Impart vital information within a concise and well-written letter
Trawling through pages and pages of an important document can take time and a lot of effort. Wouldn't it be much easier to have a summary? A shortened version of what that document contains? At least then, you'd have a rough idea of whether you need to read it through immediately, or whether it can wait until you've got the time to sit down in a quiet room with a cup of tea and really give it your full concentration.
In this article, we'll explore what a letter of transmittal actually is, share tips on how to compile a professional letter, and even give you an example and a template which you can adapt to suit your own circumstances.
What is a letter of transmittal?
A letter of transmittal is a business letter that accompanies any kind of document, like a financial report or the analysis of a company's market research. Its main aim is to inform the recipient of the specific context in which to place the document, while giving the sender a permanent and formal record of having sent the material.
Top tips on writing a professional letter of transmittal
Just like any covering letter you want to make a good first impression, as this letter of transmittal will be the first thing the recipient reads before diving into the document it refers to. With that in mind, make sure you follow the tips below to craft a letter that's informative, succinct, and clear.
First off, ensure you're actually sending it to the right person. It might sound obvious, but it's worth double checking you've got the right name and contact details, otherwise the important missive and letter could end up in the wrong hands. That would be a real faux pas, especially if the document contains sensitive or confidential information.
You don't want to dash off a quick letter of transmittal without a thought. While the transmittal letter isn't the main player in this instance - the attached document is - you still want it to be as professional as possible.
With that in mind, you can use a conversational tone within the letter, so it's not too stiff or formal.
Be totally clear as to why you're sending this document or report to the recipient. It means the person receiving the letter of transmittal will then have an idea of what they have, how to handle it in the appropriate manner, and if any actions need to be taken.
Summarise the main purpose and aspects of the document. See the letter of transmittal template below for how to set this out and what to include.
Keep it short and sweet. It's the document that's the main subject here, so don't go into too much detail within the letter of transmittal. You want the recipient to read your letter swiftly and easily, grasping the details, and then move onto the main event with a clear idea of what they need to do going forward.
Finish with a positive tone. You want the receiver of the letter and document to be motivated to enact whatever actions are required next, whether that's just reading the document or taking some sort of action. Keeping the tone light should achieve this.
What is a perfect example of a letter of transmittal?
The key thing to remember, when drafting a letter of transmittal, is that you immediately want to get across the context of the document it's attached to in a few short, pithy paragraphs. It's basically explaining the contents of the document in a concise way.
No more than a page in length, the letter should contain all the usual elements of any other business letter, heading it with your name and contact details, the date, the recipient's name and address, and the reason you're writing.
Start the transmittal letter with who you are and why you're writing to them.
Inform them why you're reaching out
This is the part where you explain your reasons for enclosing the attached report, bringing their attention to any pertinent information that requires any action on their part.
Thank or acknowledge those who have contributed towards the document
It's courteous to identify and thank those who have had a part in helping to put the document or report together.
Finish off with any requests or required follow-ups
Make sure it's clear within the letter what the recipient needs to do next - if anything.
For a more detailed insight into how to compile a letter of transmittal, take a look at the template below.
A letter of transmittal template
Below is a letter of transmittal template that you and colleagues can use time and time again, as a standard outline, when sending a letter of transmittal.
Dear [Mr, Mrs, or Ms Surname],
[The opening paragraph should contain the title of the document attached and the purpose of the letter. It should also detail when the document was written and by whom.]
[The body of the letter of transmittal can include information about the methods used to craft the report, as well as an overview of the accompanying report, project proposal, or confidential document. Here, you can give an oversight of results, highlight the main areas that the recipient should focus on, or draw particular attention to any surprising findings.]
[The concluding paragraph will detail out what needs to be done by the recipient and any additional notes with regards to the attached document. You can also offer your assistance in interpreting any of the findings or ask for a call to action.]
If you have any questions regarding the attached report, please contact [name of principal contact] on [phone number].
[Signature and printed name]
A letter of transmittal example
Now that you have the know-how to draft a top quality transmittal letter, let's put it all into practice with a letter of transmittal example that can be customised each time to suit different situations.
Accountants R Us,
125 Acacia Avenue,
Birmingham B14 3XX
Old Rose Lane,
Sutton Coldfield SC15 3ZZ
3rd January 2024
Dear Mrs Brown,
I have completed your accounts and tax return for 2022 / 2023 and I enclose our office copy of your business accounts for the year ended Mar 2023. I would be grateful if you could review these carefully and, if you are in agreement, please sign and date the declaration at the bottom of page two before returning the accounts to me.
I further enclose your tax return for the year ended Apr 2023, incorporating your accounts details. Please go through this carefully to make sure I have answered all questions on your behalf correctly and that no further details need to be added. If you are in agreement, please sign and date the declaration on the front sheet, where indicated, before tearing off the sheet and returning it to me only.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to enclose an invoice of my fees for the work carried out on your behalf, which I hope you will find in order.
If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my work phone which is 0121 123 4567.
The best times to include a letter of transmittal
A letter of transmittal serves different purposes, such as acting as an explanation or a record. Certain documents, such as ones containing sensitive information, need a letter of transmittal to explain to the reader what they are receiving and why.
Below are some of the situations when you might need to include a letter of transmittal.
It's a good idea to warn the recipient that the documents contain sensitive or confidential detail, so they know that it's for their eyes only. Including a letter of transmittal here will prevent any misunderstanding or sharing of any private information, as it will be set out clearly before they open the documentation.
Financial reports often need further explanation and more context than what's actually contained in the report, so if you're distributing something complex like a financial report, don't hold back in including extra clarification.
When forwarding technical documents to relevant parties, it's worth taking a moment to consider who your audience is. Not everyone is au fait with technical jargon. Try to imagine which part of the document might be too complicated and pre-empt any questions by addressing this within the letter of transmittal that's attached.
Summarising your proposal in a succinct manner, by distilling it into a few pithy sentences, can give the reader a bit of an idea of what you're on about before they delve into the text-heavy document. Within your letter of transmittal, you can take the opportunity to remind the recipient of who you are and why you're offering the proposal to them.
There are a few other times when you might want to take advantage of including a transmittal letter, including:
Sending a draft that needs to be reviewed or be approved
Emphasising the key findings of a report
Instructing a recipient that they need to take some sort of action with the document
Offering an explanation of why the document should be ingested
Describing how a plan has changed course or overcome challenges
Delivering the results of a project
Is a letter of transmittal the same as a cover letter?
A cover letter is a brief, formal letter that's attached to another document - usually a CV.
In that way, a letter of transmittal could be said to be a type of cover letter. However, transmittal letters have a specific function, as they're designed to accompany a larger document or report, with added details that highlight key information within that document and any action that the receiver must take to move things forward.
A letter of transmittal forms part of a professional group of documents designed to inform colleagues and senior management about important, need-to-know information. What you need to know now is how to improve your CV, if you're keen to facilitate a move up the career ladder. Give yourself a head start by checking out TopCV's free CV review. It only takes a few moments to upload your CV in order to receive valuable advice on this very important document.