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How to Start a Business Letter

How to start a business letter can be a daunting task for many people. This quick guide will give you the tips and tricks you need to get started on your business letter today.

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In today’s business world, the way you start a business letter can often make or break your chances of having the letter taken seriously. So, what are some Dos and Don’ts when it comes to starting a business letter?

DO: Use a formal greeting. “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. Smith” is always a safe bet.
DON’T: Be too informal. “Hey there Bob!” is probably not going to get the job done.
DO: Use the person’s title and last name if you know them. If you’re not sure of their title, use “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
DON’T: Use first names only – this can come across as too familiar and unprofessional.
DO: Use a courteous opening. “I hope this letter finds you well.” or “Thank you for your time.” are both good examples.
DON’T: Be abrupt. Getting straight to the point may work in some cases, but in general it’s best to err on the side of courtesy.

The Heading

The heading of a business letter includes the return address (usually with just the street address, city, state and zip code), the date and, if necessary, a attention line. The return addressIncludes the sender’s name, street address, city, state and zip code. The date should be written out in the month, day and year format, such as January 18, 2011. If you are sending your letter to a specific person at a company or organization, you should include his or her name and title on an attention line below the date.

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The Greeting

The beginning of a business letter should always include a greeting, which is an essential part of any professional communication. The greeting sets the tone for the rest of the letter, and it should be chosen carefully based on the relationship between the writer and the recipient. Common greetings for business letters include “Dear Sir or Madam,” “To Whom It May Concern” and “Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name].” In some cases, it may be appropriate to use a more personal greeting, such as “Dear [First Name]” if you are writing to someone you know well.

The Body

The body of a business letter should be clear and concise. Get to the point quickly and avoid any unnecessary details. The goal is to persuade the reader to take action or agree with your point of view, so focus on presenting your arguments in the most persuasive way possible.

When writing the body of your letter, keep the following principles in mind:

– Make sure each paragraph has a purpose and that all of your arguments support your overall objective.
– Organize your thoughts logically and make sure each paragraph flows smoothly into the next.
– Use strong evidence and concrete examples to support your claims.
– Be polite and professional throughout, even if you are criticize the recipient’s actions or disagree with their point of view

The Closing

The closing of a business letter is where you summarize your purpose for writing and say goodbye to the reader. The most common closings are “Sincerely,” “Respectfully,” “Yours Truly,” and “Thank you.” If you know the name of the person you are writing to, it is best to use that in your closing (e.g., “Sincerely, John Doe”). If you are unsure of the person’s name, you can use a generic closing such as “Respectfully.”

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The Signature

The signature is perhaps the most important part of the business letter. It is important to sign each letter individually. A typed name does not carry the same weight as a handwritten signature. The signature should be placed four lines below the closing. If you are using letterhead that has your name and address printed on it, you do not need to type this information out again below your signature. Just skip those four lines.

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*This applies to Virginia residents too!

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