Are you sharing some corporate documentation like technical or financial reports, especially with someone outside your organization? Think of enclosing a letter of transmittal. This way, you will ensure that the sensitive data is treated accordingly, and the person is not confused with the volume of the document he or she receives.
Imagine that you get a pack of 50 pages. You probably know the purpose of this document but will still need to spend time figuring out what exactly the sender expects from you. What will be the first thing you do? The chances are that you will just put it aside to return to it soon –– when you feel more ‘prepared.’ Well, many people would do that. But as a sender, you can minimize the possible delay with one page. And its name is Letter of Transmittal.
When You Need a Letter of Transmittal
A Letter of Transmittal is just a cover letter. Once a recipient reads this letter, he/she gets an understanding of why it was sent and what he/she should do with it. Also, you can stress the importance and urgency of the feedback, so your colleague or partner would know how to plan their time and resources. If the document you send needs a brief explanation, write a short letter, but once you need to add more elements or instructions, add them too. Here are just a few examples when we recommend using a cover letter:
- When you ask for review or approval of some drafts
- When you want to stress some points of the report
- When you explain the difference between the planned numbers and the actual ones
- When there are factors that shift the deadlines of your project
- When you want to share the principles or approaches to the data in the document.
Usually, transmittal letters are enclosed to documents that contain sensitive data, like financial or security reports, audit recommendations, or detailed information about projects or proposals. Scientific research and technical analysis can also require 'assistance' of a cover letter. These are the most common cases when a Letter of Transmittal helps. Now let's see the structure of a typical Letter of Transmittal.
Format of a Transmittal Letter
You will not find any specific requirements for a Letter of Transmittal. But since this is a type of business letter, we will take its structure as a base.
You should use the official letterhead of your company. Usually, this section is placed in the header and/or footer of your electronic document. Apart from the logo and your company’s name, you state your address, registration and tax numbers, website, telephone, and fax in the header.
In the footer, businesses can mention their payment details and invoice settlement terms. This is because often, a corporate letterhead is also used for invoicing purposes. Don't be confused with that extra information.
Under the header, in the left corner of your letter, put the date. Skip one line and state the name, title, organization, and recipient address in the right corner.
Even though you may know your recipient for years, avoid informal greetings. Better use:
- Dear John
- Hi Margaret
- Hello Melissa
When you know the first name and last name, use one of these options:
- Dear Mr. John Mitchell
- Dear Mr. Mitchell
- Dear Margaret Petric
The last version is also appropriate in case you are not sure about the gender. If you don't know the name, you can start your letter with ‘Dear Sales Manager.’ However, personal greetings sound much better, so try to spend ten minutes to find your recipient’s name on LinkedIn. Put a colon after the salutation and always double-check the spelling not to make a poor impression.
It's time to move to the central part of your letter. Usually, the body includes four sections:
- Purpose. Tell the reader what the document contains and why you are sending it. For example: 'Enclosed, you will find the 2020 Financial Statements of Drill Inc. for your review.'
- Details. Here you can highlight some points of the document before the person starts reading it. For example: 'Please be advised that the actual profit is 10% lower than the budgeted amount. However, this gap was covered in 1Q of 2021'.
- Request. Tell the reader what you expect him/her to do and set the deadline, if appropriate. For example: 'Please review and kindly return your comments before the 30th April 2021.'
- Contact. Don't forget to leave your contact details, so the person could communicate with you if he/she has any questions or remarks.
The last paragraph of your Transmittal Letter usually comprises two elements: the intent to discuss the issue (or get the reply) and a closing salutation. You can end your letter with this phrase: 'I look forward to discussing the report with you.'
And the salutation may look like this:
- Sincerely, Leo Chapman
- Regards, Mark Hudson
Check Yourself Once Again
Before you send the Letter of Transmittal, check our tips below. These recommendations will help your letter be clear and sound conversational.
- Use simple language. Though this is a formal letter, don't overload it with clichés and wordy phrases. Keep your sentences short (10-15 words) and your paragraphs small (3-4 sentences). Don't use complicated terms and be precise — stress actions where necessary.
- Be specific. Tell the person all the information that he/she might need to make a decision and do it in a straightforward manner. Never exceed the one-page size of your letter. On the other hand, try to sound friendly and not robot-like.
- Check spelling and grammar. If you can ask someone to take a look at your transmittal letter, it would even be better as we may not notice our errors. This approach is also good in terms of text structure and understandability.
- Make a copy. Sometime after, you may forget what exactly you asked for. Then having a copy of your letter would just be excellent –– to stay on the same page.