The rest of this chapter explains several types of business letters and suggests how to structure their contents.

Letters of Inquiry
Letters of inquiry request’ information from another company. Simply identify the information you need in a one or two-paragraph letter. As a student, you may occasionally write a letter of inquiry requesting that a company send you information for use in a class project or report Since firms receive many requests of this type, they appreciate a courteous but concise letter. State specifically the information you need, why you need it, and why you selected the particular firm as a source of information.  is a letter of inquiry from a student requesting information for a research project.

Transmittal Letters

A transmittal letter conveys a report from one firm to another. Begin the letter by identifying the report enclosed and stating the date it was requested. Then provide a brief paragraph or two explaining the report’s purpose and scope. Close the letter by indicating your availability if the reader has any questions about the report. Figure 18.7 is a transmittal letter. (A transmittal memo is explained in

Specification Change Letters

During the course of many projects, the original specifications must change. Specification change letters indicate whether or not a company accepts the change that the other company proposed. These letters are short and to the point. Notice, however, in the following example, Figure 18.8, that the writer uses the informal context-setting introduction to orient his reader before he-states his points. These letters are common in many industries and, since much money rides on them, they must be absolutely clear.





Letters have three formats – block, modified block, and simplified. The last is becoming much more common, particularly in impersonal situations. Good letter writing requires careful attention to all the elements of the letter, including the inside address, the salutation, and the complimentary close. Coed letter writers approach their readers with the “you” attitude, and attempt to treat them as they would like to be treated. Other special types of letter are letters of inquiry, letters of transmittal, and specification change letters.


1.Find two 01: three business letters – sales letters are the easiest to find. Analyze them for format. Write a brief memo to your manager to suggest using one of the formats for all correspondence from your division  Explain why you chose that format. Easy to read? Looks good on the page? Fits the image of the .company?

2. Write the same business letter in two different formats. Make a transparency , of each. Present a brief (2 to 3 minutes) speech recommending one of the formats as the preferred one for your company. Indicate why certain details of the format make it preferable in terms of easier reading .


1. As part of a research project, write a letter of inquiry to a professional. Ask him or her for information about your topic. Your questions should be as specific as you can make them. Ask, “How does Wheeler Amalgamated extrude the plastic used in the cans for Morning Bright orange juice?” Avoid questions such as, “Can you send me all the information you have on the extruding process and any other processes of interest?”

United States Postal Service. Addressing for Optical Character Recognition. Notice 165. N.p. n.d., June 1981.