Quick Guide to Professional Communication

Jan 25, 2019
Student working on computer

Have you ever wondered what the appropriate form of communication should be in the work environment based on what you need to say? Have you ever been asked to attend a meeting only to realize that an email would have been sufficient to deliver the information? Here is a guide to help you decide when to use an email, memo, or a letter.

Emails

Emails are good options to use both within the company and outside of the company. However, only use an email when the message is considered informal or of low importance. Most emails are sent for routine information.

Memos

Only use a memo for people in your organization. Do not send a memo to other businesses. This type of communication is for more formal messages or for a non-routine event. It may be seen by one person or hundreds depending on the size of the organization and the importance of the message.

Letters

Most letters are only sent to people outside of your organization. However, if the topic requires a formal tone, a letter may also be sent to people within your business. Letters are also sometimes sent to the media for public viewing.

Memo Format Examples (Capitalize or Title Case):

*Line up word content at 1” ruler mark

DATE:                Written out as month, day, year

TO:                    Recipient’s name (and, if desired, title)

FROM:                Sender’s name (and, if desired, title) and initials

SUBJECT:           One-Line “Headline”

*Capitalizing only first letter of main/major words.

Date:                   October 2, 2018

To:                      Sam Anderson, Digital Marketing Manager

From:                  Kelly Johnson, Public Relations Specialist

Subject:              Press Conference Planning

Letter Format:

When writing a formal letter, ensure you include a business letterhead. The letterhead should include the company name, address, email, phone number, and website. The letterhead can be at the top of the letter in the header or in the bottom of the letter in the footer.

  • Business letters should be left-justified.
  • Add the date and spell out the month (January 5, 2017).
  • Next, add the person’s job title on the following line. Include the address and company name on the next line. Spell out street names including Avenue, Circle, Street, or Road. The word Boulevard can be abbreviated to Blvd.
  • Ensure the subject line is above the greeting (Dear Mrs. Anderson).
  • Include the body or the main message of the letter after the greeting.
  • Add a closing line after the end of the letter. You can use the word “Sincerely” or create your own closing. After the closing leave space for the signature, then type the writer’s name. List the writer’s position in the company after the typed name.

Example:

Sincerely,

(signature)

Kelly Donaldson

Public Relations Coordinator

If you would like to include an enclosure or direct where copies should be sent, place this message below the signature block.

Email Format:

Emails should also include a greeting but it doesn’t need to be as formal as a letter. You can still use “Dear Mr. Smith” or you can use a simple greeting like “Hello Karen.”

Ensure your email has an introduction, main message and closing. The introduction could be as short as one sentence. Try to break up your message into multiple paragraphs. One giant message can be overwhelming for the eyes when reading online.

Remember to end your message with “Sincerely” or “Thank You.” Add the typed signature after the closing.   

Adhering to these simple rules will help you communicate effectively and avoid confusion in your work environment. Always remember to address people professionally even when communicating informally. 

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