Business Communications Lesson - Written Communication

Document Formatting | Personal Business Letter | Business Letter | Memo | E-mail | Social Media |Review

Written Communication

Purpose of Document Formatting

Wordle of communication vocabularyAs the work culture in America continues to evolve with a labor intensive workforce to a business and service rich workforce, it is vital for people entering the working world to possess skills which enable them to communicate through writing their ideas, information, and instructions in a clear and professional manner. Regardless of your future occupation, knowing how to communicate effectively with businesses is essential.

An effective communicator in the corporate world must be knowledgeable of various types of written communication. To communicate effectively, there are rules that must be followed on how your documents should look. In business, document formatting is almost as important as the content itself. In fact, poor formatting can cause the recipient to not even read the document. You should pay careful attention to spacing between document parts (that includes any margin changes).

Types of written correspondence include:

Assignment: Vocabulary

Directions: Define the vocabulary terms listed in the vocabulary assignment in a manner that best suits your creative style; you may produce a text document, a photo collage, a podcast, a PowerPoint, a video, etc. Upload your vocabulary assignment in itsLearning.

Personal Business Letters

A personal business letter is a letter written from a person (such as you) to a company. It can be used for any purpose that requires written communication from an individual to a company such as:

Personal Business Letter Parts

Order and Spacing of a Personal Business Letter

The order of the parts and the spacing in between parts is very specific and important. The format of a letter is almost as important as the content itself. "When writing a business letter, your main objective is to get a message across; the design of the letter itself should fade into the background. By using an improper letter layout, you immediately draw attention to the format rather than the message. By following the standard guidelines for the paragraph content -- introducing your point and providing immediate support -- you build your case quickly and concisely, making it easy for the reader to focus on the letter itself." Elizabeth Smith & Demand Media, The Importance of Good Business Letter Format

Personal Business Letter

All lines in the letter begin at the left margin (no tabbing or indenting). There is a colon (:) after the salutation. Never a comma (,). There is, however, a comma after the complimentary close. The font of a letter should never be smaller than 10 points or larger than 12 points. 12 point font is the standard but it may be necessary to reduce to 11 or 10 to keep from having the letter go onto a second page.

Assignment: Complaint Business Letter

Directions: Now that you've learned about personal business letters, you should practice what you've learned. Complete the following activity using proper business letter block format. Write a persuasive business letter to the president of a company explaining why you are unhappy about an experience in one of the businesses locations. Remember to keep the tone professional and stick to the facts, omitting personal emotions or threats. Upload your letter to the assignment in itsLearning.

Business Letters

sample business letterA business letter represents a company and not an individual. It is usually prepared on company letterhead which is the official company stationery that often contains a logo along with the name, address, phone and fax numbers of the business. Business letters can be written for a variety of reasons. However, they should always be written in a professional manner.

The formatting for a business letter is very specific in regards to spacing and the elements that must be included:

The text of the letter should be 10-12 font size and usually Times New Roman font. It should also be single spaced and before/after paragraphs set to zero. There is a colon (:) after the salutation and a comma (,) after the complimentary close. Always make sure you proofread your letter. There is never an acceptable excuse to have spelling or grammar errors in a business letter. A letter containing spelling and grammar errors is not taken seriously. Remember that the letter presents the company that you work for. Watch Mrs. Rush's YouTube video on how to prepare a business letter and then it will be time to write your own.

Assignment: Recipient Business Letter

Directions: Create a block business letter (as illustrated in the YouTube video provided). Send the letter to:

Mrs. Jennifer Reed
3634 Houston Lake Rd.
Cumming, GA 30041

Create a 3 paragraph letter. Mrs. Reed contacted our company last week complaining about her Internet service. During the past month, her Internet has been unavailable 3 times and much slower than normal. When she called our customer service line, she was put on hold one time for 45 minutes and another time for 30 minutes. All of the items Mrs. Reed mentioned are unacceptable from Forsyth Internet Provider (our company.) Please apologize to Mrs. Reed. Assure her that it is not our practice to keep customers on hold any longer than necessary (and certainly not 45 minutes). Offer her a $75 credit on her Internet bill and assure her that we value her as a customer.

Use your name and Customer Service Representative title as the sender of the letter.

What is a Memo?

Example of a business memoA memo (short for memorandum) is used to communicate information quickly and informally within a business or organization. Today, most memos have been replaced by email. However, memos are still used in business especially when transmitting sensitive documents or when it is necessary to send a hard copy (paper copy) of the document.

The heading of a memo includes:

The top margin is set at 2 inches, while the left and right margins remain at 1 inch. Each of the four headings listed above are double spaced (DS) and keyed in all caps followed by a colon (:). After the colon, the Tab key is pressed to line up the text that follows it. Usually, you need to press the tab key two times after the TO, FROM, DATE, and only 1 time after the SUBJECT.

Watch the YouTube video as Mrs. Rush shows you how to prepare a memo in Microsoft Word.

Assignment: Memo Writing Activity

Directions: As the comptroller (a person in the business who oversees accounting and the implementation and monitoring of internal controls, independently from the chief financial officer) of a 200 employee organization, you are to write a memo to all the employees that state the three following items: 1) Due to a decrease in revenue, all overtime must be preapproved by an immediate supervisor. 2) All purchase requests for office supplies over $50 must be approved by a manager. 3) All company travel must be approved in advance by a director. Don't forget to include a date, subject, and reason for the change in procedures. Upload your memo to the assignment in itsLearning.

E-mail Etiquette

It's easy to see why email is the preferred form of communication in today's workplace. Smartphones allow us to send and receive messages from anywhere. It's convenient, and you aren't afraid that you might be interrupting someone by texting or calling them on the phone. But it's this convenience that leads people to making embarrassing mistakes that may be detrimental in a professional interaction. For example, you could easily miss a spelling error while typing out an email on your phone or come off as too casual or unprofessional in tone or content.

Etiquette rules include:

  1. Include a clear, direct subject line
  2. Use a professional email address
  3. Think twice before hitting reply all
  4. Use exclamation points sparingly
  5. Be cautious with human
  6. Reply to your emails
  7. Be aware of cultural differences

Visit 7 Email Etiquette Rules Every Professional Should Know by Vivian Giang for a full explanation of the 7 etiquette rules.

Assignment: Question for Thought 2.1b

Directions: Now that you have learned about the various styles of business communication, explain why it is important to be able to communicate effectively in the workplace. Make sure to discuss why formatting is important, why tone and precision of language are important, and why you must consider your audience when writing. Prepare a paragraph (complete sentences) and submit it to the assignment textbox (do not submit a separate document) into the textbox for the Question for Thought1 in itsLearning. Be sure to spellcheck.

Social Media

Twitter logoWe would be remiss if we did not address social media in business. First email changed the way we communicate with each other within our organization reducing the dependence on memorandums. Now social media like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube are changing the face of business communications.

Companies are turning to social media more than ever before. Some of the ways that companies are using social media are:

LinkedIn logoProbably the most popular and influential social media tool in the corporate world is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social networking site for business professionals. With over 467 million members worldwide, it is one of the most popular social networks in terms of active users. More than 39% of professionals who use social media choose this platform. Studies show that the most visible activity by professionals on social media is using it as a networking tool

As a whole, the social trend is changing the way businesses are operating and therefore the way they are communicating with their customers, prospects and employees and as our work lives and professional lives continue to blend together more ubiquitously, the communication affects are also being seen in the way we engage with our friends and family. Daniel Newman, Social Media Disrupts The Communication Landscape


Assignment: Question for Thought 2.2b

Directions: Your generation has grown up on social media so it is no wonder that social media has crept into the corporate world. Compose a tweet (remember you only have 140 characters so choose them carefully) about how communication has changed as a result of social media. Submit your tweet text to the assignment textbox (do not submit a separate document) in itsLearning.


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