March 29, 2009

Writing business letters & memos

Reading and writing various business letters and memos has become a habitual activity in today’s business world. These letters and memos may vary in style, purpose, and length, but generally letters and memos are brief documents, no more than two pages in length.

A memo is a useful tool of business communication and is used to exchange routine and everyday information within a company. Letters are intended to the outsiders and are a part of public relations medium that presents a particular message. Thus, the main difference between a letter and a memo is the recipient; memos are sent to insiders and letters to the outsiders.

There are four categories of business letters and memos:

  • direct requests
  • routine, good-news and good-will messages
  • bad-news messages
  • persuasive messages.
The relationship of the writer and the reader dictates the style and the tone. On the whole, business letters and memos may range widely: from personal to impersonal, from passive to forceful, from colorful to casual.

Formats of memos and business letters

Typically, an organization establishes the traditional format of letters. However, many organizations rely on form letters to save time and money on routine communication. Form letters are very convenient for one-time mass mailings such as sales messages about the product, explanations about policies and procedures, information about organizational activities and goodwill messages. There is also a variation of forms for more individualized messages. Business letters of this type are composed of optional paragraphs that are suitable for an occasion. The common recommendations for composing business letters may include:

  • If the writer wants to show respect in his/her letter, start with a formal salutation
  • The body of the letter should be brief, but still contain some friendly remarks to maintain goodwill
  • Include your signature at the conclusion as it also contributes to personal touch

Typically, memo and a business letter differ in their format memo format. The heading of a memo contains the following necessary information: date, to, from, and subject. The body of a memo often includes headings and lists to highlight the key points and to make the information convenient to comprehensive. Introductions and transitions may be given less attention to in memos than in letters as the writer and the reader share a common frame of reference.