How It Says vs How People Read: Letter Writing Ethics

business ethics letter writing rules

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Writing ethically is of the utmost importance. If you don’t learn the rules and manners of writing, then you’ll make a bad impression, cause people to dislike you and make it to the list of funny formal letters. But often, letter-writing etiquette is not taught outright. One is left to guess what is right and what is wrong. To clarify the confusion, here is a guide to help you.

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Writing Ethics – General

When you are writing, one of the most important ethical concerns is plagiarism. Plagiarism strips your credibility and is a quick way to get people to distrust you. Even if you’re writing a letter, you might find yourself tempted to use phrases from a template or formatting guide that you yourself did not come up with. This is unethical. Using a template is fine, but all of the words that you write must be your own, the same rule applies to the appeal letter for college admission. You, as a writer, must completely rephrase anything you borrow and then give credit; if you quote, you must give credit in more detail as well.

Remember, writing ethically involves

  • Using primarily your own words
  • Giving credit when you use someone else’s words in any way

Hence, if you borrow a phrase, you must say where you got it from. If you can’t do that, don’t borrow anything.

Business Ethics Letter Writing

The ethics for writing business letters are somewhat more specific. Avoid these five things to maintain best practices for letter writing and to conform to etiquette.

  • Negative tone: Be courteous and sincere, not sarcastic. No matter how angry you are, always be polite and as
  • Passive voice: Overuse of the passive voice leads a letter to sound chilly and distant. Be direct – “The company must refuse your request”, not “your request has been refused.”
  • Discrimination: Any reference to a personal quality of another person could be discriminatory. Don’t refer to age, gender, sexuality, or any other such factors.
  • Negative words: In a negative letter, begin with “Thank you” and go on to state in clear words why you are not able to fulfill the request. Explain why you are denying the request, without using words like “unfortunately”. This avoids a negative tone.
  • Excessive use of first person pronouns: When writing a letter, especially a rejection or refusal letter, avoid first person pronouns (such as “I” and “me”). You can use them once or twice if necessary, but whenever possible, rephrase to leave yourself out.

Create Ethical Business Letters

When you write business letters that are solid and ethical, you’re investing in your future success. People will begin to trust you more, and you’ll find yourself with a better reputation. That is one of the most valuable things you can cultivate as a professional. Do yourself a favor – practice these ethics or at least hire a professional letter writer.

To increase your knowledge of letter writing ethics and write the best correspondence, contact us now!

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