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You might write an unsolicited inquiry letter for a variety of reasons. For example, you might write a letter to a company inquiring about job openings, or to an author of an academic article asking for more information or permission to use sections in your own work. Unsolicited inquiry letters aren't necessarily unwelcome, but you must follow the general procedures and rules of etiquette for making an inquiry because it takes time out of the recipient's day to respond.
Set your margins to 1 inch on all four sides. This is the standard format for business letters. Being professional is important because this letter was not solicited, and you will need to make a good first impression.
Set your line spacing to 1.0, which is single-spaced. Many word processing programs have a default line spacing of 1.15.
Change the font to Garamond, Times New Roman, Cambria, or a similar serif typeface. Serif typefaces have "feet," or serifs at the top and the bottom that help guide the eye across the printed page. These typefaces are designed to be used in print and they look the most professional in a letter.
Type your address, without your name. Then, skip a space and type the date. Skip another space and type the recipient's name, job title, company name and address, or type "Human Resources" if you are making an unsolicited inquiry for a job and do not have the name of a contact person.
Type "Dear (person's name):". If you don't know the person's name, as in the case of a Director of Human Resources, type "Dear Head of Human Resources:" or "Dear Sir or Madam:". Skip another line.
Introduce yourself and explain the reason that you are writing. Be specific about the information you want. This will allow the recipient to better respond to your request.
Write questions or items that you require in a list format to ensure that the recipient does not miss any of the information.
Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you are sending an inquiry by mail. If you are asking for items to be mailed, offer to compensate the recipient for the postage or ask that the package be sent via cash on delivery (COD), in which case you pay it arrives.
Thank the recipient for her time and trouble. Offer the recipient an incentive, where applicable, such as a mention in your article.
Type "Sincerely," and skip three line spaces. Then, type your full name. Print the letter and sign above your typed name in blue or black ink.
Whenever possible, call the Human Resources Department or other applicable department to get the name of the department head. You stand a better chance of getting a reply if you address it to a specific person instead of a job title.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.