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Businesses do not communicate, people communicate. Business letters are read by real people. Regardless of the position the reader holds, he is a person whose interests and feelings are probably not much different from yours. Your letters should sound as though you are a person, should let the reader see a bit of your personality so that after reading your letter he feels that he knows someone from your company. To achieve that effect, you need not (and indeed you should not) talk about yourself, but let your writing demonstrate that you really are a person.

Before you begin to write a business letter, take a few minutes to think about its two most important elements: the message and the reader. The message is what you are thinking - the idea you want to communicate to your reader, whose mind you want to bring into conformity with your own.

The effective business writer not only uses the language correctly but also makes certain that every letter, every sentence is written from the reader’s point of view. Be psychologically astute: to get your reader’s attention and make a good impression, convey your sincere concern for his situation and your recognition that he is the most important person in the world.

Try to establish guidelines for your writing. Many writers find the following four-step process efficient and logical:

Outline: Think before you write. Commit your thoughts to paper. Decide the real purpose of your message. Decide how many paragraphs your letter will contain and what topic sentence will open each of those paragraphs.

Write: Write the rough draft all at once, quickly. Do not stop to worry about grammar, usage, or spelling: just get your sentence onto the page.

Revise: Go back over your draft sentence by sentence. Look for major mechanical errors; look for anything that might confuse your reader. Improve every sentence: delete unnecessary phrases; tighten up paragraphs.

Proofread: Carefully read your final draft to catch any overlooked minor errors. Your proofreading will be most effective if you can put your letter aside overnight and approach it with fresh eyes the next day.

A business letter should have an introduction development - conclusion structure.

The introduction will provide the background information to the letter. This may be a reference to a previous communication:

- Thank you for your letter of 12. 04. 99.

- With reference to your application for the post of secretary with our company ...

- Following our telephone conversation yesterday, ... or it may be a description of the background events that prompted the letter:

- Our representative, Mr. Humphries, has informed me that you are interested in our range of word processing equipment.

In general, the introduction should make it clear why the letter is being written.

The development, like the development of a report or memo, should present a logical, organized discussion of the facts.

The conclusion should make it clear what follow-up action is necessary or possible:

- I hope you will not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

- I look forward to receiving your confirmation of this appointment.

- I should be grateful if you could ensure that this mistake does not occur again.

If no follow-up action is required, a polite closing phrase may be used:

- I hope these arrangements are to your satisfaction.

- I look forward to meeting you again in the future.

The types of business letters are these:

Personal Business Letter.

Informal Business Letter.

Letter of Inquiry (Request).

Offer (Proposal Letter).



Letter of Refusal.

Letter of Persuasion.

Letter of Complaint.

Replying to Complaint.

Letter of Apology.

Sales Letters.


Letter of Credit.

Granting Credit.

Requesting Credit.

Asking for an Extension of Credit.

Making and Acknowledging Payments.

Complaining (about accounts).

Complaining about an error on an invoice.

The Letter of Application.





in conformity with




to delete phrase

to tighten up paragraph




books of every description

притаманно, природно

повідомлення, лист, доручення


згідно з ...


основний штрих, контур

обрис, нарис, ескіз

викреслювати фразу

зменшити абзац

читати гранки, робити коректуру



будь-які книжки


We would ask you to let us have a quotation for ...

Сповістіть нас, будь ласка, про розцінки на ...

Would you kindly quote your prices and terms of delivery (terms of payment, etc.) for ...

Чи не могли б ви встановити нам ціну і умови постачання (сплати, тощо).

We usually effect payment by letter of credit (check, bank transfer, etc.).

Ми зазвичай здійснюємо спла­ту шляхом відкриття акриди­ти­ву (чеком, переказом тощо).

Do not hesitate to place an order with us.

Розміщуйте замовлення у нас.

Before we consider placing an order, we would like to know…

Перед тим як розмістити замовлення, ми хотіли б знати ...

We would like to have a trial of the items mentioned.

Ми хотіли б провести випробування згаданих товарів.

We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 7 July.

Підтверджуємо отримання вашого листа від 7 липня.

We can forward samples of all our articles on request.

На вашу вимогу ми можемо направляти зразки всіх наших товарів.

The enclosed leaflet will supply full particulars.

У даному проспекті вказані всі деталі.

I call your attention especially on item ...

Я особливо звертаю вашу увагу на позицію ...

The price covers packing and transportation expenses.

Ціна включає пакування і транспортні витрати.

We should be much obliged if you could enquire as to ...

Були б вам вдячні, якби ви уточнили...

Payment with order by banker’s draft or check on a UK bank.

Сплата за дорученням за допо­могою банківської тратти або чека в англійський банк.

Payment is being made by banker’s draft in settlement of your invoice for $ 500.

Сплата буде здійснена бан­ківсь­ким векселем при погашенні вашого рахунка-фактури на 500 доларів.

Please draw $ 500 on us at 90 day’s sight.

Випишіть, будь ласка, нам раху­нок на 500 доларів зі строком сплати протягом 90 днів.

According to our conditions of sale, your remittance was due on March 10.

Згідно з умовами нашої угоди, ваш переказ повинен був надійти 10 березня.

Would you allow us to postpone settlement of your account?

Просимо дозволити нам затри ­ ма ­ ти виплату за вашим рахун ­ ком.

Please send us half of the amount by return, and sign the enclosed acceptance for the remainder.

Будь ласка, поверніть нам половину суми і підпишіть вкладений акцепт на залишок.

We trust you will settle the reminder by paying in monthly installments.

Ми сподіваємося, що ви ліквідуєте залишок шляхом сплати що ­ місяч ­ них внесків.

Credit should be restricted to $20.000 in any one month.

Необхідно обмежити кредит до 20000 доларів на місяць.

Accounts have lately become overdue.

Останнім часом рахунки сплачу ­­ ються із запізненням.

We strongly advise you against granting ...

Наполегливо рекомендуємо вам не представляти ...

Please draw on us for the amount of your invoice.

Виставте, будь ласка, нам трат ­ ту на суму вашого рахунка-фактури.

Our acceptances will be honored on presentation at the bank.

Наші акцепти будуть сплачені під час пред’явлення в банк.

On receipt of your remittance we will forward your order.

Після отримання вашого переказу ми відправимо ваше замовлення.

We enclose our pro forma invoice which includes all costs to ...

A quarterly statement of account is sent to all customers.

Додаємо наш приблизний рахунок, у який увійшли всі витрати до ...

Щоквартальний витяг з рахунка надсилається усім клієнтам.


1. How should your letters sound?

2. How can you achieve in your letter the effect that the reader knows someone from your company?

3. What is the message as one of the important element of the business letter?

4. Why should you be psychologically astute while writing a business letter?

5. What is the method for writing any letter?

6. How can you organize the information of your letter?


The Sales Manager of International Computer Services plc has two Administrative Assistants who both frequently write letters which are sent out under the Sales Manager’s signature. One morning he finds two letters on his desk waiting to be signed and sent to the post room.

After reading the two letters, each of which was written by one of his assistants, he signs one and sends it off. The second he refuses to sing and sends it back to the writer for revision.

The two letters are given below. Which one do you think he refused to sign, and why?


International Computer Services PLS

136 Bolton Road, Newbury, Berks

Mr. David Green Our Ref: BT/2

British Tourism plc Your Ref:

Tuesday 24 Mar.

Dear Mr. David Green,

Thank you for your letter of 20.1.99 requesting a demonstration of our product model SLX/34.

I have arranged for one of our representatives to visit you, as requested, on 10. 03. 99 at 2p. m.

In the meantime, should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely.


International Computer Services PLC

136 Bolton Road, Newbury, Berks

Our Ref: MT/1

Your Ref:

Ms. Helen Rees,

Administrative Manager,

Minitours plc,

302 Noms Road,


Berks. 24th March 1999

Dear Ms Rees,

Our representative, Mr. Humphries, has informed me that you are interested in our range of word processing equipment.

I am enclosing our current catalogue. In particular, I would draw your attention to model SLX/34.

Should you require a demonstration of this or any other of our products, we will send one of our representatives to visit you when we could discuss your exact requirements.

I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me again if you require any further information, or if you wish to arrange a convenient time for a demonstration of our product.

Yours sincerely,

John Adams

Sales Manager

Compare the layouts of Text 1 and 2. Notice how 1 follows the diagram below, Text 2 does not. Notice however, that the layout of Text 1 is not the only possible layout for business letters in English. Many companies have their own individual systems and in particular the position of the references, date and receiver’s address may vary.

1 Company name

2 References

3 Receiver

(or below)

4 Date

5 Salutation

(Indentation ) 6

7 Close

8 Name and Title

3 Receiver

(or above)

9 Enc (s)


The letter which the sales Manager refused to sign was Text 2, which completely ignored the usual conventions of layout for business letters in English.


· References are normally given using the abbreviations Our ref. and Your ref.

· With an indented layout, dates are given thus: 2nd May 1999/10th March 1999, etc.

· Salutations are used as follows:

- to a company Dear Sirs,

- to a person whose name you know Dear Mr. Brown, /Dear Ms. Rees, / Dear Dr. Davies,

- to an individual in an organization (e.g. Personnel Manager) whose name you don’t know Dear Sir or Madam,

- to a friend Dear Helen, Dear John,

· Note the following relationships between the salutation and the close:

· “Enc (s)” is the abbreviation for Enclosure(s).


Ex. 1

Write sentences as directed.

1. Politely remind your customers of the following:

a) their January account has not been settled. (K)

b) your terms are 60 days from receipt of statement.

c) that their last two accounts have not been settled yet.

d) the specifications have already been agreed.

e) full payment must be made within 30 days of receipt of the goods.

2. Express the following conditions for disregarding reminders (or letters):

a) sent the check during the last week. (K)

b) settled the account in the last six days.

c) sent the information during the last week.

d) sent the check in the last few days.

e) settled the account since this reminder was written. (K)

Ex. 2

Match sentences (a) - (d) together with sentences (e) - (h) to make four separate complaints.

a) Unfortunately, one of the machines you sent us was damaged.

b) Unfortunately, we have not yet received your payment.

c) Unfortunately, your driver took the goods to the wrong place.

d) Unfortunately, you forgot to mention the cost of your products.

e) Please could you send us your check before 30 June.

f) We would be grateful if you could send us a replacement.

g) We would appreciate it if you could collect them and bring them to our offices.

h) Please could you send your price list as soon as possible.

Ex. 3

What would you write in these situations? In each case, decide what action you want the company or organization to take. Follow the example.

a) A company has sent you a bill for the wrong goods.

b) Unfortunately you sent us a bill for the wrong goods. Please could you send us a correct bill as soon as possible.

c) Your new photocopier has broken down. You have to write to the company who sold it to you.

d) A temporary secretary does not speak English. You have to write to the agency who sent her to you.

e) You keep receiving letters for someone else. You have to write to the post office.

Ex. 4

The following letters contain mistakes in layout, style, sentence construction, spelling, content. Rewrite and improve them.

Mr. David Hicks

27 Brownlee Road


London SE6 4PH

our ref: MM/ob Your ref: DH/as date: Milan,

29 February 1999

Dear Mr. Hicks

Thank you for your letter of 20 February with your check of 20.

I am afraid but your check is wrong. In fact the date is 20 February 1999 and we can not cash it.

Enclosed I send you it so you can change the date.

About the book that you have asked, I am terribly sorry that you must wait for one month. It is reprinting now and we shall send you ready. The exact title of this book is «The Golden Horses of San Marco».

I hope to receive your correct check as soon as possible.


Yours faithfully

Anne Meroni.

Brian Davis

Brown Secretarial College

13 Avebury Lane, Inskip


Lancs. 23th March, 1999

Dear Mr. Spencer

Referring to your letter of 15th March, I am very happy to give Alison Bennett a reference for the job as secretary.

She is a quick typist, a good shorthand-writer, she is intelligent, very careful and also efficient in her work.

I can certainly recommend her for your job.

Yours sincerely

(Brian Davis)


Ex. 5

These two letters are all mixed up. Put the sentences in the right order. Each letter has three separate main parts.


Mrs. S Weinburger 12 December 1999

ABC Business Consultants

1911 N Formosa Avenue

Los Angeles

California USA

Dear Mrs Weinburger

a) Please give my regards to Steven Hill.

b) It was interesting to hear your views on our new products.

c) I would be very grateful, therefore, if you could send me a list of agents - perhaps from the yellow pages.

d) As you know, our company is planning to open a branch in Los Angeles.

e) I was wondering if you could help me.

f) It was a pleasure to meet you at the Trade fair last month.

j) We are now looking for office space in the town center and we need to know the names and addresses of some property agents.

With best wishes,

Hans Seitz

Divisional Director


Ms. F Soares 15 October 1999

Rua J Falcao 20-7

4001 Porto


Dear Ms. Soares

a) I am afraid that I have some bad news.

b) Thank you very much for your letter.

c) I hope that this does not inconvenience you in any way.

d) I hope that you have completely recovered now.

e) Due to unforeseen problems, we are unable to deliver your order on time.

f) Please give my regards to Mr. Segall.

g) We expect to be back to normal by the end of this month, so I am sure that you will receive the goods within three weeks.

h) I was sorry to hear that you have been ill recently.

Kind regards

Ke Soon Lee

Overseas Sales Dept

Ex. 6

How would you write the receiver’s address, the salutation and the close in the following situations?

1. You are writing to the Chief Training Officer of a company called Newmark and Grayson Chemicals. They are based at 30-32, Dunmow Lane, London Ec11.

2. You are writing to Ann Baines, who works in the Accounts Department of a company called Taylor and Johnson. Their offices are at 76 Davies Street, Liverpool 8.

3. You are writing to Peter Andrews, the Marketing Manager of Drew and Aubel, who have their headquarters in Tonbridge, Kent at 22 Main Street. You have worked closely with Peter Andrews before and know him well.

Ex. 7

1. Complete a proposal letter containing the following expressions. (Add as much information and as many sentences as necessary).

Dear Mr./Ms ...,

We believe that your company will be interested in the possibility of ...

We are . . . and we are now seeking . . .

If this idea interests you, we could . . .

I am very much looking forward to your reply.

You can relate the letter to your present job. What kind of business proposal could your company make - and to whom?

2. Your local government authority is willing financially to help worthwhile business ventures get started. Think of a possible new venture that might succeed in your local area, and write it as a proposal to your local authority.

Ex. 8

Fill in the missing parts of these letters.

a) Dear Mr. Watson


In our last order from your company, we asked for six water filters. Unfortunately, when we opened the box we found that there were only five. I would be grateful if you could send us the missing filter as soon as possible.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


b) Dear Ms. Spencer


Owing to increased costs, we have been forced to increase our prices to our customers as shown on the enclosed list. We are however still able to offer a 10% discount on any order that you make.

Hoping that we can continue to be of service to you,


c) Dear Mrs. Poirot

................................................the invitation to the exhibition last week. see the range of products that you produce.


a new service that we have just introduced. This is the Golden Maintenance Agreement. For a fixed price we can offer 24 hour emergence repairs for

d) Dear Mr. Sanchez

............................................…............that I have not written before now to thank you for the invitation to the conference last month. meet your colleagues and to exchange ideas.

.................................................................................... I need a new Marketing Manager for our Middle East office. I know that you

Ex. 9.

What error has been made on the invoice? (K)

What do Green Tools plc want M Pinelli Ltd to do? (K)

GREEN TOOLS PLC 16 East Street, Bishops Stortford,Herts HM 6 2DZ Tel: Bishops Stortford (0297) 613726M Pinelli Ltd Your ref: MN/LD16 Garibaldi Street Our ref: CT/MDTurinItaly 10 September 1999Dear SirsINVOICE No. YD/633009With reference to your invoice No. YD/633009 of 2 September, we must point out that you seem to have made an error in the total. You have entered $742. 20 but we calculate that the correct figure is $722.20.We enclose our check for $722.20 and would be obliged if you could either let us have your *credit note for $20 or amend the invoice appropriately.Yours faithfullyCLIVE THOMASAccounts Director

Ex. 10

The accountant in your office has just passed you the invoice on given below.

Write a full letter to Minachi, complaining about the typewriter. Remember to:

- say what you are writing about (use a heading);

- say what is wrong;

- request some action (you decide!).


11-4-67 Nishiyami-dai Sayama-cho

Osaka-Fu 288 Japan

Invoice No: 554 AH Contact: M Onaka

1 MX3 Electronic typewriter

(including freight and insurance)

US $




Ex. 11

SCENARIO: The new computer system is still not working. Your company, DataPlus, needs information urgently from the manufacturer. After phoning Seattle himself, Dr. Albert asks you to write a letter of complaint. The letter will serve as a record of your company’s request for service if you are forced to return the computer.

Review the organization and contents for a letter of complaint outlined in the sentence-combining activity for this chapter. Then write a letter of complaint.

– Write a letter of complaint to the manufacturer, Absolute Computing Corporation.

– Describe the computer failure.

– Explain that you have phoned about it daily for two weeks.

Request that Mr. Simpson call your office as soon as possible!

Ex. 12

Write a letter for the following situation:

Neil Johnson, Purchasing Manager of Merror and Bletchley, plc, has written to you expressing interest in your company’s product. From what he told you of his company’s requirements your product will need slight modification to suit his needs, but you feel this can be done quickly and inexpensively. You are about to go to England on a business trip and want to arrange to meet Mr. Johnson. His firm’s address is 261 Denby Road, Chester.

Ex. 13

You work in the computer section of StorFinans bank, Nygatan 47, Stockholm, Sweden. Recently, you met Gerard van Ek when you were on a training course. He gave a talk about his ideas on computer security. You will see him again at a computer exhibition in London next June.

Some time ago you ordered a large quantity of computer paper from his company. The paper arrived yesterday but it was the wrong color: you ordered white and they sent green. Write to Gerard van Ek and complain. His address is: Computer Suppliers, 84 Ave Franklin Roosevelt, 1067 Brussels, Belgium.



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