Use the Right Registers, Guys!


When it comes to using the right language for speaking, I have to consider register. What is it? Register is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting. For example, when speaking in a formal setting, a native English speaker is more likely to use  prescribed grammar than in an informal setting—such as pronouncing words ending in -ing with a velar nasal instead of an alveolar nasal (e.g. “talking”, not “talkin'”), choosing more formal words (e.g. father vs. dad, child vs. kid, police vs cops, etc.), and refraining from using words considered nonstandard, such as ain’t, gonna, gotta.

Now see the examples below the language I use during a GDLN video conference. I was giving a reaction to the lecture by Prof. Ju Ho Lee. Check these out!

  • “I think Prof. Lee calls the catch-up experience of Korea as a ‘detour’ because it is like a deviation from a direct or usual course that latecomer countries immediately replicate the advanced economies specializing in long-cycle technologies. Instead, Korea moves in the opposite direction of short-cycle technologies, which is eventually proven that it is a successful catch-up strategy with incumbent advanced countries.
  • “In my view, the latecomer economies and firms should take a detour strategy rather than take a ‘straight route’ because detour will lead to many emergences of new technologies that give higher growth prospects and lower barrier for entry. Especially in the concepts of adding-up problem, competing with other developing countries that outpour the market with the same goods they can produce rigorously will just make the prices of the goods decrease and therefore provide less profits and eventually fail in the price competition. So, detour strategy is closely related to both adding-up problem and entry barrier.”
  • “Leapfrogging” strategy in technological development that I learnt from Prof. Lee’s presentation is like the latecomer economies absorb what the technological leaders have to offer and leap to a new environment-friendly techno paradigm. And there are two paths of leapfrogging catching up: the first is is stage-skipping catching-up like the example of Samsung 64 K D-RAM and Hyundai automobile, and the second is path-creating catching-up like in the example of CDMA cellular phone and digital TV.”
  • “So, the best time to try this leapfrogging strategy is when we need to find new renewable energies and fusion of technologies that provides new solutions, or during emergences of shorter-cycle sectors such as cell phones, digital TV, solar power, wind power, electric vehicles, biofuels and so on. During the boom period of business cycles, leapfrogging will provide higher probability of success because the target market is always available for products with higher added-value.”

See…how formal I was! You can see it from the choice of words and the grammar I use. Anyway, in the right situation, using such formal language makes me sounds credible, doesn’t it?

Ho to Write A Report on A Metting Attended?

I’d like to share you the kind of report that I make when I attended a meeting in Singapore last February. By the way, that’s the second chance for me to visit Singapore after 7 years and I saw there were a lot changes in the country. Anyway, here’s the report:



Title : Fourth STI Directors of Training Meeting

Date : January 31 – February 2, 2016

Venue : The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore


First of all, I would like to thank the Head of FETA and the Executive Secretary of FETA for giving me the opportunity to attend the Fourth STI Directors of Training Meeting in Singapore. The meeting gave me the opportunity to learn many issues in regards to the training needs of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. As a trainer who usually performs TNA for MOF, I find it was a very enriching experience for me.

I will describe briefly below some elements in the meeting.

  • The seminars are designed to: 1) discuss the training needs of countries in the Asia-Pacific region, based on input from the Directors of Training   2) explain STI’s criteria for selecting participants to courses, seminars, and workshops   3) provide an overview of the training activities of the IMF Institute for Capacity Development (ICD)   4) discuss the importance of collaboration among ICD and the regional institutions in identifying the specific training needs and delivering training services in a specific region.
  • The slot of time was two-days seminar on February 1-2, 2016. (The welcome reception was held on January 31, 2016 at the venue.) There were 33 senior officials in charge of training at central banks, ministries of finance and economy, or other government economic agencies, including directors of economics, research, training, or international departments (from 10 countries).
  • The meeting featured panel discussions led by directors of training, presentations by IMF staff, and reflections by STI’s donors.
  • Participants debated a broad array of issues, including country experience with IMF capacity development, the IMF’s new training curriculum for member countries, how best to coordinate technical assistance and training, and the challenges of accurately evaluating the impact of training and technical assistance activities.
  • Throughout the meeting, participants stressed the importance of keeping pace with the region’s evolving training needs. Following the global financial crisis, for example, countries in the region found themselves confronted with a series of financial regulatory and supervisory reforms, which required an entirely new set of skills to implement. Training programs in the region therefore need to keep up to speed with a changing external environment, which can be challenging.
  • The meeting was also attended by representatives of the countries that provide financing to the STI (donor countries). Senior officials from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Japanese Ministry of Finance, and the Australian High Commission shared their perspectives in a session highlighting the donors’ view of capacity building. Tsutomu Kameda, Section Chief in the International Organizations Division of Japan’s Ministry of Finance, observed that the Japanese approach to capacity development favored concrete, hands-on experience. Other donor representatives praised the IMF’s move toward a “results-based management” system for assessing the impact of training and technical assistance.
  • Another important result from the meeting was the Asia-Pacific region encompasses economies from across the development and population spectra. It includes high-income economies like Hong Kong SAR and the Republic of Korea, emerging economies like Malaysia and Thailand, and low-income countries like Cambodia and Nepal. And global giants such as China and India—with populations exceeding one billion—sit alongside small states such as Palau and Tuvalu, with populations of less than 25,000. The STI must take into account all their policy challenges.
  • The last point I noted is that uncertain economic environment also underscores the need for continued capacity building—including through training—in the Asia-Pacific region. Asia has shown good resilience and policy frameworks, yet the recent episodes of global volatility have demonstrated that policy tradeoffs can worsen quickly. These new challenges put a premium on the expertise in assessing macroeconomic and financial vulnerabilities.
  • The minutes from the first day of meeting (February 1, 2016) are as follows:
9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. Opening session by Ms. Julie Kozack, Director of IMF-STI Singapore. There was also opening remarks by Mr. Leong Sing Chiong (Assistant Managing Director Monetary Authority of Singapore). He pointed to the “essential and fundamental” character of STI training. He noted that when his staffs return from training, they try to impart the knowledge gained to colleagues in order to maximize the value of the training to the institution.
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Short lecture and overview of IMF Institute for Capacity Development (ICD) and its Strategy in the Asia-Pacific Region Mr. by Mr. Dominique Desruelle (Deputy Director Institute for Capacity Development International Monetary Fund). It was followed by an open discussion on ICD strategies. I raised a question on the possibility to invite IMF lecturers to FETA and the funding policy from IMF.
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. A sharing from Vietnam’s Experience with IMF Capacity Building by Mr. Ha Hai An (Deputy Director General Department of International Cooperation State Bank of Vietnam)
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Panel Discussion of Country Experience with IMF Capacity Building. There were 5 panelist speakers: Mr. Ha Hai An (Vietnam), Mr. Selvakumar Seerangarayan (Joint Secretary Economic Affairs Ministry of Finance, India), Ms. Efi Dyah Indrawati (Senior Trainer FETA Ministry of Finance, Indonesia), Mr. Iñigo L. Regalado (III Deputy Director Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas Institute Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas), Ms. Matana Waitayakomol (Director Learning and Development Institute Bank of Thailand). It was moderated by Mr. Mangal Goswami (Deputy Director IMF – Singapore Regional Training Institute). I made the first short presentation on Indonesia’s experience with IMF Capacity Building (PPT slides attached).
2:00 p.m. − 2:30 p.m. A lecture on “Transitioning to New ICD Curriculum” by Ms. Laura Kodres (Assistant Director Asian Division Institute for Capacity Development International Monetary Fund)
2:30 p.m. − 3:15 p.m.


Open Discussion of New Curriculum moderated by Ms. Kodres. Participants also discussed how best to take advantage of advances in technology such as online learning and integrate them into their institutions’ training programs. I raised a question on how STI assess the online learning.
3:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Panel Discussion on The Donor’s Perspective on Capacity Building. There were 4 panelist speakers: Mr. Michael Feller (Third Secretary, Economic, Australian High Commission Singapore); Mr. Tsutomu Kameda
(Section Chief International Bureau, Ministry of Finance Japan); Mr. Goh Mui Pong (Deputy director MAS Academy Monetary Authority of Singapore); and Mr. Heng Aik Yeow (Director General, Techincal Cooperation Directorate Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore). The discussion was moderated by Ms. Julie Kozack.


  • The minutes from the second day of meeting (February 2, 2016) are as follows:
09:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Panel Discussion with training directors from 4 different countries: Ms. Aloysia Wong (Senior Manager of Administration Division – Corporate Service Department, Hong Kong Monetary Authority); Ms. Naomi Kedea (Head of Department, HRD Bank of Papua New Guinea); Ms. Maha Tantrige Indivari Visakha Amarasekere (Director Department of External Resources, Ministry of Finance Sri Lanka). The discussion was moderated by Mr. Dominique Desruelle.
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. A presentation by Ms. Maureen Therese Burke, a communication officer from IMF Communication Department. The topic was “IMF Communication on Capacity Building.”
11:30 a.m. – 12 noon A presentation by Ms. Julie Kozack on “Recent Development in Training and Survey on Training”.
12 noom – 12:45 A discussion led by Mr. Mangal Goswami on “Issues in STI Training Administration.” He emphasized on the solicitation of participants, application process, the selection and nomination process.
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Panel presentation on Enhancing Capacity Building by TA and Training Coordination. The speakers were Mr. Odd Per Brekk (Director of Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific IMF); Mr. David Cowen (Head of Office IMF Technical Assistance Office for the Lao PDR and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar; and Scott Roger (Coordinator of Pacific Islands Teaching. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Julie Kozack
3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Closing Session led by Ms. Julie Kozack


  • After the closing session, there was communication interview for STI video/Survey Article. I was interviewed by Ms. Maureen Burke on Indonesia’s experience with STI IMF and the result will be uploaded on STI website.
  • For further detailed information please find in the attachments the lecture handouts for all the sessions.


Jakarta. February 18, 2016


Senior Trainer,

Efi Dyah Indrawati

NIP 197206291999032001

How to Write a Seminar Report Part 2

OK this time is another example of a report on seminar attended.
But once more I’d like to remind you several things in preparing a seminar report.
1) write down your impressions of the seminar and the presenter as soon after the event as possible and while everything is still fresh in your mind. Don’t postpone too long, your immediate evaluation is a necessity.
2)Identify the elements of the seminar that resonated the most positively with you, and those are mostly the key ideas in the presentation, which should be based entirely on what you personally got out of it
3)Identify the full title of the seminar you attended, the date, time and location of the program, and the name of the speakers of the seminar.
4) Assess whether the presenter had the credentials and the experience to make their material and its context credible.
5) Don’t forget to type your report 🙂
Here we go….

Title : Free Trade and the Economic Relationship between the United States and Indonesia
Date : May 26, 2015
Venue : Arifin Panigoro Auditorium Universitas Al Azhar Indonesia (UAI), Komplek Masjid Agung Al Azhar, Jakarta Selatan

The workshop was interesting enough and gave me the opportunity to learn many issues in regards to free trade and economic relationship between America and Indonesia. I will describe briefly below some elements in the workshop.
– The Lecturer was His Excellency Robert O. Blake, the Ambassador of the United States for the Republic of Indonesia. He can deliver his materials comprehensively to all audience.
– The Executive Lecture was started at 10.30 a.m. The participants are mostly students of UAI from various faculties and departments. I was the only guest from government institution, the rest were media representatives, such as CNN, Republika, SCTV, Antaranews, and many other online medias.
– The session was started first by the Recitation of Holy Qur’an Surah Al Al Mujadaah: 11, followed by the Opening Remarks of the Director of UAI, Prof. Dr. Ir. Sardy Sar, M.Eng.Sc. He welcomed the US Ambassador and mentioned UAI vision of becoming a leading university in developing excellent and dignified persons, who have intellectual capability, based on Islamic spiritual, moral, and ethical values. Therefore, the seminar was in line with one of their missions: to tighten partnership with relevant domestic and international institutions and to apply universal Islamic values in character building.
– The rest of the session was led by the moderator Nazaruddin Nasution, UAI lecturer from Faculty of Social and Political Sciences and a former Indonesian Ambassador for Cambodia 2000-2003. He briefly described the CV of Ambassador Blake and overviewed the start of the diplomatic relationship between the US and Indonesia in 1949. He also cited President Jokowi remarks on fostering Indonesian economic growth and alleviating poverty, and how trade and economic relationship between the US and Indonesia can help President Jokowi reach his goals.
– The lecture was started at 10.55. Ambassador Blake explained comprehensively about the underlying reason why a nation should trade with other countries. Countries have different natural, human, and capital resources and different ways of combining these resources, they are not equally efficient at producing the goods and services that their residents demand. When a country can produce more of a good with the same resources that another country can, it is said to have an absolute advantage in the production of that good. If the second country has an absolute advantage in producing a good that the first country wants, both will be better off if they specialize and trade. But trade is usually beneficial to both countries even if one has an absolute advantage in the production of both goods that are to be traded. Given any two products, a nation has a comparative advantage in the product with the lower opportunity cost. The terms of trade must be such that both countries lower the opportunity costs of the goods they are getting from the trade.
– Mr. Blake emphasized that trade creates opportunities that suit every needs, such as in agriculture, manufacture and technology. Reducing barriers of trade can help to provide more job opportunities and eventually alleviate poverty in the US and Indonesia. 2015 is the year when countries shape and adopt a new development agenda that will build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially the eighth agenda of developing a global partnership for development. So, Indonesia should lever its trade to increase its economic growth.
– Mr. Blake also explained that the United States has free trade agreements in force with 20 countries. Some of them are Australia, Bahrain, Canada, South American countries, Israel, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, and Singapore. Those countries enjoy the benefit of their economic relationship. Mr Blake mentioned the United States is also in negotiations of a regional, Asia-Pacific trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the European Union, with the objective of shaping a high-standard, broad-based regional pacts. He said that the trade with those countries help unlock opportunity for American families, workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers through increased access to European markets for Made-in-America goods and services. This helps to promote U.S. international competitiveness, jobs and growth. Indonesia can learn from this Transatlantic Trade that trade fosters Indonesia to keep up with the challenge of becoming a competitive investment target.
– Mr. Blake cited President Obama’s trade agenda to expanding economic opportunity for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. That’s why they are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 21st century trade agreement that will boost U.S. economic growth, support American jobs, and grow Made-in-America exports to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing countries in the world. Blake mentioned a few of the ways the trade between the US and Indonesia will unlock some opportunities for Indonesia:
– it will support made-in-Indonesia exports to America
– it will enforce fundamental labor rights
– it will promote strong environmental protection
– it will help Indonesian small businesses (SMEs) benefit from trade
– Mr. Blake urged that we cannot stop global economy to grow, so Indonesia should have a commitment to improve labor practices, job creations, and elevate environmental standards in order to be competitive for the global trade, since investors always try to get the best deal with any country. Indonesia is faced with strategic choice, a strong economic relationship is also crucial for its growth.
– After the lecture, there was a Question and Answer Session led by the moderator. Due to the Ambassador’s tight agenda that day, there were only 3 questions allowed. The first question from a student from English department asking whether US free trade with Indonesia will be like one with the Middle East countries. Mr. Blake shortly answered that MEFTA (with Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Israel, and Jordan) since 2013 has already assisted the Middle East countries in implementing domestic reforms, instituting the rule of law, protecting private property rights (including intellectual property), and creating a foundation for openness, economic growth, and prosperity. The second question from a student from Law Department asking about how loosening free trade means more opportunities. Mr. Blake replied that trade boosts economic growth and economic growth means more jobs. It is also true that some jobs are lost even when trade is expanding, but it is caused by a number of factors. Protectionism is not the way to tackle employment problems, and many examples show that freer trade has been healthy for employment. The last question is from a student from Faculty of Economics asking about free trade in terms of the exchange of creative sector between Indonesia and the United States. Mr. Blake put some examples on some Indonesian industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and they have a potential for wealth and job creation through the exploitation of intellectual property traded with America, such as Video Games studio in Yogyakarta, Jakarta filmmakers, fashion, and so on.
– After the seminar, there was a Kolintang Ensemble, musical presentation by students of UAI, followed by exchanging souvenirs between UAI and the US Embassy. The MC closed the session at 12.50 WIB.
– My final remark about this executive lecture: it was not professionally organized by the committee. There were no satisfying welcome to participants, I signed the guest book without anyone sitting in front of the reception desk. The seminar started 30 minutes late as the scheduled plan. There were no seminar kits, handouts nor any visuals given by the committee nor by the US delegates, so I found it a bit challenging for me as I have limited knowledge on economic topics. I had to note down things attentively in order not to lose any points. No drinks and snacks for the participants, those are only given to the lecturer, the moderator, and the Director of UAI. In my view, this makes me feel a loss of respect to UAI and its future executive lecture series.

Jakarta, May 28, 2015


Efi Dyah Indrawati

Business Letter Part 3


High Quality Correspondence 2

 (Business Letter Part 3)


Hello Readers! In our previous English Please! section, we learned about the layout of business letters, which includes the formatting of correspondence and   font used in business letters. In this edition, we will discuss the other two aspects of correspondence: the logical sequence of ideas and the language.

Logical Sequence of Ideas

It will help the reader of your correspondence if you sequence the information it contains in a logical way.

For that reason, each letter that we write should has the following things:

a. an opening paragraph that states in brief and general terms your reason for writing

b. a middle paragraph or paragraphs that contain substantive information, background or elaboration of your opening paragraph

c. a closing paragraph or paragraphs that state the follow-up action you and your reader may need to undertake.

Let’s see the following letter taken from our sample in the previous edition:


Finance Education and Training Agency

General Finance Affairs Training Center

Jl. Pancoran Timur II No. 1  Jakarta 12780

Our Ref: S-…/PP.7/2012

Mr. Joseph Powell


ELT International

1000 KR Crescent

Singapore 119260

Dear Mr. Powell:

Re: Second Meeting of Curriculum Development for ESP Customs

I invite you or your delegate to attend the above meeting.

This is a follow-up meeting to the first we had earlier last month in Tangerang. The details of the next meeting are as follows.

Time                        :   10.00 am to 1.00 pm

Date                        :   February 20, 2012

Venue                        :  1st floor Meeting Room

PKU Main Building

Jl. Pancoran Timur II No. 1 Jakarta

What we hope to do at this meeting is to discuss further the draft of the curriculum for ESP Customs training developed by our widyaiswara (trainer) and ways of implementing some decisions that we reached at the earlier meeting.

Please let me know whether you are coming to the meeting or sending a delegate in your place.

Yours sincerely,


Ilhan Lasahido

Head of Planning and Development Division

Direct Line: 021-7996109

Encl: Draft of Curriculum.

The sample letter in this edition illustrates the above logical sequence:

  1. The reason for writing

I invite you or your delegate to attend the above meeting

  1. The substantive information, background or the elaboration of the above

This is a follow-up meeting to the first we had earlier last month in Tangerang. The details of the next meeting are as follows.

Time                        :   10.00 am to 1.00 pm

Date                        :   February 20, 2012

Venue                        :  1st floor Meeting Room

PKU Main Building

Jl. Pancoran Timur II No. 1 Jakarta

What we hope to do at this meeting is to discuss further the draft of the curriculum for ESP Customs training developed by our widyaiswara (trainer) and ways of implementing some decisions that we reached at the earlier meeting.

  1. The follow-up action for the sender and for the recipient

Please let me know whether you are coming to the meeting or sending a delegate in your place.

The letter shows a logical flow in writing, and we would easily understand what the sender would want to convey to the addressee.


Plain English and reader-friendly language

Most of us sometimes ask: why should anyone use plain English and reader-friendly language? Well, most public and private sector businesses have taken up this kind of language as their standard. They do this because correspondence that avoid artificial, elevated language will make it easier for people to understand what we write and how to act on it. In addition, it will also create a friendlier relationship between our office and its users, and eventually improve the organization’s corporate image.

But as we are government agencies or institutions, there is the additional reason that it is official policy to use some more formal register in some of our correspondence. But for your information, other governmental institutions all over the world have already used plain register in their language. For example, in 1978, US President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order requiring government agencies to write in plain English language. The UK followed suit a few years later. In 1993, Australia also stated the policy of using plain English in their legislation, in order to reduce ‘unnecessary conflict and expensive litigation’. In this case, we must be careful in selecting the appropriateness of language register we use in our business correspondence. The Regulation of the Minister of Finance No.151/PMK.01/2010 concerning the guidance for official documents and correspondence within the Ministry of Finance only regulates the Indonesian language usage. Yet, since the regulation necessitates obedience to our standardized Indonesian (EYD rules), I can infer that we should also adapt the internationally recognized standard for our official correspondence in English.

The particular strategy to improve our language that I adopt from George Stern (2003) is as follows:

  1. while you are writing the draft letter, focus on two things: short sentences and plain or “Dear Sir” language. ”Dear Sir” here means that the language register is normal or daily English.

Here are some expressions that government officials mostly use. Next to them are the “Dear Sir” substitutes that I recommended for not ‘too-formal ‘correspondence:

“Yes Minister” Language

“Dear Sir” Language

I refer to your letter of 29 June.I would appreciate an early response.

This is further to my last letter.

I am grateful for your assistance

The project will proceed providing you agree.

You wrote to me concerning the grant.

I will inform you of the committee’s decision.

Please do not hesitate to telephone me.

I trust this addresses your concerns.

Thank you for your letter of 29 June.Please reply soon.

I am writing to you again.

Thank you for your help.

The project will continue if you agree.

You wrote to me about the grant.

I will let you know what the committee decided.

Please ring me up, if you like.

I hope this answers your questions.

  1. then edit and revise the draft, checking in particular following five style matters:

1)    keep your sentences to an average length of one-and-a-half printed lines—some fifteen words. But vary the sentence lengths and structures.

2)    Use “Dear Sir” principle. Write in a way that is normal, everyday, decent, and respectful. Use this style of language for any person you are writing to—because we are all of equal status as human beings.

3)    Use capitals only where modern spelling requires them. Start full formal titles with capital letters (the Training Implementation Division, the Department of Whatever); short informal ones with lower-case letters (the division, the department). But remember there are some exceptions to this rule (Governor, Golkar, Demokrat (party), Speaker (parliamentary), Prime Minister, Commonwealth …)

4)    Use first person (I, me, my, we, us, our …) and second person (you, your, yours), particularly in correspondence. This will make your writing more personal and, therefore, more reader-friendly.

5)    With some rare exceptions, change the passive into active. Do it in three steps:

–       identify the passive: a form of be + a past participle verb (a verb that ends in –n, -d, or -t)

–       after the verb, add by + an agent, but omit this step if the passive already has an agent

–       switch the sequence target-action-agent to agent-action target.

e.g. The recruits are to complete progress reports after the third week of training. These will enable the training officer to devise a suitable programme for a recall session. Your supervisor is organizing the recall session to allow for further discussion. I will notify you of the time, date and place of the session you are to attend.

The above example illustrates the five principles of plain English. Here is another sample letter (minus the address and signature blocks) that does the same.

Dear Mr. Sugeng Satoto:

This is to ask whether you could lend my division a copy of Deborah Phillips’ Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFLâ Test. 2nd Edition with CD-ROM. White Plains, NY: Pearson Longman, 2007.

I need the book fairly urgently but only for a few days. I wonder, too, whether you have any newer standard texts on TOEFL preparation.

Please ring me up, if you can, to let me know whether Phillips’ book is available on loan. I can then arrange to have my staff pick it up.

Yours faithfully,


From the second letter, we see that the language can be easily understood: the main message is the sender wants to borrow a book from another division. The letter uses the fewest words possible without sacrificing clarity and completeness of meaning. Although the language is just normal and everyday, we can still feel that it is decent, professional and respectful.

The following table is some more examples of words or phrases that we can change from officially “too formal” to plain English (there are some 500,000 entries in the Oxford English Dictionary):



able toabove-mentioned




adjacent to

advice has been received that

advise you that  / of

all things considered

alter / alteration



as a (result) consequence of

as noted previously

as you would appreciate

as you would be aware

at an early opportunity

at this point in time

attached hereto

by virtue of

capable of



considerable amount of



falls within the responsibility of X

further to my letter concerning


hereby / herewith

I acknowledge receipt of

I am directed to advise you that

I am grateful for

I will be pleased to

I would appreciate if / I would be grateful if

in a timely manner

in consideration of

in relation to

in view of the fact that

it appears to be the case that

it is my considered view that


per annum

pertains to

prior to



take the matter up with X




with due regard for (something)

with reference to

you may care to

you will be required to

canmentioned above

so / therefore



next to / near

my officers have told me that

let you know

so / therefore



roughly / about

because of

as I have said above

you will understand

as you know


now / at present

attached please find

under / because of


start / beginning


a lot / many / much



X is responsible for

I am writing again about

from now on

here / please find

thank you for

(the minister) has asked me to tell you that

thank you for

I will be happy

please / would you please / could you please

as soon as possible

for / because of



it seems that

I think that / I believe that

despite / although

a year

is about


about / for / in


contact X about the matter



check / confirm

taking (something) into account

about / for / in

you might like to

you should / you must / you need to

So now to sum up our discussion, I would remind you the things suggested on correspondence writing. After you first do a draft of your letter, then check the layout (or format), the language sequence of ideas, and finally the language. When we do all these, we can be sure that our correspondence is efficient and good enough. Then, we will boost our reputation by giving our institution a good corporate image with our better correspondence. Best of all, you will enjoy a sense of job satisfaction for a job well done.  ^_^


Peraturan Menteri Keuangan Nomor 15/PMK.01/2010 tentang Pedoman Tata Naskah Dinas Kementerian Keuangan.

Stern, George. 2003. Learner’s Companion Series Writing in English: An Invaluable Guide to Effective Writing. Singapore: Learners Publishing Pte. Ltd.

The Writing Lab & the OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. 2011. Writing the Basic Business Letter. Diakses 20 Desember 2011 dari

More on Business Letters (Business Letters Part 2)

Hello again! In our last meeting, we learned about some common phrases in standard business letter and certain guidelines for a business letter. This time we are going to learn more about it.

We all know that the correspondence that comes out of a government office is the public face that an organization presents to its users and to other organizations. Since we want to present the best possible face to other bodies and to people with whom we deal with, it is important to ensure that our office correspondence is of a high quality. We can achieve this high quality by keeping three things: the layout (or formatting), the logical sequence of ideas, and reader-friendly language. This article will deal with the first aspect: the layout. The information is organized in the order in which we should write a business letter. After that, we will learn more about the format and font in business letters.

As we know that different organizations have different format requirements for their professional communication, and so does our Ministry of Finance (MOF). The Regulation of the Minister of Finance No.151/PMK.01/2010 is the guidance for MOF official documents and correspondence in Indonesian language. The examples provided here in this article contain common elements for the basic business letter (genre expectations). The examples here, which were taken from some units in MOF, are merely guides for correspondence in English.

So, here we go now first with the parts of business letters. These, starting from the top, are as follows:

Reference number

This is the file number for the letter. Our Ministry of Finance has certain guidance for external correspondence stated in the Regulation of the Minister of Finance No.151/PMK.01/2010 concerning general guidelines for Pedoman Tata Naskah Dinas Kementerian Keuangan.

Sender’s Address

The sender’s address is usually included in letterhead. In our Ministry of Finance, all formal letters use letterhead. But if we are not using letterhead, we can include the sender’s address at the top of the letter one line above the date. It is not necessary to write the sender’s name or title here, as it is included in the letter’s closing. Sender’s address only includes the street address, city, and zip code.


The date line is used to indicate the date the letter was written. Usually we use the American date format for English business letters. (The US-based convention for formatting a date puts the month before the day, for example: June 11, 2012.) Write out the month, day and year two lines from the top of the page. Depending which format we are using for our letter, either left justify the date or tab to the center point and type the date.

Inside Address

The inside address is the recipient’s address. It is always best to write to a specific individual at the institution or unit to which we are writing. If we do not have the person’s name, do some research by calling the institution or speaking with employees from that unit. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. Follow a woman’s preference in being addressed as Miss, Mrs., or Ms. If we are unsure of a woman’s preference in being addressed, use Ms. If there is a possibility that the person to whom we are writing is a Dr. or has some other title, use that title. Usually, people will not mind being addressed by a higher title than they actually possess. To write the address, use the MOF format. For international addresses, type the name of the country in all-capital letters on the last line. The inside address begins one line below the sender’s address or one line below the date. It should be left justified, no matter which format we are using.


Use the same name as the inside address, including the personal title. If we know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation (for example: Dear Misail:). In all other cases, however, use the personal title and full name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation.

If we don’t know a reader’s gender, use a nonsexist salutation, such as “To Whom It May Concern.” It is also acceptable to use the full name in a salutation if we cannot determine gender. For example, we might write Dear Dr. Eka Setya: if we were unsure of Eka’s gender.

A Subject Heading

This subject heading is optional in English correspondence.


For block and modified block formats, single space and left justify each paragraph within the body of the letter. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. When we write a business letter, we must be careful to remember that conciseness is very important. In the first paragraph, consider a friendly opening and then a statement of the main point. The next paragraph should begin justifying the importance of the main point. In the next few paragraphs, continue justification with background information and supporting details. The closing paragraph should restate the purpose of the letter and, in some cases, request some type of action.


The closing begins at the same horizontal point as our date and one line after the last body paragraph. We should remember to capitalize the first word only (for example: Thank you) and leave four lines between the closing and the sender’s name for a signature. If a colon follows the salutation, a comma should follow the closing; otherwise, there is no punctuation after the closing.

Sender’s Signature

This is the part that must not be forgotten in any business correspondence, along with the official stamp.


If we have enclosed any documents along with the letter, such as a resume, we indicate this simply by typing Enclosures one line below the closing (this will be different from the Regulation of the Minister of Finance No.151/PMK.01/2010). As an option, we may list the name of each document we are including in the envelope. For instance, if we have included many documents and need to ensure that the recipient is aware of each document, it may be a good idea to list the names.

The following is one example that illustrates the layout of business letter:


Finance Education and Training Agency

General Finance Affairs Training Center

Jl. Pancoran Timur II No. 1  Jakarta 12780

Our Ref: S-…/PP.7/2012

Mr. Joseph Powell


ELT International

1000 KR Crescent

Singapore 119260

Dear Mr. Powell:

Re: Second Meeting of Curriculum Development for ESP Customs

I invite you or your delegate to attend the above meeting.

This is a follow-up meeting to the first we had earlier last month in Tangerang. The details of the next meeting are as follows.

Time               :   10.00 am to 1.00 pm

Date               :   February 20, 2012

Venue            :  1st floor Meeting Room

PKU Main Building

Jl. Pancoran Timur II No. 1 Jakarta

What we hope to do at this meeting is to discuss further the draft of the curriculum for ESP Customs training developed by our widyaiswara (trainer) and ways of implementing some decisions that we reached at the earlier meeting.

Please let me know whether you are coming to the meeting or sending a delegate in your place.

Yours sincerely,


Ilhan Lasahido

Head of Planning and Development Division

Direct Line: 021-7996109

Encl: Draft of Curriculum.

We have seen the parts of business letters; now let us move on with other related things to formatting. When writing business letters, we must pay special attention to the format and font used. Here are the details.

Block Format

The most commonly used format is known as block format. Using this format, the entire letter is made justified and single spaced except for a double space between paragraphs.

Modified Block

Another widely utilized format is known as modified block format. In this type, the body of the letter and the sender’s and recipient’s addresses are left justified and single-spaced. However, for the date and closing, tab to the center point and begin to type.


The final style is semi-block. It is much like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead of left justified.

Most of our computers are equipped with Microsoft Office 2007, it don’t take much of the guesswork out of formatting business letters.


Another important factor in the readability of a letter is the font. The generally and internationally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used, like in The Regulation of the Minister of Finance No.151/PMK.01/2010, which necessitates us to use Arial size 7, 9, 11, and 13 (with computer) or Pica (with typewriter). When choosing a font, always consider our audience. If we are writing to a conservative organization or company, we may want to use Times New Roman. However, if we are writing to a more liberal organization/company and less formal, we can stick to our own regulation.

Now look at the following sample to see the format of the letter:

Jakarta, February 20, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

I am pleased to write for Anissa Kurniasari, who has applied to your university to take a master degree. She has worked under my supervision for one and a half years.

In October 2010, she started working as a government employee of Finance Education and Training Agency, Ministry of Finance (BPPK).  In BPPK, she works as a staff in Training Implementation Division at General Finance Affairs Training Center in Jakarta.

I pressure that she is an excellent government employee. She also has excellent written and verbal communication skills. In addition, she is a well organized and responsible person. She has great leadership qualities. She is able to work, both independently and as part of a team.

As a staff in Training Implementation Division, Kurniasari is responsible for putting the training programs into effect according to the procedure and the definite plan. She astutely organizes training implementation, starting from preparing training implementation until the training take place. She carefully manages practical administrative arrangements, diligently prepares the facilities and classrooms, meticulously monitors teaching delivery in classrooms by trainers, and provides the first report to her supervisor regarding the progress in training implementation. In addition, she establishes rapport with participants by encouraging informal conversation and listening to their needs, comments and feedback.  As one of the most dedicated employees, she is able to meet even the most demanding challenge during training implementation and always on time providing responses. She is also able to organize her colleagues and get them to perform the scheduled task on time. She has so many superb ideas for improvement of training programs.

Her intelligent, willingness, and ability to learn and perseverance will serve her well serve her well in post graduate study. For this reason I would like to consider that her studying a higher education will benefit to our institution, and will be to the advantages of the many as well. I encourage you to look favorably up application.

Yours truly,


Head of Training Implementation Division

The above letter uses Arial size 11, and the format is block type, i.e. justified  (well if you don’t see it justified, it’s because I can’t adjust it in WordPress) and single spaced yet double-spaced between paragraphs.

That is all for now. In the next edition, we will continue with the other two aspects of high-quality correspondence. See you later!


Grammar Check. 2011. Tips for Writing a Basic Business Letter. Diakses 20 Desember 2011 dari

Peraturan Menteri Keuangan Nomor 15/PMK.01/2010 tentang Pedoman Tata Naskah Dinas Kementerian Keuangan.

Stern, George. 2003. Learner’s Companion Series Writing in English: An Invaluable Guide to Effective Writing. Singapore: Learners Publishing Pte. Ltd.

The Writing Lab & the OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. 2011. Writing the Basic Business Letter. Diakses 20 Desember 2011 dari

Business Letters (Part 1): The Language of Basic Business Letters

Business letter writing is a very common practice in our organization, but only some units in the MOF write business letters in English. We use business letters to convey any number of non-personal purposes, such as negotiations, contract agreements, questions regarding certain things or to arrange meetings. Sometimes we also need to write them to promote our unit, share updated information or just communicate with users and other units. We should know that the basics of good business in English are very easy to learn, provided you follow a few simple tips. This article will provide some phrases that are commonly found in any standard business letter. The phrases are used as a kind of frame and introduction to the content of business letters. At the end of this article, we can also learn some tips on the guidelines for business letters. Once we understand these basics, we can use this guide to various types of business letters for our organization needs. The Start

If we do not know who we are writing to, use:

Dear Sir or Madam,

or we address the letter to the position that we contact to;

Dear Personnel Director,

Dear Head of HR Department,

Dear the Director of STAN,

If you know the addressee and have a formal relationship with, use the complete name or the family name:

Dear Dr. Pangaribuan,

Dear Mr. Indra Raharja

Dear Ms. Feni iranawati,

It’s very important to use Ms for women unless asked you are asked to use Mrs or Miss.

If the addressee is a close business contact or friend, we can use his or her first name:

Dear Frank,

Dear Stefhanie,

The Reference

With reference to your advertisement in the Times / your letter of 23 rd March / your phone call today, …

Thank you for your letter of March 5th .

The Reason for Writing

I am writing to inquire about
/ apologize for
/ confirm


Could you possibly…?

I would be grateful if you could …

Agreeing to Requests

I would be delighted to

Giving Bad News


I am afraid that

Enclosing Documents

I am enclosing

Please find enclosed

Enclosed you will find

Closing Remarks

Thank you for your help.

Please contact us again if we can help in any way /there are any problems /you have any questions.

Reference to Future Contact

I look forward to …
hearing from you soon / meeting you next Tuesday / seeing you next Thursday.

The Finish

Yours faithfully, (If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to)

Yours sincerely, (If you know the name of the person you’re writing to)

Best wishes,

Best regards, (If the person is a close business contact or friend)

Ok now we have read some phrases in a formal business letter. The next is a sample letter using some of these forms:

Pusdiklat Keuangan Umum

Jalan Pancoran Timur II No. 1 Jakarta 12770

021-7996109 Fax:


August 29, 2011

Jason Flintstone

Education Manager

TOEFL Specialists Inc.

Jalan Proklamasi 17 Bandung

Dear Mr. Flintstone:

With reference to our telephone conversation today, I am writing to confirm your request for our Handbooks for DTU TOEFL (iBT) Preparation.

The books will be delivered within two days via TIKI and should arrive at your institution in about three days.

Please contact us again if we can help in any way.

Yours sincerely,

Ilhan Lasahido

Head of Planning and Development Division


Here’s How:

• Use block style – do not indent paragraphs.

• Include address of the person you are writing to at the top of the letter, below your company address.

• After the address, double space and include date

• Double space (or as much as you need to put the body of the letter in the center) and include the salutation.

• Include Mr. for men or Ms for women, unless the recipient has a title such as Dr.

• State a reference reason for your letter (i.e. ‘With reference to our telephone conversation…’

• Give the reason for writing (i.e. ‘I am writing to you to confirm our order…’)

• Make any request you may have (i.e. ‘I would be grateful if you could include a brochure…’

• If there is to be further contact, refer to this contact (i.e. ‘I look forward to meeting you at…’)

• Close the letter with a thank you (i.e. ‘Thank you for your prompt help…’)

• Finish the letter with a salutation (i.e. ‘Yours sincerely,’)

• Include 4 spaces and type your full name and title

• sign the letter between the salutation and the typed name and title


• Keep the letter brief and to the point

• Do not use shortened verb forms – write them out (i.e. ‘don’t instead of do not’)

•  Always keep a copy of correspondence for future reference

That’s all for now. In the next edition, we are going to learn the parts of business letters and some examples of them. See you later.