Writing letters can be a tricky business. We all — even my 80-something year old grandma! — have become so accustomed to emails as the fallback, go-to, and end all, be all of written correspondence, it can be difficult to remember what a “real” letter looks like.
To start, when writing a letter, it is professional and prudent to address the letter to a specific individual. I know that this isn’t always possible, but in order to see the greatest response to your letter — regardless of your objective — it is advantageous to do a little leg work first and figure out to whom your letter should be sent. In today’s world, all this really takes, in most cases, is a few extra minutes searching the company’s site or some carefully googling.
So, you know to whom your letter will be addressed, how it will begin. Now you need to focus on an appropriate closing, such as “Sincerely yours” or even a simple “Thank you.”
For standard business letters, begin with a general rundown and explain in the first paragraph why the letter is significant to and intended for the reader. Don’t make the recipient read past the first paragraph to find out why the letter was sent to him; he probably won’t.
The body of the letter needs to detail the reason behind the correspondence. Include any and all pertinent background and current information. Ensure that the information flows logically and effectively. Your points should be laid out clearly. It should be easy to read and lucid. Have another person look it over before sending it. Neither typos nor ambiguity speak kindly of your competence. These matters should be handled now.
The closing of the letter is the final impression. End with an action point, such as “I will call you later this week to discuss this further.” In this way, your reader sees a path of action that will take place.