A letter of transmittal, also called a transmittal letter, introduces a second document, such as a proposal, a draft or a report. Letters of transmittal contain information related to but not necessarily a part of the accompaniment, providing the recipient with information about the purpose or intent of the second document.
In a letter of transmittal, the writer provides the name of the accompanying document(s) and explains its purpose. This type of document is used as an introduction and may summarize important information detailed in the accompanying document. The writer also may express his wish to maintain contact with the recipient and to be considered for future engagements.
Because a letter of transmittal may contain sensitive information, such as a password to a protected file containing an electronic document, it is an important communication tool. Also, it may draw the recipient's attention to information in the document that she may have overlooked otherwise.
Though brief, a letter of transmittal can introduce the accompanying document in a number of ways. The writer may show the recipient how the accompanying document meets the expectations or goals outlined earlier. The letter may discuss how the information was gathered and who was involved, giving credit to those who could not be or were not mentioned in the document itself. The letter also may direct the recipient to act, for example, requesting suggested edits to the accompanying draft or signatures on an enclosed contract.
The letter should not include detailed or technical information. It should be simple, brief and friendly. Toward the end, consider making yourself or those you represent available in the future for additional communication and/or working partnerships. Include your contact information. If you ask the recipient to act in response to the accompanying document, provide a deadline for action.
The letter of transmittal should be sent along with the document it introduces, not ahead of time or after the report, proposal or draft has been sent. Also, treat the letter as a separate document by not physically attaching it to what it is accompanying.