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Art of Business Writing

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The Art of Writing Business Letters
Write letter in a manner such as to secure the respect and consideration of the person with whom you correspond.
The rules for the mechanical execution of a letter are few; understanding and observing the rules already considered for composition, the writer has only to study perfect naturalness of expression, to write a letter well.

Variously missing from their letters are headings, dates, inside addresses, salutations and complimentary closings. And the forms are disheveled.
Frankly, in terms of form, often I am unable to distinguish any discernible differences between letters written by students, their teachers and by many other professionals.
Apparently, for many, the art of writing a standard business letter has been lost.
What are considered essential elements for a standard business letter.
Know the format. Whatever the content of your letter, visually it should resemble the picture below. Note that business letters are composed in common fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman, and that they are justified to the left. Most employ block paragraphing - i.e., to start a new paragraph, hit "return" twice and don't use an indent.

Letterhead. Include the sender's company and the company address; if you're self-employed or an independent contractor, add your name either in place of the company name or on top of it. If your company has pre-designed letterhead, use this; otherwise, simply typing the information at the top of a blank sheet will suffice. Date. Writing out the full date is the more professional choice - either "April 1, 2012" or "1 April 2012." Recipient. Write out the recipient's full name, title (if applicable), company name, and address in that order. If necessary, include a reference number. Salutation. The salutation is an important indicator of respect, and which one you use will depend on whether you know who you are writing to, how well you know them and the level of formality in your relationship. Employ "To Whom It May Concern" only if you don't know whom, specifically, you're addressing. If you're writing to a single-gender group, use "Dear Sirs/Madams"; if the group is mixed-gender, use "Dear Sir(s) and Madam(s)," keeping or discarding the "s" based on the number of sirs or madams. If you do not know the recipient well, "Dear Sir/Madam" is a safe choice; you may also use the recipient's title and last name, e.g. "Dear Dr. Smith." If you know the recipient well and enjoy an informal relationship with him or her, you may consider a first-name address, e.g. "Dear Susan." If you are unsure of the recipient's gender, simply type the whole name, e.g. "Dear Kris Smith." Don't forget a comma after a salutation or a colon after “To Whom It May Concern.” Body paragraphs. These will be discussed further in later steps. Closing. The closing, like the salutation, is an indicator of respect and formality. "Yours sincerely" or "Sincerely" is generally a safe bet; also consider "Cordially," "Respectfully," "Regards" and "Yours Truly." Slightly less formal but still professional closings include "All the best,” “Best wishes," "Warm regards," and "Thank you." Use a comma after your closing. Signature. Leave about four lines empty for your signature. Sign the letter after you've printed it or, if you're sending it via email, scan an image of your signature and affix it to this part of the letter. Blue or black ink is preferred. Name and contact information. Beneath your signature, type your name, phone number, email address and any other applicable means of contact. Give each piece of information its own line. Enclosures. If you've enclosed additional documents for the recipients review, note this a few lines beneath your contact info by noting the number and type of documents, e.g. "Enclosures (2): resume, brochure."

Style and Manner
The expression of language should, as nearly as possible, be the same as the writer would speak. A letter is but a talk on paper. The style of writing will depend upon the terms of intimacy existing between the parties. If to a superior, it should be respectful ; to inferiors, courteous ; to friends, familiar ; to relatives, affectionate.
Do not be guilty of using that stereotyped phrase,
The tone of your letter, therefore, should be brief and professional. Make your letter a quick read by diving straight into the matter and keeping your comments brief in the first paragraph. For instance, you can always start with "I am writing you regarding..." and go from there. Don't concern yourself with flowery transitions, big words, or lengthy, meandering sentences - your intent should be to communicate what needs to be said as quickly and cleanly as possible
Be clear: Let your reader know exactly what you are trying to say. Your reader will only respond quickly if your meaning is crystal clear. In particular, if there is some result or action you want taken because of your letter, state what it is.
Be conversational: Letters are written by people to people. Avoid form letters if possible - you cannot build a relationship with canned impersonal letters. However, stay away from colloquial language or slang such as "you know," "I mean" or "wanna". Keep the tone businesslike, but be friendly and helpful.
Be courteous: Even if you are writing with a complaint or concern, you can be courteous. Consider the recipient's position and offer to do whatever you can, within reason, to be accommodating and helpful.
Be concise and to the point: When writing a business letter, explain your position in as few words as possible.
Be correct. Take the time to make sure you have the facts straight before putting them in writing. Check your spelling and grammar, too, or have someone check them for you.
Be convincing. Most likely the purpose of your letter is to persuade your reader to do something: change their mind, correct a problem, send money or take action. Make your case.
Be complete. Don't omit necessary information.

What to Avoid in Formal Writing

1. 1
Use appropriate punctuation.

For example, American English employs a colon in a formal letter as in “Dear John:” but British English employs a comma. Limit parentheses, exclamation points, and dashes (prefer colons) in formal writing. Avoid the ampersand (&); write out the word “and.” Punctuate your writing as you go along to reduce your risk of leaving out punctuation.

[pic] 2. 2
Avoid common colloquial words and expressions (colloquialisms)

such as "cute" (use "adorable"), "yeah," "how-do-you-do," and "movie" (use "film"), as listed below :

This includes slang such as "cool," "dude," and "humongous." Two good phrases to delete are "you know" and “you might be thinking.” You do not have the power to know your readers’ thoughts while they read your paper. Another empty sentence is “Think about it.” Assume that your readers are already thinking about what they are reading, and state your point more clearly. The adverb “pretty,” meaning “relatively," "fairly," or "quite,” is unacceptable in all formal writing and is often unnecessary.

[pic] 3. 3
Do not use contractions. Note that the full form of "can't" is one word: "cannot," not "can not."

[pic] 4. 4
Try to avoid the first and second person. Formal writing often tries to be objective, and the pronouns "I" and "you" tend to imply subjectivity. Phrases such as "I think that" can be deleted from a sentence when it is obvious that this is the author’s opinion. Using the pronoun "I" is almost always acceptable in personal writing, and the pronoun "you" is almost always acceptable in letters and how-to’s. In the most formal writing, the pronoun “I” is replaced by the pronoun “we”; this is known as the royal we or the editorial we. Formal writing generally avoids the pronoun “you” when it refers to people in general.

[pic] o You should sleep eight hours each night. (informal) o One should sleep eight hours each night. (formal) o Most people should sleep at least eight hours each night. (formal usage allowing for exceptions) 5. 5
Do not start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. In the written language, do not use coordinating conjunctions such as "and,” "but," “so,” or “or” to start a sentence. Coordinating conjunctions are meant to join words, phrases, and clauses; a coordinating conjunction is left dangling without a role to play when it comes at the beginning of a sentence. Consider attaching the sentence that starts with a coordinating conjunction to the previous sentence, substituting the period for a comma to produce a compound sentence. You can also use transitional adverbs such as “additionally” (or “moreover”), “nevertheless” (or “however”), “therefore” (or “thus”), and “alternatively” (or “instead” or “otherwise”). “

Though” can be used at the end of a sentence: “This product here is much cheaper. It will last only half as long, though.” Starting a sentence with “also” is useful in casual writing but should be avoided in formal English unless the word "also" is modifying a verb (usually in the imperative mood or an inverted sentence structure): "Also read Chapters Two and Three;" "Also included is a free ticket." A paragraph that starts many sentences with coordinating conjunctions may also lack smooth transitions.

[pic] 6. 6
Avoid clichés to be formal. Formal writing tries to use literal language that will not be misunderstood by any of the readers. Clichés can make your writing unoriginal, but they can sometimes be fun in casual writing, especially as an original play-on-words called an anti-cliché. Here are some clichés to avoid in formal writing:

[pic] o Hercules was as strong as an ox. o I have to give an arm and a leg to find a parking spot during the holiday season. o It was as pretty as a picture. 7. 7
Avoid stage directions. Do not commence a letter by telling the recipient what you plan to do in the letter or begin an essay by telling the reader what the paper will discuss.

[pic] o "I am writing to you to ask you to. . . ." o "This paper is going to talk about how. . . ." 8. 8
Avoid vague words. Vague words are less formal and are open to interpretation; they do not express your ideas as well as more precise words would. "A few" or "enough" can often be replaced by something more precise.

[pic] What is Acceptable in Formal Writing

1. 1
Do not hesitate to split an infinitive when it is warranted. Split infinitives are common in legal writing,[4] an important type of formal English. In fact, the split infinitive is encountered in the most formal of writing.[5] Split infinitives can be used even in very formal writing that avoids the active voice. Infinitives, along with gerunds, contribute to an active writing style and show action but are not actually in the active voice.

The effectiveness of the split infinitive arises from the fact that “to” and the verb are like a single unit. After all, “to go” would be translated into Latin as the single word “ire.” For emphasis, an artist places a large picture between two smaller pictures; in the same way, an adverb becomes emphatic when placed between "to" and the verb.

[pic] 2. 2
3. 3
4. 4
Always include the relative pronoun. In formal English, you should be sure to always include "whom" or "which" even when they are not essential to your meaning. The relative pronoun can be omitted when only a participle is used; in that case, there is no longer a relative clause. Also, avoid using 'that' as a relative pronoun and replace it with 'which', 'whom' or 'who'.

[pic] o This is the paper I wrote. (informal) o This is the paper which I wrote. (formal) o That was the paper written by me. (formal) (This version uses the past participle and does not contain a relative clause. It is the most formal version because it does not contain any verbs in the active voice.) o The bear which was dancing was graceful. (formal) o The bear dancing was graceful. (more formal) (“Dancing” is not active; it is not even a verb and is actually an adjective; this becomes clearer when the sentence is rewritten as “The dancing bear was graceful.”) 5. 5
Develop short, choppy sentences into longer, more graceful sentences. Formal writing generally uses longer sentences: compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences. You can develop two or more simple sentences into one of the previously listed sentence structures. Long sentences add variety to your writing and can be particularly effective when paired with short sentences; the contrast grabs the readers' attention. As the last sentence shows, you also can use a semicolon to join two simple sentences, provided that they are closely related to each other.

Edit Common Colloquial Words and Expressions

• Anybody, anyone - "Anyone" and its variants are more formal than "anybody" and its variants. • o I didn't see anybody. o I saw no one. • As - “As” is often used in formal writing to mean “because.” Placing a comma before “as” can help prevent ambiguity when it could also be understood to mean “when” or “where.”

• Big, large, great - All three of these words are acceptable in formal English, but "large" is more formal than "big," and "great" is more formal than "large."

• Fellow - Avoid using "fellow" when you mean "a person." Calling someone a fellow is more formal than calling him or her a dude, but "fellow" is still a colloquialism.

• For sure - Replace "for sure" with "with certainty" in formal writing, as in "I know with certainty." You might also write, "I am positive" or "I am sure."

• Get - Avoid all forms of this verb in formal writing. • o I got an A in the course. o I received an A in the course. o She didn’t get the joke. o She did not understand the joke. o The machine never gets used. o The machine is never used. • Got - "Got" is a colloquialism. Replace it with "have," as in "Do you have [not "got"] an extra pen?"

• Introduce, present - "Present" is more formal than "introduce." It is also more respectful to the person presented. • o The queen was introduced. . . . o The queen was presented. . . . • Kind of, sort of - "Kind of" and "sort of" are unacceptable in formal writing when used for "somewhat" and "rather." When used to categorize something, "kind of" and "sort of" are acceptable, but "type of" is more formal: "The parakeet is a type of bird." Note that it is informal to include an article after "of": "The parakeet is a type of a bird."(informal)

• Let - When used in place of "allow" or "permit," "let" is a colloquialism.

• Madam, ma’am - Both "madam" and "ma’am" are very polite forms of address . . . but "ma’am" is unacceptable in formal English. In fact, "ma’am" is much more informal than other contractions such as "I’m" and "I’ll," which go unmarked in dictionaries.

• Most - In formal English, do not use "most" for "almost." You should write, "Almost everyone likes pizza," not "Most everyone likes pizza."

• On the other hand - "On the other hand" is a very common phrase, but can be considered a cliché and should, therefore, be avoided in extremely formal English. Instead, use "conversely" or "by contrast." "On the other hand" is particularly useful in everyday writing and can eliminate the temptation to start with "but."

• So - Avoid using "so" as a synonym for "very" in extremely formal writing. In perfectly formal writing, you also should avoid using "so" as a coordinating conjunction. You can eliminate this colloquialism by deleting "so" and beginning the sentence with "because." Compare "The song may bother me, so I’ll cover my ears" and "Because the song may bother me, I shall cover my ears." Sometimes, you need the conjunction "that" after "so," as in "I wrote this how-to so that you could improve your grammar and style."

• Yours truly - Ironically, signing a letter "Yours truly" is formal, but referring to yourself as "yours truly" is informal. Still, "Sincerely" is a more formal signature than "Yours truly" because it avoids the second person. "Yours truly" can be very useful in informal English because the proper pronouns sometimes sound wrong. You can say, "It’s yours truly!" instead of "It’s me!" because "yours truly" can be used for "I" and "me."
NOTE: This is a useful link which could be referred to for additional information on Business English and Professional Writing.[pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic]

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...believed to be the author of The Art of War. This was an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. His work is thought to have had a considerable impact on Asian, and in particular Chinese, history and culture. The recognition of The Art of War grew during the 19th and 20th centuries and has continued to influence not only Asian culture and politics but western society as well (Cultural China, 2010).The Art of War, written during a period of constant war among seven nations seeking the full control of China, discusses how important it is for an organisation, in this case an army, to be controlled, organised and ready to exploit enemy’s weaknesses. The purpose of the text is to demonstrate that structure within an organisation and mutual philosophies shared i.e. confidence, solidity and even patience can give an organisation the best opportunity to succeed in the task ahead, in this case a war. The Art of War perceives that high leadership control is the most influential component to a firm’s success, similar theories can be shown today. For example, Fiedler’s Contingency theory suggests that a good task structure and strong leader-member relations bond forms an environment where a leader has high control of a situation and greater potential to be successful (Ornstein, A 2011). Traditional accounts describe Sun Tzu as a heroic general of the King of Wu (lived c. 544—496 BCE). Victories for Sun Tzu were what inspired him to write The Art of War (McNeilly, M 2003).......

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