Often in business, we are required to include a cover letter that will accompany a larger report that might be sent by mail, special delivery or even email. A formal cover letter has a very specific purpose and should be written in such a way that it introduces and describes the contents, reiterate the salient theme of the report, as well as indicate next steps or actions to be taken.
Use company letterhead stationary to compose a report’s cover letter in deference to the importance of the document it accompanies. Even if using email stationary, treat it as a paper cover letter by including an image of the company logo on the email page.
Include the day’s date as well as the address information including first and last name, title, business name, street and city address, zip code. Use the salutation “Dear” followed by a formal greeting such as the abbreviations Mr., Mrs., or Ms., if the individual is a stranger or “Dear” with the first and/or last name of the addressee if the individual is known.
State the purpose of the letter in the letter body using the words such as “This letter provides the (name of report) for your review or comment (or whatever the desired action). Use this opportunity to briefly summarize what the report is about. Try to sum up the purpose of the report as succinctly as possible – in one or two sentences maximum.
Note the conclusion of the report here while not giving away the essence of the report findings. You want the reader to read the actual report and not just the cover letter. The cover letter should whet the reader’s appetite for what will be found in the final report.
Have a formal conclusion or next steps section where you state what the desired actions are from the addressee. Do you want them to pass the document on or, sign off on the document or coordinate a larger meeting to present the findings? Be very specific about next steps as well as the day and date if time sensitive action is required.
End the cover letter with a formal sign off such as Cordially, Very truly, or Best regards. Include the name and title of the letter’s author. List the names of other individuals who will receive the report and cover letter in a cc list.