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Business Letters

Business letters should be terse, clear, and to the point. Businessmen are busy men, and have no time to read

long, rambling and confused letters.

Business letters are naturally much more formal in style than friendly letters. Certain forms of polite expression are used, such as—

“I shall be much obliged if you will send me.”

“Please despatch at your earliest convenience.” etc.

At the same time certain phrases of business “jargon” should be avoided. They are commonly used, but are

not good English ; and the meaning can be conveyed as clearly in simple, everyday language. Examples

of such expressions are—

“Yours of even date to hand.”

“Despatch same at once.”

Avoid so far as possible abbreviations (like advt. for advertisement, exam. for examination, etc.) and the omission of I or we (e.g., “Have received” instead of “We have received”).

In business letters ordering goods, care should be taken to give clear and exact descriptions of the articles wanted. An itemized list of the goods wanted should be supplied, with the quality and quantity required.

Directions for forwarding should be given (by rail, post, etc.) and the manner in which payment will be made indicated (by Money Order, V.P.P., cheque, or by debiting to the writer’s account). Everything should be clear and precise.

FORM —The form of business letters is the same as already described, with one addition, viz., the Address (i.e., the name of the firm or businessman to whom the letter is addressed), which should be written on the first page, lower down than the Heading and to the left of the page. (It may be placed at the end of the letter lower than the signature and at the left side of the page, but the usual position is at the beginning.)

MODES OF ADDRESS —The modes of address vary.

(1) To a tradesman:

Shri B.V. Rao


12 RingRoad


Begin Dear Sir, and conclude Yours faithfully.

(2) To a firm:

Messrs K.R. Das & Co.

Tea Merchants

24 Ring Road


Begin Dear Sirs, and conclude with Yours faithfully.

Note: If the firm has an impersonal title, Messrs should not be prefixed. For example :

Eurasia Publishing House, Vijay Trading Co.

(3) To professional men or private gentlemen:

Mr. K. Bhaskar

Chartered Accountant

Pratibha House

Thiruvananthapuram 695 002

Mr. K.R. Misra

32 Bhandarkar Road

Pune 411 004

Begin Dear Sir or My dear Sir, and conclude Yours faithfully, Yours truly, etc. (not Yours sincerely).When a clerk signs a business letter on behalf of his employer, he puts the letter p.p. (Latin per pro =

on behalf of) or for before the name of the firm, and writes his signature beneath. For example:

Yours faithfully

For R. Gomes & Sons

K.S. Kumar

If a gentleman is entitled to be called Honourable, he is addressed, for example, as The Hon. Shri K.R.


(N.B.—The title The Hon. cannot be used by itself ; you must not write The Hon. K.R. Patil).

REPLIES — In replying to a business letter, always quote the number of reference (if there is one) and the

date of the letter you are answering. For example :

“In reply to your letter No. 502/P, dated July 26, 20......, I would like to say,” etc.

[Example to show the form of a business letter]

16 Church Street

Anaparthi 533 341

14 Dec. 2001

The Manager

Southern Agency

Rajahmundry 533 101

Dear Sir,

I shall be grateful if you will kindly supply the following items of Godrej furniture:

1 almirah – model 2

3 chairs – model 4

2 chairs – model 6

1 table – model 101

Please send them carriage forward to the above address, and your bill will be paid on receipt.

Yours faithfully,

V.J. Manohar

(Letter to a bank manager asking him to stop payment of a cheque)

37 Nrupatunga Road

Bangalore 560 001

3 December 2001

The Manager

Indian Bank

Bengaluru 560 001

Dear Sir,

Would you please stop the payment of cheque 104662 dated 2 December ? I signed it in favour of Mr K. Ramakrishna. The sum was Rs. 500.

Yours faithfully,

K.V. Gokak

(Account no. 986)

Note: A cheque has to be stopped only where there is some good reason for it, such as fraud.

[Ordering a journal]

23 Patel Nagar

Gurgaon 122 001


1 December 2001

The Business Manager

‘Employment News’

East Block IV

Level-7, R.K. Puram

New Delhi 110 066

Dear Sir,

I enclose a draft for Rs. 120 for one year’s subscription to your journal Employment News. Kindly arrange to put this order into effect immediately so that I may receive the next issue.

Yours faithfully,

Abdul Rahim

[From a shopkeeper to a customer, asking for the settlement of an overdue account]

Fashion and Style Ltd.

R.G. Street

Mumbai 400 012

5 Jan. 2001

Mr. V.N. Patil

43 Park Lane

Pune 411 004

Dear Sir,

We wish to call your attention to our bill for Rs. 16,500, payment of which is long overdue. We have sent you several reminders, but have received from you no reply. We must ask you to settle this account without further delay, or we shall be obliged to take legal steps to recover the amount due to us.

Yours faithfully,

S. Nazeeruddin


(Order for books)

16 Ring Road

Ravulapalem 533 238

30 November 2001

The Manager

Sudhitha Book Centre

Kakinada 533 001

Dear Sir,

I shall be grateful if you will send me by VPP one copy each of the following books (Collin’s Retold classics, published by Messrs S. Chand & Company Ltd.) as early as possible.

1. David Copperfield

2. Huckleberry Finn

3. Treasure Island

4. Monte Cristo

5. Pickwick Papers

My address is as above.

Yours faithfully,

N. Chaitanya

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