Introduction to formal letter writing in Pakistan
Letter writing is extremely important for professional communication in Pakistan. You must know how to write in the proper format and give a clear statement about what you want from the reader and use the proper language and etiquette. In this article, you can see some dos and don’ts of letter writing that can help you edit your letter and make it neater and more organised.
Importance of following proper letter writing etiquette
The most common professional letters you will write are cover letters, recommendation letters and business and legal correspondence. In all of these communications, making your message clear is very important. Even though most people send emails instead of letters, the format used in the digital document is still important. The appropriate language, salutation, and tone to use is extremely crucial so that the receiver does not get offended and can clearly see the message and make the appropriate decision regarding your demand.
Dos of letter writing:
Some of the things to include in your letter are listed below
Clarity in communication
Being clear about your message is important to make the reader focus. They don’t want to hear a long story before getting to the point. Professionals usually read a plethora of letters and email every day so keeping your communication direct is going to be a relief for the reader. Usually the letter has one straightforward point but if there are multiple, you should organise them in clear, separate paragraphs.
By using a small amount of words, you have to concisely communicate the maximum amount of information. Long and unnecessary sentences usually make the reader lose focus so avoid that and use words that summarise your point instead of long phrases to convey your message. Instead of saying ‘in view of the fact’, you can say ‘since/because’.
Appropriate tone and style
When you start writing the letter, you should be very clear about the purpose of writing the letter, who you are writing to and what you want them to understand. In all kinds of circumstances, you should try to sound polite and firm at the same time. For example, active voice is used to communicate the emphasis on the subject. Be careful about your relationship with the reader as your tone has to respect their status.
The eye of the reader takes in the entire document before reading the first line. The way the address, salutation, body of the letter, etc. are positioned impacts the effectiveness of the letter. The standard formatting makes it easier for the reader to scan the crux of the letter and respond accordingly.
In business letters, especially in legal documents, the signature has to be clear otherwise it would nullify the content of the entire letter. It could easily be mistaken for a forged document so make sure your signature is clear.
Don’ts of letter writing:
When you are engaged in the flow of writing the letter, it is hard to notice the mistakes you make so check for these mistakes before you send the letter
Avoiding informal language
All business letters need to be in a clear language and tone but if you use informal language, your message will be lost. Using informal language could also affect the tone that is appropriate for the receiver. Remove any colloquial terms and replace them with the equivalent formal word.
Avoiding errors in grammar and spelling
If you are used to auto-correcting or the built-in dictionary in your word processor, you might have made some grammar or spelling mistakes. It is important to recheck the letter for any proper nouns that you might have misspelt or any punctuation mistake. If the reader sees wrong grammar and punctuation, it could confuse them and send a wrong message. Always write the letter slowly and check the flow as you go. You can also hire a proofreader for this.
Avoiding excessive length
Ideally, your letter should not be more than a page. If it is, you need to prune it and reach the right length (cover letters are usually half a page or one full page). If the length is more than three pages, you can send some information as a report in the attachment. Excessively long letters can bore the reader and make them lose focus. The size of the page mentioned here is 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
Avoiding unprofessional or inappropriate content
You might have met the person you are writing to but it should not affect your tone or the content of your letter. The letter has to stick to the point and just like your body language conveys your message while conversing, the tone and content of the letter is supposed to be aligned with the main message. If you start telling a joke, story or some reference to an event, you will lose the focus and sound unprofessional in front of the reader.
Proofreading: A final check before sending
From all of these mistakes and formatting instructions, you can see that letter writing requires a stern focus and proper knowledge of business communication. You might have read and reread the letter several times but for an important letter, you still might feel unconfident before sending it. In this case, it is useful to hire a proofreader.
Conclusion: The significance of professional and effective letter writing in Pakistan
No one wants their business transactions or legal documents to be full of mistakes and cause discrepancies in their life. It is therefore important to write all formal letters very carefully and keep the significance of the reader in mind. Always remember to sign it, check the date and any important figures within the letter because no proofreader can do this for you. In Pakistan, some of the government processes are still done by proper paperwork so it is essential to learn professional letter writing and its dos and don’ts should be kept in mind.