The sign of a good business letter is when it communicates information well and helps the efficient transaction of business. It can be intimidating to write a business letter, especially when you are aware that your words could be kept on file or brought up later in the event of a dispute. But writing effective business letters is a necessity for anyone hoping to have a successful career.
To help you with your business communications we have put together the questionnaire below. Answer "yes" or "no" to each question and then total the answers to determine whether you really do write effective business letters.
Effective Business Letter Questionnaire:
Do you always employ a polite, professional tone in your business letters?
Do you proofread your business letters for clarity?
Do you proofread your business letters for correct grammar, punctuation and spelling?
Do you employ short words and paragraphs when possible in your business letters?
Do you use an active voice in your business letters?
Do you restrict industry jargon to business letters only intended for those within your industry?
Do you date each of your business letters for better record-keeping?
Do you sign as well as type your name at the end of each business letter?
Do you make a note of any enclosures that accompany your business letters?
Do you type your business letters in an easy to read font?
Do you edit out extraneous information from your business letters?
Do you include contact information on your business letters so that others will always be able to get in touch?
Do You Write Effective Business Letters?
Count up the number of times you answered yes to the above questions and check out your results below.
1 to 4 Yes Answers
If you answered "yes" to between one and four questions then you probably do not write effective business letters. Consult with your organisation's style guide or analyse business letters sent to you to gain an understanding of what makes an effective business letter. Review your answers above and, in the future, focus on changing any of the items to which you answered "no". If needed, don't be afraid to ask for help in editing a few letters so that you can get the hang of writing effective business letters.
5 to 8 Yes Answers
If you answered "yes" to between five and eight questions then you may write effective business letters. It's likely that you know the basics of writing a good letter, but might forget some of the finer points for formal business letters. Make a point of proofreading your letters in the future, and consider setting them aside before sending them so that you can return to them with fresh eyes for spotting any potential mistakes. If you find you can't rely on your own proofreading then ask someone else to take a quick glance before you send important letters.
9 or more Yes Answers
If you answered "yes" to nine or more questions then you probably do write effective business letters. In fact, if your organisation does not already have a style guide then you might suggest creating one so that organisational communications can become standardised to one style. But don't forget that no one's perfect - make sure to give each new business letter your full attention and write, and edit, them to the same degree so that you will always send out business letters of the highest standard.