While many people communicate primarily by phone these days, written words are still strong tools for swaying the opinions of other people. One form of business letter, the persuasive letter, uses six basic parts to convince the reader to take action.
Elementary students may not find the headings of a letter particularly compelling, but those parts create the first impression of the writer. When you format the return address, the recipient's name and address, which is called the inside address, and the date correctly, the reader gets the sense that this letter was written by someone who understands the proper way. Start your letter with your address on the top line, followed by your city, state and ZIP code on the next line -- don't write your name, though. This is the return address. Skip a line or two and then write the recipient's full name, followed by his address. Skip one more line and write the date.
The last part of the heading is the salutation. Usually, you will write "Dear Mr. Smith:" or something very similar. Use the reader's last name with "Mr.," "Mrs.," "Ms." or "Miss." Unlike a friendly letter, in which you would put a comma after the person's name, your persuasive letter needs a colon.
The middle, or body, of your letter identifies a problem and suggests things the reader can do to solve the problem. You might write about something that happened to you, such as a toy that broke too easily, or you might be interested in changing something in your school or in your community, perhaps making it safer to cross the street near the building. To make your body paragraphs stronger, take time to find out the facts on both sides of the problem. Providing facts and statistics will help your reader see that the issue is an important one.
Stating the Case
The body is your chance to explain things clearly. Begin by introducing yourself and by telling the reader what the problem is. As you explain the problem, tell the reader why she should care and share your ideas for how to solve that problem. If you have more than one point or want the reader to take more than one action, you might need two or three paragraphs in the body of the letter. In the last paragraph, remind your reader of what you want her to do and thank her for her help.
Sealing the Deal
The way you end your letter is as important as the way you begin. The next part of the letter is the complimentary closing. Most business-letter writers use words like "sincerely" or "yours truly." Start the closing with a capital letter and follow it with a comma. The last thing in your letter is your signature.
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