How to write business letters in 2020? Examples from the book; New rules of business correspondence

Business correspondence in English

In business correspondence, depending on the purpose of the message, there are several types of letters. Today we will take a closer look at one of them, namely, we will learn how to write a letter of inquiry in English. In order to make it easier for you to write such correspondence yourself, we will provide in the material supporting phrases and templates, as well as an example of a written request in English with translation. So let's get down to studying.

Distinctive properties of the inquiry letter

First, let's try to understand the purpose of inquiry letters or, speaking in English, inquiry letters. This type of correspondence is used in the following cases:

  • request for detailed information about the offer;
  • clarification of the conditions of discounts and delivery of goods;
  • clarification of the availability and cost of goods;
  • getting a complete product catalog.

In other words, such messages can be sent to various companies in order to determine the most advantageous offer for the sender.

As a rule, a request for information involves feedback. In this regard, it is usually drawn up on a letterhead, where all the details of the sending company are indicated. If this is not possible, then contact information should be indicated before the main text of the letter.

Structure and speech clichés of inquiry letters

Learning how to write written requests is not very difficult: they are short in content and are written using standard phrases.

If you are writing a traditional postal message, the recipient's address and date are always indicated before the text. This point can be omitted in e-mails.

Each letter containing a request in English begins with a welcome message. If you write to a person you know, it will be in the form DearMr. + last name or DearMrs. + surname. But much more often the exact addressee of the letter is unknown, so formal expressions are used:

  • DearSirorMadam - Dear Sir/Madam;
  • Dear Sirs - Dear Sirs;
  • To whom it may concern - To those who are concerned.

The address is separated by a comma, and then the main text is written on a new line.

The source that gave rise to writing is indicated first. This is usually an advertisement or recommendation. Let's present in the table a sample of expressions typical for this paragraph.

Knowledge of Business English is primarily used in business correspondence. This means knowing how to start or end a business letter with the words "respectfully", how to address the recipient, how to thank, what its structure should be, and what polite phrases and clichés should be used. For clarity, we provide a sample of such a business letter, as well as a list of popular abbreviations in business correspondence.

Business letter structure

The rules for writing business letters are fairly standardized and require adherence to a certain structure and design.

Contact information

When designing your business letter layout, start with an outline that has all the information and sections you need to know. Typically, a business letter includes the following information at the top of the page:

  • Your contact information (name, title, company, phone number and email address). Including your contact information allows the reader to quickly identify who the email is from.
  • The date the letter was written. Include the date after the contact information and format it according to the standards of your country. For example, in the USA, you need to spell the month, and then specify the day and year: July 10, 2020
  • The recipient's contact information (name, title, company, company address). Please include the recipient's contact information below the date so that the reader can make sure the letter is in good hands. While it's not necessary to include the recipient's name, it's best to address a business letter to a specific person. Try to avoid personal titles such as Mister or Miss, as you may not know the recipient's gender or preferred gender identity; however, you can specify the rank of Dr. (doctor), Prof. (professor) if necessary.


The following sections follow the contact information:


Use the same name in the greeting that you entered in the recipient information section.

  • If you are writing in more formal circumstances - for example, in a cover letter to a law firm - you can contact the reader with their first and last name, for example: "Dear Deborah Johns" ...
  • If you know the recipient or are writing to a less formal company such as a tech startup, you can simply write "Dear Deborah".
  • If you cannot identify the individual recipient, you can use a greeting addressed to the company or team, for example: "Dear ABC team" or "Dear financial team".

Maintain consistent formatting throughout your business letter for a professional look. Align the text to the left and make a single spacing, and separate each paragraph with an additional line of space, as shown in the example above. Also remember to be brief. You can open your business letter with a friendly greeting, but quickly jump to the main points with only absolutely necessary context and information.

In the age of private capital and investment, learning a foreign language is not only an interest in the international community, but also a practical necessity. Many companies cooperate with foreign partners, and, therefore, must maintain well-established contacts and mutual understanding. The main means of communication for people in the business sphere is official correspondence. Today we will figure out how to correctly compose an English letter, observing the rules and frameworks of business communication. Also in the material we will provide examples of how business correspondence in English looks, examples of letters and phrases necessary for formal communication.

Structural design of the letter

First, let's define what text blocks a business letter contains in English. Let's analyze each item in order.

Sender address

The standard form begins with the indication of the sender's details, placed in the upper right corner. The structure of a business letter assumes a strict order of writing data, therefore, the recording is always carried out in the established order. However, there are no punctuation marks at the end of the lines.

#DetailsExample1Surname and firstnameSobolev Anton2Representation ofPR manager3Company nameT & T Corporation4Number and street name45 Parkovaya St5City and postal codeVolgograd 1678906CountryRussian Federation

The date is indented three lines after the sender's details. Several formats of how to write the date are allowed:

  • October 29, 2017;
  • October 29, 2017;
  • 29 th October, 2017;
  • October 29 th, 2017;
  • 29 Oct. 2017;

It is not recommended to use only numeric date designations when writing business letters in English, as in America and England the order of reading such records is different.

  • 12. 0.017 - October 12, 2017 (Europe and England)
  • 12. 0.017 - December 10, 2017 (America)

Recipient's details

Next, we move to the left side of the sheet and also fill in the address and data of the recipient in strict order.

English has long been an integral part of our life. This international language, or lingua franca, as it is also called, is needed for admission to foreign universities, during business trips to other countries, on vacation and, of course, in the workplace. "Working" communication with foreign colleagues and partners can be verbal (for example, by phone) and written (for example, by e-mail). If everything is more or less clear with oral communication, then business correspondence in English has a number of specific features. Which ones? Let's figure it out together!

The key difference between business correspondence and other means of communication is that it is formal, that is, official. Business letters are designed in a strict style and differ markedly from friendly correspondence. Below we outline some points that are important to consider when writing business letters.

  • Brevity is the sister of talent

The main function of business correspondence is informative. This means that your goal is to clearly, succinctly and concisely state all the necessary facts, without deviating one iota from the main topic of the letter.

  • Nothing personal!

All business letters are impersonal. In no case should you ask questions that are not directly related to work. If you are not personally acquainted with your foreign partner (or have just started working with him), it will be extremely inappropriate to ask him about how he spent the weekend, whether he has a wife and what he does in his free time.

  • Jokes aside

Humor is taboo. Try to be as calm and serious as possible. What is good with friends and family is not always appropriate for more serious situations.

  • Tell No. NET. Emotions

Business etiquette does not imply excessive expressiveness. Avoid exclamation marks, similes, and other means of speech expression. The simpler the better. Do not strive for decoration! This is especially true if your level of English is far from perfect.

  • Grammar, spelling and punctuation

Measure seven times - cut once. The same rule applies here. Before sending the letter, check it for errors. This is a very important point. You can be very talented in your field, but if you misspell in English, it will still speak volumes about your incompetence.

The official business style, like many other things, is undergoing changes: with the advent of the Internet, the digital world and online communications, the quantity (and quality) of communication between people has grown and reached unprecedented proportions.

Now, instead of using a template to write a standard vacation application listing all the titles of the boss on the right side of the sheet (if you mix up the sides, you will rewrite), in many companies it is enough to open the messenger on the phone and write to the boss personally with a request reschedule your vacation later (or earlier).

Shortening words and using emoticons instead of an official business tone does not make the letter less respectful - on the contrary, it brings employees, subordinates and bosses, clients and managers closer together.

It is important to understand that situations can be different, people too, so the modern style of business communication is suitable only when you make sure that in the company simple communication without pretentiousness is preferred over officialdom, and not vice versa.

In order to be more convincing and concrete in my article, in addition to texts about modern Russian and business communication, I read the book by Maxim Ilyakhov and Lyudmila Sarycheva "New Rules for Business Correspondence". Despite the fact that their previous bestseller "Write, Reduce" was not entirely clear to me (the review of "Write, Reduce"), I liked the book about business correspondence. I agree with all the main points, so keep going, I tell you:


The authors pay great attention to respect in business communication - and this does not mean writing You and Dear, it means writing correctly, clearly and without haste.

  • It is obligatory to greet at the beginning of the letter - but only for the first time. If after the first letter you start a dialogue, there is no need to say hello in every letter;


If your letter, the message will be confusing and difficult to compose - not only will they not help you, but they will also be angry with you because of wasting extra time.

  • One letter - one question. In one message, you can paint several questions in the event that they are all on the same topic.
  • If you are using mail, be sure to include the subject of the letter. If messengers - write what you want to know, in the first lines and further explain the situation.
  • Even if communication goes to an emotional level - hold on and do not go. Whether it's aggression or admiration, it's best to use the phone or live chat to express your emotions. In the letter, you need to briefly state the essence of the issue, keeping a neutral tone.
  • Long introductions and long goodbyes are not the most necessary and certainly not the most important part of the letter.


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