Professional and Technical Communication
In this unit
“Communication becomes effective when its what, when and how have been pondered over.”
A professional and technical communication, broadly speaking, is a formal system of writing messages to disseminate and receive useful information, within and outside an organization, following the technicalities and tools normally adopted to write such communications. A technical communication is a modern business technique or skill used as an aid to write down messages and to make them understandable. The technical aspects of business correspondence grow with time to cope up with the increasing complexity of the national and international trade.
Formal communication is the living support of an organization. It is through the written medium that a company develops and maintains its contacts and business in the outside world, as well as keeps the communication flowing within the company itself. As a person enters into the professional field, he/she has to start communicating not only orally but also through various types of formal written communication, that may be broadly grouped into letters, memos, reports, proposals and tenders. The author has to select the right type of medium according to the specific purpose. Although the basic aim of all the types of written correspondence is to communicate, their precise aims vary depending upon their use, scope and the targeted audience. Technicalities of writing may differ as each has its own format, layout and contents, but all have to be accurate, clear, factual, objective, coherent and concise They may have different finer linguistic contents, but all the types have an overall simple language, common words, short and direct sentences and correct grammar. The chapter will take you through the different varieties of professional communication, which we have earmarked as letter writing, job applications, letter to editor, business letters, reports, news reports and e-mails.
10.2 Letter Writing
A letter is an effective medium of exchange between two people, groups or parties. Letters are one of the most popular and effective means of communication in the civilized world. More than communication, letter writing is fun. Writing as well as receiving letters is a joy when they relate us with our loved ones. In earlier times, when telephone and e-mail were not available, the only means of communication between people was letter. Even today, in the recent age of advanced communication, letters have not lost their importance because they can be preserved, they are authentic and they convey emotions of the people effectively. Letter writing is a skill that has to be nurtured carefully.
10.2.1 Types of Letters
In general, there are two types of letters: 1. Formal or official letters: The letters written to various public bodies or agencies for our requirements in civic, professional or business life. 2. Informal or personal letters: The letters written to communicate with friends and family.
Usually a formal letter is written in a formal language. Its style is direct, simple and cordial. You have to be conscious that you are writing to somebody who is not your friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, but to somebody who may be a mayor, your boss, a bank officer, etc. In such cases, its language as well as structure has to be different from that of an informal letter. Informal letters are the kinds of letters that may be written in a natural, informal and communicative style.
10.2.2 General Strategy
- ‘To’ and ‘From’ should be avoided.
- Every letter should have your address, date, salutation, the text, conclusion and your signature. The formal letter has the recipient’s address and subject line as well.
- Write your complete address without your name in sender’s address—Write one part in one line, start each word with capital letter and write the name of the post office in a separate line followed by pin code, district, state and country, if the letter is sent abroad, for example:
‘Kothi Raghu Nivas’
- Open punctuation—no punctuation marks in the sender’s address, reference, date, inside address, salutation and closing section—is common with blocked style while punctuation marks are used thoroughly in semi-blocked and indented style.
- In a formal letter complete date should be written, that is, day in figures, month in words and year in full—14 February 1992—while in an informal letter it can be abbreviated like—14th Feb or 14/02/92.
- In a formal letter, write the recipient’s full address along with his/her name or designation:
The Vice Chancellor
M. D. University
- Give the brief of your letter in the subject line in formal letters, for example, Subject: Presentation on Group Discussion/Proposed Software for Language Lab.
- Formal letters end with signature, full name and designation of the author while informal letters may end with first/nick name omitting the pronouns.
10.2.2.2 Common Beginnings and Endings
The standard format styles of letters are ‘completely blocked,’ ‘semi-blocked’ and ‘indented.’
1. Completely Blocked Style: Every section and each line of the letter begins with the left margin of the page and paragraphs are indicated by a blank line between them.
2. Semi-blocked Style: The date, signature, and self-address (if not printed on the letter head) are aligned on the right side of the page. All the other sections are parallel to the left margin. Paragraphs in the body of the letter begin from the left margin and are divided by one space line.
3. Indented Style: The date, signature and address heading (if not printed on the letterhead) are aligned on the right side of the page. The greeting is given on the left. Paragraphs in the body of the letter are indented with no space line between them. Postscript and enclosures, if any, are given on the left.
None of the styles is superior or inferior, hence, whatever you choose, stick to it. However, completely blocked layout has become universally established as the most popular way of writing letters. As all the parts of the letter are aligned on the left it makes typing convenient and saves time.
In formal letters, tone has to be considerate, polite, pleasant and sincere and presentation should be clear and courteous. At the same time in informal letters, one has to be friendly and concerned. In formal letters, there is no place for emotions, whereas in personal letters emotions are expressed freely and naturally. Single-word verbs, formal linking verbs and phrases are used in impersonal style while informal letters give liberty to use not only the pronouns—‘I’, ‘we,’—contractions, abbreviations, phrasal verbs, idioms, phrases but also colloquial language. However, both the types of letters should be grammatically correct, concise and complete.
Introduce yourself briefly if it is the first time you are writing; refer to the earlier letter if you are responding to some letter and give your reason for writing the letter in the opening paragraph. Then, give further details and facts you want to present, explain the situation, give clarification, register a complaint or supply information whatever is applicable. Present these facts in a proper order. In the closing paragraph, urge for the action to be taken, seek information, offer assistance or state the course of action you want to be taken along with stating the response you expect from the recipient.
Keep your paragraphs short and try to give one idea in each paragraph. In formal letters single-sentence paragraphs are very common while in informal letters length may vary according to requirement.
10.2.3 Useful Phrases
Please confirm the receipt of…..
We are pleased to confirm…
Please accept our apologies…..
We are writing to advise/suggest…
We are looking forward to hear/hearing from….
We regret to inform you…
I am writing to inquire…
We would appreciate if….
I would like to inform you….
In response to your inquiry….
We have pleasure in enclosing…
I would be grateful if….
I am grateful to you…
I can assure you….
It appears that….
Kindly inform us at the earliest…
Unfortunately, we will have to postpone…
I will not be able to attend the…..
Best wishes/warm regards/kindest regards….
Let me know when you get…
I am happy to tell you….
I am writing to let you know…
I am waiting for your letter/message…
I’m sorry to tell you…
I’m writing to ask…
We’d be really happy if…
I want to tell you…
I’m writing back to you…
I am sending it along with this letter…
Please, could you….?
Thank you very much…
It seems that….
Let me know as soon as…
Why don’t we postpone…?
I’m sorry, I can’t attend….
Love/All my love/lots of love/All the best/With love to you all/Do give my kindest regards to/With love and best wishes….
10.2.4 Sample Letters
1. Informal Letter (Completely Blocked Style)
231 Anand Vihar Colony
Near Railway Station
27th June, 2010
Thanks a lot for your letter and the lovely snaps. They really brought back the happy memories of our college days. Indeed, we all had a very nice time in college and of course in the hostel too. I can never forget those days when we used to study together, have a lot of fun and live like a family. Initially, we missed our home but after some time the hostel became our second home. Picnics, celebrations, dances—all seem to be out of the world now.
I’m glad to note that your MBA is going on well. It must be easy for you to adjust in your new routine now, though you’ll take some time to be friendly with your new friends. How’s your new college and its hostel? You’ve an annual system or semester system? How are the people in general in that place? Please do write to me.
Why don’t you plan a visit to my place whenever you have holidays? We haven’t met for a long time. Please do come and let me know your programme in advance. I’ll inform Vandana and Amisha also. We’ll have a nice time together.
The rest when we meet! I’m getting late for my classes.
Catch you later.
2. Formal Letters (Completely Blocked Style)
B-26, Shastri Nagar
January 20, 2010
The Post Master
Subject: Informing change in the address
This is to bring it to your kind notice that I have shifted to a new house and the address is given at the top of the letter. Previously, I was staying at G-36, Defense Colony, Sirsa.
I will be grateful to you, if you kindly direct all of my letters, parcels and registries to my new address.
With anticipatory thanks
3. Formal Letters (Semi-blocked Style)
SMN Agriculture College,
65 Gandhi Colony,
15 March, 2010
S.R. Cotton Mills,
Subject: To visit the factory
I am a student of Agriculture Science and visiting a factory as well as preparing a project report on it is an essential part of our curriculum. For this purpose, 40 students along with 4 teachers of the Department of Agriculture Science wish to visit your factory.
We will be highly obliged, if you give us any date between 20th March and 31st March 2010 and time from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a working day, convenient to you, when we can visit your factory. We would be further grateful, if you could also depute an official to show us the factory and explain its working to us.
Kindly inform us at least two days in advance so that we may make necessary arrangements.
We are looking forward to receiving a favourable response from you.
President Science Club
4. Formal (Indented Style)
56 Vasudev Nagar,
February 20, 2010
Guru Nanak Institute of Technology,
Subject: Regarding progress report of the ward
I am Mr. Mahesh Mehta, father of Ashok Mehta of B.Tech. II, Mechanical Engineering, of your college. I know that the college sends progress report of the students to their parents after each cycle of sessional tests. I have not received any information about the progress of my ward, may be due to postal irregularities.
I believe, even the second cycle of the test must have been over by this time. I have no idea whether my son is doing well or not.
I request you to send me his report, if it has not been sent to me and its duplicate copy in case it has already been sent.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
- Write a letter to your brother advising him not to neglect sports in school.
- Write a letter to your friend requesting him to lend you his/her camera for a week.
- Write a letter to your principal requesting him to arrange extra-curricular activities in your college.
- Write a letter to your landlord requesting him to carry out white washing in your house.
- Write a letter to the station house officer of the nearby police station reporting the cases of increasing theft in your locality.
10.3 Job Application
A job application is a kind of official letter (discussed in detail at 10.2) that one has to write some or the other time in one’s professional career. It follows the format of an official letter but differs in its tone and phraseology. A formal letter may or may not have an enclosure, but a job application letter has a résumé or a CV attached to it.
The process of acquiring an employment starts with the first stage of job searching that one may do through different sources like newspaper advertisements, job-locating sites or personal contacts. The second stage is the process of sending of an application. This is a very significant stage because it is here that the first short listing of the prospective candidates takes place before inviting them for the third stage that is ‘an interview.’ Many job seekers are rejected on the basis of their applications. To get into an employment and to grow thereafter you should know how to write a good job application.
A job application constitutes of mainly two parts: ‘The covering letter’ and ‘The résumé/CV.’ Let us discuss each part separately.
10.3.1 Covering Letter
A covering letter is the opening part of an application that introduces the candidate to his/her prospective employer. It is a kind of a summary of the résumé written to convince the reader about the suitability of a candidate. The recruiters are normally burdened with applications and they do not go further unless the covering letter is convincing to them. So, this letter should be written with utmost care.
The layout of a job application cover letter is the same as that of a formal letter. Preferably, it should be written in the blocked style as it is the most popular style of writing official letters today. The body of the letter may be divided into the following four paragraphs:
First/Opening Para: Attract the attention of the reader by mentioning the post you are applying for and how you have come to know about it. Avoid using the word ‘job’ in place of ‘post/vacancy’. You may use one of the following phrases:
- I am writing in response to your advertisement in…, of…, for the position of…. / I am writing to apply for the post of…, advertised in the…, of…. / I would like to apply for the vacancy of…, displayed on your website…, on…. / I am interested in applying for …, the position that you have advertised in the… issue of….
- As you can see from my résumé that I am specifically interested in the field of…; I apply for the opening of…, announced in…, of….
- With reference to your advertisement in…, of…, for…, I want to propose my candidature for the said vacancy. (This construction has become a cliché, try to avoid it)
- I have come to know through Mr./Ms…, of Sigma Counselors, that you need…with an experience of…, at your…. Kindly accept my application for this vacancy.
- Your company’s growth is an established phenomenon in the market and I would like to be a part of it and contribute to its growth. Do you have an opening for…in your company? If it is so, please accept my application.
Second Para: To sustain the interest of the reader in this section, describe your relevant qualification (usually the last one) and state your experience in brief, if you have. The following phrases may be useful:
- I am currently pursuing … at …. / I am presently employed as…, at …. My total experience in this field is …. / I am a/an … in … from …, with … experience in …..
- After graduating from the University of …, I have been working for …, since …. / I am an engineering graduate from … trade. / Since gaining the degree of …, I have been employed at … for the last ….
- As a/an …with…experience and know how in…and a wide exposure to…, I am confident to contribute to….
Third Para: After catching the attention of the receiver, it is a crucial part of the letter as it helps generate interest of the employers in the applicant and finally guides him/her to decide if the candidate is worth hiring. Show your awareness towards the need of the company, give a brief summary of your experience, relevant skills, strengths and attitude and convey how they are integrated with the requirement of the post. Express your keenness to enhance your skills further. If you are a fresher, emphasize on the training attended, projects prepared, courses done, activities carried out, etc. In short, an experience holder should emphasize on his/her experience while a fresher should highlight his/her academic and extracurricular achievements. However, be very concise and specific. Some helpful phrases are given below:
- The position interests me as… / I am well versed with… / My ability to…., makes me suitable for this position. / I would welcome the opportunity to contribute while enhancing my skills further.
- The position will provide me an opening to improve my skills and…. / I have an extensive experience of….
Fourth/Final Para: This paragraph should inform the employer how you can be contacted and/or when you are available for interview. Some useful phrases are as follows:
- If you consider me suitable… / I am available for interview (in person or on telephone) whenever convenient to you./ I would be pleased to have an interaction any time from…to…. / I am available to discuss the position in person at a time and date suitable to you.
A specimen covering letter
# B/44, Krishna Nagar
The New Link Road
January 26, 2010
The Manager Human Resource
Syntel India Ltd.
Subject: Application for project engineer
I am writing in response to your advertisement in The Times of India, of January 20, 2010, for the position of a project engineer. Kindly find my résumé enclosed herewith.
I am a B.Tech. in Computer Engineering from NIT Kurukshetra. The position of a project engineer interests me as it requires the knowledge of C; C++; Java and other relevant languages, which I am well versed with. Further, it will also provide me a chance to work for the challenging projects. My ability to work patiently on computer for a long time and not to give up unless a task is done as well as my experience in handling unique college level projects as ‘project-in-charge,’ makes me suitable for this position. I believe, the on-job training, which your company provides, will help me grow, utilize my existing skills and learn more with experience.
Résumé is a French word that means ‘summary’. Although in English it is used to refer to ‘an account or a summary of something’, its popular use is limited to mean ‘a brief account of an applicant’s details to procure a job.’ ‘Résumé’, pronounced as ‘razume’, should not be confused with the word ‘resume’, uttered as ‘rizum’, which distinctly means ‘to begin again’.
Professionally, a résumé is a document that contains a summary of the personal details, relevant job experience, education, skills, goals, achievements and interests of an applicant. It is the first item that an employer encounters regarding the job seeker to short list him/her for a job interview. Therefore, the primary aim of a résumé is to get a call for an interview, although securing the job is the ultimate objective.
10.3.2.1 How does it differ from a CV?
A CV is an abbreviation of ‘curriculum vitae’, which is defined as a written record of your education and experience that you send while applying for a job. Superficially, a CV and a résumé appear to be similar and may be considered comparable in some places but there are certain basic differences in their purposes, layouts and approaches:
- CV is a traditional method of presenting personal data, while résumé evolved much later.
- A résumé is normally used for seeking employment in business, finance and HR fields, especially in the private sector, whereas a CV is helpful while applying for academic, scientific, research, medical, university, fellowship and other educational positions.
- A résumé is brief and concise—not more than a page or two. A CV is a longer version, a more detailed synopsis, extending up to four to five pages, perhaps more, in case annexure is attached.
- By and large, a résumé has a free style and customarily enumerates a candidate’s data in reverse chronological order, while a CV conveys chronologically arranged information.
- A résumé highlights only the relevant credentials, while a CV provides a comprehensive summary of an applicant’s personal, educational and career details.
In the United States, résumé is common in the business field while CV is used for academic positions. In some Asian countries such as India, the terms ‘résumé’ and ‘CV’ may be used interchangeably. Although, the use of résumé is fast gaining acceptance in the private business sector, some employers, especially government departments, may expect to receive a CV rather a résumé.
Résumés are always position specific and they cannot be identical for different posts. The best way would be to prepare a standard CV, update it regularly and use it to design different versions of résumés as and when required.
10.3.2.2 Attributes of a Good Résumé
A good résumé has the following major attributes:
- Designed for a specific post, arouses interest in the reader.
- Well displayed with proper formatting, spacing and sufficient white space.
- Factual, correct and complete.
- Information is categorized under headings and columns.
- Uses appropriate concise style rather than using ‘I’ repeatedly.
- Coherent, uniform and brief in presentation (preferably not more than one to two pages).
- Does not make overstated assertions.
- Highlights relevant areas starting from the recent ones.
- Uses right words, grammar, spelling and punctuation.
10.3.2.3 Styles of Résumé
Résumés may be organized in two styles:
(a) Reverse Chronological Résumé: This is the most commonly used format. It gives the data in a reverse chronological order, as the employers today are more interested in your recent achievements. Such résumés go well for both a fresher and a beginner.
(b) Functional Résumé: This is basically a skill profile that is used to focus on abilities that are specific to the type of position sought for. These résumés present details skill wise. They are suitable for those who want to change their career, have a wide work experience or are applying for jobs that require clearly defined profile and personality traits.
10.3.3.4 Components of a Résumé/CV
We have seen that a CV is a comprehensive document and a résumé can be tailored from the former according to the requirement of a job. For the sake of convenience of designing, both the documents can be divided into three major parts—the opening, the middle and the closing. The following table highlights their formats, segments and techniques of writing in a comparative form:
(a) The Beginning
A Comparison between a Résumé and a CV
Begins with a headline giving: Name, address, e-mail ID, Tel, no., and fax no.
2. Desired Position
3. Career Objective
One sentence—statement of career goals—job specific and not vague, need not be in high-flown English, communicates self-motivation and interest (specimen is given after the table)
4. Personal Details
Comes in the closing part (see below)
• Begins with personal details: Name (capital letters), address, Tel. no., e-mail ID, fax, nationality, date of birth, marital status
Some Specimen of Career Objectives:
- To work on a suitable position in a prestigious Electrical Component Production Set-up, where I can learn with experience, utilize my existing skills and grow in my relevant field, contributing to the development of the organization. (This type of objective will be more suitable for fresh candidates.)
- To contribute to the growth of a prominent company by seeking a managerial opening in the recruitment division of HR department and thus explore new HR skills for such senior posts (appropriate for a senior and experienced person).
(b) The Middle:
This is the functional segment of your document and should be designed very carefully as the major part of your interview deals with the data given here (see ‘Job Interviews’; in Section 6.3.8.).
5. Work Experience
Only relevant work experience
Complete work experience
Relevant qualifications, trainings, etc., are mentioned. (Highlight your educational details if you are a new job applicant.).
• Qualifications, degrees, training, schooling, names of institutions / university, years of passing, grades/division.
7. Skills and Personality Traits
Only special skills suitable to the targeted position are listed, for example, expertise in a related computer language / data processing / knowledge of foreign languages / interpersonal skills / leadership qualities
May be listed but more broadly
Only concerned achievements are listed or those that differentiate you from others and show that you are a go-getter and can take challenges
Distinctions, awards, merits, scholarships, fellowships, a prestigious research project, or anything that conveys recognition.
Employers are interested in your work experience, professional skills and achievements as such things give you an edge over the others. Support such information with relevant documents and facts.
(c) The Closing:
9. Activities and Interests
Extra/co-curricular activities/hobbies, memberships, participation in sports, seminars, exhibitions, quizzes, academic and cultural competitions (only special items briefly and in points)
• Little elaborated but in composite form
• These things show that you are a multifaceted and dynamic personality
A résumé closes with personal details—age, nationality, driving license and passport no., married/unmarried*; children* (* optional)
A CV opens with personal details (see above).
2–3 names of referees (holding a responsible position) who can recommend your name for the concerned post. Names, designations, addresses, and telephone nos. should be given.
Same as in a résumé
A specimen résumé of an experienced applicant
Chief Design Engineer
To contribute to the growth of a prominent electrical company by seeking a senior technical position in ‘Electrical Products and Circuit Designing’ and by exploring new relevant areas.
January 2008 to present: Assistant Electrical Engineer, Hindustan Electrical Systems, Industrial Estate, Bangalore. (A Govt. of India Undertaking)
- Prepare electrical drawings and specification using software programmes.
- Design and install computer-monitored voltage regulating apparatus in minimum cost.
- Handle job time table and administer staff.
September 2006 to December 2007: Electrical Engineer, Bayer Electricals, Sector 4, Industry Zone, Faridabad.
- One year training in
- Electrical/electronic drawings and circuits.
- Production of electrical systems and components.
- Part of the team working on a Korean project of designing computerized motors.
- M.Tech. Electrical Engineering, June, 2006 from IIT, Mumbai.
- B.Tech. Electrical Engineering, July 2004 from NIT Kurukshetra.
SKILLS AND PERSONALITY TRAITS:
- Well versed with the current versions of relevant software.
- Skilful in computer application, designing and handling complex electrical circuits and components.
- Experienced in problem identification and technical solutions.
- Soft skills and leadership qualities.
- Proficient in English; can communicate in American accent.
Was awarded for the best design of ‘Computer Monitored Voltage Regulating Apparatus’ by the present company, in November 2009.
Stood 2nd in the merit list of B.Tech. Final Year examinations.
ACTIVITIES AND INTERESTS:
- Life member of ISTE, IIT, Delhi since 2002
- Take active part in its programmes, attend workshops and seminars.
- Keenly interested in music, playing volley ball and cricket
Marital status: Married
A valid passport and a driving licence holder
Mr. Raj Chahal
Hindustan Electrical Systems, Industrial Estate, Bangalore. (A Govt. of India Undertaking)
Mr. Roshan Garg
State Bank of India
Bus Stand Road Branch, Rohtak.
10.3.2.6 Résumé for a Fresh Applicant
In the absence of experience, employers would be more interested in aspects such as training, projects, education, skills and achievements. The layout of the Résumé for a new candidate is not much different. However, there is a difference in approach and may vary in its presentation as given under: (study the specimen résumé as well)
(a) Career Objective: Express your broad career goals, type of task you would like to do and willingness to learn (study the sample objective in Section 10.3.3.4).
(b) Training: Mention about your training highlighting the training field and what you have gained from it. Use sentences such as ‘Received three months training, at …, from … to …, in the field of ….’ Gained knowledge on ….
(c) Education: Provide this information in a little detail, that is, starting from the current; you may go back to matriculation.
(d) Skills and Strengths: At this stage as you cannot be very specific, mention your general capabilities and traits relevant to the position, for example, proficient in C++, Excel, Java and MAT Lab/very good at maths and English/logical reasoning/ability to co-relate theory with practical/communication skills/leadership qualities/problem solving skills/keen to learn and so on.
(e) Achievements, Activities and Interests: These should be emphasized as companies want people who are all rounders, self-motivated, have a positive attitude and are eager to take challenges.
- Write an application with an enclosed résumé for the post of a Civil Engineer in a construction company highlighting your skills and experience.
- You are an MBA in marketing with an Engineering graduation. Draft a covering letter and a résumé for a position of marketing manager in an automobile company.
10.4 Letter to the Editor/Media
Letters to the editor are great advocacy tools as they reach a large audience. They are monitored by trained persons such as editors and officials and create an impression of widespread support or opposition to an issue. Besides this, they are written to create public awareness and they enable us to help one another in society.
The purpose of a letter to the media is to express and share one’s observations and views in a public forum such as magazine, newspaper or a journal on:
- A wide range of social issues.
- An issue that is already raised in a letter, article, discussion, debate or a news item.
- A particular point of view, problem or idea untouched or unnoticed by the general public or the concerned authorities.
- A personal experience, which you have had locally and/or overseas.
- A recently announced government policy.
10.4.2 Drafting a Media Letter
Whether you are motivated by a passionate point of view or you are responding to the views of others, you may use these guidelines to draft a letter to the editor of a newspaper or a magazine:
- ‘Letter to the Editor’ is a formal letter; so, follow the layout as well as the guidelines discussed in ‘Letter Writing,’ in Section 10.2.2.
- Select a topic and relate your thought to an issue very recently discussed in a publication. If you are encouraged to write a letter to the editor by somebody such as your teacher, you should start by reading a publication that is likely to contain articles of your interest.
- While planning a letter, keep a scratch pad/sheet handy. Jot down any ideas or phrases that appeal to you before you forget them.
- Determine your target audience and write to their level. Some readers are educated while others are very sensitive. Therefore, be considerate, clear and comprehensible.
- If the publication has given any instructions to write a letter to the editor in the newspaper or on the website, follow them carefully.
- Give your name, address, e-mail ID and phone number at the top of your letter. Editors often require this information to verify your identity. However, you may state that this information is not to be published.
- Refer to the article that has raised the issue with its heading, author’s name and date of publication.
- Be precise, focused and brief because there’s a lot of competition for a small amount of space. You may have to write several drafts of your letter to condense the message. Deal with one issue, article or speech in one letter.
- Limit your letter to maximum three parts. Introduce the issue, refer to the article, news item or some happening that has generated the discussion and sum up your objections, in the first. In the second, include suitable examples, facts and relevant details to support your viewpoint. End the letter with an impressive summary and a witty punch line offering your recommendations and solutions as well as an urge for the steps to be taken.
- Type your letter in double space between the lines. Sign it and write your name in block letters along with your designation.
- Use spell check and then proofread your letter thoroughly to check its content, style and language.
- Observe that your letter deals with a public issue. Be prompt in writing because even the best letter in the world won’t be appreciated three or four weeks after the publication of the original article it refers to.
- Read out your letter aloud. Does it sound good? Are the points included in it justified? How would others react when they read it? If you are satisfied, finalize it.
- Preserve a copy of the letter. May be it gets corrupted or lost, then you will be able to resend it. If it is edited, you will have guidelines to write in future.
- Submit your letter by e-mail, if the publication allows it. This will enable the editor to cut and paste the content of your letter. If it is not possible, fax the letter instead of posting it to ensure that the editor has plenty of time to plan for it to be printed.
- Feel free to follow up with a phone call to make sure that the concerned person gets your letter. If your letter is not published, telephone the editor to find out why it wasn’t. You may also ask him/her for suggestions to send another modified draft of the letter.
- Use bullet points, bold letters, italics or capital letters in the body of the letter to cover, organize and highlight important aspects of an issue in your letter.
- Avoid moral statements like ‘pollution is harmful and it should be checked.’ Give solid examples and arguments how and why it is so.
- Writing in the first person is more direct. For example, instead of saying ‘It has been observed…’ say ‘I have noticed it many times…’
- Give real-life examples or analogies to demonstrate your point(s). This will support your arguments.
- Tone should be polite. Authoritative tone is considered rude as it may hurt the readers. Respect the people you are talking about, even if you disagree with their views.
- State your qualifications, if useful to the letter. For example you may say, “I have been teaching in an engineering college for a long time and I have experienced…..”
- Wherever possible, compare and contrast. State why your point is better and why the other one is not appropriate. For example you may write, ‘Government’s move for quality education in private institutions is praise worthy but quality should be controlled in government set ups too.’
- Use humour because laughter is more effective critic than pontification. For instance, the statement, ‘Thanks to the fashion world that has made saving easier to us by introducing short dresses for the models’ will have more effect than, ‘The fashion is polluting the Indian culture.’
- Be grammatically correct. The editor will correct any minor spelling errors, but they won’t edit letters in which sentences make no sense.
- Use short punchy sentences. This makes it easier for the reader to follow your thinking and easier for the editor to edit your letter if required.
- You are original and have discussed the topic in innovative ways as well as presented unique solutions to it.
- Have a positive approach. Don’t hesitate to compliment a good editorial or a story or the personalities you agree with.
- Use facts and figures to reinforce your arguments. Quote other experts who have commented on the same subject, especially if the news article did not mention them.
- Use statistics carefully as distorted facts often create confusion, panic or misunderstanding very quickly.
- Remember, the letter should influence the public, not the adversary; hence, you should appear reasonable and fair.
- Comment on actions more than personalities. For example, while criticizing a government policy, oppose the theory not the minister.
- The first line should be captivating. Instead of writing, ‘I am writing to respond to ‘The Tribune’ editorial of July 5th,’ write, ‘as an eye opener, the July 3rd editorial left me wondering whether man has stooped to such a level.’
- Don’t mention criticism that has been levelled against you or your organization. Don’t say, ‘I am not a cheat, thief or a liar as reported in last week’s Times.’ You may write, ‘The article has left the readers wonder who’s telling the truth in the controversy.’
- Make it legible. Your letter need not be decorative but you should use a typewriter or computer word processor if your handwriting is difficult to read.
10.4.3 Sample Media Letters
1. Sample letter to discuss a problem
88 Vijay Nagar
25 January 2010
The Times of India
Subject: Reckless driving
This is to draw the attention of the public and the concerned authorities towards the increasing cases of road accidents. Most of the victims in these accidents are the school-going children or the college students.
There are numerous reasons responsible for these mishaps. Children and students under 18 drive big vehicles without any license defying the traffic rules. Secondly, the rushing buses and the truck drivers drive on the busy roads regardless of the safety of the people. Not only this, overtaking from the wrong sides, stopping anywhere and violating the fixed speed limit is very common. Stray animals too, often sometimes cause serious accidents. After each mishap, we all feel sad for sometime and then forget it. We have no thought for the families who suffer the pangs of losing their dear ones.
I appeal to the concerned authorities as well as the civilians to come together to take a strong action in this regard. Speed breakers should be erected near schools and colleges and speed limit should be fixed up. Traffic police should be made vigilant and rule breakers should be penalized heavily. Moreover, parents and teachers should create awareness among the students about the traffic rules and should not allow them to drive unless they are 18 and have a license.
Road is not a place where you can rectify your mistake. Prevent the accidents by following the traffic rules instead of crying for help afterwards.
Some letters published in newspapers:
2. A letter written to create awareness:
Tomorrow is World Red Cross Day (May 8). It is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of Sir Jean Henri Dunant, the founding father of Red Cross. On June 24, 1859, in the fierce battle between Italy and France on the one hand and Austria at Solferino in North Italy on the other, 10,000 soldiers died and 30,000 severely wounded and maimed. Nobody cared for the respectful disposal of the bodies. The provisions for evacuation, treatment and rehabilitation of the soldiers were absolutely nonexistent.
Sir Dunant, a Swiss national, collected around 5000 local youth, motivated and trained them for the evacuation and treatment of the wounded at his own expense. Thus came into being the Red Cross. Its emblem (red cross with white background) is conspicuous so that Red Cross personnel are easily recognised and their safety is ensured in the battle zone.
Lt-Col I.J.S. CHEEMA (retd), Chandigarh
(Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh, Saturday, May 7, 2005)
3. A letter written to discuss a government decision:
With reference to the Times View/Counter View (May 20), happiness is just not a matter of perspective. It is related to material gains and accomplishments. Before the age of 50, an individual faces the ups and downs of career and marriage, has to secure the future and the like; all this causes stress and worry. But as the years pass and these issues are slowly resolved with careers and finances settling and children growing older, the majority of the reasons for stress and unhappiness are removed. That’s when an individual often feels he has fulfilled many of the main objectives of his life. No wonder the half-century mark brings happiness.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
(Source: The Times of India, New Delhi/Chandigarh, Saturday, May 22, 2010)
4. A letter written to discuss an important issue:
With reference to the Jugular Vein, “What are you saying?’ (Jan 8) by Jug Suraiya, India is a country of many languages and these help us to understand the diversity of our culture. Often, it forms an integral component of our identity. For instance, a person speaking in Hindi is instantly labelled as someone from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, or more generally called a ‘north Indian.’ On the other hand, a person speaking Telugu or Malayalam is referred to as a ‘South Indian.’ The various languages are an asset to our country.
(Source: The Times of India, New Delhi/Chandigarh, Monday, January, 11, 2010)
Write letters to the editor of your favourite news paper on the current issues like: Power cuts in your area, improvements required in examination system, Preservation of natural resources, NRI’s should have a right to vote.
10.5 Business Letters
A business letter is a correspondence used for the purpose of carrying out a business or it can be called an activity related to writing letters in the business world. It is essential for many business tasks such as enquiries, orders, buying, selling, answering queries, lodging complaints and reminders of payments, etc. A business letter acts as an ambassador of the company. A well-drafted letter can help you develop and expand business along with improving and maintaining relations.
In the 21st century, where many modern channels of communication are available, traditional business letter continues to be an important means of sending messages. It enjoys a unique status because it acts as a permanent record or a document that can be stored and filed.
10.5.1 Attributes of a Good Business Letter
Although all good formal writing follows the same basic principles, a business letter is different in its purpose and approach. A good letter is:
- Specific and accurate
- Simple and direct
- To the point
10.5.2 Planning a Business Letter
Writing a crisp business letter is an art in itself and it develops with regular drafting. Knowledge of its different parts, layout and style is necessary. (For details refer ‘Letter Writing’ at 10.2.2.). A business letter starts with proper planning. Before you begin, you should think and plan it systematically. Here are some points:
(a) Previous Communication: Read if there is any previous correspondence with the person you are writing to. It will guide you in drafting the new one.
(b) Objective: Determine your purpose—whether it is to invite proposals, give information/orders, request for payment, quote a price, calm down an irritated customer or to say ‘no’ to a request. When you write your letter think—what do you hope to achieve with your letter? What should your audience know? How much do they already know? How will they react after receiving your letter? This will help you write in brief, to the point, systematic and focused.
(c) Know your Receiver: Know your readers—who are they? How much do they know about you? What is your relationship with them? What medium of interaction do they prefer? What is their requirement? Gather a feedback on the reader if this is your first communication with him/her. Depending upon the information collect and organize your data.
(d) Organize Information: Collect all relevant details and organize them methodically. For this purpose, jot down points either from a written source, if it is available and useful, or note down facts/ideas as they come to your mind, that is, use mind storming. Anticipate the queries of the readers and satisfy them. Now, list these details logically to avoid any doubt and confusion in future.
(e) Drafting: Prepare the first draft. Review, revise and refine it by adding or deleting points. When you are satisfied, write down the final draft, which is now ready for typing.
10.5.3 Guidelines to Write a Good Business Letter
The drafting and editing of a business letter needs appropriate writing and language skills as well as knowledge of its technicalities:
- The message should be accurate, brief and clear. Your readers have limited time in which they have to read it. Their objective is to know the bottom line: the point you are making about a situation or a problem.
- Be direct, to the point and positive in your approach. Develop points logically.
- Avoid clichés, jargons, foreign expressions and technical terms. Do not use slangs. To avoid any confusion do not use ambiguous terms and indirect expressions.
- Use words and expressions of current usage in business letters—familiar, concrete and short words, small sentences, and simple expressions written in an easy and natural style.
- Here are some illustrations of the traditional usage and their current replacements:
Expedite – speed up
utilize – use
terminate – end
Dispatch – send
require – need
regarding – about
kindly – please
assist – help
commence – start
purchase – buy
endeavour – try
antiquated – old
continually – constantly.
- Some long phrases which should be replaced by one word for the modern usage in business letters are as follows:
during the time that – while
in view of the fact that – because
at a later date – later
in spite of the fact that – despite
with regard to – about
the negotiating process – negotiations
at the present moment – now
in large amounts – many
in the very near future – soon
take action on the issue – act
was of the opinion – believed
we would like to request you to – please
employment on a part-time basis – part-time work
- Study the following words in italics which are just duplicates of the next word, hence are not required:
- Here are some illustrations of the traditional usage and their current replacements:
- Be courteous and understanding. It does not mean that you should be naturally apologetic and use outdated elaborate expressions of politeness and compliments. For instance, in place of ‘It is a humble request from…./ We hope it would not be wrong on our part if we kindly appeal you to…/May I plead your good self…’ write ‘We request you to…’ Show consideration and respect to reader’s feelings using expressions like ‘We understand…/ we are aware of…’ To show courtesy, answer the letter the same day. If you are not able to do so, give reasons for delay. If you have to refuse an offer, do not destroy hope for future relations.
- Use a suitable tone. It reflects the writer’s personality. Business writing varies from the modern conversational style, often found in e-mail messages, to the traditional formal way of expression. The approach should be between these two extremes. Writing that is too formal can distance readers, while an over-casual approach may appear insincere or unprofessional. Choose your words carefully and try to be firm, friendly and polite.
- Use active sentences and avoid passive voice. Passive voice is not a feature of current business usage as it indicates that the author does not want to take responsibility or wants to maintain gap with the reader. For example, the sentence, ‘The product launch will be held at a time to be determined somewhere later in the month’, is quite indirect and passive in expression. A better sentence will be, ‘We will launch the product later in the month.’ Active voice is direct, focused, personal, clear and interesting. Nevertheless, passive voice may be used when you want to focus on the action and not the doer or when you want to hide facts.
- Follow uniformity throughout the letter. Type neatly using even spacing, use uniform way of dividing paragraphs and be consistent in using language, font and style as well as presentation.
- Favour verbs over nouns as verbs make your English direct and easy to understand, for example, instead of saying ‘conduct the investigation’ say ‘investigate.’
- Come to the conclusion naturally and state the response you expect from the readers. If there is anything that is unclear or legally or ethically incorrect, change it before you send it. Always keep copies of business letters in your record.
10.5.4 Parts of a Business Letter
Each type of business letter has the following parts:
- Inside Address
- Attention Line
- Subject Line
- Body of the Letter
- Complimentary Close
- Signature Block
- Identification Mark if Required
- Copy Line
1. Heading or Letter Head: Heading or letter head is usually printed on the letter head at the top in the centre of the page two spaces below the margin. It contains information about the organization’s name, full address with various other details such as telephone number, telegraphic details, telex number, fax number, postal index number and e-mail id. For example:
2. Date: Date is typed in full two spaces below the reference line on the right-hand side in semiblocked style and on the left-hand side in the blocked style. In British style 2/3/09 means 2 March 2009 while in the American pattern it stands for 3 February 2009. To avoid confusion caused by British or American interpretation, write day in figure, month in words and year in full. For example: 26 April 2009 or April 26, 2009.
3. Reference: Reference is given at the left margin two spaces below the letter head and it is followed by dateline. Even if the dateline shifts on the left-hand side due to the demand of the format, reference remains aligned along the left margin. It contains letter number, file number and other filing details and contains the reference of the sender as well as the recipient. For example:
Your Ref: GDS/ 56/S54
Our Ref: JKH/33/M24
4. Inside Address: Inside address is given at the left-hand margin usually two spaces below the dateline or the reference section. The inside address includes full name of the recipient, company’s name, complete address, post office number, city, state with zip code. For example:
The District Collector
5. Attention Line: Attention line was prominent in the past when letter was addressed to the company in general and attention line was given to ensure that the letter reaches the particular person or the title or the department in an organization. We rarely need it today. However, sometimes it is still given to ensure prompt action. It is placed between inside address and salutation, with a blank line before and after it and aligned with left margin indented with paragraphs or given in the centre in one of the following ways:
Attention: Chief Librarian
Attention: H.R. Department
For the Attention of Mr. Aggarwal, Sales Executive
6. The Salutation: The salutation is a little, polite complimentary greeting. It is given in the form of an introductory phrase and it is addressed to the firm or the person to whom the letter is sent. Though it is a formal way of beginning a letter, it gives a personal touch to the correspondence. The salutation of a business letter varies with the extent of relationship between the writer and the addressee. It is given on the left-hand side two spaces below the attention line/inside address. If you know the person it may be, ‘Dear Mr. Sodhani,’ or ‘Dear Ms Rachna.’ If the letter is addressed generally to an organization not a specific person, the more formal salutation, ‘Dear Sir/s’ or Dear Madam/s’ should be used. If the first line is the name of a group or a department use, ‘Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,’ ‘Dear Colleagues,’ ‘All Sales Representatives,’ ‘All Staff Members’ or ‘Committee Members.’
7. Subject Line: The subject line is given two spaces below the inside address or salutation at the left-hand margin or in the centre usually in lower case and is sometimes underlined. It saves time as it highlights the theme of the letter in brief. For example:
Dear Mr. Sharma
Subject: Inquiring about the course
Subject: Inquiring about the course
Dear Mr. Sharma
8. Body of the Letter: This is the main part of the letter. The message should be precise, brief, clear and pleasant. It should have four parts evenly arranged between the margins of the two sides of the page:
- The first part should give reason for writing the letter or should refer to the previous letter, contact or document or should provide an introduction to the matter being discussed. For example: ‘Thank you for your letter of…./It was nice meeting you at last week’s meeting…../ As per our telephonic talk……/I apologize/ confirm/inquire about…’
- The second part is the central section. It contains the main message, which includes all essential information as well as details of the letter. Information in this section should be given clearly, simply and logically.
- Third part is the conclusion, which draws the message to a logical closing. It includes a polite request, wish, assurance, the action you expect from the recipient, the action you will take or gives a deadline as required. For example: ‘Kindly give full details of the cost expected together with some sample catalogues./ If we don’t receive the payment in time, we are afraid the deal stands cancelled.’
- The fourth part is the ending, that is, simple one-line closing sentence. For example: ‘Hope to meet you soon,’ ‘We are waiting to receive your positive reply,’ ‘We look forward to receiving an encouraging reply from you/hearing from you/receiving your order/welcoming you as our guest’/ ‘Waiting to receive your reply.’
Within the message parts formatting style—bold, italics, bullets, underlining, etc., can be used to highlight the main points.
9. Complimentary Close: Complimentary close is a customary, polite way of ending a letter. It is written two spaces below the body of the letter. It has to be in harmony with the salutation. For example: salutations, ‘Dear Sir/Sirs/Madam/Madams’ are followed by ‘Yours faithfully’ while ‘Dear Mr. Sharma/Amit/Ms Nivedita’ are followed by ‘Your sincerely.’ The other forms of complimentary close are—yours/cordially/truly, etc. In modern communication, one-word expressions are most aptly used. The pronoun ‘yours’ is omitted.
10. Signature Block: Complimentary close is followed by the signature block, which includes the signature, full name, designation and address of the sender. If an organization has given power of attorney to an executive, the executive will write PP (Per Pro) before the name of the firm and will sign below it. Per Pro or PP is the short form of ‘per procurationem,’ a Latin phrase which means ‘on behalf of.’ It means that the firm is legally bound by the commitment made to somebody else. For example:
Per Pro Bharat Products and Associates
K. S. Mann
However, unimportant and routine letters of the firm may be signed by their PA/PS adding the word ‘for.’ For example:
For Deputy Commissioner
Dept. of Environment
Govt. of Punjab
11. Identification Mark: Identification mark is given one or two spaces below the signature containing initials of the person who dictated or composed the letter (always in capitals) and the one who typed it (in capital or small letter). These can be given in any of the following ways:
- KPS/hs or KPS/HS
- KPS:hs or KPS:HS
12. Enclosures: It is usually typed below the identification mark. It refers to the documents, which are attached to the letter. This part of the letter alerts the recipient to check the enclosed documents. It is usually abbreviated ‘Encl’ for one document and ‘Encls’ for more than one. For example:
- Rate List
13. Copy line: Copy line is given at the end of the letter. It gives information to the recipient about the third party to whom the copy of the letter has been sent. In this list, recipients are listed in order or rank if they hold different positions and in alphabetical order if they hold the same rank. Copy notation includes person’s title, position, department and complete address along with notation of enclosures. Copy line is indicated by the abbreviation ‘CC’ which means ‘copy circulated’ or ‘courtesy copy.’
10.5.5 Kinds of Business Letters
1. Letters of Enquiry, Quotations and their Replies: These letters are written to ask for or supply information. They seek general information about the price list, catalogue, quotations, estimate, terms and conditions of the supply of the goods, etc. They begin with a question or a set of questions on which information is based. Information should be given in the form of statements. While writing such letters, inquire about the prices along with proper details of packing, carriage, insurance, time limit by which you need the required goods, provision for accessories and finally the validity period of the quotation.
A well-written response will positively make a good impression while responding to inquiries from potential customers. If an old customer makes an enquiry appreciate it and if a new customer writes to ask for something show gladness and hope for a lasting relationship. Further, draft your letter well and ensure the quality of the product, its proper and timely availability as well as delivery.
2. Letters of Placing Orders and their Execution: In letters of such type, orders for goods are placed or acknowledged. Such a letter is generally a detailed and direct order for the supply of the required goods. Give accurate and full description of the quality, quantity, price, catalogue number, etc., of the goods required. State the price per unit along with the mode and terms of payment. Mention complete address of the place where you want the goods to be delivered, mode of transport, packing details, and the date by which you want the goods to be sent or received. There may be reasons when a supplier may decline the order like he/she may not be satisfied with the buyer’s terms and conditions; the buyer’s credit may be suspect or the required good may not be available. While rejecting the orders, the supplier should take utmost care so that the goods will and the future business are not affected.
3. Letters of Complaints and Adjustment: A letter of complaint is written to firms to rectify defects and errors regarding poor service, damaged or wrong consignments received, unsatisfactory quality of goods, billing errors, undue delay, discourteous treatment, prices not as agreed, etc. These letters demand a tactful handling of situation as they involve legal matters. Such letters should be polite, careful and firm as well as precise and courteous. Don’t doubt the integrity of the people while complaining about an issue. Don’t use the words like—dishonest, careless or unfair. While replying them, look into the complaint genuinely and offer the best solution. Write such letters promptly as delays may make your point weak. Be specific regarding information, date, order no, invoice no, description of goods and quantity and don’t send the original documents or receipts. Say where and when you bought it, explain the problem you are facing along with the actions you have taken and state what you expect to be done to rectify the situation.
4. Circular Letters: Circular letters are not addressed to a particular individual; rather, they are addressed to all the members of the same group. They are impersonal in style. The main aim of these letters is to advertise a business, offer incentives, push sales, announce changes in the office site, inform the customers about the clearance sale or to send some necessary business information.
5. Letters of Introduction and Business References: Letters of introduction and business references introduce a business friend to another business man or seek assistance and help in some project. Business references are required in opening a bank account or enquiring about financial status of a firm. Personalize such letters by merging individual names into the inside address. Address the recipient by name if you know him/her; otherwise, use singular forms—‘Dear Customer,’ ‘Dear Reader,’ not ‘Customers’ or ‘Readers.’
6. Letters of Refusal and Acceptance of Business Proposals: In the business world, acceptance or refusal of offers and proposals is conveyed in writing even though it is notified by phone. These letters are based on previous conversation. Confirm officially and show enthusiasm to work for the new business contract. If the proposal does not suit you, refuse it officially even though conveyed through telephone. Be courteous, tactful and appreciate the gestures.
10.5.6 Sample Business Letters
Sample 1: Letter of Inquiry:
29 April 2009
Web Training Centre
32 Chandni Chowk
Subject: Regarding the computer course
I saw your advertisement in ‘The Indian Express’ of 24 February 2010 about computer programming course. My younger brother is interested in doing a short-term course during the semester break.
Length of the course
Date and day of its commencement
Nature of the course
The eligibility criterion
Fee and modes of its payment
Hostel facilities for the outsiders
I am sending a self-addressed envelope for the reply.
SYNTEL India Ltd.
Sample 2: Letter Inviting Quotations:
42 MIG Colony, Meerut (UP)
Telephone 01222453457; Mobile 09876543210
Ref. No. PEL/NEI/342
March 1, 2009
The Executive Manager
Pearson Education Limited
7th Floor, A-8(A) 62
Subject: Inviting quotations for purchasing books for library
We wish to buy some books for our college library on ‘Communication Skills’ for the students of B.Tech.
We have ‘Communication Skills’ as a subject for B.Tech. I. In third semester, students face placement interviews; hence, they need guidance on group discussion and job interviews.
As we have to start our classes from July, we would like to receive the consignment latest by mid-June so that we may have no problem when the session starts.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sample 3: Letter Sending Quotation:
7th Floor, A-8(A) 62 Noida, UP.
Your Ref. PEL/NEI/342
Our Ref. MNB/BE /987
March 8, 2009
Noble Education Institute
42 MIG Colony
Subject: Sending quotation for books
Thank you very much for your letter inviting quotation for books on ‘Communication Skills’. We are pleased to submit the following quotation along with the price list for your consideration.
We assure you that all these books are written by competent authors and are very useful for your requirement. We offer you a discount of 20% on the purchase.
Packing charges and other charges are inclusive in these quotations. We will send the books in good condition and will replace them, if they are damaged during the transaction.
We will dispatch the consignment immediately after receiving your order.
We are waiting to receive your order soon.
Sample 4: Letter Placing an Order:
564 M.I.G. Colony, Yamuna Nagar (Haryana)
Phone: 01732-320789 Mobile: 09898765445
Website: www.zenmusic.com; E-mail: email@example.com
Your Ref: MM/ ZMI/543
Our Ref: ZMI/ MM/234
14 February 2010
Ambala Cantt. (Haryana)
Subject: Placing order for musical instruments
Thank you very much for your quotation. We have approved the price submitted by you along with the institutional discount of 10% you have offered us.
Kindly note our order given with this letter.
Please send the instruments within 15 days. I am sure, you will take care of proper packing of the instruments as you have committed in the quotation. I hope you will provide us prompt and satisfactory service in future too.
We will make the payment through a crossed cheque to you within a week of the submission of the bill.
Sample 5: Letter of Complaint:
564 M.I.G. Colony, Yamuna Nagar (Haryana)
Phone: 01732-320789 Mobile: 09898765445
Website: www.zenmusic.com; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Ref: MM/ ZMI/ 544
Our Ref: ZMI/ MM/235
March 1. 2009
Ambala Cantt. (Haryana)
Attention: Mr Narayan Swami, the Sales Manager
Subject: Complaining about the defective instruments
We express our dissatisfaction with the last order no. 16/2010 you sent us on 27 February 2010. Most of the instruments are defective, broken and are therefore, unusable. I am afraid that we cannot accept these items in this condition.
We remind you that we have been your good old customers for several years and expect better service than this. Please replace the damaged instruments as you have committed.
Could you please confirm when you will be able to replace these goods?
Sample 6: Reply to the Above Letter:
Sadar Bazaar, Ambala Cantt. (Haryana)
Phone: 0171-2345678; E-mail: email@example.com.
Your Ref: ZMI/MM/235
Our Ref: MM/ZMI/545
3 March 2010
Zen Music Institute
564 M.I.G. Colony
Yamuna Nagar (Haryana)
We have received your letter complaining about the instruments sent on 27 February 2010. We sincerely apologize for the poor quality of the instruments supplied to you.
On inquiring, we found that our dispatch clerk unknowingly mixed the fresh lot of items with the rejected stuff. We have punished the clerk for this negligence.
We are really sorry for the inconvenience that you have faced. We are immediately sending you a fresh consignment and offer you a compensatory discount of 15%.
Hope our business relations will continue to grow as before.
Mr. Narayan Swami
Sample 7: Circular:
Ref. No. MW/ 42/10
January 5, 2010
Some incidents of thefts have been occurring in the office building frequently. Many employees have lost their laptops, wallets and cell phones. This is a serious issue. All the staff members are requested to attend a meeting in the community hall tomorrow on January 6, 2010 at 2. p.m. to discuss the issue.
Sample 8: Letters of Introduction and Business References:
55 Gandhi Nagar, Amritsar – 143001
Phone: 0987654321; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
January 30, 2010
Ms. Nivedita Bhatnagar
H. R. Manager
I am sending Mr. Manish Deswal to you. He is very well known to me for the last 10 years.
Mr. Deswal is an MBA from Amity University, Noida and has a brilliant academic record. He is confident, hard working and eager to learn.
He is looking for a good opening. Please spare your valuable time and talk to him about the areas of his specialization. In case you have an offer for him and you find him suitable, kindly consider him for job.
Thank you very much.
R. K. Bedi
Answer the following questions:
- What are the various steps, you will consider while writing a business letter?
- What is a business letter? How can you write a good business letter?
- Discuss the structure of a business letter.
- What are the qualities of a good business letter? Discuss their various types.
- Write a letter to the director of your college complaining about the bad sanitary conditions of the toilets.
- As a marketing manager of a company write a letter ordering furniture for your newly set up office.
- Write a letter to a party reminding them of a due payment which they have to make against the receipt of computers ordered by them.
10.6.1 What is a Report?
The word ‘Report’ has originated from the French words ‘reporter’ and ‘report’ and Latin ‘Re’ (back) plus ‘portare’ (to carry). All these words mean ‘give an account.’ ‘Report,’ thus, means ‘to give people information about something that you have heard, seen, done, etc.’ It is a very formal document that is written for a variety of purposes, generally in sciences, social sciences, engineering and business disciplines. However, reports are also written for various types of academic pursuits such as a research report, a book report and project report and include many other kinds of report writing as well.
10.6.2 Purpose of a Report
A report is an extremely official document that is written to serve a range of purposes. Reports play a crucial role in communication in all types of businesses, organizations and professions. They assist people not only in recording the important happenings but also in decision making at all the levels. People are asked to write and present report in every type of profession for different objectives:
- To keep check and control over a business.
- To execute new strategies and measures.
- To keep a record of research work, events and happenings.
- To meet the requirements of legal and governmental regulations.
- To study a particular situation to find an effective solution.
- To discuss, analyze and evaluate data.
- To make current and future planning and implement it.
- To evaluate infrastructure, resources and manpower.
- To compare growth, profit, achievements of an organization with those of its competitors.
- To give feedback, suggestions or recommendations on a particular problem.
- To take vital decisions and actions.
10.6.3 Attributes of a Good Report
An effective reporting calls for professionalism, profound knowledge of the subject, attentiveness and outstanding writing proficiency. A good report is essentially:
- Brief and accurate—facts and figures should be presented in an accurate manner.
- Clear and logical in structure—indicates clearly where the ideas are leading
- Relevant and appropriate—concentrates on the particular problem and includes no irrelevant details or misleading ideas.
- Well-organized, systematic and definite in presentation of facts.
- Rational, persuasive and specific in analysis and recommendations.
- Comprehensible—covers all vital details and conveys understandable information.
- All inclusive—What is the main problem? Who is/are involved in it? When did it arise? Where will the report be presented? How can it be presented the best?
- Highly objective—no place for prejudices, distortion of facts or personal opinions.
- Written in good English—uses short sentences, correct grammatical structures and spellings (In report you don’t get marks for writing correct language but you lose for writing wrong English.)
- Using appropriate layout and professional style.
- Neat and attractive in style and appearance—should make a good first impression.
10.6.4 Types of Reports
Reports vary in style, subject matter and presentation. Reports can be classified on various parameters such as:
- Presentation—oral and written reports
- Length—short and long reports
- Nature—informal and formal reports
- Purpose—informational and analytical reports
- Time Duration—routine/periodic and special reports
1. Oral Reports: An oral report is a face-to-face communication about something seen, observed, experienced or investigated. It generally consists of impressions, observations and experiences. It is simple and easy to describe, quick and immediate to present and gives first-hand information but it may not be as objective and as detailed as a report has to be. It saves time for the reporter but may be strenuous for the listener as he/she has to listen and memorise each and every word at the moment. Moreover, it lacks authenticity and is difficult to preserve. An oral report may not be used for taking vital decisions but it is beneficial in judging speculations and impressions and can be used to take an immediate action.
2. Written Reports: A written report provides a permanent record; so, it is always preferred to an oral report. Moreover, a written report is accurate and precise while an oral report may be vague at times. There are no chances of distortion of facts while transferring information from one source to another. A written report is more formal than an oral report and is generally used to communicate complex facts. It is a visual aid to communication as the reporter may organize message into paragraphs highlighting the main points.
3. Short Reports: Short reports can be presented in the form of a letter or a memo. They are concerned primarily with day-to-day business problems as well as their solutions. A short report consists of three parts—an opening, body and ending. Short reports, generally include periodic, situational and progress reports.
4. Long Reports: Long reports describe a problem in detail. They include the process of preparing the outline of the topic, collecting data, making a rough draft, logical and organized presentation of facts, thorough revising, editing and preparing the fair draft, etc. These reports require a deep study of an issue. The important parts of a long report are—preface, introduction, summary, abstract, description, conclusion, appendices, glossary and index.
5. Informal Reports: Certain business reports can be short and informal. In current business dealings, informal reports are more frequent than the formal ones. Basically, informal reports perform the same function as the formal reports—transmitting information, facts or data to someone for taking decision. However, informal reports are quite brief (around one to five pages), that too when you have supplementary material such as bibliography, appendices, etc. The style of writing is positive, personal and conversational. Depending on the requirement, they may have heading, illustrations, footnotes, etc., but may not include all the details like formal reports. Informal reports are written in the form of memo reports or letter reports.
- Memo Reports: Memo reports play a significant role in an organization. These reports are generally written to: (1) co-workers to give information, express opinion or to state a viewpoint, (2) subordinates to provide information, explain a policy or a procedure, give instructions or to announce changes and (3) your boss to give information, make a request, propose recommendations, give suggestion or to confirm an agreement. The memos are important because they ensure smooth flow of information in all directions in all the organizations.
- Letter Reports: Reports written in the form of letters are called letter reports. The letter reports combine the features of a business letter as well as a formal written report. They follow the format of a business letter, convey technical information to a company, contain factual information and they are written from the perspective of the readers. However, the purpose of a letter report unlike a business letter is to provide information as it is a technical document in content as well as in tone.
6. Formal Reports: A formal report is the result of thorough investigation of a problem or situation. Formal reports are generally detailed and elaborate. These reports follow a fixed format. The length of the report may vary according to the requirement. (Format is discussed in detail at 10.6.6.). Formal reports include informational, analytical, routine, special, technical, project, research reports, etc.
7. Informational Reports: An informational report presents facts, situations or problems required to take vital decisions. The writer collects relevant information, compiles and organizes it in an orderly manner and presents it as objectively as possible. Informational reports record happenings such as conferences, seminars, tours, and so on and supply details for future planning.
8. Analytical Reports: Analytical reports present data along with an analysis of it. The writer studies facts, situations or problems neutrally, evaluates the information, draws suitable inferences and puts forward his/her recommendations and conclusions. Project reports, feasibility reports and market search reports fall in this category.
- Project Reports: Project reports usually provide pre-investment information required for investments before setting up the project. These reports are based on small investigations. Cost, goods, machinery requirements, etc., given in the report are rough calculations. They also keep the organizations regularly updated about the progress of the long-term projects or bring an important issue in the limelight.
- Feasibility Report: A feasibility report evaluates a proposal designed to determine the difficulty in carrying out a plan. Generally, a feasibility study precedes technical development and project implementation. Market feasibility study involves testing geographic locations for a real estate development project. It takes into account the importance of the business in the selected area. Authorities often require developers to complete feasibility studies before they approve a permit application for retail, commercial, industrial, manufacturing, housing, office or mixed-use project.
- Market Search Reports: These reports contain guidelines for the promoters of the new products, policies, organizations, etc. Market research is an organized effort to gather information about markets or customers. It is done for discovering what people want, need, or believe or how they act. Once that research is completed, it can be used to determine how to market the product. This report collects data on market trends, users and prices of different commodities.
9. Routine/Periodic Reports: Routine reports, also known as form reports, are usually written on a prescribed proforma. The main purpose of these reports is to record the progress of a task, evaluate the performance of its employees and to record the success or failure of a policy. As these reports are written periodically, they are also called periodic reports. They generally include laboratory reports, progress reports, inspection reports, production reports, monthly sales reports, annual confidential reports, etc. All the organizations, institutions, companies and research establishments depend on routine reports for various decisions.
- Laboratory Reports: A laboratory report records the experimental work done in a laboratory to analyze a theory, conclusion or validity of a particular research. One has to record the process, reactions and results accurately to arrive at a convincing conclusion. These reports include title, experiment number, date, purpose, apparatus used, procedure adopted, observations, conclusions and signature.
- Progress Reports: A progress report informs the readers about the progress and status of a long-term project. The project may be about installation of a factory, construction of a bridge or a residential colony or some research work carried out in an organization. These reports are written at the various stages of the project. The essential details included in these reports are title of the project, total work to be done, time allotted, date, work already done, work to be done, time required, future plans, remarks, name, signature and designation of the reporter.
- Inspection Reports: Inspection reports are written to ascertain whether or not the work is going on satisfactorily, infrastructure facilities are sufficient or the quality fulfils the required specifications. These reports are written in factories as well as in educational organizations to check and ensure the quality.
- Production Reports: To control the budget and expenditure, standards are set for a production department based on the capacity of machines, time needed and the manpower employed. To ascertain the efficiency of a factory, production report is prepared. These reports normally give details of the standard production decided in a given time frame, actual production or the comparison of the standard time required and the time utilized.
- Monthly Sales Reports: Monthly sales reports track the sale of a product in the market. They report increase or fall of sale in a particular time period as well as the factors responsible for it and give their recommendations accordingly.
- Annual Confidential Reports: Annual confidential reports are written to evaluate the performance and the general conduct of the employees in an organization. Such reports may be subjective as the human qualities such as alertness, zeal, confidence, etc., may not be measured. However, these reports are used to determine their efficiency, critically appraise their achievements and assess their usefulness before granting them increments or promotions.
10. Special Reports: Special reports are written to convey special information related to a single condition, situation, occasion or problem. These reports do not contain repeated information as they are written about the specific situations. Like other reports, these reports also help in decision making as some of the most important decisions are taken on the basis of special reports. Special reports include inquiry reports, research reports, thesis, dissertations, etc.
- Inquiry Reports: These reports are prepared by the special committees appointed by some government or private organizations to investigate the cases of mishap, carelessness on the part of the officials, charges of corruption, or some antisocial activity. Such reports are prepared in groups because they demand thorough investigation of an issue, objective interpretations and recommendations and systematic presentation of information. These reports are very common in administration as no action can be taken against any one without proper justification.
- Research Reports: Research reports are prepared by the researchers and scholars of various universities, colleges and research organizations to present a concrete proof of the conducted research. While preparing a research report, you must aim at clarity, organization, and content. Research reports are all the more same like technical reports, laboratory reports and scientific papers which follow a consistent format to display information clearly.
10.6.5 Planning and Preparation of a Report
Preparation of a report is also very crucial. It requires careful planning. Keep the following points in mind while preparing your report:
- The report should be acceptable and intelligible to the readers. To achieve this purpose, build up a clear picture in your mind about your readers—are they technicians, directors or leaders? How many people will read your report? A clear idea about the readers will help you shape your report, decide which points you should include as well as choose a suitable language and vocabulary.
- Be objective and balanced and give your opinion only if you are asked to do so.
- Be absolutely clear and consistent about the topic as well as the expected level of commitment. If you have any doubt, ask for clarification.
- Make a schematic outline—jot down the ideas, study relationship between them and group them under headings and subheadings.
- The body of your report should include—(1) description of your investigations, experiments, surveys, interviews, documents consulted, etc. (2) an account of your findings and (3) your interpretations of those findings.
- Be selective as the careful choice of words will enable you to convey the right meaning.
- Be accurate. Everything you write should be factually accurate and facts should be verified before they are stated in the report. Moreover, arguments should be sound and your reasoning should be logical. You should not write anything that is misleading. Otherwise, you will harm not only yourself but also your organization.
- Be sure to rely on more than one source of information.
- When using information from internet, make sure that it comes from a reputable and authentic source.
- Maintain objectivity and emphasize on the factual material rather on any personal beliefs.
- Be concise but do not mistake brevity for conciseness. A concise report is short; still, it contains all the essential details.
- A good report should be simple but you should guard against oversimplifying the facts. Remember your readers are neither ignorant nor they know more than you. You should present information according to the level of their understanding.
- Always write your report in third person.
- Use correct spellings, grammar and punctuation marks. Use capital letters for proper nouns and bold, italics and underlines to emphasize main points or headings.
- Above all don’t get distracted. Keep your mind on the goal and you will have a good report.
10.6.6 Structure of a Formal Report
Keeping the above guidelines in mind, draft your report, revise it, check it thoroughly and take some time to refine it; then, compile it under the following heads:
- Opening Section:
- Title Page
- Copyright Notice
- Forwarding Letter
- Table of Contents
- Table of Charts/Diagrams and Illustrations
- Abstract or Executive Summary
- Body of the Report:
- Discussion and Description
- Conclusions and Recommendations
- Closing of the Report:
- References and Bibliography
1. Opening Section: The opening section of a formal report includes the preliminary details that familiarize the readers to the content of the report:
- Cover: The cover of a formal report is important as it is the first thing the readers notice about the report and it protects the document as well. When a report is placed flat on a desk, the front cover is in view. The cover should be preferably white or some neutral colour and should contain the title, author’s name, the name of the department or organization for which it is prepared, date of publication and report number. Space the title, name and date to achieve a nice balance on this page. If possible, type the title in a larger font size than the name and date. Use initial capitals for the title:
- Frontispiece: Frontispiece is generally given in long reports. In includes a map, a logo, an organization chart, a photograph, etc. It arouses curiosity of the reader as well as creates interest in him/her for the report.
- Title Page: The title page of a formal report often contains the same information as is given on the cover page. In some formats, there is a summary also included on this page. It provides the details like heading, subheading, writer’s name and designation, name and address of the authority to whom the report is submitted, serial number if any, date, contact number, approval and distribution list:
Report no. 10
Project no. 2
ROLE OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN JOB SELECTIONS
A Study Based on Job Selections of B.Tech. Students
Approved by: Admission Committee
MMU, Mullana (Ambala)
27 June 2009
- Copyright Notice: Copyright notice is given on the back side of the title page, if a report is to be published: © 2010 by Pearson Education Ltd. Or sometimes it is given in the form of a note: ‘All rights reserved. No part of the report can be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.’
- Forwarding Letter: ‘Forwarding Letter’ or the ‘Letter of Transmittal,’ or ‘Covering Letter’ is a brief letter by the writer explaining the objectives, scope and other highlights of the report. It contains information like time and areas covered in the research process, difficulties encountered in preparing the report, need for further study or a prompt action, significance of the study, etc.
- Preface: The preface introduces the report describing its salient features and offers it to the readers. It provides an opportunity to the writer to justify his/her approach. A preface is normally written in long reports for the common readers when it is not clear who will read it. If all these features are included in the ‘Letter of Transmittal,’ there is no point in giving ‘Preface’ separately.
- Acknowledgements: ‘Acknowledgements’ is the customary necessary part of the report. It gives the writers an opportunity to acknowledge all the major contributors, who have provided financial, moral or emotional support, with their names and designation. ‘I am really thankful…. /I take this opportunity to…/I convey my sincere thanks…. I express my heartfelt gratitude…/I am indebted…. I acknowledge my thankfulness…./I will be failing in my duty if I don’t ….. /’—are some phrases which may be used for this purpose.
- Table of Contents: The ‘Table of Contents’ gives complete information regarding the headings, subheadings along with page number on which a particular topic or point is given. In a long report, it not only enables the readers to locate a point or a sub-point but also gives them an overview of the report indicating the relationship between the main points and the sub-elements. You may begin preparing ‘The Table of Contents’ with page numbers marked by a pencil, and page numbers may be included after completing the whole report. However, be uniform and consistent while numbering the points and sub-points as well as in organizing them. For example:
S. No. CONTENTS
- Table of Charts/Diagrams or Illustrations: The ‘Table of Contents’ is usually followed by the ‘Table of Charts/Diagrams or Illustrations.’ It includes all charts, figures, diagrams and illustrations used in the report. If the number of these items is small, they may be combined into one table, otherwise mention them separately giving proper citations.
- Abstract or Executive Summary: An abstract or an executive summary is the gist of the report in a single tightly packed paragraph stating aim, results and recommendations of the report. One has to oversimplify facts while condensing a 100-page report to one paragraph but one should not distort facts. Try to convey the salient features as well as the tone and emphasis of the report so that the readers may find the outcome of the research from a glance.
2. Body of the Report: The main body of the formal report contains introduction, discussion and conclusion of the report:
- Introduction: The introduction of a report prepares readers for understanding the discussion of the report. Like the title and the summary, the introduction is written for the largest possible readers. It supplies details regarding the general outline of the report—purpose and scope of the study, historical and technical perspectives of the problem undertaken as well as the limitations of the report.
- Methodology: Methodology comprises a number of sources through which information has been gathered like internet, libraries, interviews, surveys, discussions, etc., used for collecting information. This section summarizes the method, sources and procedure of data collection as well the criterion of adopting a particular approach.
- Discussion/Description and Analysis: This part of the report presents facts, analysis and interpretation of data. The details are presented in the same order as they have been collected. Concepts, ideas and facts are made intelligible through comparisons and contrasts; drawing significant relationships among them as well as through objective description, analysis and interpretation of the findings. Discussion part of the report may be divided into sections, subsections, headings and subheadings to provide clarity to the structure.
- Conclusions and Recommendations: The conclusion section analyzes important results drawn from the discussion and evaluates them in context of the entire work. In your conclusion, you should make recommendations based on those evaluations. It is very much like an informative summary except for one thing—you are writing to an audience who has read your report. In this part, you should mention several techniques employed to solve a problem, propose a course of action to improve a situation and indicate the need of further work in the concerned area.
3. Closing of the Report: The report is concluded with endnotes, appendices, glossary and references.
- Endnotes: While compiling a report you may use some phrases and terms, which may distract the readers. All these scientific terms, difficult words and technical phrases should be explained along with their sources in detail, immediately after the citation in brackets or as a footnote at the end of the page or after the chapter or at the end of the main body of the report.
- Appendices: Appendices contain material or data that is relevant to the main text but does not easily fit into the main body, for example, graphs, letters, articles, questionnaires, statistical and technical details, etc. At the end of the report, they do not distract the readers and may be referred to whenever required. If the items included in an appendix are numerous, appendices may also be numbered as ‘Appendix A’, ‘Appendix B’ and so on. Some material like slides, models or samples may be recorded in a different way of binding or framing to harmonize with the main report.
- References and Bibliography: ‘References’ refer to the works or material—books, research papers, reports, dissertations, thesis, news papers, websites—cited in the report, in the order of their occurrence including author’s name, work, publishing details and page number. For instance:
- Annu Chopra, “New Protection Against Domestic Violence in India” The Christian Science Monitor, (March 8, 2007) p. 40
- Sunday Times; “Times Life!” (Sunday: March 4, 2007) p. 1
- A bibliography is the alphabetically arranged list of the sources used or referred to while preparing it. It mentions the work with the writer’s second name first followed by the first name, the name of the source and the publishing details. For example:
- Hornby, A.S. An Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Oxford: University Press, 2005.
- Bhatnagar, Nitin and Mamta. Communicative English for Engineers and Professionals. New Delhi: Pearson Education Limited, 2010.
- Glossary: A glossary is the list of technical and specialized terms defined in an alphabetical order in a report. It helps the readers understand difficult terms and words and the writer to make key definitions available to the non-technical readers without interrupting the report. Give cross-references of all the words explained in glossary.
- Index: Index is the final section of the report. It lists all important concepts, topics and subtopics along with page numbers, discussed in the report. In a bulky report, index serves as a quick guide and helps the readers locate all the important aspects of a report.
Answer the following questions:
- What is a report? Discuss its essential features.
- Discuss various types of formal reports.
- What are the various parts of a report? Discuss them in detail with examples.
- How can you write a good report?
10.7 News Reports
‘News’ is single new information about a happening presented by print, broadcasting, electronic and cyber media or by word of mouth to a third party or mass audience and ‘report’ is a short account of the news. A news report is, thus, a version of news sent to press media for circulation. A news report is written about a person, a thing or an event that is considered to be interesting enough to be reported. Reports appear in newspapers or magazines regularly and they are written in an impersonal formal style to attract the readers as well as to convince them.
10.7.1 Characteristics of Good News Reports
- News reports give facts briefly, precisely and accurately.
- They deal with real and current happenings and are duly supported with right information.
- Reporting is done in an extremely clever and highly objective way.
- Reports are written in a particular style to present the events in a clear and readable way.
- Good news reports use suitable layout, appropriate vocabulary and correct grammatical structure.
10.7.2 Parts of a News Report
News reports mainly have the following parts:
A news headline:
- Is descriptive, interesting and concise.
- Includes a noun and a verb in present tense.
- Is short enough to fit in one line within the navigation bar in your system. (An average headline in a newspaper uses around 6 words and 34 characters which convey incredible information into this brief space).
- Has only the first word in bold letters and the rest of the words are written in small letters, except for proper nouns like Dr. Manmohan Singh, Delhi University, etc.
- Does not contain full sentences.
- Uses correct punctuation marks, but does not end a title with a full stop. Question marks may be used, if required.
- Is simple and direct without extra adjectives or adverbs.
- Is informative and clearly summarizes the occasion.
- Incorporates most important keywords for those who often scan only the headlines of the news items.
- Is understandable out of context as the headlines sometimes appear without articles.
- Uses abbreviations and short forms for example, ‘PM’ for ‘Prime Minister,’ ‘SC’ for ‘Supreme Court,’ ‘Prez’ for ‘President’ and ‘RS’ for ‘Rajya Sabha’ and ‘LS’ for ‘Lok Sabha’.
Some examples taken from news headlines are: ‘India Wins World Cup,’ ‘Technical Fest at NIT KKR,’ ‘India to Send Two Astronauts into Space in 2016.’
- Byline: Byline supplies information regarding the reporter and the location. The reporter’s name may be given by his/her name as in ‘By Harish Shrivastav’; name of the agency ‘PTI’ (Press Trust of India); ‘TNN,’ (Times News Network) ‘UNI’ (United News of India) or as ‘Our City Correspondent.’ The location may be given with the reporter’s name or on the left hand margin followed by date, for example, ‘Ambala, 14 February.’
- Main Body: The main body of the report has three or four well organized short paragraphs to convey the information effectively. These paragraphs may be divided into the following sections according to their function:
- Lead/Introduction—First paragraph gives summary of the most important information including ‘what happened?’ or ‘Who did it?’
- Description: Lead/introduction is followed by detailed description of the happening covering ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’. This part of the report refers to people and organizations involved; explains situations and circumstances responsible for it and discusses various reasons maintaining cause and effect relationship. The facts are presented either from the most significant to the least important or in a chronological order.
- Discussion: Discussion follows description. In this part, reporter includes interviews, surveys, eyewitness account or relates to the background of the event.
- Resolution: News report is concluded with recommendations, appeal, warning or comment as per the demand of the situation.
10.7.3 General Guidelines
The following guidelines may be followed to write a good news report:
- You have to be accurate rather sensational, tell the truth not your opinion, no matter how strong your beliefs are.
- Include every relevant detail that your audience or readers are expected to know. For example, while reporting an accident, the report will be incomplete without mentioning the causes of the accident.
- Start with an effective lead or introduction. Catch your readers’ attention with the most fascinating aspect of the news up front; otherwise, they will not bother reading the rest of it.
- Avoid the use of passive voice. Use simple declarative sentences with a variety of action verbs and eliminate needless words. Do not try to impress the readers with your learning either.
- Ensure correct and standard language usage across your text. If your software includes a style checker, use it to assure proper adherence to journalistic guidelines.
- Avoid long, passionate descriptions. This is a news account, not a travel piece. As such, avoid excessive, flowing accounts of individual places and personalities. Keep your focus on the main event.
- Use short, concise sentences and paragraphs. News pieces work best when they run through quickly. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and sweet, with plenty of white space throughout the material.
- You may include fiction elements like suspense and tension into your news piece, if it improves the work. But avoid creativity on the whole, and keep your focus on giving a clear description.
- Be conversational without being ungrammatical. Make sure that you write in sentences and not in phrases with gerunds that go nowhere. Use adverbs when appropriate.
In a nutshell, your report should be composed of a catchy and powerful headline with a byline or the author’s name, dateline, an effective introduction which starts with ‘who’ and ‘what’, a body where ample explanations are given answering the questions—‘where,’ ‘when,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’—and finally, a brief conclusion.
10.7.4 Sample News Reports
TNN, 26 January 2010, 03:45 am IST
CHANDIGARH: Haryana is one of the five states selected under the major remote sensing and GIS application project entitled ‘Space-based Information Support for Decentralized Planning’ (SIS-DP) of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
Haryana chief secretary Urvashi Gulati said the state, only one from the region, has been selected for the implementation of the project in the first phase besides Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala and West Bengal.
National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad, director Dr. V Jayaraman apprised of aims and objectives of the project while deputy director Dr. P S Roy gave its detailed presentation during a meeting held on Monday. It was followed by discussions and suggestions from the line department for the effective implementation of the project.
The project would provide ICT-enabled geo-spatial platform involving local bodies to carry out developmental activities under the Panchayati Raj in a decentralized, fast and transparent manner. The project aimed at harnessing the space technology and the information systems at the local bodies to create information base and provide services. The project would include thematic mapping of the state on 1:10 K scale.
The expected output of the project would be a GIS database on various resources and infrastructure, digital resource atlases, reports and development of information system to cater to the needs of various line departments and skate holders.
(Source: The Times of India)
Rohtak, January 25
In an unexpected move, Arun Kumar (23), armed with B.Tech and M.Tech degree from the IIT and CIT California, gave up a lucrative job with an annual income of about 22 lakh for fulfilment of his dream. The dream is to popularize the space science and robotics and to set up an infrastructure for further studies and research in the country itself.
His journey began the day he got selected into the IIT in 2003. Arun hailing from an ordinary family settled at Jamshedpur has recently purchased land in Solan district for setting up an engineering college to teach ‘Space science and robotics’ . He at present is engaged in a special training course on his pet subjects of space science and robotics in a couple of private schools here.
After completing his engineering from IIT Kharagpur, he went ahead to complete his Masters from California while doing job with one of the MNCs there. But Arun wished to fulfil his dream. “I wanted to do something different and perhaps the best thing was to provide awareness and training in the new fields of space science and robotics in the country and do away the misconceptions surrounding such topics with industry and research as my passion,” he said.
“The main motive of my organization is to provide infrastructure and education in the field that include setting up of planetariums and robotics labs,” he said. Under this campaign mini-planetariums had been set up in at least half a dozen schools of the region so far. One of such schools has been located at Ambala in Haryana. “The total cost of setting up a mini-planetarium and a robotic laboratory is around Rs 3.5 to 5 lakh,” he claimed.
(Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh)
New Delhi, January 25
Nobel laureate of Indian origin Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Apollo Hospitals chief Pratap Reddy and former RBI Governor YV Reddy were today named for the country’s second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan, as music maestro AR Rahman, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and controversial Indian origin businessman Sant Singh Chatwal were named for Padma Bhushan.
Awards announced on the occasion of 60th Republic Day included eminent theatre personalities Zohra Segal and Ebrahim Alkazi; and noted mridangam Carnatic artist Umayalpuram K Sivaraman, who were the other three chosen for Padma Vibhushan.
In all, 130 persons, including 13 in the category of foreigners, NRIs and PIOs, were named for the Padma awards—43 for Padma Bhushan and 83 for Padma Shri.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cardiac surgeon RM Panda, eminent neurosurgeon Satya Paul Agarwal, prominent industrialist from Punjab SP Oswal along with Manvinder Singh Banga and real estate czar KP Singh were also named for Padma Bhushan awards.
Cricketer Virendra Sehwag, hockey national Ignace Tirkey, Formula One driver Narain Kartikeyan, badminton star Saina Nehwal, boxer Vijender Singh and Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘guru’ Ramakant Achrekar have been selected for Padma Shri awards in the sports category.
Yesteryear Bollywood diva Rekha and actor Saif Ali Khan have also been named for Padma Shri awards for their contribution in the field of art.
Aamir Khan (44), who made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed Taare Zameen Par in 2007, recently came out with 3 Idiots that has become the highest-earning movie in Bollywood.
Apart from this, music maestro, Illaiyaraaja has also been selected for the prestigious Padma Bhushan awards. Oscar winner sound recordist of Slumdog Millionaire Resul Pokutty has also been awarded with a Padma Shri.
(Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh, January 26, 2010)
Wednesday, Dec 02, 2009 at 1302 hrs
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan has called for mass awareness on environment protection by saying little drops of water make a mighty ocean.
Addressing a gathering at the screening and a photo exhibition on “Environment Protection” organized by Consulate General of France here on Tuesday, Khan said: “Every individual must be utmost cautious and not to waste natural resources, be it water or any other entity.”
“I don’t think we are cautious about such small things. But it is necessary to take notice. It might be possible that in our lifetime nothing happens, but as the new years come, I am sure some problems will definitely be there. Although there are talks that the world will end, universe will collapse but I think it might not collapse by some external factor but we ourselves will end up destroying it, like the way we have been doing it. So I think it’s an important aspect,” he said.
(Source: Indian Express, December 3, 2009)
- Your college participated in ‘Youth Festival, 2009.’ Prepare a news report for a local daily.
- Write a news report on the ‘Blood Donation Camp’ organized in your college.
- Prepare a news report on ‘Technical Fest’ organized by the technical society of your college.
- Draft a report for publication in a reputed newspaper on ‘Annual Sports Day,’ organized in your college.
10.8 E-mail Writing
An organized system of postal communication started with the establishment of government controlled post offices years ago. People communicated through the postal services for many years for business dealings as well as to reach family and friends without spending much. Then came the internet between the late 1960s and early 1970s and a little later came ‘E-mail’ or the ‘Electronic mail.’ In fact, it was invented in 1971 by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson. Initially the use of this technology was considered a luxury. However with time, as the internet became accessible to common man, e-mail started connecting people easier than ever before.
E-mail is a medium of communication that works through computer network. It has replaced the conventional paper mail as a means of official and interpersonal communication to an extent. The incredible high speed, cost effectiveness and efficiency, has made e-mail an integral part of modern communication in all fields, technical as well as commercial and has shrunk the world to the limit that distance does not matter at all. However, this online revolution has come forward with some limitations as it differs in style with the traditional letter communication.
10.8.1 Usefulness of E-mail
- Speed: An e-mail works at an unbelievable speed and this is its greatest advantage. Distance has become immaterial as it reaches anywhere on the globe almost instantaneously.
- Cost Effectiveness: It saves both time and money, which we spend in printing, copying and distributing as the messages can be sent and received within seconds. An e-mail is much more economical than a postal mail, fax or a telephone and its cost viability is not affected by the size of the message, attachments or distance.
- Trouble-Free Attachments: An e-mail may be used in sending personal/official messages attached with documents, files, photographs, presentations, music, sound recordings, video clippings, graphics, software programmes and many more.
- Manageability: The format of the message is easy to manage. The subscribers can delete, revise, store, print, forward or reply the message according to the requirement. We can communicate with individuals as well as groups simultaneously. An e-mail is thus, quite user friendly.
10.8.2 Qualities of a Good E-mail Message
An effective electronic mail message has certain qualities. (a) It is brief and to the point. (b) The message is restricted to one topic and to one screen only. (c) The text is specific, clear and accurate. (d) The language is simple, direct and clear.
10.8.3 What Makes E-mail Different?
In spite of performing the similar basic functions of communication, an e-mail and a paper mail are quite different from each other in their format, approach and purpose. Some of the major differences are as follows:
- Electronic communication, due to its speed and broadcasting ability, is fundamentally different from paper-based communication, which may take more than 24 hours to reach its destination.
- In a letter, your recipient may not have an immediate opportunity to clarify the doubts. With an e-mail, your recipient can ask questions immediately; so, it is quite close to face-to-face conversation.
- The soft copies of e-mail documents may be preserved in the memory of computer and the back-ups may easily be saved in other computers or CDs. The letters may also be stored but the storing may become cumbersome later on.
- In a postal mail the paper on which you write, the handwriting or the type that you use are the same that your receiver perceives. As the software and hardware that you employ may be different from what your receiver uses, the visual qualities of the message in an e-mail may be quite different by the time it reaches someone else’s screen.
- E-mails are more impersonal and spontaneous than a letter. An ordinary letter may be more suitable for a communication that requires planning and organization before it is dispatched. Conversely, an e-mail will suffice for most business purposes and daily exchanges that are done rather mechanically.
- Important letters are treasured in personal collections or displayed in the archives of museums as precious documents of the past. Such pride and privilege is not usually given to e-mails.
- Letters are written more formally than e-mails.
As an e-mail and a letter composition are different from each other, you should tailor your message to the medium used.
10.8.4 How to Send an E-mail?
To send a message through an e-mail follow the steps as under:
- Log on to a computer network or an e-mail programme by registering your user name and password.
- Type the e-mail address of the receiver.
- Compose the message and check it thoroughly.
- Click on the ‘send’ button.
10.8.5 How to Receive an E-mail?
- Log on to a computer network or an e-mail programme by registering your user name and password.
- Go through the list of your received unread mails.
- Select the mail you want to read.
- Choose the suitable step—deleting, saving, printing, forwarding or replying.
- Then go to the next message.
10.8.6 How Does an E-mail Travel?
A message created by you on your computer and sent, reaches your server and remains there till it processes the outgoing messages. Your server then locates the server for your recipient address and passes on the message to it. The recipient server finally sends the message to its destination. Once it reaches the recipient, it waits there till he/she logs on to read it.
10.8.7 E-mail Writing Tips
Here are some tips for composing and receiving e-mails:
- Check your mail box daily to give an immediate response to the sender. Before responding to a message, read it carefully. Send acknowledgements, if the mail has to be answered later on.
- Write a short, meaningful and relevant subject line to give the receiver an idea about the e-mail content. Readers with big inboxes will avoid opening the messages like ‘Hello,’ ‘Urgent’ ‘Hi,’ ‘Help’ or ‘Enquiry.’
- Adopt the normal courtesies of professional letter writing conventions as many people dislike receiving messages without them. Greetings like ‘Dear Sir/Madam,’ ‘Hello Neelam’ ‘Hi Sandeep,’ ‘Dear Mr. Khurana,’ etc., make the message courteous and confirm that the message is meant particularly for the reader. Similarly, a proper sign off is courteous and it indicates that the message is finished.
- Although observing formalities in an e-mail depends upon the relationship the writer shares with the reader, replacing the formal ‘Dear Ms. Bhardwaj’ with ‘Hi Ms. Bhardwaj’ may offend an Indian receiver. Be careful while being informal in a cross-cultural exchange. However, you may replace ‘yours faithfully’ with ‘regards’ or ‘best wishes,’ if required. Be consistent and do not fluctuate between the formal and the informal approaches.
- The message should be direct, to the point, clear and short. If it is getting longer, it is better to use a phone or employ a paper communication.
- Make it convenient for the reader to reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or give a short answer. Prefer yes/no questions like “Does 4 p.m. suit you on Monday?”
- Make it easy to read, combine the upper and the lower cases properly. Use a legible font.
- Even if you want to emphasize a point, do not use all capital letters—this is as if you are shouting at the receiver. Nor do use all small letters, as it shows that you are careless, insensitive and hesitant.
- Format your message systematically in paragraphs with blank spaces between them. This will impart clarity to it.
- Show empathy to your readers by appreciating their feelings and using words they understand.
- Use a conversational, dignified and appropriate tone. Without the right tone, misunderstanding may be created or you may lose the business contacts. For example, you may write for an initial payment reminder: ‘Consider it as mild reminder’. Use e-mail to enhance your communication and not to substitute your communication.
- Use correct English; otherwise, it will indicate your non-serious mood and lack of language abilities.
- Make yourself look good online because your e-mail can be forwarded to anyone.
- Follow the rules of good writing. Use crisp sentences, short paragraphs, full words and complete sentences with proper spacing. Make use of simple modern business terminology, instead of long winding old-fashioned sentences.
- If you are sending an e-mail to multiple people, put their e-mail addresses in the ‘bcc’ or ‘cc’ field and your e-mail in ‘From: field.’ No one likes to share his/her private e-mail ID with strangers.
- Do not use an e-mail if the message needs to be very private or confidential as it is very easy to forward an e-mail message.
- Do not leave subject line blank.
- Do not press the ‘send’ button in a hurry, in panic or in a fit of anger, otherwise you may have to regret later. Check the mail thoroughly for the content, format and errors. Ask yourself: Do I really have to mail this message?, before actually sending it.
- Do not give an elaborate reply, if you are pressed with time. This may result in mistakes or make your message sloppy. Remember, an e-mail is an ambassador of your company.
- Do not forward a message without a brief comment why you are forwarding it.
- Do not flood your e-mails with smiley faces or other emoticons nor do use excessive punctuation marks like ‘Hi!!!!!!!’
- Do not use unauthorized short forms like ‘r’ for ‘are’; ‘u’ for ‘you’; ‘2’ for ‘to’; ‘gr8’ for ‘great’ in official mails.
- Do not e-mail back the entire message you are responding to.
- Do not allow e-mail to control your life. Turn off the instant messaging system when you have an important work to do.
- Do not panic for response as you can always call the person. State the action you expect from the reader then wait for the reply.
- Never think you are chatting to a computer, write as if you are talking to the recipient.
10.8.8 Structure of an E-mail
An e-mail does not have set standards for its format. We can observe variations in the layouts of different electronic mail service providers. However, the following is the most commonly practiced format for composing and sending electronic mails:
The layout of an e-mail is normally divided into three parts—header; message block and signature block, containing the following information:
- Header: The header constitutes the details given at the top of the message block. It contains the following entries:
- From: The e-mail address of the sender (comes by default).
- To: The e-mail address/es of the receiver/s.
- Subject: A very brief statement about the contents of the message.
- Date: Day, date and time of the message sent (comes by default).
- Message Block: The message of the mail is typed in this block. It should have a proper salutation, body of the message and complimentary close.
- Signature Block: The signature block contains name, designation, official address and other details of the sender. Scanned signature of the sender along with his/her other details may be saved in the setting menu of an e-mail programme to save the trouble of typing it again and again.
- Other Common Features are:
- Save, send and discard
- Cc: (courtesy copy) e-mail ID/s of those who receive its copy (optional).
- Bcc: (blind courtesy copy). E-mail ID/s of those who receive its blind copy, that is, the recipient/s’ ID/s will not be visible to the other recipients.
10.8.9 Sample E-mails
Sample 1: Your e-mail can be a brief introduction:
Sample 3: Reply to the above mail:
- Suppose you are an engineering student and want to participate in an intercollegiate paper presentation competition on ‘Robotics’ to be organized at NIT Kurukshetra. Write an e-mail to the organizing secretary enquiring details of the competition.
- Consider yourself as the purchase manager of an organization. Your company wants to purchase room heaters for its employees. Compose a mail to be sent to the sales person of a company asking for the details regarding the makes, rate list, payment system, freight and handling charges and the supply time. Include other necessary details as well.