The response letter
A RESPONSE LETTER
provides the answers or information requested in a letter of inquiry. The objective is to satisfy the reader
with an action that fulfills their request. If you have neither the information requested nor the authority to
reply, forward the inquiry on to the correct person.
An experience businessman knows that request for information is an opportunity for building better
relationship. But before responding to any request, one should be sure to check the facts carefully.
Complying with a request is not always easy especially when the information is not Readily available.
Also, when written on letterhead stationary a reply is considered legally binding contract.
A letter of response is written as an answer to any complaint of disconnection, while admitting fault,
regarding denial of a liability, refusal of an adjustment, to a job, to a feedback, to an application, inquiry of
products or goods, many occasions we find a need to write a letter to someone. Though all the above
mentioned situations are quite different from each other and demand a totally different letter of response.
ACCORDING TO QUIBLE AND OTHERS, “LETTER OF REPLY TO INQUIRIES ARE MESSAGES
THAT PROVIDE THE READER WITH INFORMATION ABOUT PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND
A reply letter answer letter written in response to the inquiry letter. The reply letter should be
written as early as possible. A prompt reply suggests that the seller is fully conversant with business
etiquette and has a genuine respect for the buyer and his interest.
In most of the cases, inquiry letter is written for price quotation and that is why the reply of such
letter can be considered as sending quotation.
Likewise, a response letter provides the answers on information requested in a letter of inquiry.
The objective is to satisfy the reader with an action that fulfills their request. If you have neither the
information requested nor the authority to reply, forward the inquiry to the correct person.
Things to Consider in Making a Reply letter
Identify Your Reader
A response letter should be addressed to a person from whom a request or inquiry has been
received. That person’s name will be found in the complimentary close of a previous inquiry letter and
should be placed in the inside heading and the salutation of your response. It should also be included on
the top line of your envelope.
Remember that people do business with people first, businesses second. When you address your
reader by name, you recognize their importance and value as an individual human being.
Establish Your Objective
The objective of a response letter is to satisfy the reader with an answer or action that fulfills
the request of an inquiry. The answer either informs the reader of the respondent’s ability to provide
information or of a willingness to act on their behalf in some other way.
Your answers should be specific and brief. If you are replying to multiple questions you might
consider placing your answers in a bulleted list. Items on a list highlight the components of your response,
like snapshots in a photo album.
Determine Your Scope
The scope of a response letter is contained in the information you provide for the specific purpose
of helping the reader grasp your objective. You may safely assume that your reader is a busy person, so
getting to the point is important. Your goal is to have the reader make a decision quickly and respond in a
timely manner. Information that is not related to your objective should be left out.
Consider your targeted reader. Make it your business to know something about that person. What
is their title or position? Are they the president of the company or the shipping clerk? Do they have what
you want? Can they do what you ask?
Give them the relevant background information needed in order to make an informed decision. Let
the reader know who you are and something about your motive. If you are to receive some benefit, it may
help to explain for what purpose the benefit will be used. If the reader is to receive some benefit, it may
help to offer an incentive to respond.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and ask yourself what and how much background information is
needed in order to take the action you are requesting. Would you already know everything you need to
know, or would you need a little more? While you are in their shoes you might also ask yourself how
much persuasion you would you need in order to be moved to act.
This will help you determine whether you have supplied too much information, or not enough. It will
also help you determine what information needs to be qualified or amplified for the reader’s benefit.
Organize Your Letter
Organizing your response letter will establish a logical order in which to present your information.
You have already begun this task by establishing an objective and determining your scope. Refer back to
them. Together they include much of the content that will become the body of your letter.
A simple outline will get you organized. Begin by creating a list of points that your letter will sress
and put them in the sequential order that will best help your reader comprehend your response. These
points will become the backbone of your draft; your outline will become a checklist.
Draft Your Letter
Working from an outline is the simplest way to draft a response letter. You have already organized
yourself by creating a list. Refer back to it and turn each fragment into a full and complete sentence
expressing a single thought or idea.
In order that your thoughts and ideas are conveyed in a cohesive manner, write in as natural
a sounding voice as possible Try writing your draft quickly and then read it out loud. Concentrate on
communicating your objective to your reader. Make sure that the scope of your letter contains all the
relevant information included in your organizational list.
Keep in mind that you are writing a rough draft. For the moment you can ignore spelling, grammar,
punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure. Those are technical details that you will pay attention to
in the final step when you review and revise your work.
Close Your Letter
A response letter should close in a professional manner. Once your last paragraph is written, sign
off between a complimentary close such as “Sincerely,” or “Thank you,” and your printed name.
If you are writing in conjunction with an official duty, place your title below the printed name.
Additional information such as dictation remarks, notification of attachments, enclosures and copies sent
to other individuals should be placed beneath the title line.
Review and Revise Your Response Letter
Reviewing and revising your response letter is the final step in the writing process. You will check
your draft in this step, making sure that your objective is clear and your scope is concise. Put yourself in
the reader’s shoes as you examine the rough draft. Ask yourself, as the recipient, whether you are able to
comprehend the request quickly and if enough information has been included to enable a timely
Look for the obvious errors first. Check for spelling, sentence structure and grammar mistakes.
Remember that a passive voice is not as commanding as an active one. You want your letter to be
strong, so write with an active voice.
The important thing to keep in mind is the overall cohesiveness of the whole unit. Look for
accuracy, clarity and a sense of completeness. Ask yourself if the transitions between paragraphs are
working and if your point of view, tone and style are consistent throughout the text.
Examine your word choices carefully. Ambiguous words lead to confusion. Jargon and abstract
terms may not be understood at all and affectations, cliches and trite language serve no real purpose and
will obscure your objective. You want to help your reader understand exactly what it is that you want, so
remove all that is not helpful.
And finally, if you have not written an opening or a conclusion now is the time. The introduction
needs to lead into the body of your letter with a firm statement about the subject of your response and
enough supporting information to keep the reader reading. Your closing remarks need to reiterate your
objective with a question that calls for an action.
Important Points to Remember in Making a Reply Letter
The most important thing is to create the right impression on the minds of your customers. As far as
customers’ mails and queries are concerned, answer them through a business response letter as
soon as possible.
Response letters written by organizations to their customers may be pre-numbered. However, this is
not mandatory. However, such letters are expected to be printed only on official letterheads.
Writing the date is extremely crucial in response letters. Letter dates are held as proof of timely
response by the company, if there happen to be any customers’ complaints and disputes.
Mention full name and address of the recipient at the beginning of the letter. Avoid misspelling the
name, since it may be seen as an indifference on part of the writer.
The salutations of the letter are written as ‘Dear Mr./Ms. (last name)’.
There are no specifics on the number of paragraphs to be included in the letter. However, it is best to
write a concise letter with a length of one page or 200 words, whichever is less.
End the letter with ‘Sincerely’, followed by signature and name of the writer or an authorized person
from the organization.
How to Write a Response Letter
The essence of a response letter is the etiquette followed in its language. Therefore, make use of
the three golden words wherever essential; please for making any requests, sorry for expressing
apologies towards customer complaints, and thank you in response to words of appreciation
Be professional and courteous by sending your response letter in a timely manner. Do not
When responding to previous correspondence, it is often a good idea to repeat important information.
Your response letter is also a wonderful opportunity to ask any questions or clear up any
misunderstandings you might have.
When asked for advice, respond quickly. Give advice only on the subject you have been asked about.
Keep your advice simple and to the point, and make it easy for the person to respond if he or she
wants to discuss the subject at greater length.
If you have been asked for advice and do not feel you can give it, express your regret, and suggest
that someone else would be in a better position to be of assistance.
Avoid comments or expressions of personal opinion, unless they are complimentary.
Even if your response letter contains negative information (such as declining a job offer, denying
someone credit, or declining to follow a suggestion), the tone should still be positive and courteous.
When responding to your reader, a long letter is generally not necessary—merely include enough
information to address the issue at hand.
It is often a good idea to thank the reader for his or her time and interest.
Declining? Your letter should:
Be gracious, whatever the reason is that you must decline.
Thank the person for the invitation, offer, gift, suggestion, etc.
State clearly that you are unable to accept.
Briefly state the reason that you are unable to accept, if desired.
In closing, restate your appreciation for the person’s consideration.