Written Communication

Business studies study module

This involves transmission of messages through writing. It is the most formal way of communication because the information is in recorded form and can be used for reference

Means of written communication


Letters are the most commonly used means of communication.

There are two categories of letters;

a)Formal letters

b) Informal letters

a)Formal letters; These include business letters and official letters.

Business letters are written to pass messages and information from businessmen to customers and vice versa e.g. letters of inquiry and acknowledgement notes.

It can also be used between employees and employers in an organization e.g. a complimentary note.

Official letters are letters between people in authority and others that touch on the activities of the organization e.g. an application letter for an advertised vacancy in an organization.

Formal letters have a salutation clause which usually starts with “Dear Madam “or “Dear Sir”. It also bears the addresses of both the sender and the recipient, a subject heading and a complimentary clause ending with “Yours faithfully”.

  1. b) Informal Letters; These are letters between friends and relatives

They are also known as Personal letters

ii) Telegrams

This is a means of communication provided by the post office. The sender obtains the telegram form from the post office and fills the message on it in capital letters and hand it over to the post office employees at the counter. Alternatively the sender may use a telephone to read the message to the post office. The post office then transmits the message to the recipient post office.

The charges of a telegram are based on the number of words used, the more the words used the higher the charges. However there is a standing charge.

Telegrams are used for sending urgent messages.

Note; Due to changing technology telegrams have lost popularity. Short messages can now be sent by cell phones (mobile phones) using the short messages services (sms)

iii) Telex

This is a means of communication used to send short or detailed messages quickly by use of a teleprinter. The service is provided by the post office on application.

A message is sent by use of two teleprinters one on the senders end and another on the recipients end. When sending information through a teleprinter which is a form of electric typewriter producing different electric signals, its keys are pressed and automatically the message is printed at the recipient’s machine.

Telex saves time for both the sender and recipient as the messages are brief precise and received immediately. However, it’s an expensive means of communication

iv) Facsimile (Fax)

This involves transmission of information through a fax machine. Both the sender and the receiver must have a fax machine. These machines are connected using telephone lines

Fax is used to transmit printed messages such as letters, maps, diagrams and photographs. To send the information, one dials a fax number of the required destination and then the document is fed into the sender’s machine. The receiving machine reproduces the document immediately. It is used for long distance photocopying service.

v)Memorandum (Memo)

This is printed information for internal messages within an orgaanisation. It is normally used to pass information between departments or offices in an organization.

Memoranda have no salutation or complimentary clause. They are suitable for informing the officers within an organization of matters related to the firm.

A memo is pinned on the notice board of an organization if it is meant for everybody otherwise passed to the relevant staff.

vi) Notice

This is a written communication used to inform a group or the public about past current or future events. It is usually brief and to the point. It can be placed on walls, in public places, on trees, in newspapers or on notice boards.

viii) Reports

These are statements/within records of findings recommendations and conclusion of an investigation/research. A report is usually sent to someone who has asked for it for a specific purpose.

viii) Circulars

These are many copies of a single letter addressed to very many people when the message intended for each is the same.

ix) Agenda

This is an outline of the items to be discussed in a meeting. It is usually contained in a notice to a meeting sent in advance to all the participants of the meeting. The notice of the meeting contains;

  • The date of the meeting
  • The venue of the meeting
  • Time of the meeting
  • Items to be discussed

x) Minutes

These are records of the proceedings of a meeting. Keeping minutes of certain meetings is a legal requirements e.g. companies

Keeping minutes for other meetings are for management purposes to ensure that decisions made at the meetings are implemented

Advantages of written communication

  • It can be retained for future reference
  • Some like letters are relatively cheap(can produce many copies)
  • It is suitable for confidential messages
  • Allows for inclusion of fine details
  • It is not prone to distortion of messages
  • Can be used as evidence
  • Can be addressed to many people.

Disadvantages of written communication

  • It lacks personal appeal
  • It takes time to prepare and reach the recipient
  • Suitable for the literate only
  • Immediate feedback may not be possible
  • Does not offer room for persuasion and convincing
  • It may be expensive because it involves a lot of paperwork and time.
  • Not suitable if the sender and the receiver do not share a common language.

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