Writing a business letter
Here is an example of how to write a business letter.
Now watch the video for a further explanation about this.
All videos used in this course have been adapted from the originals created by the CoZa Cares Foundation and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The originals are freely available at Nolwazi.
Structure of a business letter
- Your address and postcode
- Company name & address
- Dear Mr Smith (or Sir / Madam)
- Heading that explains what the letter is about
- Main content of your letter
- Yours sincerely / Yours faithfully
- Position of the person you are writing to
- Your phone number & e-mail address
- Your signature, name and title
Salutations for business letters
The salutation in a business letter should always be formal.
- If you know a person's name, you should use their title and surname (eg Dear Mrs Jones)
- If you don't know their name, you should use Dear Sir / Madam
The closing sign-off you should use also depends on whether you know the person's name
- If you know a person's name, you should use Yours sincerely
- If you don't know a person's name you should use Yours faithfully
Match the correct salutation and closing sign-off
Dear Sir / MadamYours faithfully
Dear Mr SmithYours sincerely
The content of a business letter
Every formal letter should have a brief heading that explains what the letter is about and draws the reader's attention to your content. This does not need to be a complete sentence. For example:
Complaint about poor quality service
If you are using a computer, then the best way to make this obvious is to use bold text. If this is a handwritten letter, then you should underline the heading. For example:
Complaint about cold food
You should use formal language and well structured paragraphs, with a new paragraph for each point you are making. Remember to use any relevant dates or reference numbers (for example, if you are complaining about a product that is faulty, then include a product number and serial number, and where you bought the product). Other reference numbers you may need to include in your letter are:
- Account names and numbers
- Order numbers
- Invoice numbers
- Policy numbers
- Reference numbers from previous correspondence
You should make it clear if you are requesting action and when you expect this to be done.
A concluding paragraph may help ensure that you receive a response to your letter. For example:
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
Which is the best heading for a letter asking for permission to be absent from school because you need to travel to your parent's house to collect money to pay your exam registration fees.
- I will be travelling to see my parents
- Exam registration fees
- Request for permission to be absent from school
- Give me permission
- I need to collect fees
Pick the correct answer from the dropdown menu to fill in the blanks and complete the content of this letter
Which of the following sentences would be appropriate at the end of a letter complaining about the poor quality of service? Select the sentence(s) that explain(s) clearly what you want to happen. Note there may be more than one correct answer
- I look forward to hearing your response to this complaint as soon as possible
- Please reply immediately
- Please send me compensation as soon as possible
- I look forward to hearing the outcome of your investigation into this complaint and actions as a result of this.
- I am anxiously waiting for your response.