A business letter is a correspondence between business partners. But it can also be a thank-you note or a promotional letter. The content depends on what you want to achieve with the letter, but the structure always remains the same. To make your letter a success, there are some important points to keep in mind when writing it.
The professional design according to DIN 5008
In Germany, a business letter is written according to the DIN 5008 standard. This determines the layout and division of your letter. In many writing programs there is a template that you can use. If you don’t have a template handy, the following information will help:
- The font size should be 12 point.
- The address field dimensions are 8.5 cm x 4.5 cm according to DIN 5008.
- The distance between the address field and the top of the page is 4.5 cm.
This has the advantage that you can send the business letter in a window envelope.
The following information is noted in the address field:
- Recipient company
- Recipient name
- Street and house number
- Postal code and city
Your company’s address can appear in small type above the address field. Sometimes your own address is also used on the right margin of a business letter. One line below the address field, on the right side of the sheet, the date is entered. The subject appears two lines below the date. Make it clear to the recipient what the letter is about.
Formulating the salutation – the various options
In a letter, the salutation is a very important aspect for the recipient. You can evoke different feelings in the recipient with the salutation. Neutral and classic is the salutation: "Dear Mrs. …" or "Dear Mr. …". You won’t go wrong with this. If you do not know the name of the recipient and are addressing a company, you can also begin with "Guten Tag". Of course, it is best if you have a named contact person. If possible, you should select a contact person. If you address the letter to a company, you will usually find the contact persons for the various departments on the website.
So that a recipient feels personally addressed, the first name can also be used. Here, however, it depends very much on the desired external effect of your company. What is the connection to the customer?? What is the content of the letter?? The written word can often be misunderstood and not every potential customer or prospect feels comfortable with such a personal address.
TipYou would like to use a formal form of address, but do not know the name of the contact person? Formulate the entrance then as follows: "Dear Sir or Madam".
The text area for your wording
Now it’s time to get creative. The heart of your cover letter is the text area. Pay attention to the line spacing, because after the salutation there is a line space before you start with the text. Now the question arises what content your letter should have:
- The offer: You want to make an offer to a customer or interested party? In this case, it is important to choose a friendly approach. Formulate the offer in concise sentences. Bring to the point, what makes your offer attractive. Make sure that costs and performance are clearly recognizable.
- The sales letter: You want to attract new customers. In this case, you should emphasize the know-how of your company in the letter. It is good to use successful projects as an example. Whom have you already been able to satisfy with your services?? How many customers do you have? what is the unique selling point of your offer?
- Invoice or reminder: This form of business letter is a classic. The important thing is to be brief and to state your demands. It is important to write what the amount is charged for. If you want to write a reminder, check whether you are allowed to charge fees.
A successful business letter needs the right formulation. Before you set out to write the business letter, test out the wording. Question how you would react to the letter. What information is important? What do you want to read?
The greeting formula as a conclusion
Which greeting do you want to use? Here too there are of course real classics. For example, you can choose the following wording: "Sincerely yours". This is one of the most frequently chosen formulas.
Meanwhile, a business letter can also have a different ending. You are saying goodbye to your customer and want to leave a good impression: You can do this quietly "with best regards" or even send "warm regards". You will quickly become more than just the sender. The business customer will want to know who sent him the letter. What kind of company is behind the letter?
Also with the greeting formula, of course, it is important to check what content your letter has. In the case of a reminder, best regards are not the best choice. In this correspondence, prefer a simple letter and remain with kind regards.
The mandatory information for your letter
To a certain extent, a letter to a business partner is an individual letter. After all, this is where you add the personal touch of your company. The reader should know where his advantages lie when he contacts you. Nevertheless, there are some mandatory details that are particularly important. This applies to keeping the appropriate line as well as the information that should be found in the text. A distinction is made between companies that are listed in the commercial register and sender addresses that are not listed in the commercial register. You stand with your company in the trade register? These are your mandatory sentences:
- The company name
- The commercial register number
- Listing of the managing directors of a limited liability company
- Listing the chairmen of the supervisory board of a limited liability company
- List the members of the board of directors in the case of an AG
You are not listed in the commercial register? This is for example the case if you are self-employed. In this case, this is your mandatory information:
- First and last name of the sender
- The address
- Vemerk of GbR in case of a civil law partnership
Additional information that is not mandatory in the letter, but can have a positive effect:
- E-mail address
- Telephone number
Today, the e-mail address in particular is a very good basis for continuing a correspondence. If your letter has aroused the recipient’s interest, he can get in touch with you quickly. Just leave a blank line by your address and then enter your e-mail address. So you offer the possibility of a written contact outside of a letter. A large part of business correspondence is now done by mail, as this saves time and resources.
The most important tips for your correspondence
You want to convince with your topic? You want to reach the recipient? He should read your letters in any case? Every word should be well thought out so that the writing is not wasted. Therefore, it is worth taking a look at the following tips:
- Keep it short and to the point
- Write expressively
- Name the important facts
- Choose a contact person or a friendly formulation
- Write cheerful, friendly and modern
- Do not forget the contact options
- Use a PS
Sentences are particularly easy to read if they are kept short. Nobody wants to work through long nested sentences. In the worst case, you will lose your reader with the first sentence. With short sentences that have important content, you are on the safe side. Package your information without beating around the bush. Do not be afraid to insert a blank line. Paragraphs additionally loosen up the letter. But make sure that it is not too long.
Meaningful texts contain above all the following information: What the letter is about? What information is important for the reader?
Here, too, the tip: Think yourself into the reader’s head. What do you want to read in a business letter and, most importantly, how do you want to read it??
The third point in the list above are the important facts. These are essential for the recipient. He wants to understand at a glance what the message is about and it should not take him time to read it. Ideally, these facts should catch the reader’s eye as soon as he or she skims over the text.
Point five: A cheerful letter should still not seem too friendly. The point is to find words that are positive, simple and informative. Imagine that someone has ordered a product from you. Now you as a supplier unexpectedly face the problem that this product is not in stock. If you write in the text: "Your product cannot be delivered", this will leave a bitter taste in the customer’s mouth. It is unlikely that he will contact you again. It is better to offer him a solution directly: This can be a voucher or the promise that you will still try to get the product.
Contact options as an important factor
The best letter is of little use if the recipient does not find a way to get back to you. Where is the order going? How to reach the sender? These questions will inevitably come up. Therefore, you should include the contact options clearly visible – for example, in the last paragraph of the letter. Link to a web page, give your e-mail address or leave a phone number. The naming of several possibilities is also allowed. It is best to use a separate line for each item of information, so that everything remains clearly arranged.
Also at this point the hint: The letter should not be too long. Ideally, good correspondence should not exceed one page.
The postscript – an underestimated option
In earlier times, the postscript was indispensable in a written exchange. Today it seems to have lost its importance. Revive it! Use the postscript to draw attention to specific points. The company has a special offer right now? There are percentages? The website has been given a new look? This information is very well placed in the "PS. They arouse interest once again and ensure that the reader of the letter is more interested in the company. And this is usually one of the most important goals: Your company should be in the foreground.
May a dispatch be made online?
As said before: Contacting by mail is always appreciated. But is it allowed to send a business letter online?? Here the answer is: Sometimes. Here, it all depends on the topic and the situation:
A reminder letter sent in response to an invoice sent by mail should also be sent by mail. Sales letters, on the other hand, can also be sent via a mailing list. At this point you weigh up. The target group is also interesting. Especially a young target group is often more satisfied with an online mailing.
Important: The guidelines should also be followed when sending by mail. You have two options for this.
- You can send a business mail. In this case, you omit the address field and start directly with the salutation. The subject is entered in a line provided for this purpose in the mail.
- The second option is to attach the business letter as a PDF file. For this purpose you create a short cover letter, which you insert into the mail. References to the attachment. This solution can be useful if the invoice is sent online. The recipient can then simply save the invoice or business letter or print it out if he or she would like to file it in his or her records.
Tip: Sending by mail also helps the environment. It is therefore even more worthwhile to think about it.
The most important questions and answers about the business letter
The business letter requires a good hand, thoughtful formulations and the summary of all necessary information. To make sure you always have the most important points at hand, you can read about the most frequently asked questions and answers here:
How to write a business letter?
A business letter is written on a PC. Handwritten business letters are no longer welcome today. The goal is to convey information or offers to the business partner in a professional way. With professional phrasing and concise sentences you will be successful.
How can I save time when writing a business letter??
You write business letters on a similar topic very often? It saves a lot of time if you use a template. The DIN-standard template already contains the company address as well as the formula for the salutation and the conclusion. You can set the font, such as Times New Roman. Line spacing specifications are also already included in the letter.
Should I sign a business letter personally?
If you are writing a business letter to a customer, a personal signature is recommended. It becomes difficult when you have a template for numerous letters. It takes a lot of time to put a signature under all of them. A good tip is to digitalize your original signature. You can then include them in one line of the letter. Often the reader does not even notice that it is not an original.
For better readability, we use the masculine form (generic masculine), z. B. "the employee". We always mean all genders in the sense of equal treatment. The abbreviated language form has editorial reasons and is value-free.