Unit one Business Letter Writing Principles of

Unit one Business Letter Writing
Principles of business letter writing
1)The first principle is clearness 清楚:
In order to achieve that you should
not convey more than one idea in a
sentence. You should not introduce
more than one topic in a paragraph.
You should not deal with more than one
matter in a letter.
2)The second principle is
conciseness 简要:
Try to make your message brief and
to the point. Avoid using long words
and sentences. Use daily expressions
to replace jargons. Express yourself in
an orderly and logical way. A good
business letter should be natural,
human and easy to read.
Here are some examples:
Instead of saying: We should be
obliged if you could contact Mr Smith at
an early date.
You say: Please contact Mr Smith
Instead of saying: With reference to
your Order 319, the goods were
dispatched on the 13 of this month.
You say: We sent your Order 319 on
13 April.
3) The third principle is
correctness 正确:
You have to make sure that both
the language and facts are correct.
In terms of language, you should
make sure that you make no
grammatical mistakes. Pay
attention to punctuation for it will
affect the meaning of the sentence
Our shop, in Canada, was destroyed by fire.
From this sentence, we know that the writer
has only one shop.
Our shop in Canada was destroyed by fire.
Here we know that the writer has more than
one shop.
You should also make sure that there are no
typing mistakes. Pay special attention to
numbers, such as quantity, price and so on.
4)The last principle is courtesy礼貌:
This is more than politeness. A
good business letter should be
positive, friendly and sincere.
Instead of saying: I am in
receipt of your order for 1,000 tons
of Black Tea.
You say: Thank you for your
order for 1,000 tons of Black Tea.
Adopt “you approach” when you
convey a good news.
Instead of saying: We shall be able
to offer you free customer service for
your newly purchased refrigerator for 3
You say: You will be pleased to hear
that you will soon be able to have a free
customer service for your newly
purchased refrigerator for 3 years.
Avoid using “you approach” when
conveying bad news. In this
situation, you have to handle it
Instead of saying: ‘Your letter is
not clear at all. I cannot understand
You say: ‘If I understand your
letter correctly….’
How to learn this course
• First, you need to have a good command of
Then, pay attention to the special terms in
this course.
The best way to learn it is to read more and
write more.
In this way you will have a better
understanding of what you have learned and be
able to use them. It is a good idea to recite
some letters. It will help you a lot when you
write business letters yourself.
Layout of the business letter
• Full-blocked layout style, blocked
layout style and semi-blocked layout
style are commonly used.
The full-blocked layout style has no indentation.
Everything is ranged left. There is no punctuation
in the address and after the salutation and the
complimentary close.
Use single space within the paragraph. Use
double spaces between paragraphs.
If you have quotations or a list of something,
you should start a new paragraph, with 5-space
indentations on the left. Mark this part out by
leaving one line space between this paragraph
and the rest of the letter.
This style is widely used today because it is
easy to type and therefore efficient.
This is similar to the Full-blocked
layout style but the date is placed
on the right. The Subject is
centered. The complimentary close
and the signature start from the
Letterhead 信头
Date 日期
Inside name and address 封内地址
The salutation 称呼
Subject heading or caption 事由
The body of the letter 正文
Complimentary close 结束语
Signature 签名
Miscellaneous matters 其他事项
1) The letterhead
Companies usually have paper
with printed letterhead, which
includes the company’s name,
address, postcode, telephone
number, telex number, fax number,
email address etc. The printed
letterhead is usually centered. Here
I’d like to remind you that the
address in the letterhead is the
address of the sender not the
recipient. This is important when you
have to write the letterhead yourself.
2)The date (日期)
A.The date should be placed two
lines below the letterhead. For the fullblocked style, you put it on the left. For
the blocked or semi-blocked you put it
on the right.
B.The date should be typed in full
and not abbreviated
September , not Sept.
October, not Oct.
C.Do not give the dates in figures for
they may cause confusion. For the date,
use 1, 2, 3, 4.
D.Here are the recommended
forms. Stick to one form once you have
chosen it. There is no comma between
the month and the year in British
3 April 2000 (British English.)
April 3, 2000 (American English
3) The inside name and address.
This is the name and address of the
recipient. It is typed at the left-hand
margin two lines below the date.
Courtesy titles are used in business
correspondence, such as Mr., Mrs. and
Miss. If you do not know whether a lady
is married or not, use Ms. All these are
followed by family names. If you do not
know whether the recipient is a man or a
woman, use Dear Madam or Sir. They are
not followed by family names.
If you know the appropriate
departmental head, you’d better
address the letter to him or her, by his
official title not by his or her name.
Thus a letter concerning purchasing
should be addressed to:
The Sales Manager,
the recipient’s address.
Dear Sir,
When the recipient holds a special
title, such as Doctor, Professor,
address him/her by this title:
Prof. Smith.
Dr. James White / James White,
But not Dr. James White, MD
4). The salutation
The salutation is the polite greeting with
which a letter begins. The expression you
use depends on your relationship with the
recipient. You may use formal salutation if
you write to a company and do not know
who to address to. In this case you use
Dear Sirs, and in America people like to use
If you know the person you are writing
to, you may use informal salutation. Dear Mr.
Dear Sir
Dear Madam
Dear Sirs
Dear Mr Green
Dear Mrs Green
Dear Miss Green
Dear Ms Green
If you do not know whether a man or a
woman will read your letter, you may write
Dear Madam or Sir/Dear Sir or Madam:
Dear Madam or Sir
Dear Sir or Madam
You cannot use Sir/Sirs alone. You have
to use dear to go with Sir/Sirs but
Gentlemen is used alone and cannot be
used in the singular. The salutation is two
lines below the inside address without any
5). The subject heading or caption
The subject heading is often placed one
line below the salutation. It can be put on
the left or in the middle depending on
whether the letter is full-blocked, blocked or
semi-blocked. This is used to call reader’s
attention to the topic of the letter, therefore it
is a good idea to underline it or make it in
boldface letters.
You can write the subject in the
following ways:
A: Underline your subject like
Dear Dr. Jones,
Re: Applying for a position
Subject: Applying for a position
B: Make your subject in
boldface letters
Dear Dr. Jones,
Re: Applying for a position
Subject: Applying for a position
C: Omit the words Re and
Dear Dr. Jones,
Applying for a position
6) The body of the letter
You may use the first person singular: I
have received your application and shall be
bringing it before the Board for consideration
this week.
You may also use the first person plural:
We have received your application and shall
be considering it at a board meeting this
You can even use the impersonal passive:
Your application has been received and will
be considered by the Board this week.
You should plan you letter carefully.
If you are replying a letter, begin your
letter by referring to the previous
If this is the first time to contact, you
may begin by introducing yourself and
then state the purpose of your writing.
If you have several matters to talk
about, especially if such matters are not
dealt with in the same department of the
company, do not talk about them in one
What is the purpose of the letter?
What is your expectation?
What language should you use to
achieve your purpose?
Is this the first time you discuss the
matter or you have talked about it
Do you have all the information you
need? What is your company’s policy
concerning the matter you are dealing
If a second page is necessary, do not
write only the signature on the second
page. You should try to remove part of
the letter from the first page to the
second by leaving more room between
the letter head and the date ; between
the date and the inside address; and
leave more room for the hand written
signature. Write “to be continued” on
the bottom right hand side of the first
page .
The second page should be written
on a blank paper with the same kind
of texture and the color as the first
page. Write the page number,
name of the recipient and the date
and, like this:
Page 2
The Universal Trading Co.,
February 10, 2000
Mr. James Smith
Page 2
March 2, 2000
When writing a letter, leave
enough space for both the left and
the right margins, each having 30--34 mm.
7). The complimentary close
The complimentary close is merely
a polite way of ending a letter. The
expression used must suit the occasion
and match the salutation.
Dear Sir(s)
Yours faithfully
Truly yours
Less formal:
Dear Mr. Jones Yours sincerely
8). The signature
A letter should be signed by hand in
ink. As many hand-written signatures
are illegible, the name of the signer is
usually typed below the signature and
followed by his job title or position.
Leave 3 lines for a handwritten
Letters predominantly in the first
person singular are signed by the name
of the writer.
Letters in the first person plural or
impersonal passive are usually signed
with the name of the firm. Below the
name of the firm is the writer’s name.
Only the person who can represent the
company is able to sign on behalf of the
company. If that person is not available,
then the person who is given the
authority to sign can sign for the
company. In this case you use pp or
per pro, or you may use ‘for’.
For a person who has been given the
authority to sign.(由得到公司授权可以
Yours faithfully
for/pp The Overseas Co. Ltd
W. Black
Marketing director
b. For a person who has the
authority to represent the company
to sign.(由有权代表公司的人签署)
Yours sincerely,
B Davis
Managing Director
The Overseas Co. Ltd
c. The letter is signed by a person in his
official capacity to indicate the exact
degree of authority.(由具体表明其权限
Yours sincerely,
The Overseas Co. Ltd
Philip Wang
The Assistant Sales Manager
9). Miscellaneous matters
1)Carbon copy副本抄送
In this case you write cc below the
signature at the left margin. CC is the
abbreviation of carbon copy.
Yours faithfully
for The Overseas Co. Ltd
W. Black
Marketing director
c.c. Mr. J. Cooper
If you have enclosure, it is placed
below the carbon copy. Enclosure can
be abbreviated as Enc.
cc Mr. J. Cooper
2 Invoices enclosed
3 Enc./Enclosures 3
Enclosure: 1 B/Lading
Do not use postscript unless you
want to add a personal touch to your
letter. It is placed one line below the
enclosure. In most cases, postscript is
regarded as a sign of poor planning. If it
is necessary write in ink like this:
P.S. See you at the Exhibition at the
Hillside Plaza on January 10.
4)Reference number 编号
A firm or company usually assigns a
reference to correspondence, and this is
intended for quotation in the reply. This
ensures that the reply goes to the right man,
or in a large organization may be the key to
a complicated filing system. Companies
have different ways to form their reference
numbers. These numbers should be quoted
in the letters of reply. They are usually
placed on the top left-hand side opposite
the date.
How to write envelops:
Mr. Johnson Green
Public Commerce Information Service
Bldg.14, Part 3Fangxingyuan,
Fangzhuang, Beijing,
Mr. Bill White
B. Wallace &. Co.
236 St. Louis Street
New York 10202, N.Y.
The Category of Business Letters
Private 私人信
Express 快递邮件
Sample Post 样品邮件
Parcel Post 包裹邮件
Sometimes you may see an envelope
with c/o, which means ‘care of’. 由…转
Mr. Charles Wood
c/o The Sales Manager
Percy Astins & Co Ltd
12 King’s Avenue
Surrey TW6 ISJ
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