Writing is important in studying all subjects: students are judged, largely, by the quality of their written course work and their performance in written examinations. Similarly, in administration, business and commerce it is by conversations on the telephone and by correspondence that most of the people with whom you have to deal will know you. At least, a first contact is likely to be by telephone (perhaps just your voice on an answering machine) or by correspondence - and one never has a second chance to make a first impression!
In conversation and when writing letters, memoranda, reports, and other communications, you convey not only your message but also something of your own personality. In employment therefore, as when a student, you are judged largely by the quality of your thinking and your ability to communicate your thoughts. That is to say, even when speaking or writing for others and to others you are in a sense also working for yourself.
Writing a letter is a good test of your ability to communicate effectively. You write to conduct business and so that you have a record of business conducted, but every business letter is also an exercise in public relations. Because it represents both your employer and yourself, you should take great care over the content, wording and layout of every letter to ensure that the reader is given a good impression: (a) of your employer (or your business) as being efficient and businesslike, and (b) of yourself as being competent, clear-thinking and helpful (see Table 3.1).
Business letters, normally on headed notepaper (letterhead), are used when communicating by post or facsimile (fax) with people outside your organisation, and only in exceptional circumstances for internal communications. Conversely, memoranda, normally on memorandum forms, are for internal use only.