What is Office Correspondence? Purpose, Maintenance, of Official Correspondence

  • Post last modified:3 October 2021
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What is Office Correspondence?

Office Correspondence is defined as communication in writing on the subject of mutual interest either within the organisation or with an outsider.

Correspondence within the organisation lends a meaning of definiteness to corporate policies and practice, promotes understanding between the members and departments of the organisation. Correspondence with the outsider promotes an image of the organisation, clarifies its policies, keeps its legal entities intact and keeps its operations going.

Purpose of Office Correspondence

There can be and there are many reasons for office correspondences. An office correspondence can be because of the following reasons:

  • Serving a notice to the office personnel.
  • Serving a notice to the individual person.
  • Serving an order either to the entire department or to the individual employee in the office.
  • Serving an instruction either to the department or to an individual working in the department.

Serving an instruction or a notice to the office situated outside the office premises. There can be many other reasons to execute and serve an instruction which is a part of office correspondence, however, the nature of the correspondence depends upon the situation that arises in the office for which a notice has to be served.

An effective correspondence ensures efficient and economical communication service. The drafting of correspondence improves the goodwill of the organization. The responsibility of drafting a correspondence is based on the nature of correspondence and type of organization. Generally, routine correspondence is drafted by lower-level clerks. Important and confidential correspondences are drafted by the top executives of an organization.

In a large organization, the volume of correspondence is also large. Therefore, a separate department or section is created for production and dealing of correspondence. In the case of the small organization, a separate responsible and knowledge person is nominated to the production and dealing of correspondence.

Production and Generation

There are certain principles of correspondence which has to be followed by every office. An office notice or an office order cannot be issued by every Tom, Dick and Harry. Suppose a departmental head wishes to issue a warning letter to one of its employees. He just cannot issue the same on his whims and fancies. He has to first refer to the office manual wherein it will be clear to him whether the office has empowered the departmental head to issue such letters.

If yes, then he can, under the framework of the administrative manual, issue the letter. If not, he has to revert back to the organisational head, explaining the situation and seek his permission and approval to issue such order, before serving such a warning letter. A copy of that letter should be forwarded to the office organisation head for his information.

Stages Involved in Drafting of Correspondence

The following stages are involved while production or drafting of correspondence and dispatch the same to the parties.

  1. The required message or information is collected from various sources
  2. The style of letter is decided according to the nature of correspondence
  3. A rough copy is prepared at initial stage.
  4. The rough copy is forwarded to proper official for necessary adding, deleting or correction.
  5. Once again the rough copy is read by the employee who has prepared rough copy.
  6. The rough copy is hand over to the typist or computer programmer for production as the case may be.
  7. Again the produced copy is read by a person who has drafted the copy. The correction may be made if any.
  8. The produced copy is arranged for getting sign from the concerned responsible official.
  9. The signed copy is also verified by the employee who is dealing the correspondence.
  10. Now, the letter is ready for dispatch

Principles of Drafting of Correspondence

Little Field and Rachel have laid down the principles of drafting of correspondence. They are presented below.

  • Determine Purpose: Generally, there is a primary purpose of conveying some information and the secondary purpose of conveying a feeling of helpfulness and goodwill.

  • Planning of Message: Ideas have to be collected from across the o8ice and arrange them in a logical order before the communication begins.

  • Using of Language: Conversational language has to be selected for the purpose of clear cut directions and simplicity.

  • Be Compact and Clean: The message should results in the completion of job. Every question should be answered in the communication.

  • Brief: There must be a thorough explanation of every point in brief. Courtesy Every communication should be courtesy, considerate, friendly and helpful.

  • Read Proof Carefully: An excellent document can be ruined by grammatical and typing errors. The typing error may be relating to spelling name, improper arrangement of words and letters, wrong numbers and in sequence of sentences.

    Besides, there is a possibility of failing to enclose necessary items. Hence, careful proof reading is necessary for complete valuable correspondence.

Maintenance of Official Correspondence

Maintenance of the office correspondence starts either with receiving the official letter and filing them in the proper file, or sending a letter out of office, or sending a letter to some other department, and maintaining a copy of it in the file. This is best explained thus:

Incoming letters are also known as incoming mails and the outward letters are known as outgoing mails. We shall discuss the procedure of handling inward mails and outward mails.

Inward mails in office correspondence

Inward mail forms the basis on which the organisation works and exists. Much of the efficiency of the organisation is reflected through a proper handling of inward mail.

Listed is the procedure of handling an inward mail:

Receiving and Collecting the Mails

An ordinary ‘dak’ or ‘mail’ is brought to the office either by a courier or by a post-man once or twice in a day in most of our cities in India. At once, the number of letter received should be counted. An office, as it is, will receive about 25 to 30 letters in a day and may be 10 to 12 letters at a time. All such letters after receiving should be stamped. A proper example of stamp is shown:

Here the stamp reflects the name of the office. It is office at Kolkata. The stamp reflects other information as letter number, date of receipt, and the direction of the letter to whom it has to be handed. Suppose this is the 10th letter that the office has received on 10/10/10, then the figure 10 and the date 10/10/10 should be posted at the appropriate place. Lastly, if the letter is marked to the accounts department, then “accounts” should be written in the appropriate place. However, this step will take place only after opening the mail.

Opening Mail

Letters may be opened either by hand or by letter opening machines. Opening letters by hand with the help of a paper knife is the most common method of opening letters even in a very large organisation.

After opening the letter it should be noted whether the contents of the letter written are in a single page or more than a page. If it is more than one page, the entire page should be numbered. After numbering the pages, the contents of the letter should be read and greater importance should be laid on the subject matter of the letter. Iis the subject matter which, at a glance, tells us about the entire contents.

Now it is here that the ‘letter referred to’ comes into foreplay as inscribed on the stamp. Once the entire letter is read, one would come to know about the department where the letter has to be directed. It should be written on the space provided.

Recording of the Mail

Most of organisations like to keep a permanent record for all inward mail. For this purpose, the “inward mail register”, ‘dak received register’ or ‘letter received book’ is maintained. This register records all the particulars of letter received. It is better to have such a register in almost all offices to check the records of the letter received and also check whether a letter has been returned for filing.

Sorting and Distribution of Inward Mail

Once the entire stamping and entire recording is over, the letters should be sorted out. For example, all letters to be directed to accounts must be separated and grouped together so that every letter belonging to the Accounts Department are sent to Accounts. Similarly, every letter directed to the Administration maybe send to Administration Department.

Thus process of putting all the letters belonging to the Accounts Department are sent to the accounts. Similarly every letter directed to Administration may be sent to Administration. This process of putting all the letters to one department, in series and directing it to the concerned department for action is known as “sorting”. Once the letters are sorted and recorded, the letters are sent to the respective departments to receive. This process is known as distribution.

Follow Up

Efficient reply back to incoming correspondence is the index of the efficiency of the organisation and to improve its image. The executives and the various departmental heads should see to it that letters received during the days are attended to on the same day and replies are prepared on the same day, and then the duplicate copies of it are filed properly. The original letters should be given the file name and should be dispatched properly.

Outgoing or outward mail in office correspondence

Mails are sent outside by every department, by every organisation.

Procedure of sending the mail out

  1. Read the entire contents of the letter which has to be sent out.

  2. Take out the file in which the second copy of the letter will be filed. The file will have a file number. This file number has to be given to the letter.

  3. See in the outward register what the serial number of the last letter is. The next number will be the serial number of this letter.

  4. Put the date of dispatch on the letter. The same date will have to be put on the letter.

  5. After making all the entries of the letter in the outward dak register, send the letters to the dispatch section. The dispatch section will affix the stamps etc., will write the address on the envelope and then post the letter making an entry in the register maintained by them. This is the simplest and easiest method of dispatching a letter from the office.

Filings and Method of Filing in Office Correspondence

The method of filing the office mail whether incoming or outgoing differs from office to office and procedures of filing too differs as different offices have different norms, procedures etc. These come in handy for filing. The process of filing starts immediately after the recording of the outgoing letter is over.

Suppose a letter has come into the office for which no reply has to be given, then that letter is read, noted and filed. But if an incoming letter demands reply, then the incoming letter definitely has to be filed, but before it, the reply has to be drafted. Once the reply is drafted, noted, coded and send to the despatch section, for onward process, the letter has to be filed.

Procedures for filing in office correspondence

  • First go through the incoming letter and note from where the letter has come, what are the contents of the letter and what does the letter wants. If the letter does not warrant reply, file the letter in corresponding file.

  • Suppose the incoming letter warrants a reply then find out from where the letter has come. It will be evident from the letter since you would know from where it has come, note the contents of the letter, the subject matter etc… this will give you an idea about the file in which the letter has to be filed, pickup that file.

  • Immediately frame a draft for reply. Get it approved by the competent authority. After getting the approval get the letter typed and get it endorsed by the competent authority.

  • Once the letter is endorsed, give it a proper file number, serial number and date. Once it is done send it to the despatch clerk for approval.

  • File the letter incoming and the reply letter in the corresponding file and number the pages filed serially. This is a short and a brief method of explanation about filing. However, let an effort be made to explain about various kinds of files and filing, and method of how to give an index or a code number to a file.

Organizing Correspondence

Correspondence may be centralized by creating a separate correspondence section or department: or it may be carried on by each of the department individually.

Centralized correspondence

In a centralized correspondence section, a correspondence supervisor should be appointed to look after all the correspondence.

Advantages of Centralized correspondence

The advantages of a centralized system of correspondence are:

  • Correspondence is specialized: as a result, there is greater proficiency and high standard of work.
  • Centralized correspondence facilities: effective follow-up and leads to better results by ensuring better continuity in correspondence.
  • The correspondence: staff can be adequately and quite easily trained. The cost of training is fairly low.
  • Specification: the correspondence activity tends to increase the rate of output as well.

Disadvantages of Centralized correspondence

  • Delays are caused because drafts correspondence may be sent back and forth-from correspondence department to a functional department and vice versa.
  • A centralized correspondence section may lack adequate technical and specialized knowledge of a particular functional department.
  • The work of functional departments may be interruptible because of frequent visits, inquires, collection of information etc.

Decentralized correspondence

Under the decentralized correspondence system, each functional department makes its own arrangements for correspondence.

Advantages of Decentralized correspondence

  • There is no interruption in the work
  • Departmental correspondence takes care of the technical and specialized needs to different functional departments
  • The sense of departmental loyalty on the part of the correspondence staff tends to result in better quality work.

Disadvantages of Decentralized correspondence

  • Departmental correspondence staff may lack proficiency in the art of correspondence
  • Under a decentralized system, the correspondence staff may not be adequately trained. The problem of absence and replacement may also upset departmental functioning.

There may be lack of coordination between different departments on policy matters, which will be reflected in the correspondence of different departments

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