If your job involves business correspondence, then you certainly write request letters, occasionally or on a regular basis. This could be a job request, promotion or meeting requests, request for information or referral, favor letter or character reference. Such letters are difficult to write and even more difficult to write in such a way that encourages recipients to respond willingly and enthusiastically.
As to request for money letters, all sorts of sponsorship, donation, or fundraising requests, you would agree that it often requires a miracle to get a response : ) Of course, I cannot guarantee that our tips and letter samples you will do the miracle, but they will definitely save you some time and make your writing job less painful.
Time-saving tip! If you are communicating by email, then you can save even more time by adding all these sample business letters directly to your Outlook. And then you will be able to insert any sample into the message you are composing or replying to with a mouse click!
All it takes is the Outlook Template Phrases plug-in that you can see in the screenshot on the right. Once you have it installed, you won't have to type the same phrases over and over again.
Just double click the template on the plug-in's pane and find the text inserted in the message body in a moment. All your formatting, hyperlinks, images and signatures will be in place!
Don't hesitate to check it out right now; a fully-functional 15-day evaluation version is available for download.
Well, back to writing business letters, further on in the article you will find:
A business letter is a formal way of communication and that is why it requires a special format. You may not care of the letter format too much if you are sending an e-mail, but if you are writing a traditional paper business letter, the below recommendations may prove helpful. It is considered a good practice to print out a business letter on standard 8.5" x 11" (215.9 mm x 279.4 mm) white paper.
- Sender's Address. Usually you start by typing your own address. In British English, the sender's address is usually written in the top right corner of the letter. In American English, the sender's address is placed in the top left corner.
You needn't write the sender's name or title, as it is included in the letter's closing. Type only the street address, city, and zip code and optionally, phone number and email address.
If you are writing on stationery with a letterhead, then skip this.
- Date. Type a date a few lines below the letterhead or return address. The standard is 2-3 lines (one to four lines are acceptable).
- Reference Line (optional). If your letter is related to some specific information, such as a job reference or invoice number, add it below the date. If you are replying to a letter, refer to it. For example,
- Re: Invoice # 000987
- Re: Your letter dated 4/1/2014
- On-Arrival Notices (optional). If you want to include a notation on private or confidential correspondence, type it below the reference line in uppercase, if appropriate. For example, PERSONAL or CONFIDENTIAL.
- Inside Address. This is the address of the recipient of your business letter, an individual or a company. It is always best to write to a specific person at the company to which you are writing.
The standard is 2 lines below the previous item you typed, one to six lines are acceptable.
- Attention Line (optional). Type the name of the person whom you're trying to reach. If you wrote the person's name in the Inside Address, skip the Attention Line.
- Salutation. Use the same name as the inside address, including the title. If you know the person you are writing to and usually address them by the first name, you can type the first name in the salutation, for example: Dear Jane. In all other cases, it is a common practice to address a person with the personal title and last name followed by a comma or colon, for example:
- Mr. Brown:
- Dear Dr. Brown:
- Dear Ms. Smith,
If you do not know the recipient's name or are not sure how to spell it, use one of the following salutations:
- Dear Sir
- Dear Sir or Madam
- To Whom it May Concern
- Subject Line (optional): Leave two or three blank lines after the salutation and type the gist of your letter in uppercase, either alighted left or centered. If you have added the Reference Line (3), the Subject line may be redundant. Here are a few examples:
- LETTER OF REFERENCE
- COVER LETTER
- REQUEST FOR PRODUCT REPLACEMENT
- JOB INQUIRY
- Body. This is the main part of your letter, usually consisting of 2 - 5 paragraphs, with a blank line between each paragraph. In the first paragraph, write a friendly opening and then state your main point. In the next few paragraphs, provided background information and supporting details. Finally, write the closing paragraph where you restate the purpose of the letter and request some action, if applicable. See tips on writing persuasive business letters for more details.
- Closing. As you know, there are a few generally accepted complementary closes. Which one you choose depends on the tone of your letter. For example,
- Respectfully yours (very formal)
- Sincerely or Kind regards or Yours truly (most useful closings in business letters)
- Best regards, Cordially yours (slightly more personal and friendly)
The closing is typically typed at the same vertical point as the date and one line after the last body paragraph. Capitalize the first word only and leave three or four lines between the closing and the signature block. If the salutation is followed by a colon, add a comma after the closing; otherwise, no punctuation after the closing is required.
- Signature. As a rule, a signature comes four blank lines after the Complimentary Close. Type your name below a signature and add a title, if needed.
- Enclosures. This line tells the recipient what other documents, such as a resume, are enclosed with your letter. The common styles follow below:
- Enclosures: 2
- Enclosures (2)
- Typist Initials (optional). This component is used to indicate the person who typed the letter for you. If you typed the letter yourself, omit this. Usually the identification initials include three of your initials in uppercase, then two or three of the typist's in lowercase. For example, JAM/dmc, JAM:cm. But this component is quite rarely used these days, in very formal business letters.
Below you can see a properly formatted sample donation letter. It's always easier to understand from examples, isn't it?
Below you will find 10 strategies to write your request letters in such a way that they convince your reader to respond or act.
- Know your addressee. Before you start composing you request letter, ask yourself these questions. Who is my reader and how exactly can they help me? Are they decision makers or will they just pass along my request to a senior officer? Both the style and contents of your request letter will depend on the reader's position.
- Do not be verbose. Be clear, brief and to the point. A rule of a thumb is this - don't use two words when one would suffice. Just remember the famous quote by Mark Twain - "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead". A person in his position could afford that, and... he was not requesting anything : )
- Make your letter easy to read. When writing a request letter, don't digress and don't confuse your reader by drifting off your main point. Avoid long, crammed sentences and paragraphs because they are intimidating and hard to digest. Use simple, declarative sentences instead and break long sentences with commas, colons and semicolons. Start a new paragraph when you change a thought or idea.
Here's a very poor example of a cover letter:
"In every regard, my qualifications appear to be consistent with the desires expressed by your advertisement and based on the voice of your company's blogs, I really think that I was meant to be a [Position] in your company."
And this is a good one:
"I have good skills and experience in [Your area of expertise] and I would be most grateful if you consider me for any suitable position."
Remember, if your request letter looks easy to read, it has a better chance to be read!
- Add call to action. Put action in your request letters wherever is possible. The easiest way is to use action verbs and the active voice rather than passive.
- Convince but do not demand. Do not treat your addressees as if they owe you something. Instead, catch the reader's attention by mentioning common ground and emphasize the benefits of acting.
- Do not be burdensome. Give readers all the information needed and tell what exactly you want them to do. Simplify the job for the person to respond - include contact information, direct phone numbers, give links or attach files, whatever is appropriate
- Write in a friendly way and appeal to the reader's feelings. Though you are writing a business letter, don't be superfluously businesslike. Friendly letters make friends, so write your request letters in a friendly way as if you are talking to your real friend or an old acquaintance. We are all humans, and it may be a good idea to appeal to humanity, generosity, or sympathy of your correspondent.
- Remain polite and professional. Even if you are writing an order cancellation request or complaint letter, remain polite and courteous, simply state the issue(s), provide all relevant information and be sure to avoid threats and calumny.
- Mind your grammar! Rephrasing a well-known saying - "grammar counts for first impressions". Poor grammar like poor manners may spoil everything, so be sure to proofread all business letters you send.
- Review before sending. When you have finished composing the letter, read it aloud. If your key point is not crystal clear, write it over. It's better to invest some time in re-writing and get a response, than make it fast and have your letter thrown away in a bin straight away.
And finally, if you've got a response to your request letter or the desired action is taken, don't forget to thank the person. Here you can find sample thank you letters for all occasions.
Below you will find a few examples of request letters for different occasions.
Sample letter of recommendation request
Dear Mr. Brown:
I hope you are doing well. I have warm memories of your remarkable leadership and support for teachers during my employment at XYZ High School.
Presently, I am applying to XYZ school district and am required to submit three letters of recommendation. I am writing to ask if you would write a letter of recommendation on my behalf.
I would like to provide you with some background information that may assist you, should you decide to write this letter <your background information>.
Attached, you will find a copy of my most recent résumé. Please feel free to contact me if you need any additional information. I look forward to hearing from you, and I thank you in advance for your time.
Request for information
Thank you for submitting your resume in response to the <position> we advertised. In addition to your resume, we also need three references and a list of past employers for the past three years, along with their phone numbers.
Our policy is to thoroughly review the background of each candidate in order to select the most suitable person for this job.
Thank you for your assistance. We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Request for character reference
<Applicant> has applied with our company for a position in our <department>. He / she has given your name as a character reference. Would you be kind enough to provide us with your written evaluation of this person.
Please rest assured that your response will be treated with confidentiality. Thank you in advance.
I am sending this to you as a fellow member of our community. I'm sure that you value living in such a quiet and peaceful neighborhood, just like I do.
You know, sometimes in order to keep one's community quiet and peaceful one has to take action. As you may know, our local Community Committee has been meeting over the past two months to try to find ways to reduce the break-in rate in our area. Last week they released their recommendations on how best to combat that problem.
Their primary recommendation calls for increased police and security patrols to supplement the local Neighborhood Watch program. Unfortunately, the needed amount is not included in this year's municipal budget allocation.
Therefore, as a concerned member of this community I have decided that my business will donate $ for every $ raised in the community to cover the additional security costs. I urge you to join me today in supporting this worthy cause for our common good.
To make your donation today you can drop in to either one of our two stores and deposit your donation in the boxes provided near the front cashes. If you can't make it to the store, please send a check or money order, made out to "XYZ" and mail it to the address listed above.
Thank you in advance.
Requesting a favor
I am writing you to ask you for a favor that I hope you could do for me.
In less than three months I will be taking the <Examination>, with the hope to enter the <University or College>, where they have the best graduate school program for the course that I am interested in.
The school places an extremely high emphasis on a student's success in the exam, which is why I feel extremely pressured to get an above average score on the Graduate Record Examination.
Because you recently graduated with a degree in <science>, you are naturally the first person I thought of when considering who I could approach to assist me. I am not asking for too much time, I would really appreciate any pointers you could give me and a few lessons on the <sections>, which I feel are my weakest points.
I hope that you will give me a positive response. Thank you in advance.
Request for product return / replacement
On <date> I placed an order for the <product>, received it on <date>. I have discovered that the purchased product has the following problem: <add details>
Since the product you delivered is not of satisfactory quality <is not fit for the purpose>, I am entitled to have it <repaired / replaced> and I would request that you confirm that you will do this within the next seven days. I also require you to confirm whether you will arrange for the <item> to be collected or will reimburse me for the cost of returning it.
I look forward to receiving your satisfactory proposals for settlement of my claim within seven days of the date of this letter.
And this is all for today. Hopefully, this information will help you compose properly formatted business letter in general and persuasive request letters in particular, and always get the desired response. Thank you for reading!