Following the Writing Process for Letters

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Letters are still a crucial part of conducting business; they put important details in writing and provide documentation in the case of a dispute. Follow an explanation of the writing process for business letters including prewriting, writing and proofreading. Updated: 11/18/2021

Why Bother With a Letter?

You may be asking yourself why bother with a letter. After all, your role as a sales manager has meant that you're pretty much in constant contact with your customers. In fact, you have a standing golf tee time with two of them during the spring and are tennis doubles with another - why do you have to send them a stuffy letter? The truth is quite simple - to offer them, you, and your respective companies some form of paper trail. We constantly are encouraged to put things in writing, especially when it comes to business decisions. Business letters let us do just that. But don't start banging away at that keyboard yet. For business letters to be effective, they have to be written with a purpose and a process. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the writing process for business letters.

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  • 0:00 Why Bother With a Letter?
  • 0:49 Prewriting a Letter
  • 1:52 Writing a Letter
  • 2:38 One Last Look
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Prewriting a Letter

First, let's think about if a letter is really necessary. Letters should only be used in cases of a substantive change. For example, if your company is willing to take delivery of that shipment of widgets a week early but can still wait if necessary, that can be communicated via letter. However, if the truck driver is caught in traffic and will be 15 minutes late, that does not require a business letter. On the same theme, confirming a contract should require a letter but merely following up with someone you met at a widget manufacturer's convention does not.

So, let's say that you're writing a letter to confirm a new contract. Like I said, that is the sort of thing that requires a letter. During this prewriting period, or the letter writing work before actually formatting the letter, think about what you want to say about the contract. Some boilerplate, or standardized language, is likely to occur, but use this time to point to issues that could require clarification. Also, think about the business relationship itself.

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