Tips for producing better letters

People form their impressions of you and your organisation through lots of different experiences, such as face-to-face encounters, word-of-mouth, and the things they read.

We’ve put together this guidance to help you create a positive and professional impression whenever you write a letter.

 

Presentation

  • Lay out your letter clearly. Don’t bunch your text together without paragraph indents or breaks.
  • Aligned your text to the left-hand margin. Justified text is more difficult to read for people with visual impairments.
  • Use Arial typeface.
  • Keep your letter free from jargon and abbreviations. Don’t assume other people will share the same knowledge as you.

 

Content

  • Make sure your letter is clear and easy to understand. Avoid using long words when shorter ones will do.
  • Give a clear explanation, or apology where appropriate, for anything that hasn’t gone to plan.
  • Make sure that you provide clear directions or instructions to the reader.
  • Check the spelling and grammar of your letter.
  • Provide a named contact in case somebody has a query or complaint, or needs to respond to your letter for some other reason.
  • Include a direct telephone number, if there is one available.
  • Check that the tone of your letter matches the NHS values of respect for all, care and professionalism.
  • Get an individual to sign the letter rather than an appointments clerk or outpatients department.

Last updated: 02/06/10

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