There are different types of letters in business correspondence. Here are some special types of letters that we must know and how they play an important role in our daily communication.
a) Standard form letters
Correspondence cost money, and anything we can do to reduce the time spent on it is a saving for the business. The standard form letter is such an arrangement. Suppose a business is a mail-order house, and most of its business comes from people who write in and order one or other of its products. Many orders will of course be quite straightforward and will be dispatched by return of post. However, many orders will be defective for some reason, and many of the errors will be repeated again and again. In such a situation a standard form of letter is a great help. All we do is write a number of short paragraphs, one for each problem area. They are printed one after the other on a sheet of A4 paper with a box or dotted line to show which one applies in the case of any particular customer.
The usual thing with standard letters is to run off 100 or so on a plain paper copying machine from a master copy that is then filed. Each time one of the problems listed arises, the secretary simply takes a copy of the standard letter and completes the few details required, ticking the paragraph that applies in this particular case. An envelope is written and the letter placed in the 'mail outwards' tray.
b) Quick-reply letters
A quick reply letter is used by many types of administrative offices, eg central government departments and local authorities. They are constantly faced with the need to open a file on businesses of various sorts for control purposes. One of the many bodies of this sort is the Inland Revenue Department, eg the IR form 41G. Note that the chief feature of a quick-reply letter is that the page is divided in half by a centre line. Short, detailed questions are listed on the left-hand side, with space for a quick reply on the right-hand side. The design of such a form is usually a cooperative effort, the rough draft being passed around various people so that nothing is overlooked. When completed by the addressees, and returned, the file for the new business can be started up and will be kept as a current file for all the years that the business continues to run. It becomes a very detailed record of the business's tax affairs, and the various tax inspectors can see at a glance the profits made, the promptness of payments, the good times and the bad times, etc.
Such forms should be reviewed from time to time to see that they still meet the needs of the departments, and a named individual will usually be charged with the duty of collecting and collating points that arise during the lifetime of the form. Then when it comes up for review, account can be taken of any defects that have come to the department's attention.
Visit 101 Business Letter to learn the basics of letters and resourceful examples of letters can be found too.