The qualities of effective business letters

Written by lalla scotter
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The qualities of effective business letters
A well written business letter can be a powerful communications tool. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Despite the popularity of social media and the ease with which people can communicate with each other via video conferencing, Skype and other digital means, the letter remains a powerful tool in business-to-business communication. Among the advantages of business letters are that they provide a record of communication and that they do not have to be answered immediately. The recipient has some time in which to think about the contents. To make sure your business letters achieve what you want, make sure they display the important qualities of coherence, conciseness, clarity and courtesy.


An effective business letter is coherent. Each point leads smoothly and logically into the next, guiding the reader's thoughts. The letter does not contain any irrelevant information and is consistent in tone and subject matter. It is perfectly acceptable to list some items, such as the benefits of a new product, as long as all the points in the list contribute to what you are saying. It goes without saying that your writing should be grammatically correct, otherwise its meaning could be unclear.


Writing a letter does give the recipient time to think about the contents, but you shouldn't imagine that he has much time to read a long and rambling communication. If your letter is too long you risk boring the person to whom you have sent it, as well as obscuring the point that you are trying to make.


Writing jargon-laden, obscure business letters is one of the best ways to guarantee that you will not get a meeting. Too many people forget that some of the language they use at work is exclusive to their company or profession, and that others simply do not know what they mean. Another common fault is to try to make your writing sound important by using long words, when in fact shorter words would be more effective. For example: "I was proceeding in a westerly direction" rather than "I was walking west."


Just as in face-to-face conversation, a little politeness in a business letter goes a long way to ensuring that your communication is received positively. Phrases such as "I would be grateful if you would ..." and "I appreciate that you are very busy but ..." show consideration to the reader and are much more likely to elicit a friendly response than curt commands.

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