The Fundamentals of Writing an Inquiry Business Letter

How to Write Formally

Woman writing letter
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When you want to ask a business for more information concerning a product or service or for other information, you write an inquiry letter. When written by consumers, these types of letters are often in response to an advertisement seen in a newspaper, magazine, or commercial on television. They can be written and mailed or emailed. In a business-to-business setting, a company's employees can write inquiries to ask the same types of questions about products and services.

For example, a company representative may want information on buying products wholesale from a distributor, or a growing small business may need to outsource its bookkeeping and payroll and want to contract with a firm.

For further types of business letters, use this guide to different types of business letters to refine your skills for specific business purposes, such as making inquiries, adjusting claims, writing cover letters, and more.

Hard-Copy Letters

For professional-looking hard-copy letters, place your or your company's address at the top of the letter (or use your company's letterhead stationery) followed by the address of the company you are writing to. The date can either be placed double-spaced down (hit return/enter twice) or to the right. If you use a style that has the date on the right, indent your paragraphs and do not put a line of space between them. If you keep everything flush to the left, don't indent paragraphs, and put a space between them.

Leave a line of space before your closing, and four to six lines of space for you to have room to hand-sign the letter.

Emailed Inquiries

If you use email, it's easier on the reader's eyes to have paragraphs with a line of space between them, so flush everything left. The email will automatically have the date of when it was sent, so you do not need to add the date, and you'll need only one line of blank space between your closing and your typed name.

Place your company contact information (such as your telephone extension so someone can get back to you easily) at the bottom after your name. 

It's easy to be too casual with email. If you want to appear professional to the business you're writing to, stick with the rules and tone of formal letter writing for the best results, and proofread your letter before sending it out. It's so easy to dash out an email, hit send right away, and then discover a mistake upon rereading. Correct errors before sending to make a better first impression.

Important Language for a Business Inquiry Letter

  • The start: "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern" (very formal, used when you do not know the person to whom you are writing). If you know your contact already, that's better than being anonymous.
  • Giving reference: "With reference to your advertisement (ad) in ..." or "Regarding your advertisement (ad) in ..." Give the company context to why you're writing, right away.
  • Requesting a catalog, brochure, etc.: After the reference, add a comma and continue "could you please send me information on ..."
  • Requesting further information: If you have more that you're seeking, add, "I would also like to know ..." or "Could you tell me whether ..."
  • Summary call to action: "I look forward to hearing from you ..." or "Could you please give me a call between the hours of ..."
  • Closing: Use "Sincerely," or "Yours faithfully," to close.
  • Signature: Add your title on the line following your name.

An Example Hard-Copy Letter

Kenneth Beare
2520 Visita Avenue
Olympia, WA 98501

Jackson Brothers
3487 23rd Street
New York, NY 12009

September 12, 2000

To Whom It May Concern:

With reference to your advertisement in yesterday's New York Times, could you please send me a copy of your latest catalog. I would also like to know if it is possible to make purchases online.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

(Signature)

Kenneth Beare

Administrative Director
English Learners & Company

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "The Fundamentals of Writing an Inquiry Business Letter." ThoughtCo, Feb. 20, 2018, thoughtco.com/inquiry-letters-1210169. Beare, Kenneth. (2018, February 20). The Fundamentals of Writing an Inquiry Business Letter. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/inquiry-letters-1210169 Beare, Kenneth. "The Fundamentals of Writing an Inquiry Business Letter." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/inquiry-letters-1210169 (accessed February 25, 2018).