Writing great business letters requires both attention to detail and formal English. It can be easy to mess up a business letter if you’re not careful. Areas of common mistakes are usually in the formatting and the use of language.
Here are seven things to avoid when you are writing a business letter.
Common Mistakes of Writing Business Letters
1. Unprofessional Formatting
The format of your letter is important because it is immediately noticeable. You want to get it right to make a good first impression.
Formal letters should include the date at the top, followed by the address of the company. The text of the letter should be aligned left with spaces in-between paragraphs. Be sure to use an appropriate greeting and closing.
There are many types of formats for business letters. You can check the best format for your industry by doing a quick search online or reading a sample letter written by a trusted colleague. If you don’t feel comfortable formatting your own letter, you can use a template.
2. Not Deleting the Template Examples
It is not uncommon for people to use a template. However, a common mistake is to forget to delete the sample information from the template. Be sure to edit or delete the examples that come with the template.
Always carefully review and edit your letter before you send it off.
3. Forgetting to Spell Check
This is a mistake that is easily avoidable. A simple spell check can save you lots of embarrassment later.
Typos and misspellings are easy to check, so when people see these errors they often discredit the entire message. A lack of editing or proofreading shows that you are not serious about the content of your letter.
4. Forgetting an Attachment
If you promise an attachment in your letter, don’t make the mistake of forgetting to attach it! It’s so embarrassing to send a second email apologizing for your lack of detail.
One way to avoid this mistake is to attach your documents first. That way you’re sure to include the files you need.
5. Using Informal Language
The very definition of a business letter is that it should use business English, which is formal or polite language.
In a business letter, try not to use informal transitions and adjectives. For example, instead of saying that a decision is crappy or annoying, you can say that it is challenging. And you can use words such as therefore instead of because, and likewise instead of also.
6. Writing Too Many Idioms or Phrases
Knowing idioms and phrases is great for conversational English, but they are too informal to use in business letters. Native English speakers do not usually use these phrases in professional letters.
Only use expressions that are appropriate for business. You can let your English skills shine in your writing by using formal, appropriate phrases that are related to the topic of the letter.
7. Including Casual Greetings and Closings
Your greeting at the beginning is very important. Many English learners make the mistake of using the same informal greetings they use with friends, such as Hey or Hi.
Remember, business letters should always reflect professionalism. The best greeting is Dear followed by the person’s family name. Common closings are Best regards or Sincerely, followed by a comma.