Other examples include:

• fax
• e-mail
• e-mail attachment (EA)
• memo
• reports
• in-house forms
• minutes of a meeting

1. Applying for a job

? letter / e-mail attachment (EA)

2. Booking a conference room at a hotel

? fax

3. Telling colleagues to attend a meeting


4. Ordering stationery

?fax / e-mail

5. Telling colleagues about a new member of staff


6. Complaining about a delivery service

?e-mail / EA / fax

7. Thanking a customer

?e-mail / letter

8. Sending out a meeting agenda


9. Resigning


10. Apologising to an important business contact


More and more business correspondence is being sent by e-mail nowadays. It is possible to use e-mails for all the correspondence listed above: jobs are offered and accepted by e-mail, and you can a book hotel room by e-mail too.

However, in future e-m@il lessons you will consider whether or not this is appropriate.

Many of the answers to this activity can be found in the letter above in the previous activity. Look at it first before reading the answers below.
True / False?
1. It is normal to write Mr John Tan in the first line of the receiver’s address, and underneath to write Dear Mr Tan without the initial.
2. The subject heading usually comes after Dear Mr Tan.
3. In a modern business letters Dear Mrs Lee and Yours sincerely are followed by a comma.
4. Even if you know the person’s name, you don’t have to use it, you can still use Dear Sir/Madam.
false, use the name if you know it
5. You should not use abbreviations in letters and emails.
6. Short, simple sentences are better than long complex ones.
7. Memos have a different structure to letters.
8. Bullets and numbers can’t be used in letters, as they’re too informal.
9. Enc is used when you are sending something in addition to the letter e.g. a cheque.
10. In modern business documents punctuation is not used in the receiver’s address.
11. You should always, when possible, copy someone else’s letter or memo. It will save you time!
The use of Dear Sir or Dear Madam is less popular now. It is much better to use the name of the person you are writing to. If you do not know the name try and find out before writing, perhaps by telephoning the company if this is possible. You may find being friendlier means your letter or e-mail will be replied to more quickly!
How you address somebody is also important. Look at the letters below to different people and decide what is the correct way to start the letter. The first one has been done for you as an example.
British English
American English

Man (name unknown)

Woman (name unknown)

Name and sex unknown


Married woman or widow

Unmarried woman

Woman (the modern way)

Woman (marital status unknown)

Married couple

Unmarried couple

Friend / acquaintance

Dear Sir or Madam

Dear Gentlemen

Dear Mr / Mrs / Ms Jones

Dear John

Family and close friends


Dear Sir or Madam

Dear Sir

Dear Madam

Dear Sir / Madam

Dear Mr Blair

Dear Mrs Blair

Dear Miss Blair

Dear Ms Blair

Dear Ms Blair

Dear Mr and Mrs Blair

Dear Mr Cain and Ms McAvoy

Dear Jackie

Yours faithfully

not appropriate

Yours sincerely

(With) Best wishes /regards

(With) love

Dear Gentlemen

The rest is the same as British English

not appropriate

Sincerely yours
(Very) Truly yours

Yours sincerely / truly

The rest is the same as British

Note the modern use of 'Ms' which is becoming increasingly popular. Also never write Dear Sir if you are unsure if the addressee is a man or a woman - a woman could be very offended!




?  Letters are usually written to just one person

? E-mails can be sent to many people, and both internally and externally at the same time

? Letters are usually external (but not always)

? Letters are usually more formal with complete sentences

? Letters are more appropriate as an official record

? E-mails can be very informal

? E-mails can be linked to internet services

? Letters have an original signature

? A fax is usually external

? Sending a fax is a lot quicker than posting? a letter but e-mails are immediate

? A fax is usually used to confirm or arrange? a business transaction (reserving a hotel / ordering books / organising transport)


?  E-mails can be used to do everything a letter or a fax does. How this is done makes the difference (and this is looked at in more detail in lesson 3)

A letter
  1. What is the purpose of the letter? To ask Mr Conran to present awards at an annual
  2. Which day is Mr Conran asked to attend the conference? October 15
  3. Who should Mr Conran contact if he needs more information? Sara Hewson or Andrew McDonald
  4. Who does Andrew McDonald work for? CCB
  5. What is his job? Conference organiser
A fax
1. Who is the fax to? The manager of the Hotel Cosmopolitan

2. What is the purpose of the fax? To ask for a quote

3. Where is the conference taking place? The Riverside Conference Centre

4. How many participants are there for the conference? 150

5. How many nights are the participants staying at the hotel? One

An e-mail
1. Who is 'Chris'? Christopher Eames is a work colleague of Andrew McDonald

2. Who does Chris work for? CCB

3. What does Chris have to do? To check if any of the participants have any special dietary requirements

4. Who is 'Andy'? Andrew McDonald

Dear Ms Smith 4 July 2004

I am writing to invite you to be the BWE guest speaker at our annual conference. Your expertise and professionalism in our field of work makes you an ideal choice.

The conference takes place on September 27 at the Hotel Intercontinental. We would very much like you to be part of the opening ceremony which starts at 9.00 am.

If you could let me know as soon as possible whether you can come or not that would be much appreciated. You can contact me, or my colleague Vinay Dudakia, for further details.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Susan Cain
BWE Conference organiser

A fax (10 mins, 70 words)

To:Hotel Intercontinental From:Susan Cain BWE

Attn: The manager Date: 4 July 2004

Re:Conference bookingPages including this one: 1

BWE are considering holding their annual conference at the Hotel Intercontinental. Details as follows:

Date 27 September 2004

Conference room: big enough for 250 participants

Time: 8.30 am to 7.00 pm

 Buffet lunch :at 12.30

 two coffee breaks

I would be very grateful if you could give me a quotation based on the above. Could you also tell me what facilities you provide (microphones, overhead projector, white board etc).

Best regards

Susan Cain

BWE Conference organiser

An e-mail (5 mins, 40 words)

In this lesson you have:
looked at the structure (layout and letter writing conventions) for a modern business letter
identified different letter types and considered their appropriacy for different tasks
had model texts for letters, faxes and e-mails
written three forms of correspondence (which you will keep for future lessons)
The next lesson looks at writing styles - tone (formal and informal) and writing clearly.