Tag Archives: letters

Emphasize Letter Writing As Part Of Your Writing Repertoire

My blogs over the last several months have stressed different aspects of writing that need to be addressed to develop skills in clear writing.  If you are fortunate enough to have a job right now, improvement of your business letter writing skills will go a long way toward solidifying your position.  If you’re still looking for work, improving those skills will help you find employment.  Let me be more specific.

Many people don’t believe good letter writing is essential to their economic well being.  Whether it’s disinterest, lack of confidence, lack of training,  or a belief that letter writing is unimportant, time consuming,  unpleasant, or all of the above,  many folks just give letter writing a thumbs down, dismissing the entire subject, with predictable poor letter writing results.  This is not the right attitude.

This blogsite has previously stressed good letter writing as an integral part of your writing ability, but the subject is important enough to deserve repeat attention.  There are many instances where a properly worded letter can make a difference. For example, a properly worded letter of inquiry about a job may open a door of opportunity for you.  A thank you letter for an interview may make a difference to the interviewer because it shows you care.   Similarly, a simple thank you letter to a customer or client may pay huge dividends down the road in the form of repeat business.   Also, a cover letter to accompany a resume is an absolute must.  This letter should introduce you, explain why you are qualified for the position,  explain how your services will benefit the company, and refer to the “enclosed resume” to support your position.  Close the letter by requesting an interview and state when you will be available.  Even if you are not hired, this type of approach will mark you as an accomplished letter writer, which is always welcome in any business.  Merely sending out a resume without a cover letter will get you nowhere.

Letters should also be used to confirm all important conversations, meetings, dates, events, decisions, etc.  In the introduction to the second part of my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” I discuss the paper trail left by Doris Day’s ex-lawyer, the late Jerry Rosenthal, whom I once represented many years ago.   While the sea of paperwork created by this attorney was found to be excessive in the eyes of the judge who tried his case against Doris Day, nevertheless it’s a good idea to develop the habit of leaving a paper trail for future reference.  It will go a long way to avoid potential misunderstandings and is always good business practice.  Adoption of this practice will help make you a hero in the eyes of your employer.   Even if you’re not employed, it’s a good habit to follow for personal purposes.  Needless to say, all of the foregoing admonitions also apply to the use of emails.

Memo writing as a corollary to letter writing should not be overlooked.  Memo writing is good business practice, whether you are sending the memo to another individual in the company or just preparing it for your own future reference.  A memo can be a valuable source of information when you are trying to recall the details of a conference, meeting, or other event, or merely memorializing an important conversation. Memos should not be written in a sloppy or haphazard fashion, but in anticipation that someone other than you may be reading them later.   Once again, even if you’re not employed, memo writing for personal purposes is a good idea.

One last point, although not directly related to letter writing, deserves comment.  Recently  I  blogged about how businesses were complaining that grammar deficiencies were reaching epidemic proportions.  Today, (August 12), one of the announcers in the ball game I was watching complained that, “A complete game today don’t mean as much as it used to.”  I’m sure the announcer didn’t realize that using “don’t” in that sentence instead of “doesn’t” was grammatically incorrect.  The problem is that he would probably write that sentence the same way. And others who heard him will also probably speak and write that sentence the same way.  And so it goes.  The announcer who made the statement is a good announcer, but he’s setting a very poor example so far as use of good grammar in speaking and writing is concerned.

Maybe what we need is a National Clear Speaking and Writing Day to increase public awareness of the need to use good grammar.

Please visit my new website at www.agregardie.com, which features both my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” and my Civil War article, “Antietam and Gettysburg – Two Civil War Battles That Saved The Union.”

The next blog will be published on Friday, August 24, 2012.

Copyright © 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Add Expertise In Letter Writing To Your Writing Arsenal.

Expertise in letter writing should be an indispensable part of your writing arsenal.

Letter uses are manifold. All job seekers should use a cover letter to accompany any resume which is sent out. The cover letter should introduce you personally to the prospective interviewer.  The letter should specify the position you are seeking and state how you learned about it.  It should explain why you are qualified for the position and how your qualifications will benefit the company.  Close by suggesting an interview and state when you will be available.

A properly worded letter of inquiry about a job opportunity may open a door of opportunity for you.  Also, sending a thank you letter to acknowledge an interview may make a difference to the interviewer.

Business letters should be clear, to the point, and correctly punctuated and formatted. Properly written, attractive letters will reflect favorably on you individually as well as any company you are working for.

Confirm all important meetings, events, telephone conversations, and decisions by letter. It’s a good idea to leave a paper trail for future reference; it will go a long way to avoid misunderstandings and is always a good business practice.

Important points to remember about writing a letter.  There are several guidelines to keep in mind when writing a letter,  as follows:

1.  The heading of the letter should be centered and provide the writer’s full name, address, and telephone number.  Adding an email address and cell phone number is discretionary.  But you want to make sure the addressee knows how to get back to you easily.

2.    The date of the letter should appear directly under the heading.

3.  The addressee’s address inside the letter should be the same as appears on the mailing envelope.  Do not omit street or avenue.

4.   Use a reference line following the address to reference an order number, invoice number, a previous letter, or any other convenient point of reference.   The reference should be preceded by “RE:”

5.   The greeting (or salutation, as it is sometimes called), should be separated by two spaces from the inside address or the reference line, if one is used.  The inside address and the greeting should begin at the left margin.  The greeting should be followed by a colon for business letters and a comma for personal letters.

Typical greetings include the following:

Dear Sir (or Madam):

Dear Mr. Jones:

Dear Mrs. Smith:

Dear IRS: (or other agency if known)

Avoid “To Whom It May Concern” if at all possible.

6.  Begin the body of the letter one line below the greeting.  Don’t use shorthand or abbreviated writing.  Always write with direct, full sentences.  Avoid flowery or hackneyed language such as ” I beg to advise,” and all slang expressions.

Wrong: Your kind favor of (date) has been received and we hasten to inform you the order has been shipped immediately following.

Better:  We have received your order dated (date).  The order was filled on (date) and shipped on (date).

7.  Get right to the point.  If you are applying for a job, begin by stating “I am applying for,” and not “I would apply for” or “I wish to apply for.”

8.  As pointed out previously, organization is essential to clear writing.  This is true in letter writing as well.  Group your thoughts logically.  If you are applying for a job, an appropriate grouping might consist of personal qualifications, followed by experience and then references.

9.  Finish the letter with a simple sentence such as:

I hope to hear from you soon,

I trust this answers your letter, or

I trust this answers any questions regarding my background, education, or experience, for this position.

Please advise if further information is required.

Avoid any finish that begins with a participle such as “Thanking you for your consideration of this request.”  It is better to say simply, “Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.””

10.  The close should be at the left margin, followed by a comma.  Appropriate closings include the following:

Sincerely yours,

Sincerely,

Yours truly,

Respectfully,

Cordially,

11.    Sign your name clearly and type it out directly underneath the signature using all capital letters or initial capitals.  It is not necessary to provide a title or degree before or after the signature.  A married woman may add her married name in parenthesis following her typed name if she was using her maiden name previously.  Do not follow the signature with any punctuation.

12.  If you are sending a copy of the letter to someone else, add “cc: [name of additional addressee]” two spaces below your typed name.  Place a check mark by the “cc” on the copy being sent to designate that the addressee is getting that copy.  Sending a cover letter with the copy is discretionary, depending on the circumstances.

13.  If you are enclosing any document with the letter add “Encl.” following your typed name or any “cc.”

14.  Miscellaneous matters.  For business correspondence, only use one side of the paper; fold the letter twice horizontally in equal sections.  Don’t staple or clip pages together.

Copyright © 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Filed under clear writing, Writing Improvement