How to Write a Personal Business Letter

Do you feel at a loss for words when you need to write to a company or business? Writing a personal business letter need not be stressful or complicated. In fact, it can be easy and straightforward when you take a step-by-step approach and follow these simple guidelines. Learn how to format the letter, what to include, and how to make your letter most effective.

Decide why you are writing. Sooner or later, everyone needs to write a personal business letter. Generally, it is to a company or a contact at a business to resolve a problem of some type.
Perhaps you need to request a replacement item under a warranty or dispute a charge on a bill. Occasionally, it may be to request a donation for a fundraiser you are coordinating. Or, to compliment an employee on his prompt and courteous experience in helping you find something you needed. Whatever the reason for the communication, a personal business letter is the best form of communication to utilize because it creates a record of the situation (a paper trail, if you will) and it helps you articulate the situation so that everyone understands it better.

Use business-appropriate materials for your letter. When writing a personal business letter, use plain white paper. Type or print neatly so it is easy to read. Keep the floral notepaper and cartooned note cards for personal correspondence.

Be sure to include your contact information in the actual letter, in addition to putting a return address on the envelope. Include your address and a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours so the person you are writing to can follow up with you directly. You can put this information at the top of your letter, set up similar to a letterhead, or you can simply include it at the close of your letter below your signature.

Address your letter to the proper person or department with the complete mailing address, including zip code. Many companies have multiple offices, post office boxes or departments. Take the time to find the correct address for your correspondence. You want to be sure there is no delay in routing your letter to the person for whom it is intended.

Include a “RE” or “Regarding” line that tells the reader in just a few words what the letter is about. This is only one or two lines, begins with "RE:" and should Include an account number, invoice number or other reference the reader can refer to for more information about the matter you are writing about or a brief summary of the reason you are writing.

Include a greeting and a closing in your letter (i.e., “Dear John” and “Sincerely”). If you do not know who to address the letter to, write: “To Whom it May Concern.”

Keep your letter professional. Always be cordial, even if you are quite upset about a problem you are trying to get resolved. You don’t want to sound too chatty, but you don’t want to sound rude or overly demanding either. Keep it polite and respectful to improve your chances that the matter will be resolved to your satisfaction promptly.

Keep it simple. Begin by explaining the situation you are writing about. Stick to the facts and do not make assumptions or voice opinions. Be brief and succinct and to the point. Explain, but don’t over explain or ramble on by including information or details that are not pertinent.
Be sure you answer all the relevant questions the reader will likely ask: who, what, where, when, why and if applicable, how? If desired, you may wish to include a brief note about your history with the company or business. (i.e., “I have been a loyal consumer of your products for the last 20 years.”)

Tell the company or the letter reader exactly how you would like the matter resolved. If you are having a problem, specify how you want the company to rectify the situation. If you want a credit on your bill, say so. If you want an item exchanged for a similar item, say so, or if you want the defective product repaired, say that. If you are requesting a donation to help pay for the baseball team’s uniforms, come right out and ask. If you are complimenting an outstanding employee, tell the employee's manager you'd like to see the employee recognized for his exceptional performance.

Close by politely asking for the company’s cooperation and prompt attention to the matter at hand.

Keep a copy of your letter for future reference and then mail it. Sign your letter and make a photocopy of it to keep with your records. You will need to refer to it again in the future if the matter is not resolved quickly and you write to the company again. Fold the original neatly and insert it into an envelope. Don’t forget postage and a return address on your envelope before mailing.