The way you communicate in writing or over the phone is sometimes more important than communication in person. This is because people may not be able to see your body language or hear your tone of voice. So word choice is imperative. Avoid confusion by omitting jokes that could be misinterpreted.
Letters are still the most formal mode of communication. Even with e-mail, it is still important to know the format of a formal business letter:
- Use 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper.
- Write in single space.
- If the letter is not printed on letterhead, type your address, not including your name, at the top of the letter.
- Skip one line. Then write out the date.
- Skip one line. Then type the recipient’s name, title, and address.
- Skip one line. Write the salutation, including the recipient’s title, last name, and a colon.
- For example, write, “Dear Mr. Peterson:”
- Skip one line. Write the short body of the letter.
- In the first part state the purpose of the letter and identify your connection to the recipient.
- In the second part, describe what you want.
- In the third part, make the specific request.
- Skip two lines. Close your letter with “Yours truly” or “Sincerely.”
- Then skip three lines to leave room for your signature, and type your name.
See a sample cover letter for an example of a formal business letter.