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Video:Learn ESL: How to Write a Business Letter

with Alfredo Deambrosi

Writing a business letter when you're new to the English language can be difficult, but we'll show you how to do it. Watch this video from About.com to see tips for putting one together.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn ESL: How to Write a Business Letter

Hi, I'm Alfredo Deambrosi, director of OnTargetEnglish.com, sharing some tips for writing business letters for About.com.

Printed Business Letters

Why do people still send printed business letters when email is so much faster?

Sending a business letter is a great way to get someone's attention. Because so much written communication happens through email, it's easy to ignore email. But a printed letter shows that you took extra effort to communicate a message and can lead the reader to believe that your message is especially important.

Effective Business Letter

Here are some tips for how you can write an effective business letter.

First, use a direct method for most messages. American culture and many European cultures value directness. Use the first sentence of the letter to present your request or to summarize the main idea of our message. You can use the rest of the letter to give explanation.

Second, use an indirect method for persuasive messages or bad-news messages. If your audience is likely to disagree or to be disappointed by seeing your main idea first, wait to give that idea until after you give your reasons. If your audience sees your reasons first, they may be more likely to accept your main idea.

Third, format the letter properly. Here are the parts of a business letter.

Closing a Business Letter

Your name and address should appear at the top. Then the date should appear with the month first, then the day, then the year. After the date, write the name and address of your recipient. A subject line is optional.

The greeting ends with a colon. Lists and short paragraphs help to make the body of the letter readable. After the closing, leave room for your signature before your printed name. If your envelope includes other material such as a brochure, a coupon, or a resume, write the word "enclosure" at the bottom. Finally, evaluate your letter from the perspective of those who will read your letter. Are they likely to object to any of your ideas? Are the words and sentences appropriate for the readers? You won't impress your readers by using big words and unusual sentence structures. What impresses readers is clear writing.

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