Ill.) American School (Lansing.

Cyclopedia of commerce, accountancy, business administration ... [microform] online

. (page 19 of 27)
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letter should be acknowledged immediately, and the cause of the
delay explained. The customer then feels that he is receiving atten-



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CORRESPONDENCE AND FILING 7

tion, while if no reply is made until full information can be given,
a competitor more courteous may secure the order.

Interdepartment Correspondence. Of considerable importance
in every large organization is the interdepartment correspondence —
the notes from one department head to another. Every department
head finds it necessary at times to request information from other
departments. Even with an intercommunicating telephone system,
with which every large office and plant should be equipped, many
of these requests are of a nature that, to guard against misunder-
standings, demand written communications.

Usually, these communications call for prompt replies; a letter
from a customer may be held or some important action delayed
until the information is received. A good rule for the correspondent
is to give attention to these notes as soon as received, and answer
them at the earliest possible moment. The stenographer should,
as a rule, write these notes first, or if written in the order in which
they are dictated, should place them on the correspondent's desk
immediately. Of course, judgment must be exercised, for some of
these notes do not require immediate attention and should be held
until more important correspondence is disposed of.

There are also many notes giving instructions, either from a
department head to his subordinates, or from the executive heads
to the heads of departments. Except on general orders, aflfecting
all employes, the names of all department heads to whom the order
applies^ should appear at the head of such notes. The manager
may wish to call attention to some act, common to all department
heads, without making it a personal matter wil^ any one of them,

so writes the same note to all. For example:

July 15, 1909.
Bfr. Blake,
ICr. Watson,
Bir. Kimball,
Mr. Cobb,
Mr. Royce,
Gentlemen :

During the past few days some of you have been a little careless
about getting to the office on time. If you arrive 5 or 10 minutes late, it will
have a very unfortunate effect on the discipline of your department, and I
trust that each of you will strive to overcome the habit of arriving late — a
habit which, I am sure, is entirely due to carelessness on your part.

Yours truly,

General Manager*



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8 CORRESPONDENCE AND FILING

In the above example, five copies of the note are required, and
four of these can be carbon copies. When Mr. Blake or Mr. Watson
receives the note, he knows that it is not addressed to him alone, but
that each of the others has received a copy. Without detracting from,
but rather adding to, its effectiveness, this note leaves a much more
pleasant impression than a personal note to each man. No one
man feels that he has been singled out for criticism.

CORRESPONDENCE SHORT CUTS

Dictating by Number. One of the greatest time savers in hand-
ling correspondence is dictation by numbers. The plan is to
indicate each letter by a number, instead of requiring the stenog-
rapher to take down the name and address.

Probably 90 per cent of the letters dictated are replies to other
letters. When the correspondent has his mail ready for dictation,
he should write, or stamp with a numbering stamp. No, 1 on the first
letter answered. To tlie stenographer he will say *'No. ^" and,
instead of the name and address, this number is entered in the stenog-
rapher's notebook. The original letter, from which the address is
obtained, is turned over to the stenographer. A new series of num-
bers, beginning with No. 1, should be used each day, to run con-
secutively during the day.

Careful tests, made in different offices, show that in taking
ordinary business correspondence dictation, the stenographer wastes
about 20 per cent of the time writing the name and address. By
the use of the numl)ering plan, practically all of this time is saved.

Form Paragraphs. A large per cent of the correspondence of
the average business is a repetition of the things that have been said
before. Day after day the same (juestions are asked and answered,
the same complaints are received, the same arguments, formal ac-
knowledgments, and requests form a large part of the dictation.
Over and over the same paragraphs are used to say the same things —
a repetition and waste of time for both correspondent and stenog-
rapher, which can be done away with by the use of form paragraphs.

For illustration, the acknowledgment of remittances is entirely
formal, rarely necessitating a special letter. ]Many times, however,
the letter of remittance asks for special information, which can be .
given in the same letter with the acknowledgment. If one or more



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CORRESPOXDEXCE AM) FILING 9

form acknowledgment paragraphs are prepared to meet different
conditions, one of these can be used, saving the time required for
dictation.

Form paragraphs are especially applicable in answering pom-
plaints and in sales letters. Complaints can usually be divided into
a few classes, and one paragraph will answer all complaints of the
same kind. In sales letters, form paragraphs will answer all requests
for certain information about the product, the terms of sale, the
guaranty, etc.

Not only do form paragraphs save much time in dictation, but
they result in stronger letters. It is the experience of every corre-
spondent that he can write better letters one day than another.
The best form paragraphs are foimd in the letters written on the cor-
respondent's good days.

Form paragraphs should be arranged for ready reference. A
very satisfactory method is to w-rite them on sheets punched for
filing in a binder. The paragraphs should be numbered consecutively,
and indexed by subject. Copies should be supplied to all corre-
spondents and stenogi'aphers who have occasion to use them.

Frequently a large part of the day's correspondence can be
handled with form paragraphs, and through constant use the stenog-
rapher will become so familiar with them that he will be in a position
to answer many letters without dictation. The really efficient stenog-
rapher — one of the kind who expects to advance to the position of,
private secretary — will make a careful study of form paragraphs,
fitting himself to handle the minor correspondence, thereby saving the
moiv valuable time of the correspondent.

Talking Machines for Dictation. Every year sees an increase
in the use of the talking machine for dictation. These machines
have now been brought to a state of perfection which makes their
use feasible, and in many large offices they are used to the almost
complete exclusion of shorthand writers.

An outfit for correspondence work consists, usually, of two
machines — one for recording and one for reproducing dictation.
The correspondent dictates his letters to the n»cording machine
and passes the cylinders on which the r(M:'ord has l)een made to the
stenographer, who transeril)es on the typewriter direct from the
reproducing machine. In small offices, one machine is made to



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10 CORRESPOXDENTE AND FILING

answer every purpose, as it can be changed instantly from a recorder
to a producer.

After the dictation on a cylinder has been transcribed it is shaved,
and is then ready for a new record. This permits of the use of the
cylinders until they are worn thin, and reduces the expense to a
minimum.

The principal advantages claimed for this machine are that
it saves all of the time of the stenographer usually required for taking
dictation; the correspondent can dictate at any time without waiting
for a stenographer; the work is more evenly distributed, and con-
sequently finished earlier in the day. In
the opinion of the writer, the chief ad-
vantage lies in ha\'ing the machine at
hand ready for dictation day or night.

\Vliile in some offices the shortliand
writer has been almost entirely sup-
planted, the machine is more likely to
l^e used as an auxiliary. It can never
supply the brains of the human machine,
and is not likely to lessen the demand
for competent stenographers. Fig. 2 is
an illustration of one of the well-known
makes of correspondence machines.
clL./apt^ltjfr Correspondence Requisitions. Aeon-

siderable per cent of the letters to be an-
swennl in a business office are of such a nature that former corre-
spondence must be referred to l)efore an intelligent reply can be given.
The unsatisfactory character of the replies to many letters can l)e
traced to tjie fact that the correspondent did not take the trouble
to first find out wjiat had been written liefore.

To insure against the loss of correspondence, it should be most
carefully filed, and every letter should l>e accounted for. Also, if a
correspondent wants certain correspondence from the files he should
state explicitly what correspondence or information he desires.
Tliis not only insures his getting the information needed to formulate
an intelligent reply, but pn)tects the file clerk.

The systematic method is to have a correspondence requisition,
similar to the one shown in Fig. 3. On this re<|uisition is noted



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CORRESPONDENCE AND FILING 11

just what is wanted — invoice, order, or letter — with room for special
instructions. Chie of these requisitions should be sent to the files
whenever any papers are wanted, and nothing should be delivered
without such a requi^tion. By placing this requisition in the files,
in place of the papers removed, the file clerk can always trace missing
correspondence.



Orafi^r . Ay/«

L^t^r from DofQ

Latf^r to —- Dfffo,

L^tt9r About- Data



3/goQcf-.



Fig. 3. Requisition for Correspondence

Complaints and Changes of Address. In some lines of business,
complaints and notices of change of addresses are quite numerous.
An example is the business of publishing a weekly or monthly period-
ical. Many complaints are received from subscril>ers who claim
that they do not receive the publication regularly. The great majority
of these complaints can be traced, to carelessness on the j^art of the
subscriber in failing to notify of change of address.

In some businesses, the handling of complaints requires the
services of a correspondent, and a clerk to trace the complaint and
gather the information necessary before an adjustment can l)e made.
In a smaller business, the work of looking up the information usually
falls on the stenographer. But no matter who gathers the informa-
tion, the correspondent never should attempt to answer or adjust a
complaint until he has made a thorough investigation. Not until
he understands all of the causes leading up to the complaint, can he
correctly judge of its merits.



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12 CORRESPONDENCE AND FILING

The policy of having all complaints handled by one man is in
keeping with approved business practice. A man who makes a
study of the subject soon learns to handle complaints to the ultimate
satisfaction of all concerned. Being independent of the selfish
interests of a particular department, he is much more likely to serve
the best interests of the house than any other man in the organization.
The sales manager, for instance, is not the best man to adjust com-
plaints of customers; he is likely to lye more lil>eral than is warranted,
because of his fear of losing trade.

When a complaint has l)een investigated, everything possible
should be done to remove the cause, and to guard against a similar
complaint in the future. The seemingly little precautions count
for much. In the matter of changes of address, for instance, it is a
small matter for the one who makes the change to see that it is made
not only on the ledger but on the sales Hst, the collection card, and
in every place where the address is permanently recorded. Failure
to make the change in one place may lead to endless confusion.

Stenographer's Reference Index. Here is a suggestion for the
special bene^fit of the stenographer. Keep in your desk a reference
index of names, addresses, and telephone numbers. There are cer-
tain persons and firms to whom your employer frequently writes
letters. These are not in reply to letters, but are written in the usual
course of business. The names of these persons should be on your
index so that when you are told to write to ]\Ir. Hunter or Mr. Roberts
you will not l>e obliged to ask the address.

Probably your employer will not ask you to keep such an index,
but surely will appreciate your knowing the addresses. When he
finds that you always know the telephone numbers of the prniter,
the bank, and other local houses with whom he dot*s business regu-
larly, as well as the addresses of prominent out-of-town correspond-
ents, he will at least not place it to your discredit.

But do not keep the addresses on sheets of paper that suix^ly
will soon become confusing on account of changes and additions
which make an alphabetical arrangement impossible. Ask for a
small card tray, holding 3"X 5" cards, that will go in the drawer of
your desk, a set of alphabetical indexes, and a supply of blank cards.
Such an outfit can be bought at any first-class stationer's for a dollar
or two. When you want to preserve an address, write it on a card,*



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CORRRSPONDENCE AND FILING 13

and file it alphabetically. If your employer will not supply the outfit,
cut slips of paper and indexes to fit one of the small compartments
in the desk drawer. Have the index, even if you must devise your
own method of keeping it; you will at least have the satisfaction of
saving many minutes of your time. And in the formation of a
systematic habit you will be adding to your equipment.

Making Corrections. All stenographers make mistakes, and
no correspondent is entirely free from faulty dictation, which neces-
sitates corrections in letters after they are written. But the time of
the stenographer and, incidentally, expense to the house, can be saved
if the correspondent will exercise reasonable care in indicating the
corrections to be made.

Do not deface the letter so that neat corrections will be impos-
sible, unless the mistake is so serious as to necessitate rewriting the
entire letter. When the wrong word has been used, draw a light
pencil line under it and write the correct word on the margin or the
end of the letter; if the word is misspelled, underline it and write the
correct spelling at the end of the line. This takes even less time than
to deface the letter, and leaves it in such shape that corrections can
be made quickly and neatly.

To the stenographer it is well to say, "If you find it impossible to
make a neat correction, rewrite the letter." Nothing gives a more
unfavorable impression of a house than an untidy letter, and your
employer is more willing to overlook an occasional mistake than a
letter filled with visil)Ie erasures. ,

COPYING CORRESPONDENCE

Copies of outgoing correspondence are a part of the system of
every business office. There was a time when copies of important
letters were made by hand, and then came the copying press and
tissue impression book with many cloths, wringers, pans of water,
and other paraphernalia for moistening the sheets of the book. The
copying press Is an awkward machine, diflScult to operate, and
altogether unsatisfactory, but, until a l)etter method was offered,
it answered the purpose.

One of the greatest defects in the copying-book method is the
impossibility of making uniformly clear copies; some will be clear
while others are blurred, and the important letter is usually the one



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14 CORRESPOXDEXCE AND FILING

that is illegible The diflSculty in securing clear copies is due to the
impossibility of securing uniform pressure. While the copying press
is still found in a few small oflSces, it is practically obsolete, and not
used in offices where modem efficient methods receive consideration.

Carbon Copies. A simple method of obtaining copies of out-
going letters, invoices, orders, etc.. is to make duplicates by means
of carbon paper. In its adaptability and far-reaching eflFect, the
sheet of carbon paper has proved to be one of the greatest of all aids
to modem business methods. Ust»d in connection with a typewriter
of modem construction, the carbon sheet has revolutionized mani-
folding processes, making possible as many duplicate copies of any
paper as are required in ordinary business.

The carbon method of obtaining copies of letters has the merit
of economy in time. When the letter is written, the copy is made;
if extra copies, up to a half-dozen, are wanted, all are made at one
writing. If the last letter is being written when it is time for the mail
to leave the office, it need not be held to make a copy.

The carbon method is not expensive. Good carbon paper costs
2 cents or less a sheet, and for 1,000 copies only about 30 sheets are
required. A satisfactory quality of plain paper for copies can be
bought for $1.00 or less a thousand. These prices are naturally
subject to slight fluctuations, depending on the quantities purchased
and the locality.

A defect in the carbon method is found in the manner of making
corrections. It is not uncommon for a man to make a slight correc-
tion, or add a note, in his own handwriting; such corrections and
additions cannot appear on the carbon copy. WTien corrections an*
made on the typewriter, it is very difficult to obtain a clear copy of
the correction on the second, or carbon, sheet — the correction on the
copy is very likely to be blurred. If the correction is written directly
on the copy, without using carbon paper, the essential feature of the
copy is destroyed; it is no longer a facsimile, and its value as evidence
is very materially lessened.

Mechanical Copiers. There are now on the market several
mechanical copiers, without the many disadvantages of the copying
press, or the defects of the carbon methcxl. One of the most satis-
factt)ry and best known is the roller copier. The fundaim^ital
principle of the roller copier is that of the clothes wringer; the original



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CORRESPONDEXC^E AND FILING 15

lctU*r, with a wet tissue sheet placed against tlie writt<»n side, is passc^d
Ix^tween rublxT rollers, to which just the right amount of pressure is
applied.

Working from the clothes-wringer idea as a basis, the inventor
of the roller copier set about to remedy the defects of the copying
press. It was found that clear copies could be obtained only under
certain conditions; the pressure must be absolutely uniform, and the
tissue sheet must be moistened evenly.



Fig. 4. Mechaoism o( the Yawman & Erbe Roller Copier

As to the pressure, it was found that too much or too little re-
sulted in unsatisfactory copies — some faint, others blurred — the
very defect that had made the use of the copying press objectionable.
This was overcome by using an adjusting scrtnv by which the exact
pressure required could l)e obtained. Biit, if the pressure were left
on all of the time, the rubber rollers would soon be flat. So, an ad-
justment lever was added, by which the pressure could be thrown
on before copying, and thrown off when the machine is not in use.

To adjust a single sheet of tissue paper so that it would lie
smooth on the letter, wa.s out of the question. This diflSculty was
overcome by copying on a continuous roll, and the problem of moistc^n-
ing was solved by passing the pa{x*r through water, insuring equal
moisture over die entire surface. >



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If) CORR?:SP()NDKX( H AND FILING

The mechanism of the roller copier is shown in Fig. 4. The
paper from the roll is passed under the dampening roll in the water
tank, then between the large roller and the wringing roller, over die
same large roller and between it and the copying roller, thence out
over the flanged roller and down to the winding reel. The pressure
on the wringing and copying roller is adjusted by the adjusting

screws A and B, and the ad-
justment lever throws the
pressure on or off. The letter
to be copied is laid face down
on the feeding shelf, the edge
is placed /under the copying
, pressure thrown on, and a turn
' crank carries the letter through
^ receiving basket, leaving a per-
"opy. If additional copies are
hI — any number up to a half-
i — the operation is repeated for
copy.

e paper on which the copies

, been made passes to a winding

Fig. 5. ^"«»;^»viewofthe ^eel Under the copier, as shown in

Yawman & Erbe Roller Copier ^ ^ ^ * '

Fig. 5. This is a large rectangular
reel on which the paper is stretchetl tighdy, so that it will l)e
smooth when dry. The open constniction of the reel affords free
circulation of air, drying the copies very quickly. After the
day's copying is done, the action of the ma(4iine is reversed by the
turn of a thumbscrew, the paper is broken above the last copy, that
on the reel is brought back over the copier, and the letters cut apart
with the cutting knife at the end of the feeding shelf. The separate
copies are then ready for filing witli tfie original letters, keeping
letters and replies together.

Among the advantages claimed for (he maclnne are certainty of
legible copies, copies of all corrections, and economy of operation. The
copies are made after the letter has bec^n written and corrected;
consequently it must \yc a fa<'simile. If a note is written at die
bottom or on the margin, it is shown in tlie copy.

Copying is the last operation before maihng. Frequentiy a



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CORRESPONDENCE AND FILING 17

man finds, after the letter is written, that he needs additional copies.
With the carbon system it is necessary to rewrite the letter; with the
copier, the copies can be obtained any time before the letter is mailed.
The copier is economical in operation. The best quality of
paper costs .30 cents a roll, and a litde more than one roll, or about
00 cents' worth of paper is re(juired for l,(X)0 copies; and there is no
carbon paper to buy. The office lK)y can operate the copier, and it
takes but a few minutes to copy the day's mail of the average con-
cern. If desired, the machine can be obtained with an electric motor
attached, but this power is really unnecessary unless the correspond-
ence averages 300 or more letters a day.

STENOGRAPHIC DIVISION

As has l>een stateil elsewhere in this scries of books, the modern
plan for a large organization is to have an independent stenographic
diWsion or department. Instead of each department head and cor-
respondent having one or more stenographers in his office, to handle
his work only, this plan contemplates placnng all stenographers and
typists in one room, in charge of a chief stenographer. Except where
an executive officer has a stenographer who acts as his private secre-
tary, this plan is now carried out in the most highly organized of our
larger enterprises.

The stenographers are subject to the call of any correspondent,
the chief stenographer supplying the one who is first available. The
plan is sometimes modified to the extent of holding a stenographer for
the work of a certain correspondent during stated hours; the stenog-
raphed l)eing, at other times, available for any other correspondent.

The plan has proved to be economical and beneficial in many
other ways. It Ls economical, as it reduces the number of stenog-
raphers actually needed to handle the work. Under the old plan,
some of the stenographers are idle a part of the time, or obliged to
do copy work to keep busy. For example, in a certain house, two
departments were located in adjoining rooms. The department
heads each had more work than one stenographer could do, but not
sufficient to keep two busy all the time; it was necessary for each
to employ two stenographers — four in all — ^and let them fill in a
part of their time addressing envelopes, and similar work. The
plan of having a common stenographic force was tried, and three



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18 CORRESPONDENCE AND FILING

stenographers handled the. work of both departments, with some
time to spare for the work of other departments — a clear saving of
25%.

ITie stenographer is benefited by becoming familiar with the
correspondence of all departments. While not learning all of the
secrets of one department, the stenographer obtains a much better


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Online LibraryIll.) American School (LansingCyclopedia of commerce, accountancy, business administration ... [microform] → online text (page 19 of 27)