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An abstract is a summary of a larger document, such as a report. Abstracts are also called summaries or executive summaries.
There are two types of abstracts:
* Descriptive abstracts are short summaries that appear on the front page of a formal report or journal article. (Figure 1.)
* A descriptive abstract does not summarize the facts or conclusions of the report. * A descriptive abstract introduces the report and explains what the report covers.
Example: This report provides recommendations for the antivirus software currently available.
* Informative abstracts summarize the key facts and conclusions of the report. (Figure 2.)
* Informative abstracts are usually one- or two-page documents.
* Informative abstracts summarize each of the sections in the report.
* Sentence structure is normally complex and packed with information.
* An informative abstract is intended to allow readers to determine whether they want to read the report.
* An informative abstract is not treated as an introduction.
* Include any statistical details in an informative abstract.
An acceptance letter is often written to formally acknowledge an employment offer, the receipt of a gift, or the appointment to a public office. An acceptance letter can also be written to formally accept someone else's resignation.
Consider these tips when writing an acceptance letter (Figure 3):
* Begin the letter by thanking the person, business, or organization.
* Identify what you are accepting and explain what it means to you.
* Thank anyone who assisted you.
* State the terms as you understand them.
* If accepting an employment offer, summarize the start date, job title and description, compensation, benefits, and vacation days offered.
* Use a positive tone.
* Be gracious by showing your courtesy, tact, and charm in your writing style.
* Restate your thanks and appreciation in the closing of the letter.
* Use the spelling checker in your word processor to check for spelling errors.
* Read the letter for clarity and to check for grammatical mistakes.
Acceptance letters are typically written to accept:
* An invitation to a social event
* A job offer
* A request to serve in an honorary position
* A resignation
* An honor
* An invitation to a business appointment
* An invitation to speak
* A gift
* A proposal
An acknowledgment letter is a response that clarifies what is expected from you. An acknowledgment letter should be sent within two days of receiving the original letter, report, order, or request.
Consider these tips when writing an acknowledgment letter (Figure 4):
* Include a short apology if the acknowledgement letter is delayed.
* If you are responding to a complaint, be courteous and apologize for any inconvenience or problem.
* Be sincere.
* The letter should be addressed to a specific person if possible.
Acknowledgment letters are typically written to:
* Accept a request to serve in an honorary position or a resignation.
* Express appreciation for a suggestion.
* Acknowledge a customer's order or donation or payment of an overdue balance.
* Acknowledge the receipt of a report or letter, the receipt of a résumé, or the return of an item for refund, exchange, or credit.
* Confirm an appointment or meeting, a business agreement, or an error, revision, or correction.
* Celebrate an anniversary of employment.
Adjustment letters are responses to written complaints. The purpose of such letters is to acknowledge the complaint. The letter is also a legal document that records what action will be taken.
Consider these tips when writing an adjustment letter (Figure 3.5):
* Reference the date of the original complaint letter.
* The letter should review the facts of the case and offer an apology for any inconvenience.
* When there is no truth to the complaint, courteously explain the reasons as clearly as possible.
* When the customer's request is denied, offer some compensation or advice.
* Take a positive approach to the letter to counter any negative feelings of the reader.
* The solution is more important than the reasons why something occurred.
* Cordially conclude the letter and express confidence that you and the reader can continue doing business.
Adjustment letters are typically written to apologize for:
* A defective or damaged product
* A missed deadline
* Making a mistake on a customer's account
* A shipping error
* Damaged property
* Poor quality or service
Announcement letters should be written in a straightforward and concise style so that readers can get information quickly.
Consider these tips when writing announcement letters (Figure 6):
* For positive announcements, make the letter inviting and to the point.
* Build morale, confidence, and goodwill.
* When announcing achievements, try to motivate others to achieve the same goals.
* Use the announcement to promote your business.
* Include enough information so that you don't have to answer questions about the announcement later.
* When announcing bad news, be considerate and respectful.
Announcement letters are typically written to announce:
* A new address
* A change in company name
* The business schedule
* A new hire or promotion
* An employee's special achievement
* A retirement
* A new product
* A new store opening
* A layoff
* A store closing
* A new policy
* A contest winner
* A price change
* Bad news to employees
* A training session
An annual report is a document used to disclose corporation information to shareholders—a state-of-the-company report. All U.S. companies that issue publicly traded stock are required to file an annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The document that is filed with the SEC is the Form 10-K.
Many nonprofit organizations, foundations, and charities produce annual reports to assess their performance. Nonprofit annual reports include the following sections (Figures 7–11): * Letter from the chairman of the board
* A description of the charity, its causes, actions, and accomplishments for the year
* The financial statement:
* A letter from the organization's CPA * Income statement * Balance sheet
* A list of directors and officers
If a company is privately owned but has more than 500 shareholders and over $10 million in assets, it is also required to file an annual report.
In addition to Form 10-K annual reports, the same mandated corporations must also file a quarterly Form 10-Q as a quarterly report.
The annual reports required by the SEC follow a strict format and include the following sections (Figures 7–11):
* Business overview
* Risk factors
* Unresolved staff comments
* Legal proceedings
* Submission of matters to a vote by shareholders
* Market for the company's common equity
* Related stockholder matters
* Management's discussion and analysis of financial conditions and the results of operations
* Disclosures about market risk
* Financial statements and supplementary data
* Changes in accounting
* Controls and procedures
* Other information
* Directors, executive officers, and corporate governance
* Executive compensation
* Security ownership of stock by management and certain beneficial owners
* Relationships and related transaction and director independence
* Accounting fees and services
* Exhibits and financial statement schedules
In an application letter (Figure 12):
* In the first sentence, state what you are applying for.
* Explain the reasons you are applying and be specific.
* Give the reasons why you are qualified including your experience, qualifications, accomplishments, and goals.
* Identify the response you would like to your letter.
* Identify the date you need a response.
* Reference any other materials included with the letter, such as a résumé, job application form, letters of recommendation, or work samples.
* Include your contact information and when you are available.
* Close the letter with a thank you.
Application letters are typically written to apply for:
* Admission to a school
* Admission to a club
* A foreign work permit
* A grant
* A scholarship
* A travel visa
* A special program
Brochures are often used by businesses to advertise products and services. There are several different types of brochures:
* Leave-behind brochures are left after a personal sales presentation.
* These focus on a full description of the product and its benefits. * They echo the sales pitch given by the salesperson.
* Point-of-sale brochures are designed to catch your interest while waiting in line to check out in a store.
* They are visually appealing with a catchy headline.
* Inquiry response brochures are sent to people who have asked for information about a product.
* These brochures focus on a sales pitch that encourages the reader to take the next step and purchase the product or service.
* Direct mail brochures are sent to potential customers along with a sales letter.
* Sales support brochures are used by salespeople during their presentations.
In the planning phase of brochure creation, consider the following:
* Determine what you want the brochure to do: get orders, inform, get appointments.
* Determine the audience for the brochure and why they should be interested in your product or service.
* Develop an outline and divide the content you want to cover into sections.
* Consider the style of brochure you plan to create, and think about the content that is best for the cover, inside pages, and back cover.
* Also consider content that is suitable for any sidebars.
* Determine whether photography or illustrations can be used.
* If photography is used, also include captions for each photo that focus on benefits.
* Photos should be at least 300 dpi resolution in order to print with the best possible print quality.
When writing copy for a brochure, keep the following in mind (see Figures 13 and 14):
* Write from the reader's point of view.
* As the reader unfolds the brochure, present the information in the order that a reader would want to receive it. * On the cover or first page of the brochure, motivate readers to open the brochure and seek out additional information.
* For a brochure longer than eight or more pages, include a list of contents highlighted in bold and separated from the rest of the copy.
* Describe the product or service in terms of what it means to the potential customer.
* Focus on the benefits rather than the features.
* Include helpful reference information that will make the reader want to keep the brochure on file.
* Write in an informal matter-of-fact style, as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with someone.
* Share your emotions and enthusiasm about the product or service.
* Don't waste time on all the details; instead, focus on the key selling points.
* Organize the content into easily identifiable sections.
* Ask for an order and provide simple instructions on how to order.
* Make a persuasive sales pitch.
In designing the brochure and doing the layout, consider the following:
* Study brochures from other companies and determine which designs are effective and which are not.
* Avoid packing in too much content.
* Empty space is okay.
* Avoid using too many graphical boxes and lines to separate chunks of content.
* They tend to make your design look cluttered.
* Use a consistent typeface throughout the brochure.
* You can change fonts within the same typeface family in various places for emphasis.
* Consider different fonts, font styles, sizes, and colors for key selling points and headings.
* Use these techniques sparingly for greater emphasis. * Avoid all caps. Use bold style instead. * Avoid underlining. Use italics style instead. * Avoid putting text over images unless you make the image at least 80% transparent. * Avoid putting text columns on the first page or cover. * Use no more than 10 words on the cover. * Don't use more than two or three sentences per paragraph with a layout that is no more than nine or ten lines of type. * Add a space between paragraphs and do not indent the first word. * Use only one space after a period before starting the next sentence.
* If you have to start a sentence with a number, write it out.
Incorrect: 50% of the homeowners experienced hail damage.
Correct: Fifty percent of the homeowners experienced hail damage.
* Consider the use of multiple ink colors and colored paper.
* When creating a layout with photography, don't position the photos so that they are creased by a fold in the paper.
* Use desktop publishing software such as Microsoft Publisher, Adobe InDesign, or QuarkXPress.
* Set the paper size before any design elements are created. * Confirm that the printer will be able to print on the intended size paper.
* Allow for print bleed in order to achieve edge-to-edge printing.
* To create print bleed, expand your brochure design slightly beyond the edge of the paper with nonessential design elements to allow for trimming.
* Proofread your final design several times to avoid printing a brochure with a mistake or typo.
The parts of a business letter are (Figure 15):
* Address or letterhead—usually a preprinted letterhead with the organization's name and address. (If letterhead is not used, include the address of the writer along with the date.)
* Dateline—two to six lines below the last line of the printed letterhead.
* The date should be written out in this form: January 1, 2012 or 1 January 2012 * The date can be centered if letterhead is used. * If letterhead is not used, the date is included with the address of the writer.
* Reference line—a numerical file number, invoice number, policy number, or order numbers on a new line below the date.
* Special mailing notations—special notations such as "Confidential" two lines below the date.
* Inside address—the addressee's title and full name, business title, business name, and full address.
* Do not abbreviate the company's name unless it is registered that way. * Cities and states should not be abbreviated. * Do not use "care of" before a hotel name or company name. * Include the appropriate title: Mr., Ms., Mrs., Miss, or Dr. * Business titles are never abbreviated.
* Attention line—one line space and the phrase "Attention:__________" after the inside address, if the letter is not addressed to any specific person.
* You can make the letter go to the attention of a department. * An attention line is never used in a letter to an individual but only in a letter having plural addresses.
* Salutation—"Dear [person's name]," "Ladies and Gentlemen," "Dear Sir or Madam," "Dear [company name]" one line after the attention line or the inside address.
* In business letters, the salutation is followed by a colon.
* In personal letters, the salutation is followed by a comma.
* Subject line—an overview of what the letter is about.
* It can be used in place of a salutation. * A subject line can be centered in sales letters. * Do not include "Re" or "Subject" before the subject line. * Underline the subject line, unless it occupies two or more lines, in which case underline the last line, letting the underline extend the length of the longest line in the subject.
* Message—the body of your letter with paragraph breaks, optional indentions for paragraphs, bullet lists, and number lists.
* Complimentary close—two lines below the last line of the message.
* The close is either left justified or five spaces to the right of center. * "Yours truly" or "Very truly yours" can be used when no personal connection exists between the writer and recipient. * "Sincerely" or "Sincerely yours" is appropriate when there is an established personal as well as business relationship.
Excerpted from The AMA Handbook of Business Documents by KEVIN WILSON JENNIFER WAUSON Copyright © 2011 by Kevin Wilson and Jennifer Wauson. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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