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Types of Business Correspondence in the Contemporary Office

by Alya Leuca

We live in the computer era, and modern businesses have access to many more different means of communication than businesses used to have say 20 years ago. In the beginning people thought that computers will eliminate (or at least almost eliminate) paper... Now we use much more paper than before the computers. Paradoxes of everyday life...

The types of business correspondence we use nowadays are:

● business letters ● faxes

● memos ● email

When someone mentions “business correspondence” around you what is the first thing that comes to your mind? If you are like most of us, you would probably immediately picture business letters. In spite of the fact that business email nowadays is used much more than letters. But business letters have been the only type of business correspondence for much longer than any of us can remember, so “business correspondence” is still associated with them more than with its any other type. Many of us think, “Creativity is not for writing business letters” And people seem to compete in stuffing business letters with as many pompous phrases as possible. This is gradually changing though. More and more we try to write business letters using clear and concise language, natural style and conversational tone. People even use “I” instead of “we” in writing business letters lately, which makes the letters less formal and allows to see the person behind the letter.

Business memos are probably considered a by-product of business letters and are treated as something secondary. Besides, they appeared around 1920s and are much “younger” than business letters. This is probably the reason why they tend to be less formal and usually sound more human. Every business uses lots of business memos, and a lot of them nowadays are sent by email which makes them even more informal.

Business faxes became common during the 1980s. Actually, they have been around longer than memos but for a long time very few people had had access to fax machines. So, most of us would say that faxes have been a part of business environment for about 30 years which is nothing compared to the life span of business letters. Consequently, there are not very many rules established for writing faxes. Everybody wrote them the way they considered appropriate. And now faxes are dying a slow death. There is such a thing as faxing via computer of course, but it is so close to email it should probably be treated like one. But don’t hurry to throw away your fax machine. Faxes are still very widely used, in some countries more than in others, and will be at least for a few years.

Business e-mail is the most recent and the most common type of business correspondence in today’s office. How could we have lived and even conducted business without it? How can there be people that don’t use email at all? There still are some eccentrics like that, you know? Email is the blessing and the curse of modern life, modern businesses included. It is very helpful as a means of instant communication but becomes a burden for those who have thousands of unopened messages sitting in their inbox. Spam is also a very big issue though a little less so lately when there are ways to harness it (more or less). Email is still in its infancy though we all know it is here to stay and it will be used more and more... if nothing better comes up, of course. The good thing is that we are gradually getting used to treating email with care and realizing that though it is very close to a phone conversation, it is still a type of business correspondence.

Business letters, emails and memos will be for quite a while very widely used types of business correspondence. Faxes are still there, too, and the following 10 years or so will show whether they will totally blend with email. Who knows, we might even have new types of business correspondence a few years from now.

(from www.savvy-business-correspondence.com)

1. Which of the documents is the oldest?

a) Business letter b) Memo c) Fax message d) Email

2. Which of the documents is the youngest?

a) Business letter b) Memo c) Fax message d) Email

3. Which of the documents is dying a slow death?

a) Business letter b) Memo c) Fax message d) Email


12.13. Read the document and fill in the gaps.

A) Re

B) From

C) Thank you

D) understand

___(1)___: Management

To : Northwest Area Sales Staff

___(2)___: New Monthly Reporting System

We’d like to quickly go over some of the changes in the new monthly sales reporting system that we discussed at Monday’s special meeting. We ___(3)____ that you have concerns about the amount of time that will be initially required for inputting your client data. ___(4)___ all for your help in putting this new system into place.


12.14. To which type is the document in activity 12.13 referred?

A) Application Letter

B) Contract

C) Memo

D) Letter of Enquiry


12.15. Put the parts of the document into the correct order.

1) Dear Ms. Bragg,

2) Meridian National Bank,

12187, Polo Drive

Fairfax, VA, 22130

3) On behalf of Meridian National Bank I thank you for your ongoing business and trust that we will continue to serve you in the future.

4) Yours sincerely,

Brenda Wallis

Loans Manager

5) December 12, 2009

6) Suzanna Bragg

127 Polk Drive, No. 112

Gary, Indiana, 46402

7) After a thorough review of your application and the supporting documents you supplied, we have concluded that your current financial situation precludes this institution from extending further credit to you at this time. When your financial picture changes and your current level of risk-exposure becomes lower, we would be happy to reconsider your application.


12.16. To which type is the letter in activity 12.15 referred?

A) Application Letter

B) Rejection Letter

C) Letter of Credit

D) Letter of Enquiry


Application Letters. Useful phrases I am interested in applying for the position / job of ... which was advertised in ….. (newspaper or web-site) on ….. (date).My reason for applying is that I would like to broaden my experience and also …..I would be able to attend an interview at any time which is convenient to you.I am interested in applying for the grant / scholarship which … was advertised /mentioned in … I learnt about from my tutor/ the college notice board.The reason for my / our application is that this grant / scholarship would enable me / us to gain valuable practical experience… make a real difference to my / our work / project.


12.17. Read the advertisement and the application letter. In each line of the letter there may be one extra word, or it may be correct. Find the extra words or mark the correct lines.

The Green Foundation is offering grants of up to £5000 to fund new projects at schools and universities which are aimed at improving the environment. If you would like to be considered for a grant, please write to us, telling us what you will do in your project, how much money you will need and how you plan to spend the money.
Dear Sir or Madam,
1 I am writing with reference to your announcement and would like to apply me me
2 for a grant. I am a seventeen-year-old student at Brandon School in London.
3 I am studying science because I intend to do medicine at the university.  
4 I have always been interested in the environment. I feel that we should to  
5 make people more aware of the benefits of re-cycling.  
6 Last year, as part of our chemistry course, we did a project on re-cycling.  
7 The project had two aims. The first aim it was to study the problem of  
8 disposing of ordinary household products such as like bottles and plastics.  
9 We worked out which products were enough safe to throw away,  
10 and which ones could be recycled. Our second aim was to give this  
11 information out. We produced leaflets for students and parents and at the  
12 weekends we handed more leaflets out in supermarkets. The cost of this it  
13 was about £1000. We also spent £500 in writing to local shops near,  
14 supermarkets and other businesses asking them to provide re-cycling  
15 facilities. I hope you will consider us for a grant for £1500, and  
16 am look forward to hearing from you.  
Yours faithfully, Paul Porritt

12.18. Read the advertisement and the application letter in activity 12.16 again. After you have corrected mistakes, it is still a poor application for a grant. Why? Write your own application letter. Mind all the details mentioned in the advertisement.

Letters of complaint. Useful phrases I am writing - to complain about... - to express my concern about the fact that... - to express my annoyance at...I must insist that you ...

12.19. You have recently been on a short holiday organized by a local company, but you were not happy with some of the things that happened. Read the information from Comfy Cottages and your notes. Then write a letter of complaint to the manager of the company. Follow some recommendations:

1. Even when complaining, be polite.

2. In Paragraph 1 explain why you are writing and give details of where you stayed and when.

3. In Paragraph 2 describe the problems you had with the facilities.

4. In Paragraph 3 describe what other problems you had.

5. In Paragraph 4 explain what action you want to be taken.

Comfy Cottages We have been specializing in short break holidays in countryside cottages for over 10 years. We have an excellent range of first class cottages to choose from. Our cottages combine traditional charm with every modern facility. Your cottage will be cleaned prior to your arrival. You will receive an Information Pack telling you all about the local area. We pride ourselves on our level of service. If there is anything you are unhappy about, let us know. If you are delighted, please tell your friends.


Holiday dates: Fri Feb 13 – Sun Feb 15Accommodation: Holly Tree CottageNo dish-washer, TV broken, terrible mess. All shops were closed! Refund ₤ 100? 12.20. Imagine you are the manager of Comfy Cottages. Write a letter of apology. Explain why you are apologizing, express regret for the damage / inconvenience / offence which has been caused and promise not to let it happen again.
Letters of apology. Useful phrases I am writing to apologize / I sincerely apologize for (not) Ving / for the fact that ..…I (do) hope you will forgive us for (not) V-ingI assure you that it/this will never happen again.I promise we …

Date: 2016-04-22; view: 2131

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