Whether you are writing a formal business letter to other companies, clients, vendors, government agencies, and/or customers, the format and tone of the letter has to sound professional. What I mean by professional is that you need to sound polite and show respect to the person you are sending the letter to. This letter is looked up a means of communication where organizations and/or individuals pass essential messages to one another.
Now, these letters can be sent for various reasons like inquiry about products, job application, thank you letter, a follow-up letter, etc.; the point is that as there can be hundreds of reasons why someone would send a formal business letter to an organization or customer, there are certain etiquette that should be adopted. And that is the purpose of this article. We will go over some important letter etiquette everyone should be aware of.
Different Types of Business Letter Salutations
Apart from keeping a close eye on the word choices and the format of your letters, proper salutation styles need to be given top priority. The salutation is generally at the beginning of any letter and is the first thing a recipient would notice. So, depending on who you are sending a letter to, follow the correct business letter salutation etiquette mentioned below.
When the Recipient is Unknown
If you have never met the recipient before, are unaware of his/her name, and/or don't know their gender, you need to be very careful as to how to salute them. The best bet is to write Dear Sir, Dear Madam, or Dear Sir or Madam. On the other hand, when the gender of the recipient is unknown, then go with the old time favorite To Whom It May Concern. This covers both the sexes and sounds very formal, and that's the tone you want in your letter.
When You Know the Recipient
At times, after communicating with a certain client, customer, or organization, you two might know each others' first names. In this case, even though a formal business letter is being written, the salutation etiquette will change just a bit. In such cases, you can use the salutations like Dear John/Jane, Dear Mr. John, or Dear Ms. Jane. On the other hand, if your relationship with the recipient isn't that friendly and open, then play it safe and forget about including his/her first name.
However, you don't want to say Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern either. Here, you can opt to use their last name and write Dear Mr. Smith or Dear Ms. Smith. If it is a female recipient and you may or may not be aware if she is married or a single, the salutation with "Ms." is perfect; generally, the salutation of "Miss" is not favored.
Proper Punctuation Usage
Now that you know what the different salutation types are, let's now move on to the punctuation use for these formal business letters. After you have decided which salutation to use for the recipient, using the correct punctuation matters too. I know that there is a lot of to remember and follow for writing just 2 to 3 words in the beginning of a letter, but as I said earlier, it matters a lot. Your professionalism and attitude towards the recipient shows with what and how you write a letter.
For American English, after the name of the recipient, use a (:) colon; for example, you will write Dear Mr. Williams:. On the other hand, for British English, after the name of the recipient, use a (,) comma; for example, you will write Dear Ms Williams,. These punctuations are supposed to be used for formal business letters.
After you have finished your letter, the closing salutation has to be included as well. This is very simple as there aren't that many confusing factors like gender, formal, informal, etc. For closing a letter, simply write Sincerely, Faithfully yours, Yours truly, or Yours sincerely. However, if you would like to sound a little less formal in your closing salutation, then use Kind regards or Best regards.
These business letter salutations and endings mentioned in the article can be used for email and actual letters. Follow the proper letter etiquette as the tone in the letters play a huge role.