Write reader-oriented, original business letters to get the results you want

Leserorientiert zu schreiben bedeutet, dass Sie sich in die Situation des Empfängers versetzen. Dies ist besonders wichtig, wenn Sie über Preiserhöhungen, Lieferverzögerungen oder andere unangenehme Angelegenheiten schreiben müssen. So schreiben Sie leserorientierte Briefe auf Englisch.

Obviously, you should always write with the reader in mind. But it is particularly important when you have to write with bad news, for example to explain or complain about a delivery delay or announce a price increase. Follow these nine guidelines to write reader-friendly letters for any situation.

Secretary Today - Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen

9 Guidelines for reader-oriented letters

  1. Put the main statement of the letter in the subject line
  2. Write short, clear sentences
  3. Get straight to the point
  4. Give a short explanation of the problem
  5. Don't repeat yourself but say everything once only
  6. Use active and positive language
  7. Focus on the reader by saying 'you' and 'your'
  8. Use bold script for important facts
  9. Avoid empty phrases and fillers such as, 'We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.'

Here are some sentences that will help you write readeroriented letters

Put the main statement of the letter in the subject line.

  • When do you need the bicycles you ordered?
  • Can you wait one more week for some of your order?
  • We need the brochures next week.

Write short, clear sentences.

  • You ordered some equipment from us.
  • We need the catalogues urgently.

Get straight to the point

  • We are having delivery problems.
  • We can't accept your order as it stands.
  • We cannot accept this delay.
  • We are temporarily out of stock.

Give a short explanation of the problem

  • There has been a fire at our warehouse.
  • Our main supplier has gone out of business.
  • We need the products for our stand at the Stuttgart trade fair, which starts at the weekend.

Use active and positive language

  • We promised to deliver the goods by the end of the week.
  • We can deliver your goods one week later than originally planned.
  • I am doing my very best to find a solution.

Focus on the reader by saying 'you' and 'your'

  • Do you want us to go ahead and process this order?
  • What do you want us to do now?
  • We certainly understand your position.
  • What if we send you some alternatives?

Use bold script for important facts

  • If you look at page 17 of our catalogue, you will see that the unit price is €20, not €10, as you mistakenly quoted in your order.

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Answering a customer who has used an out-of-date price list

Dear Mr Perry

Could you check our price list again?

In our circular letter of August 1, we told all our customers that we have had to increase some of our prices, including those for our Speedy Sport Bikes, due to a massive rise in steel prices. I am enclosing a copy of the letter. You will find the new prices on page 54.

As you will see in the letter, the price increases became effective on September 1. For this reason, we regret that we can’t accept your new order of September 2 as it uses the expired price list. What shall we do now? Shall we process this order in accordance with our current price list, or do you want to rethink?

I would appreciate a short email reply (orders@bikes.com) or call me on ++49 228 18….. .