George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
A transmittal letter is a short business document that's sent along with a larger package of business documents. The purpose of a transmittal letter is to inform the receiver of the package what's contained within, who it's intended for, who it's sent from and any additional contextual details. Transmittal letters can be used when you’re faxing, mailing or emailing documents. They are particularly useful if you’re sending information to a large business where the information may go through several people before it reaches the intended recipient.
Provide the Reader With Context
Begin your transmittal letter or transmittal email by providing information on what you're sending. If you've attached other documents, let them know what kind of information is contained inside. For example, “I've enclosed the contract that outlines the terms of our business agreement, with the amendments discussed at our last meeting.”
If the information you're sending along is confidential or for certain levels of personnel only, you can note that within your transmittal letter. This way, the person receiving the documents will know how to handle them properly and ethically. For example, “The information contained within the attached documents is highly confidential and should only be shared with Micah Jones at ABC Corp.”
Clarify Next Steps
Tell the reader of your transmittal memo what next steps they need to take with the information. Even if the attached documents outline next steps, it’s important to summarize the actions in your transmittal letter so that the reader knows what to do after receiving the information.
If you’re sending the documents to someone other than the intended recipient, such as their assistant or administrative personnel, let them know who to give the information to. For example, “Please send these documents directly to Jane Smith, Global Vice President of Marketing.”
If the recipient needs to take some kind of action, such as read, sign and return the documents or provide additional information to you, specify that within the transmittal letter. For example, “Please review the documents attached, countersign the contract and return it to our office at the address provided.”
Thank the Reader
It’s important to end the transmittal letter cordially by thanking them for their time. This is particularly important if an action is required from them to complete the business transaction. Being courteous isn't only a business best practice, it's a way to network and build relationships with those at other companies.
For example, end your letter by saying, “I sincerely appreciate your time. Thank you for reviewing the documents and getting back to us with any questions you may have.” This shows the reader your gratitude and reemphasizes the action they need to take.
List the Attachments
After your signature, list the documents you've enclosed or attached. This will let the reader of the letter see at a glance what documents have been sent. If something goes missing en route or at the office, they'll be able to tell right away once consulting the list. Double-check your enclosures when sending your package to make sure everything you listed is actually being sent.
Keep Your Transmittal Letter Short and Succinct
The key to an effective transmittal letter is that it should be direct and short. It's an actionable document that gives the reader some context, but it shouldn't provide specific details about the documents you've sent.
Ensure your transmittal letter is no more than one or two paragraphs. Proofread it to ensure you have all of the details correct, especially names and titles of people and business names and addresses. If your transmittal letter includes next steps, read them over to ensure they follow a logical format and are easy to understand.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.