Update: Ever since this article first appeared on our site back in 2004, it has consistently drawn more interest than any other resource that we’ve offered. So when we re-designed our site in 2012, we figured we would publish it anew here in the blog to make it easier for people to find.
Sure, you and the writer had a long talk when you commissioned that story idea. But two months later the manuscript is on your desk, and who can remember what the article was supposed to be? That’s where an assignment letter comes in handy. After you and a freelancer have agreed on a story, recap the discussion in writing and send your letter (or e-mail message) to the writer. It will help you get the piece you want.
Once you’ve read through the guidelines below, have a look at our sample letter (a downloadable PDF document).
WHY WRITE IT?
- To build an editorial foundation for the story: A clear assignment letter puts you and the writer on the same wavelength. If your written description differs from the writer’s recollection, you have a chance to resolve the discrepancy before the first draft comes in. And when the manuscript arrives, the letter allows you to judge whether the writer delivered the story as promised. You can also circulate the letter to higher-ups to make sure they buy into the assignment and recall it later. When you distribute the manuscript to other editors for review, attach the letter so they too know what the idea was.
- To build a relationship with a writer: Writers want clear instruction; an assignment letter provides that and gives the writer something to refer to while reporting and writing. A careful summary of the story idea assures the writer that you’re a careful editor who wants to prevent those nasty surprises that so often pop up between writer and editor. The letter also lets you address a writer’s weaknesses—get two sources for every fact, avoid clichés, and so on.
WHAT’S IN IT?
- A clear, specific statement of the story’s concept, content, and approach: Quickly and specifically outline what the article will cover and the depth of information you expect, including perhaps the types of sources you desire (personal interviews, scientific studies, etc.). Send research materials you have collected. Enclose a sample story from your magazine that could serve as a model. Confirm the approach you have agreed to and, if you two have discussed them, outline the lead and structure.
- Your worries: Is the reporting going to be difficult? Say so. Are you concerned about the structure? Ask to see an outline. Are there points that absolutely have to be covered? Make sure the writer knows.
- Logistical information: Describe the magazine’s payment procedures, editing process, fact-checking needs; tell the writer if you’re going to be out of town and whether you prefer to work by phone or e-mail. You can create some of this information ahead of time to cut-and-paste into your assignment letters.
For more suggestions on working with writers, see our model rewrite letter and tips on getting the most from freelancers.
Download PDF: Sample Assignment Letter
Posted in Magazines, Resources
Sample Human Resources Letters
Useful Human Resources Letter Samples for Every Office
These sample Human Resources letters provide guidance for common letters that you encounter in business, management, and HR. The samples give you a template that you can use for guidance when you need to craft your own HR and business letters.
Use these letters to make job offers, thank rejected job candidates, resign from your job, review resume cover letters, say thank you, and provide effective employee recognition. These are sample HR letters that cover many of the contingencies you encounter in HR.
The use of HR letters is an excellent opportunity to let employees know that you care. They help you foster relationships with your candidates and colleagues. They help you find a new job or a qualified candidate for your company job opening. No end exists for the uses you can make of well-written, effective HR letters.
01Best Resume Cover Letter
What's so special about this sample resume cover letter? The letter makes it easy for an employer to quickly see the candidate's qualifications. He has written the letter based on the employer's job posting and highlighted the appropriate, requested job skills, experience, and education.
The applicant does all of the work so that the prospective employer can easily see that she has the qualifications needed to effectively perform the job. This increases the likelihood of her invitation to an onsite interview.
Let this sample cover letter guide you to an effective cover letter of your own. If you're curious, this is what the employer found helpful and why this cover letter rocks.
02Job Offer Letters
Need a sample job offer letter for your candidate of choice? These sample letters will guide your job offers to employees during all of the phases of their careers: beginning, middle, and executive. They also provide guidance in making a sales job offer.
Usually, when you make a job offer, you and the candidate have already negotiated the details of the compensation package and any other work agreements. So, the job offer letter confirms your agreements in writing.
The most significant variation on the approach used in these sample job offer letters is an offer to a high level, senior management candidate. These candidates are more likely to receive a detailed, carefully negotiated contract.
03Candidate Rejection Letters
Sending a candidate rejection letter to the applicants who were not selected for the job is an extra, but positive step, your company can take.
If you want to build goodwill with candidates, attract potential superior employees, and establish yourself as an employer of choice, you will communicate with candidates at each step during your selection process.
A candidate rejection letter may momentarily make the candidate sad, but it's better for both the employer and the candidate to share official notification. Plus, you can indicate whether you have an ongoing interest in the prospective employee despite the fact that you had a more qualified candidate for the current open position.
04How to Welcome a New Employee with Sample Letters
Your welcome to a new employee doesn't stop at assigning a desk and office. A mentor or buddy, introductions to coworkers, and new employee orientation are all a part of the picture.
But, your new employee welcome starts with a letter that you send to the new employee. It cements your relationship and makes the employee happy that she came onboard.And, it provides needed information that the new employee needs to start the job. See sample new employee welcome letters.
05Sample Employee Recognition Letters
Need some guidance about writing effective employee recognition letters? These recognition letters give you examples of both formal and informal employee recognition—there is an appropriate recognition letter for any occasion.
A letter magnifies the recognition that an employee experiences when offered praise or a heartfelt thank you. In an employee's eyes, a recognition letter is an appreciated, effective way for a manager or coworker to say thank you.
Employees save these letters forever and experience a renewed glow with each re-reading. Isn't that what you want to create?