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• Thank you for your letter of 8th March 1998, which has been passed to me for my

attention.
• I refer to previous correspondence in respect of the above and note that to date
we have not received your cheque for the outstanding arrears.
• I write with reference to our telephone conversation yesterday regarding the above
matter.
• Further to my recent
• I am writing
• I refer to my letter dated
• I refer to previous correspondence
• I write in reference to
• In respect of the above
• Recent correspondence
• Regarding
• With reference to
• With regards to
• I would again apologise for the delay in replying and I trust that this has clarified
the points you have raised, however, if you wish to discuss any points I have not
clarified, or need any further information, you may wish to telephone or contact
me accordingly.

• We look forward to building a strong alliance and a mutually beneficial partnership


in the near future.

• I look forward to hearing from you and in the meantime, should you have any
queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

• I regret that I cannot be of more assistance in this matter, and should you have any
further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
• Thanking you for your...
• Hoping for a prompt reply...
• Thanking you in advance for your assistance...
• Trusting this answers your questions...
• Please do not hesitate to contact me
• I trust this clarifies the situation

Avoid the following std phrases


• according to our records • on receipt of
• after careful consideration • please do not hesitate to
• any further action • please find enclosed
• as you are aware • please forward
• at your earliest convenience • trust this is satisfactory
• detailed information • under separate cover
• enclosed for your information • upon receipt of
• for your convenience • urgent attention
• further to • we acknowledge receipt
• in receipt of • we regret to advise
Original:
We trust this is satisfactory, but should you have any further questions please do not
hesitate to contact us.

Redraft:
We hope you are happy with this arrangement but if you have any questions, please
contact us.

Original:
Further to your recent communication. Please find enclosed the requested quotation…

Redraft:
Thank you for contacting us. I enclose the quotation you asked for…

Use active verbs rather than passive verbs

Using active verbs rather than passive verbs is the key to good writing. Why? Because
passive verbs are longwinded, ambiguous, impersonal and dull. Active verbs make your
writing simpler, less formal, clearer and more precise. Here's an example:

Passive: It was agreed by the committee...


Active: The committee agreed...

Passive: At the last meeting a report was made by the Secretary...


Active: At the last meeting the Secretary reported...

Passive: This form should be signed and should be returned to me.


Active: You should sign the form and return it to me.

Wordy Concise

at a later date later

at the present time now

for the purpose of for


Here are the 10
have no alternative but must phrases that I always
either delete or find
in addition to besides, as well as, also substitutes for as I
review writing
In order to to samples:

about, in, with, towards, 1. "Yours very truly"


in relation to (also "Sincerely yours"
to
and "Very truly

on a regular basis regularly


yours"). You are not theirs. These closings are antiquated. I find myself using "Sincerely"
almost all the time.

2. "Respectfully" - This closing has a solemn, almost hat-in-hand aspect to it that I dislike. I
see it used in denial letters all the time. Perhaps what the writer is thinking is this: "If I
use 'Respectfully,' it will soften the blow." But, of course, it doesn't. It just adds a somber
tone and won't make the reader any happier about having his or her claim denied.

3. "Please be advised ..." - A lawyer-like phrase that is almost always unnecessary. Usually
you are not so much giving "advice" as you are "telling' or "informing." Save this phrase for
the act of giving of advice. But no need to write: "Please be advised that the check is
overdue." Simply write: "The check is overdue." Instead of "I advised him to call me
tomorrow," just write "I told [or asked] him to call me tomorrow." Maybe "told has a bit too
harsh a tone for some, in which case feel free to use this "advice" as needed. But "advise"
or "be advised" is almost always overkill.

4. "Kindly" - "Please" works better than this old fashioned word.

5. "I have forwarded..." "I am forwarding" - In e- mail, "forwarding" does have a specific
meaning: the sending of materials from someone other than the writer to the reader. In
other cases (e.g., I am forwarding my business card to you), just use "send."

6. "Above-captioned" (also: "above referenced") - Any of these phrases tells the reader to
stop reading, roll his eyes back to the "RE line," find the information, and then re-enter
the letter to continue its reading. Wouldn't it be easier to just summarize the salient
information in the letter itself? In other words, if the "above-mentioned claim" refers to
"Smith vs. Jones," why not write, "In the Smith vs. Jones claim..." Sometimes the "above"
will refer to a claim number. In this case, just put the claim number in the letter itself.
The trick in writing is to keep the reader reading with as few distractions as possible.

7. "Please do not hesitate to contact me." - I'll refrain from writing, "If I had a dollar for
every time I see this phrase used...." because then I'd be using a cliché to criticize a
cliché'! The prevalent "please do not hesitate" was a light, bright phrase when it was
coined almost a half-century ago, but now, like most clichés, it pays a price for its
popularity. When you use a cliché, you subtly send a message to your reader that you think
in clichés. So, innocuous as this phrase may sound, it does portray its writer as blandly
impersonal. Use: "please call me," polite with out the cliché connection.

8. "Please note that..." Again, here's a phrase that may seem innocent but it has, for me, a
rather schoolmarmish tone ( "Now, pay attention!") I'd omit the phrase.

9. "Enclosed please find." - This phrase, more than any other in the world of business
writing, epitomizes the lawyer-like way people start to write when they are either
desperate to avoid using a pronoun like "I" or simply love to repeat phrases they've seen in
other letters without ever thinking for themselves. After all, what do you have to "find"?

That reminds me of a joke. A guy goes into a restaurant and orders a steak dinner. Later,
the waiter walks over table, smiles obsequiously, and asks "How did you find your steak?"
The guy looks at the waiter and says, "I just moved the mashed potatoes--and there it
was!"
When The Beatles were returning home after coming to the United States, a journalist
asked them: "How did you find America?" One of the Fab Four answered, "We turned left at
Greenland."

Enough said! There's nothing to "find." Use "enclosed is..." or "I've enclosed."

10. "Under separate cover" - When you write, "I am sending you this "under separate
cover," you are perpetuating a formalistic and old fashioned phrase. When I hear the word
"cover," I think of a big spaghetti pot and that reminds me to "boil down" the thought to
read, "I am sending you it separately [or by FedEx, etc.]"

If you see these phrases all the time, maybe it's time to train some of your people to
sharpen their writing, to make sure it moves your company forward. If you'd like to know
how some companies are training their people to write more effectively, let me know!