Layout of business letters

  • An opening is the beginning of a text it tells the reader why you know his company.
  • The address of sender is the address of the person who wants an offer.
  • The subject line informs you about the purpose of a letter.
  • The salutation is the greeting of the reader.
  • The main part you are telling the reader what you want.
  • The address of receiver is the address of the person to whom the letter is sent.
  • The ending is a request for an answer.
  • The close is a formal way to say goodbye to the reader.
  • The date is obviously the date of writing.


An enquiry consists of the same elements as a normal business letter. There are no additional elements.

Structure of an enquiry


  • Source of information (Where did we get the supplier’s name and address from?)
  • Introduce your company (“We are a … company…”)

Main part

  • Specific enquiry if you want to know more about a specific product or service
    1. Type and quality of goods
    2. Quantity
    3. Price
    4. Terms of payment
    5. Terms of delivery
    6. Delivery data
  • General enquiry if you ask generally about products a company offers, prices, terms of payment and delivery
    1. Catalogues
    2. Samples
    3. Further information
    4. Discounts (if you intend to place a big order)


  • Hope for your prompt reply


Enquiries are made by a buyer in order to find out who is the most favourable supplier. They can be either general — i.e. asking only for a catalogue — or they are specific inquiries which ask for a certain type and quality of goods, the price per item, terms of payment and delivery and the earliest possible delivery date. Buyers often expect the supplier to be able to deliver ex stock. Sources of information about goods can be the Chamber of Commerce, advertisments in newspapers and magazines, trade fairs, or business partners who recommend something to you. If the quality is very important you might expect to receive a sample of the product.

Salutations and closings

Person addressed Salutations Closings
Mr Jones    
Dr. A. Brown.    
Judith Smith    
the Manager    
any firm (US)    
any firm (GB)    




An enquiry shows interest in your company and a personal well-rounded reply may be the beginning of a long term business relationship. Personalize the salutation whenever possible by using the addressee’s name. Your reply should begin by thanking the enquirer for his/her interest. The offer should inform a prospective customer about your products or services and terms. A good offer not only answers all the customer’s questions — it often goes beyond the original enquiry. It includes a description of the enquired goods, including information on prices, discounts, terms of delivery and payment and delivery period. The customer must also be informed about the validity of the offer. End your communication with a phrase designed to create good will. Offers are binding on the person or firm making the offer.