Thursday, November 8, 2012

Guidelines on Correspondence Etiquette

Depending on the nature of your job profile you need to keep in mind that your correspondence represents you and your organization’s image.  Each time when send out a letter on an email, you need to note that though the receiver is not in front of you, they will get a good or bad impression through your correspondence.

In case you are using the traditional method of correspondence i.e. through paper work, there is a need to keep track by filing copies for future references. 

While preparing or drafting internal memos, you need to keep in mind of the below guidelines:

Letter formats 
Always maintain a uniform font face, color and size. Use bold, italics and the underline features only when needed.  Avoid unnecessary highlighting of alphabets.  Maintain a standard color code for all fonts. This is even noticed when people send emails they do not bother to check the uniformity of the fonts.

Font face: Avoid fancy or decorative fonts while sending out formal correspondence unless the situation demands for it.  For example if you are required to send out a party invitation you can use a not so fancy but an eye catchy font face. 

Font size: Depending on the font face the common font size used is either 11 or 12. 

Color Black is the standard color used for correspondence.  Using colors for fonts changes the tone of the message.  One of the most important is avoid using the color red to highlight sentences.  The color red changes the tone of the message, it means that the sender is either being harsh or sending a stinker message to warn or accuse the receiver.  

Page layout: Always check for the margins of the page with the help of the ruler.  Arrange the orientation of the page before you start typing.  If you need to add a watermark or page border this is the time you need to format it. Check for indent and spacing for paragraphs.  Align your paragraph text to either left (Ctrl+L) or justify (Ctrl+J). Adding a header or footer along with page numbers helps a person to know in advance before giving print out command.

A letter without a date is completely pointless.  It is of utmost importance to mention the date of any type of communication. With the frequency of emailing correspondence work, one has not to forget the importance of date on letters.

In case of paper work correspondences using a reference code it helpful. Though not used frequently, this is useful when a particular department has to issue a same format letter to multiple receivers.  You can use alphabets or numerals for reference. For example-(department name/current year/receiving department letter number) when used it should appears like—(Human Resource/2012/Sales dept-1). This helps to also note the number of multiple letters issued that particular department in a complete year which can eliminate any chances of missing or impending correspondence letters.

A subject line draws attention and conveys a summary of the body of the letter. Based on the subject certain correspondences are treated with importance and are usually given priority.  A letter without a subject will keep the reader away from reading if he/she is extremely busy. If a letter is extremely lengthy the reader might keep it for later hence, to save time and catch the attention of the reader a subject line is preferable.

Greeting a person with the right salutation creates a good impression.  Salutations for people on certain designations are important. If you are addressing a Ph. D holder or a Professor or manager you need to address with the right designations.

The content of your correspondence should be precise and formal.  While sending out correspondence to an external or third party it is good to give a brief introduction about yourself and your company followed by a different paragraph detailing the comprehensive material related to the subject line.

Closing a letter with the right salutation by using ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘yours faithfully’ in formal letters.

Your name-
The two basic types of correspondence utilized in most of the organizations are internal and external correspondences.

Internal correspondence 

Receivers of this type of correspondence are usually internal employees or colleagues.  These messages can be circulated electronically or on paper.  While sending emails to colleagues, people usually tend to forget that even if it is an email you need to remember that you are using your company’s official intranet to communicate.  For informal communication you can use your personal email ids, but while communicating formal announcements or making requests to your internal clients, you need to keep in mind to refrain from using very casual or informal words.   With the onset of the chat world lingo words have many short forms and abbreviations for example ‘thank you becomes ty’. Remember electronic conversations are archived by the I.T. department and can be accessed anytime in the future. 

External correspondence

Receivers of this type of correspondence are third party or external customers.  External correspondence can be via emails, fax or letters and it plays a great role in creating an image of the sender.  While sending official letters, quotations, invitations or orders to third party clients it is advisable to use the company’s letter head which makes it an official communication note.  It is good to maintain a standard template if you have to send letters frequently to external vendors.  For example if you have to frequently place an order on monthly basis for a particular product with the same vendor, it would be helpful to keep a standard template which becomes easy to correspond. 

The above guidelines will prove to be useful when applied appropriately while drafting correspondence. 

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