started: July 27th 2010
update: Tuesday, August 3rd 2010
write one letter of enquiry and one invoice with at least 3 items.

TTS Voice reading software -  provided by IM Translator)  speed settings " - -"  for English

TTS does not replace solid bases in pronunciation but should be of help for reading longer texts and further develop an ear for language.

In English, there are a number of conventions  that should be used when writing a business letter. You also need to write as simply and clearly as possible, and do not make the page longer than necessary. Ideally your letter should have about sixty words in three paragraphs and the whole document should fit on one A4 page (10 pt) .

The tips are also valid for formal e-mail correspondence.

Your address: including email and website.
date: You need to write the month as a word to avoid confusion.
greeting: It is advisable to know the name of the person you are writing to. If you don't, use: "Dear Sir or Madam". If you do then address them with their title. Dear Mr Jones / Dear Ms Jones (use Ms for women), Dear Dr Jones, etc
subject matter: re: indicate a reference number, or what your letter is about. - (re: enquiry "The Meaning of Art" by Herbert Read) - The subject matter counts as first paragraph.
Ending the letter: yours faithfully
Your signature: your full name and job title. If you are writing on behalf of someone else then you need to use the abbreviation pp plus their name,-  and sign your name underneath.
Attachments: If your correspondence is more than one page long or contains attachments you need to mention them using the abbreviation "encl." and you need to put it about three lines under your signature on the left. (encl.: 1 brochure)
Copy: if a copy of your letter goes to someone else as well. You need to write the abbreviation "cc" underneath the attachments or three lines under your signature if there is no attachment. If you don't want your recipient to know who else gets this letter, you need to write "undisclosed". (cc: accounts office)

common abbreviations:
re: subject matter
asap: as soon as possible
cc: carbon copy
encl: enclosed
pto: please turn
RSVP: please reply or "thank you for your assistance".
PS: postscript

Types of business letters

In a letter of enquiry, you are requesting information. You need to describe exactly what product you are talking about and what you want with it. (further information, price list, availability, purchase). Add RSVP if you want. If you expect a letter in return, you need to include a self-addressed stamped envelope or tell them to reply via email.

"Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to enquire about the avaibility of product item .... and your costs for sending it to my address. Thank you for your assistance, my email address is .....@ ....

Acknowledgment of receipt
In an acknowledgement of receipt. You need to refer to the correspondence you are replying to, and answer the question briefly. If you are passing the enquiry to someone else to deal with then, just write back and say that this other person is dealing with the enquiry.

In this letter, you commit yourself to buy a product or a service from a a price-list or a catalogue. You need to state exactly how many units you want, the catalogue number, and state the delivery address. If you arranged special conditions for delivery, this needs to be stated on the purchase letter. This letter is a contract and therefore you are committing to buy.
Would you please send me the following (article number, name, how many units at £ ... / postage as agreed). The delivery address is as above.
Thank you in advance.

Dispatch letter
A dispatch letter is to announce that a product is on its way to the customer. These letters may tell you when to expect delivery but if it is regular postage, they do not need to tell you. 

Invoice / loading bill
The invoice should state clearly the number of units purchased, the name of the product and its catalogue/ISBN/etc number as well as VAT, postage, insurance, refund policy and payment conditions.

The invoice includes usually a text regarding refunds policy.
"Damaged, faulty or incorrect items. - If you have received an item that is damaged or faulty, or if we have sent an item in error, please contact our customer services department to arrange a full refund or replacement. Please do not send the item back to us until you have contacted us and received a response. Our contact details are ...."
"Not satisfied with your purchase. If you are not satisfied with your purchase for any other reason, you can return the item to us, and once we have received it, we will issue you with a full refund for the price you have paid for the item. Please return it to us within 28 days of receipt, in its original condition including the invoice and original packaging  and state the reason for the return. The item remains your responsibility until it reaches us and you are responsible for the cost of returning it. We recommend you use a secure method of postage.
Your statutory rights are not affected by this returns policy"

You usually don't need a separate letter but if you do business online or via your bank, you need to know your credit/debit card number and the code. Make sure that your financial details stay confidential. If you are sending a cheque or postal order, you can write a dispatch letter for it.

When your payment is received, a letter or email with your order number and item description and the word "paid" will be sent to you.

Re PAID your order .... / We acknowledge receipt of your payment via PAYPAL. Thank you for your purchase,

This is a letter if you need someone to do something for you. You need to write clearly what you expect this person to do. (sign a petition, check the file, examine something, write a reference).

Dear Sir or Madam,

We would like you to consider signing our online petition at www.....
on ..... as we believe that this is an important matter and so every signature counts. Thank you for your attention.

This is a letter that you write if a service or a product is not to your satisfaction. You need to tell in a few words what went wrong (the goods are water-damaged, the service was not satisfactory) and what you expect the person to do for you. (refund, voucher, send a new one,) 

Item ...., arrived at my address yesterday. I noticed that one ream of paper was water damaged and would like a refund including postage after my returning it.

Payment demand
If your invoice hasn't been paid within a month of its date, you need to send a payment demand.

Our invoice number:.... dated ....
account balance: amount

We haven't received your payment for (amount) to settle our invoice. There are a few ways to pay, including Paypoint, which is a popular and easy way to pay. Simply take this letter along to your nearest Paypoint outlet. You will see your PayPoint and barcode at the top of the letter. Or if you would like to make a payment by debit or credit card, just give us a call on (telephone number). Yours sincerely, ...

The mailing is a cover letter with or without attachments sent to various undisclosed recipents. Usually companies keep a database of their current and potential customers and send them a cover letter and a leaflet to advertise their services. Use this approach sparingly Once or twice a year -  because of postage costs or potential to be dismissed as a spammer.

Dear Sir, Dear Madam,

We are a company specialising in ....., and we would like to send  this leaflet with our address on it for your attention. Do not hesitate in contacting us.

A newsletter is an online leaflet or online magazine that gets sent to a database that subscribes to it. You send this the email addresses of the people who responded to your general mailing emails and people whom you have networked with. Never disclose your database. You should include the "unsubscribe" option. --> If, for any reason, you do not want to receive mailings from our site, please click here ( email address)

Special Offers
If you are running a promotional campaign that includes some special offers on your products, you can send a letter to people on your database. Special offer - (item catalogue number, normal price, sale price)
Offers expire (date). Excludes VAT. Additional charges will apply for postage and processing, product upgrades and  otherwise specified. Other fees may apply if your order contains multiple free products. Discounts valid only on lowest quantity of each product. Discounts not valid on previous purchases or in combination with any other offers. See web site for details.

thank-you note
You can thank someone for purchasing your product or for any other occasion. Usually it comes as a formal card or as a note on the receipt "Thank you for your purchase"). it is up to you to recommend this supplier/place to other potential customers. You need to include this customer in your database of clients.

free accounting software by Quickbooks

If you run a small business or need to keep track on your personal finances, it is recommended to process them on an accounting sheet. This is particularly important for people who are in a transition period of starting a small business yet are still elegible for benefits or are still employed.  You need to make sure that your document is password protected because this is a personal document.

If you are running a non-profit small business or want to keep an eye on your expenses, you can use a simple expense sheet to be completed weekly - that should also be password protected. Every expense is  - (amount) / any cash you add to your business is  + (amount). You need to decide what kind of weekly budget is required for your activities. Start with a very small budget and keep a separate debit card for it.

Personal expense sheet

Letters for social occasions

Request for an appointment
If you need to meet a professional, or arrange to have something collected, you will need to ask for an appointment.

"Re (what the appointment is about). Dear Sir or Madam, I would like to ask your an appointment at your most suitable convenience"

You should receive a reply with the time, place and date of the appointment or a letter of refusal.

If you have to cancel the appointment, you need to notify the person and send a cancelation letter.


Festive Season, New Year, Spring Holiday, Summer Holidays, Autumn Holidays

(The holiday season) always reminds me to tell those who are important in my life just how special they are.  I want you to know that I will be thinking of you this (holiday season) with extra warmth and good wishes.

I hope that this (holiday season) brings you peace and joy.

Birthdays cards

(name of recipient), Happy Birthday


We take great pleasure in inviting you to share a very important occasion with us.  On  (date) (description of event).  As you know, this is a momentous event and it would mean so much to us if you could be there. 

The (event) will take place at (location)  on (date and time ) We look forward to seeing you then.

If everyone is welcome to the event, you can put up a poster or a banner on the website.

a congratulation letter is a formal letter  or a card to write a compliment to someone for an achievement (promotion, new job, new home, degree) or a new addition in their family (marriage, children,) Dear (name) Please accept my heartiest congratulations on (occasion).. Sincere best wishes


Reference letter
You need to write a reference letter if someone you know would like you to provide a recommendation for future employment You need to indicate "to whom it may concern" and add your name, your job title, the connection to the person you are recommending, their skills. 

Asking for formal permission
When taking photographs at events or reproducing copyrighted material, you need to ask for permission. If the permission is granted for photography, you will receive a pass. If the permission refers to copyrighted material, you will be told how you are allowed to use it.

Reference: (event) or (copyright material)
Dear Sir, I am writing to you on behalf of (your company / name)  to ask for permission to use (our cameras / your copyrighted material) for (details).
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Yours faithfully,

Cancellation letter
(event, appointments, reservations, account, contract)
If you need to notify someone that you cannot come to an appointment, or that you do not need a hotel room, or tell that an event will not take place -  you should write a cancellation letter.

Reference (event) (booking number) (appointment)
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I need to cancel (this event) (my booking number) (my appointment) (etc). Thank you for your attention

You need to check your contract regarding the refunds policy for any deposit that you made. 
If you are cancelling an event/a delivery, then you need to add "refunds where applicable" and send prepayments/deposits back as soon as possible.

Postponing an event

If you need to change the date of an invitation or an event you need to write to everyone you invited or everyone who is coming to the event as follows
"Re (event). We regret to inform you that this event has been postponed until (date). Thank you for your patience and understanding."

Refusal letter
If you do not want to accept an invitation, job offer, unsollicited manuscripts, requests, you need to write a polite letter of refusal.

"Re (what you requested), Thank you very much for contacting me,  however, I need to decline your generous (offer) (invitation) (product). It was a pleasure hearing from you. Yours faithfully...

Letter of welcome
Dear (name), I would like to extend a warm welcome to you and your family. I hope you will have a rewarding and successful time. We are glad to be of any assistance to you.

If you want the correspondence to be less formal, you can send a card


If your message is short, you can write it on a postcard, rather than a letter. You can use such a format in an email (an e-card).