When writing a business document, you may consider including an accompanying transmittal letter to go with it. This letter can make it easier for the recipient to assess what the content of the primary document relates to and decide whether the document is something they need to read or relay to someone else. Knowing what a transmittal letter is and how they work can help you prepare one for your own business purposes. In this article, we discuss what a transmittal letter is, what it's used for, how to write one, and provide a template and example to help guide you in writing your own.
What is a transmittal letter?
A transmittal letter, or letter of transmittal, is a document similar to a cover letter or business letter. It goes with another document to describe why it's relevant, necessary, or important. This letter helps to set the context for another document so it's easy to understand and minimizes any potential confusion by the recipients and readers. It ensures that readers understand exactly what kind of document they received and who needs to read it. If a document is more extensive, then the transmittal letter might emphasize the most important parts of it.
A transmittal letter might also include information for the user to follow, like specific instructions or clearly defined requirements for the reader. For example, if you sent a list of all the new customers to your company, then you might also send a transmittal letter succinctly explaining what the report contains. The letter accurately details what's in the document so that the recipient knows why it's important for them to read it and what to expect when they open it.
When do you use a transmittal letter?
Many people use a transmittal letter when they want to communicate the most relevant information in the primary document clearly. Professionals usually send it to a recipient that is external to the company or is not completely a part of a project's entire process. A transmittal letter can accompany technical reports, financial reports, project proposals, and sensitive documents as well.
However, there are other reasons for using a transmittal letter, such as:
- detailing requirements and instructions described in the primary document
- sending a contract or a draft that the recipient needs to review or approve
- explaining the importance of a document and why it's necessary for the recipient to read and consider it
- emphasizing the most important details of a document
- describing unplanned circumstances that caused a project delay
- explaining unplanned outcomes of a project
How to write a transmittal letter
Follow these four steps to help you write an effective transmittal letter:
1. Include the basic header information
Include the basic information at the top left of the corner of the letter. In the heading, include your first and last name, as well as the address of your company. Below your personal information, include the date when you wrote the letter. Under the date, include the recipient's first name and last name, as well as their official title, organization, and address.
2. Include a greeting
At the beginning of the letter of transmittal, it's customary to address the recipient in a short greeting. The most common greeting is "Dear," followed by the recipient's full name or simply the applicable honorific and their first name. If the recipient has an achieved title, like Dr., then it's customary to use that instead of the honorific.
3. Write the body of the transmittal letter
Though there's no definitive way to write the body paragraph, it typically follows a four-section process in which you do the following:
- State the purpose of the letter: Introduce the recipient to the document and provide a context for its purpose. Try to be as accurate as possible and explain what the document is and why they received it to allow the recipient to respond to the document accordingly.
- Include information about the document: This section serves as the focus of the document and explains the most important details that the recipient can expect when they read the primary letter. Make sure you share the document's name with the recipient as well. Be as thorough as necessary to define the relevant information for the reader.
- Ask for additional instructions: If the recipient needs to contact the sender for specific instructions or more information, include that in this section. This is where you ask the recipient to take a particular action, like to approve or sign the document.
- Include contact information: You want to complete the body paragraph with your personal contact information. This is important when the recipient needs to ask you questions or inquire about specific details or instructions mentioned in the letter.
4. End the letter with a brief conclusion paragraph
You can conclude the transmittal letter by briefly stating some basic remarks about the primary document. It's also customary to thank the recipient for taking the time to read the letter and finalizing the letter of transmittal with a closing salutation. The most common closing salutations include:
Related: How To End a Letter
Letter of transmittal template
Here's a simple template for writing a transmittal letter:
[Your professional address]
[Date you wrote the letter]
[Recipient's official title]
[Recipient's business address]
[City, Province, Postal code]
[Dear "honorific" recipient's name,]
[Introduction paragraph where you explain the purpose of the transmittal letter and any attached documents. This section might also include who prepared it and the date of its preparation.]
[The second paragraph includes all the most important information about the primary document. This explains what the recipient needs to know about it and highlights any pertinent details like results or unexpected changes.]
[The final paragraph neatly concludes the letter of transmittal. Use this paragraph to summarize what you defined in the letter and include any additional details or notes that the recipient needs to know. You may also include specific instructions or actions for the recipient to take as well.]
[In a conclusion sentence or two, let the user know that they can contact you or someone else via a phone number.]
Letter of transmittal example
Here's an example of a transmittal letter using the template above:
1034 Rue Fournier
St. Jerome, Quebec, J7Z 5T3
August 20, 2021
Head Floral Designer, Owner
LaFleur Floral Arrangement and Design
3170 Hardy Street
Kelowna, British Columbia, V1Y 8H2
Dear Mr. Benjamin LaFleur,
Attached to this letter is information regarding the arrangement that we made about the Midsummer Floral event taking place on July 6. Included is the contract we discussed earlier this week and our recommendations for what we hope to see for the event in greater detail.
After consulting with our clients and your floral shop, we have concluded that violet and lilac flowers will serve as the primary colour theme for the event. We have included information and a sketch of how we hope to have these flowers arranged. Additionally, there is an outline of the complimentary flowers that are to be added and some supplementary accompaniments like ribbons, pearls, and fairy lights. This is an indoor event, so flowers that thrive in an enclosed space are ideal.
We've drafted some ideas about what colour schemes would work best, but we would love to hear your professional opinion on what compliments violet and lilacs. Please review the outline and sketches included in the attached document. There are also some pictures of the venue included with the document as well.
This is a big event, so we thank you for taking on this large-scale project for us. We have heard great things about your floral shop and hope to continue using your service if all goes well with this event. We are confident that it will, due to your exceptional reviews and recommendations.
If you have any additional questions about the documents, outlines, sketches, and pictures that we have included with this letter, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 000-000-0000. You can also contact my associate, Deon Martin at 555-555-5555 if I am not readily available.