How to Write a Letter of Instructions

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Written directives to employees are often more helpful than verbal instructions. A letter containing details of a new policy or procedure gives employees a document for future reference. In addition to helping them remember how to follow a new procedure, a directive letter fulfills the legal requirement of providing official notification of a new policy mandated by law. For example, in early 2011, many cities are instituting smoking bans that affect area businesses. It is the employer's responsibility to inform workers how to abide by the new smoking policy.

Place company letterhead in your printer. This directive is an official notification, and the letterhead will reinforce the formal nature of the information.

Type the full date. You must always include the date on a directive because it establishes the time of notification. Skip a line.

Type the name of the recipient and her address if the directive is only going to one person. If it is a blanket letter to all employees, omit the name and address.

Type "Dear valued employees" followed by a colon if the letter is going to all employees. Type a specific name if it is going to one person.

Begin the letter with a direct statement on what the instructions are about. Give the relevant details about the policy or procedure, such as when it will go into effect and who is affected by the policy.

List the steps for completing the task or for complying with the new policy. Use clear, easy-to-read language that the employees can follow.

Explain how this new policy will benefit the recipient(s) and give thanks for their cooperation. Explain what will happen if an employee chooses not to comply with the directive.

Give any appropriate deadlines or contact information in the final paragraph. Describe the method for evaluating the employees' compliance, if applicable. Offer to answer any questions that the recipients might have.

Close the letter by typing a respectful closing and typing your full name and title. Sign above your typed name.

Have another supervisor read the letter to ensure that you haven't missed any information.

Mail the letter(s). If the directive is the result of a change in a law, consider asking for signature confirmation from the recipient(s) to prove that the directive was received.

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About the Author

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.

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