How to write a professional looking and sounding letter

by cherylone

When you need to write to a company, you want your letter to contain all the facts and to look professional so that the company will pay attention.

Writing a letter to a company, whether it's to lodge a complaint or to compliment them on something they have done for you, you want that letter to look and sound professonal. You want the company to 'sit up and take notice' rather than 'sit back and giggle". Here are a few tips to help you get noticed.

What should you put in a letter to a company?

You have been having trouble with your credit card company and you have finally decided that you want to close your account.  How do you set the letter up?  What do you say?  Or perhaps you need to write to your mortgage company about a discrepancy in the last bill they sent you.  There are so many reasons why we might have to write a letter to a company; however, most of us don’t know what to write or how to write it up.  Companies will pay more attention if the letter you send them is professional looking and contains all of the information they need to fix the problem.

A letter to a company
A letter to a company

When writing a letter to the company, you will want the letter to be professional:

That means you need to be careful how you word the information in your letter.  If you handwrite a letter that says “hi, I want you to know I am upset with you because of ____________”, the company will probably show it to everyone, get a good laugh and then throw it away.   But a letter that starts off with "To Whom It May Concern" and has a detailed listing of the facts, will be read and acted upon.

Have you ever had to write to a company about something?

  Display results
I think we all have at one time or another, and it isn't easy to get results.

Before you start to write, you need to decide what it is you want to say.  Are you angry?  Are you frustrated?  Did you contact them about this subject before?  What is the reason for your letter?  What do you want the company to know?  Make a quick list of the important things you want them to know such as what made you write the letter and what you want to come out of the contact.  Be sure to include anything that has happened in the past that pertains to this issue.  Next, be sure you have the correct address of the company and your correct account number.  Account numbers and addresses are essential to ensure that the company actually receives your letter, AND knows to what account it pertains.

Have your list all set?

Okay, now let's work on making the body of the letter precise and professional sounding without giving insult.

Do you want to tell them how angry you are?  Be careful here.  If you tell them you are angry about this situation, they may take that as a threat and send the account to their lawyers or collection agencies.  Instead, let them know that you are "unhappy with the direction of the present events and would like to try to work with them to correct the situation to the mutual benefit of all parties concerned".  This sounds more like you are trying to help them as well as yourself and it puts them in a better frame of mind to work with you.  Pushy or demanding letters only make the company(s) angry.  You don't want them angry, you want them to help you get everything straightened out.  Let them know what has happened in detail but without any expletives or angry retorts.

If your letter isn't professional, it might seem to the company as if the dog sent it.
Golden Retriever Wearing Eyeglasses

Explain the solution you would like to have happen

and give the appearance of understanding that errors happen sometimes

For instance, the electric company has overcharged you for your electric this month.  You never want to accuse or condemn the company.  Instead, you could say something like “I believe there has been an error on my bill this month.  Would you please verify the amount, and, should you find that there is indeed an error, could you please notify me of the correct amount so that I can make an accurate payment.”  This gives them the opportunity to blame the computer, or the equipment, for the error.  This will make them more willing to work with you and get the problem fixed. Always try to give the company the benefit of the doubt (at least in the first few letters).  This makes it easier to get a solution.

If you don't get results at first, address the letter to a supervisor, then a manager, then a CEO.  Keep the tone calm and keep the information precise.  If you don't get anywhere, then you can start getting angrier in the letters, but leave out the threats, expletives, and insults.

Okay, you know what you want to write, and you have worked out the tone

so what should the letter contain?

Your letter should contain the following:  the present date, the name and address of the company the letter is going to, the account number (also called the subject line), a polite greeting, a polite introduction to the problem (be sure to be as detailed as possible), a polite request for correction, any relevant information that you might have (for instances you could say I sent you check # 555 in the amount of $55.00 on the 5th of May), a final note thanking them for their help in advance, a closing (such as “Yours truly,”) your name, phone number, and address.  And allow several lines after the closing so you can sign it by hand.  Also be sure to list at the bottom of the letter any items that you have enclosed such as copies of checks or receipts. (Example--Enclosed please find _____.)

Also, be sure all words are spelled correctly and your grammar is correct.

Sample Letter
Sample Letter
Cheryl Simonds
Be sure your letter is readable and contains all necessary information.  You can hand write it, but if you do, be sure to print so that the information is clear and add a small heading (your name, company name, and subject) on each page to identify the letter as a continuation.

Ebay can help with the grammar

Now, the design of your letter can be one of four ways.

The first one would be called blocked.  That means that everything starts at the immediate left.  The date, company address, greeting, each beginning of each paragraph, closing and signature will all be to the left.  Each paragraph will have a space between them.  This is the easiest style and is usually the most popular.

The next one would be indented.  That means the Date would be indented (usually in the middle of the page), the subject of the letter would be indented (center of the page) and the closing would be indented (again in the middle).  The indented items should be lined up and everything else should begin at the left margin.  Also, begin each paragraph indented by 5 spaces; and put a space between each one.

The next one would be right blocked.  That means that everything would be (you got it) blocked against the right margin.  It would be set up exactly as the blocked letter, except everything would be right instead of left.

The last one would be informal letter.  This means that the paragraphs have no space between them, the subject line is indented, the paragraphs are indented, but everything else is to the left.  This is the best for you to use when contacting a company because it doesn't look like you are preparing formal or legal papers against them.  It seems more toned down and personal.

Samples of described letters

Sample #1
Sample #1
Example of a Block ...
Sample #2
Sample #2
Example of an Inden...
Sample #3
Sample #3
Example of a Right ...
Sample #4
Sample #4
Example of an Infor...
Well, maybe not him, but there are others out there that could help
Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) (B/W Photo)

Keep a copy of every letter you send out

and write the date the letter was sent on your copy.

If you have to write to them again, be sure to reference this letter and the date you sent it.  Don’t give up, many times that is what they are hoping for, so they keep ‘passing the buck’ until you get so frustrated that you just throw up your hands and shout “FORGET IT, IT’S NOT WORTH THE HEADACHE.  But it is.  And you can get the issue fixed.  Just keep the tone calm and polite and keep pushing ahead.  That way, the company will know you mean business, but you aren’t threatening them.  Of course, if you have pretty much gone through the whole list of people at the company and you aren’t getting anywhere, then perhaps a lawyer wouldn’t be a bad idea.  And now, you have copies of all of your nice polite letters that you can show the lawyer so they can see that you were really trying to work with the company.

In summary:

  • Make a list of what you want included in the letter
  • Don't threaten, use expletives, or insults
  • Keep the tone calm but explicit, and be sure grammar and spelling are correct
  • Get to the point quickly by telling what result you require
  • Give all details
  • If you are sending copies of your proof, be sure to include a list at the bottom of your letter
  • Make sure your account number is correct
  • Make sure your name, address, and phone number and/or email is included
  • Make sure the letter is readable if hand written and use a heading to ensure the company knows that the pages are together

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Updated: 08/20/2012, cherylone
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