A business letter is a traditional form of business message. It is one of the important written media of business communication. Messages concerned with business are sent through this letter. When two or more business organizations write letters to each other concerning purchases and sales or any other matter relating to business transactions, these letters are regarded as business letters.
Features of an ideal Business Letter:
We know that a business letter is written to exchange trade related information between a writer and a receiver of the letter. The purpose is better served when there is a good trade relation between the parties exchanging information. The special qualities are as under:
- Definite Structure
- Specific Purpose
- Free from Error
- Attractive Format
- You Attitude
- Appropriate Timing
- The Positive and Pleasant Approach
A good business letter must follow a definite structure. Heading, inside address and other parts of a letter if placed as prescribed by style rules, increase the attractiveness of a letter. This attractiveness is very helpful to draw the attention of the receiver.
Good communication seldom happens by chance. It needs planning which is the first step in writing. Planning a business letter involves making conscious decisions about the purpose, audience, content and organization of the message. A planned business letter is well on the road to serve the desired purpose.
A business letter should be written in simple language so that the receiver can easily understand the meaning and significance of the letter. Lengthy and complex sentences kill much valuable time of a busy businessman to decipher its meaning. So, unnecessary jargons must be avoided.
Business letters should be brief but informative. An ideal business letter does, neither exaggerate nor reduce, unnecessarily anything. A business letter may be as long or as short as is necessary to convey the message effectively. However these rules may be followed to achieve conciseness in the message:
- Include only relevant facts
- Avoid repetition as far as possible
- Avoid trite and wordy expressions
- Properly organize the message so as to use simple and short words as well as short sentence
Relevance is another important quality of an ideal business letter. A good business letter bears needed information. It avoids irrelevant material that wastes readers mind and obscures the important data. An effective business letter always aims at quality not quantity.
The writer must be careful to the point that the message written in the makes a clear sense. Any incomplete or partial data must not be incorporated in a letter.
The purpose of a business letter should be specific enough to serve as yard stick for judging the success of the message. The specific purpose should indicate the response desired from the receiver.
Message of a business letter must be clear in meaning. It matters little to the reader of the letter if he/she fails to understand the message, although the letter was drafted by an expert with pompous and heavy words. Even if the simple words are used in the letter, still the reader may misinterpret the message because of the use of the inappropriate words and faulty organizations of the sentence.
Free from Error:
Readers first impression of your letter depends on an attractive document which is turn is influenced by error free preparation of the letter. Therefore, carefully proofread: (i) organization, content and style (ii) grammatical and format errors.
The format and style of a business letter should be good looking. As you know, Readers first impression is largely influenced by the external appearance of the letter. So try to make it eye catching.
Courtesy implies politeness shown to others while they are approached. It means treating people with respect and friendly human concern. It occupies an important place in business communication.
The ‘you attitude’ is a writing style that emphasises readers rather than the writer. You can convey the you attitude by using the pronoun ‘you’ in place of ‘I’.
Appropriate timing is another important quality of a good business letter. All message must be sent and responded at the most appropriate time. Outdated information is of no use. Time, money and human resources involved in transmitting outdated information turn into mere wastage, as such information serves no purpose of the receiver.