The AMA Handbook of Business Letters

By Jeffrey L. Seglin; Edward Coleman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

Components of an
Effective Letter

Planning by itself is not enough to assure you of a positive response from your reader. There are, however, essential components of any letter that can multiply the chances of its effectiveness.

Before you begin to worry about the basic mechanics of a letter (structure, appearance, and grammar), think seriously about the attitude you wish to convey. Your attitude is conveyed through your choice of language, tone, and focus of attention. Each of these individual components is as important as anything else that goes into making up a successful letter.

The attitude conveyed in your letter can make the difference between a letter that is tossed aside and one that is read, understood, and reacted to favorably. It is basically very simple to convey a reader-oriented attitude. Remember as you write your letters that you are addressing a specific reader. Your language, tone, and focus of attention must capture the reader's interest for your letter to be successful.


Language—Clarity vs. Ambiguity

Language is a means of communication. This may seem like a foolishly simple observation to make, but remember that for communication to be completed successfully a sender must convey his or her message so that the receiver not only receives, but also understands, the message. If language is not used clearly and accurately, the communication process cannot be successfully completed.

A simple rule to remember is that the English you use in your every-

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