typing. The writer must make every effort to ensure that the letter is correct in all respects. Examples: (1)All offers by fax are open for 5 days. Revise: All offers by fax are open for 5 days inclusive of the day of dispatch. (2)You ask very short delivery of your order.. Revise: You require prompt delivery of your order. (3) The goods supplied are exactly equal to the sample. Revise: The goods supplied are similar in quality to the sample.
1.3 The Style and Tone of Business Letter Writing Style and tone can be considered as two sides of the same coin. Style is made up of words and sentences that a writer chooses in order to produce a desired response in the readers. Tone refers to the unwritten or unspoken message that comes across in your communications – the message “between the lines” The essential qualities of a good business letter are sincerity, simplicity and clarity.
The best way to write a business letter is to make it conform as closely as possible to spoken English. Alexander L. Sheff 1. Use conversational style Example: Dear Mr. Jones, Thank you for your letter of March 12, in which you promised immediate shipment of the brass couplings we ordered on March 6. This shipment is several days overdue, and our working is being held up. Could you please look up into this and see what you can do about getting these couplings to us as soon as possible. We know you will do your best. Yours cordially,
2. Avoid the archaic language of business Such expressions as “we beg to acknowledge”, “take the liberty of” “acknowledge receipt of”, “your esteemed favour to hand” are considered to be the archaic language of business. The tone is cold and out of date. A good writer should take care to give up such stale expressions. Example: We beg to acknowledge receipt of your favour of the 26th inst. With regard to the estimate and plans required for the erection of a bungalow on the vacant site in close proximity to the Argosy Theatre, and shall have pleasure in arranging for our architect to call on you with a view to a discussion of the matter on Friday next, the 3rd pro. at three o’clock, which we trust will meet your convenience. In the meantime, we enclose herewith plans of a type of bungalow we can recommend, and beg to remain, Your truly
Revised Version Thank you for your letter of 26 February requesting an estimate and plans for erecting a bungalow on the vacant site near the Argosy Theatre. We will arrange for our architect to call to discuss the matter next Friday, 3 March, at 3 o’clock if convenient to you. Meanwhile we enclose plans for a bungalow we recommend.
3. Use positive language and avoid anger People enjoy and react favorably to positive messages. A positive tone builds the reader’s confidence in the writer’s ability to solve problems and strengthen personal and business relationships. Positive words emphasize the pleasure aspects of the letter goals and tend to put the reader in the right frame of mind. They also create the goodwill atmosphere readers seek in most letters.
1.4 Good-news Letters and Bad-news Letters Business letters are broadly categorized by their purpose as follows: (1) Neutral or good-new letters conveying positive messages such as: granting credit agreeing to a request introducing your company requesting information ordering goods (2) Bad-news letters conveying disappointing or upsetting messages such as: refusing credit, adjustment or supply declining an offer, a request or an application (3) Persuasive letters conveying messages aimed to convince the reader to: pay an account buy a product support a project accept a proposal
How to write good-news letters? The general structure for a message conveying positive information: • Present the most important information in the positive way; • Specify the who, what, where and how related to the action you are going to take; • Close the letter confidently and politely. Dear Mr. Jones, I am very pleased to enclose our check for USD 8 000, which is our financial aid to your Earth Protection Program. I would appreciate your sending us a receipt for the money at your earliest convenience. This financial aid shows our increased support for your research. I believe that this aid, together with the financial support from your other benefactors, will help your future research for protecting our earth. We are always ready to help you when necessary. Sincerely yours,
How to write bad news letters? No news is good news, the old saying goes. But sometimes bad news is unavoidable. Rather than blurt it out in the first paragraph, which is likely to anger the reader and prevent an objective reading of the rest of your letter, break up your bad news into chunks. With a strategy for each paragraph, follow these basic steps to make the best of a bad situation. ● Open the letter with a courteous greeting; ● Explain the relevant situation because the more the reader understands the reasons, the less likely he will think that the decision is unfair; ● Present the bad news, which should be the logical and natural outcome of the explanation; ● Close with a positive paragraph or sentence.
Sample letter Your "buffer" paragraph--do not give the "bad news" in the opening paragraph. Dear Mr. AndersonThank you for your letter of September 15. We appreciate your inquiry concerning your Benson 500 motorcycle. We want to satisfy our customers with high-quality products and service. The Benson Bike Shop carries a one-year warrantee on all parts and labor under normal usage. Page 6 of your owner's manual states that 2-cycle engine oil and unleaded gasoline must be used for the warrantee to be in effect. Our inspection of you motorcycle engine showed that 10W30 oil had been used, along with leaded gasoline. The use of incorrect oil and gasoline has caused the problems you are experiencing. Our skilled technicians can repair your motorcycle engine at the usual rate. The repairs are guaranteed for 90 days. We are confident that we can restore your engine to excellent working condition, and we would be happy to answer any maintenance questions you may have. Please call our repair center at 425-564-7889 to tell us if you would like us to proceed with the repairs. As soon as your engine is repaired you will be able to enjoy riding your Benson 500 once again. Sincerely Explain WHY before you tell or infer the bad news that the guarantee will not cover the repair. Always try to tell what you CAN do to help solve the problem End with your CALL FOR ACTION and a positive statement.
Excersises Practice makes perfect
Exercises 1.Fill in the blanks with the words and phrases given in the box. Change the forms where necessary. drawn-out project rapport compromise maximize to the point in sb’s shoes contribute to put forward inclusive of set down bound to verify portray lose out repose prompt demand entitle two sides of the same coin
projects drawn-out (1) One advantage of the telephone is that it ________ a live voice, a real person, who can both listen and respond to a situation. (2) Parties mutually agree to submit to arbitration in the hope of avoiding ___________ public clashes in the courts. (3) All the prices quoted hereinafter are _____________ your 2% commission. (4) Some people believe that freedom of enterprises is the most efficient way of ____________ economic growth. (5) There must be trust from both sides in order to create a new working _______. (6) The call is made because someone has a request or problem. So you should get ___________ just as quickly as you would in a business letter. (7) A prompt order will certainly ________ the buyer to get early delivery which will benefit him a great deal. (8) You’d better ________ your priorities before the start of each day's work. (9) It is _________ that the importer open the relative L/C one month before the delivery. (10) Having been doing business with Mr. Brown for many years, we _______ complete confidence in his honesty. in inclusive of maximizing rapport to the point entitle set down demanded repose
were put forward contributes (11) At the meeting yesterday many suggestive countermeasures ________________. (12) We understand that the appearance of the package ___________ greatly to the sale if consumer goods. (13) He has had so much trouble recently that we ought to be grateful we are not _____________. (14) Any discussion of this matter is _________ cause a lot of arguments. (15) It seems that they are not ready to ___________ on prices. (16) Dreams and reality, like success and failure, are_____________________. (17) The accounts must ___________ before the end of this month. (18) With confidence we can _______ the finer points of our personality in such a way that the places where we do lack are never highlighted. (19) In face of competition from the transnational companies, small firms are bound to ________. (20) ________ by the desire to conclude the transaction with you, we are prepared to cut down the quoted price by 3%. in his shoes bound to compromise two sides of the same coin be verified portray lose out Prompted
2. Revise the sentences by following the writing principles you have learnt. (1) You failed to enclose your check in the envelope. (2) We want to have your confirmation on this point quickly. (3) We shall be able to deliver the goods shortly. (4) We would be very pleased to get your kind information on your product. (5) We can not offer you any refunds because the goods you returned are dirty and unusable. The envelope we received did not have a check in it. Your prompt confirmation on this point would be appreciated. You will be pleased to hear that you will soon be able to receive the goods. Please send us information on your product. You could obtain a refund if the goods you returned had remained clean and usable.
We appreciate your confidence in our products. (6) We hereby wish to let you know that we fully appreciate the confidence you have reposed in our products. (7) We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to you for your kind cooperation. (8) It is encouraging and inspiring to note that sales which are reported right now have increased this month. (9) Have you come to a decision regarding the installation of the machine? (10) Samples will be sent and offers will be made upon receipt of your specific enquiries. Thank you for your cooperation. Sales have increased; the figures are encouraging. Have you decided to install the machine? Samples will be sent and offers made upon receipt of your specific enquiries.
We wish to confirm our order we placed with you on 8 May. (11) We wish to confirm our order we placed with you yesterday. (12) The items you ordered will be arriving soon. (13) All offers by fax are valid for five days. (14) You must cut down your price by 10%; otherwise we will place our orders elsewhere. (15) We have received your letter of May 1st and it contained a complete set of shipping documents. You will receive your order 466 for Electric Fans in about 20 days. We shipped the goods by sea this morning. All offers by fax are valid for five days inclusive of the date of dispatch. We would suggest that you should cut down your price by 10%; otherwise we have no alternative but to place our orders elsewhere. We have received your letter of May 1st containing a complete set of shipping documents.
We presume that there must be some reasons for your having trouble with these articles. (16) We cannot understand why you have had trouble with these articles. (17) Your counter-offer was rejected. (18) Enclosed herewith please find two copies of catalogue and a price list. (19) Revisions were made to the proposal after all facts had been taken into consideration. (20) We hope you won’t be dissatisfied with the new range of our electronic products. I am afraid that your counter-offer was not acceptable. We enclose two copies of catalogue and a price list. We revised the proposal after considering all facts. We are sure you will be satisfied with the new range of our electronic products.
3. Revise the following letter with the emphasis on You-attitude.
Revised: • Dear Sir, • Thank you for the account you recently opened with our store. Furnishing you with a wide variety of products for the home or individual is a pleasure. • You will find 40 departments at St. Johnson’s stocked with a variety of quality items. Our courteous sales clerks are here to assist you in selecting the merchandise that best meets your needs. • If you prefer to shop within the comfort of your home, instead of coming to the store, you need only to phone HA 3-5678 and ask for Personal Shopping Service. A Personal Shopper will gladly take your order for any number of items, and see the goods you order reach you by store delivery within 24 hours of your order. • You are always welcome at St. Johnson’s. Please call on us whenever you need additional service. • Yours faithfully,
4.Revise the following letter with the main points below to make it concise and to the point. The main points of the letter: • Due to the prolonged cold weather, the demand for electric blankets has been exceptional; • Further suppliers are expected in ten days’ time; • If the order is allowed to stand, prompt delivery will then be made; • It is regretted that delivery cannot be made at once.
Dear Sirs • We are in receipt of your order of the 18th instant, and have pleasure in informing you that the order you have placed with us will receive our best attention, and that the electric blankets you require will be delivered to you as soon as we are in a position to supply them. • We are, however, very sorry to say that our stock of these blankets is at the moment very depleted, and owing to the prolonged cold weather and the resulting demand we have been informed by the manufacturers that they are unlikely to be able to supply us with a further stock for another ten days or so. • We are extremely sorry not be able to satisfy your requirements immediately, but we assure you that we always do everything we possibly can to see that your orders are met promptly. Should you find yourself unable to obtain elsewhere the blankets you need, or if you are able to wait for them until the end of the month, you will perhaps be good enough to inform us. • Once again expressing our regret at being unable to fulfill your order on this occasion with our usual promptness, and trusting you will continue to favour us with your continued custom. • We remain Yours truly
Revised: Dear Sirs, We thank your for your order of the 18th January, but very much regret that, because of the exceptional demand for electric blankets due to the prolonged cold spell, we are at present out of stock of the make you ordered. The manufactures, however, have promised us a further supply by the end of this month, and if you could wait until then we would ensure the prompt delivery of the goods you require. We are indeed very sorry that we cannot meet your present order immediately. Yours truly,
5.Rearrange and improve the letter to make it more acceptable. • Dear Sir, • We are sorry to say that the price for your cigarette lighters is too high for us to work on. So it is a pity we cannot place an order for your products. • We have received a quotation from a German company and they quoted us a price approximately 15% lower than that of yours. We admit that the quality of their products does not measure up to that of yours, but the price gap between yours and theirs is too wide for us to accept. Although we are keen to do business with you, we regret that we cannot accept your offer or even meet you half way. Sorry again for the rejection. We wish you can sell your high-priced lighters to other importers successfully. • Yours faithfully,
Revised: Dear Sirs, Thank you for your letter of (date). While appreciating the quality of your cigarette lighters, we find that your price is too high for us to accept. We have received a quotation from a German company and they quoted us a price approximately 15% lower than that of yours. We are of the opinion that the quality of their products does not measure up to that of yours, but the gap in price shouldn’t be so big. To accept your present quotation would mean a heavy loss to us, not to speak of profit. We would, however, very much like to place further orders with you if you could bring down your prices by 12%. Otherwise we can only switch our requirements to our suppliers. As the market is declining, we recommend your immediate acceptance of our requirement. Yours faithfully,
THE END Thank You !