Beware of Automatic Letter Generators
Copyright © Shaun R. Fawcett
If you’ve spent any time online looking for letter writing help you have no doubt come across software programs that “automatically generate” various types of letters.
There are two typical ways in which these software letter generators work:
Basic Letter Generators
The most basic type of letter generator presents you with a list of letters that you can choose from. Once you choose the item that comes closest to your need, you are then presented with a short unformatted “bare-bones” generic letter template with a bunch of blank fields that you must fill in such as: [name], [date], [company], etc. After you’ve filled in the blanks you’re supposed to cut and paste that resulting text into your word processing program as your final letter.
Phrase-Based Letter Generators
The second letter generator model is a bit more sophisticated but still has some problems. These software programs present you with a series of “generic phrases” for each type of letter. You then select and paste the most appropriate phrase choices into your unformatted draft letter template. What you typically end up with is a bunch of unrelated generic phrases loosely strung together. The result is an unformatted rough draft that will definitely require a serious editing job before you can use it.
All I can say about these products is BUYER BEWARE! Although it might have seemed like a good idea at the time, these “software letter generators” are only slightly better than the typical fill-in-the-bank templates.
Here are the problems with the typical automatic letter-generator software:
- For each letter, you get to choose from a half-dozen or so, completely out of context, independent/unconnected pre-written, one-liner phrases that you have to plug into your letter as separate sentences.
- The final software-generated-letter is a disjointed collection of weakly-linked sentences and/or paragraphs that actually needs a professional editing job just to make it presentable before sending it out.
- You do not get “in-context” mental stimulation and visual cues to help you visualize the final finished product, as you do with a real-life template.
- The final letters come entirely unformatted so that you then have to completely set-up and format the letter from scratch before it can be sent.
In addition, software letter generators provide little or no guidance in the way of tips, pointers and information on the best ways to approach writing the different types of letters. (Trust me, not all letters are equal! There are some specific things you need to know about writing some of the more complex letters).
How do I know all of the above?
I’ve done my research and purchased and tested the most highly advertised software letter generators on the market. In fact, actually using these products and seeing the resulting “letters” was a major incentive for me to continue developing the downloadable fully-formatted “real-life templates” that go into all of my writing kits.
As I said, software letter generators might seem like a good idea in theory, but in my opinion they just don’t do the job of a real-life template.
Bottom Line: Use software-based automatic letter generators at your own risk.
About the Author: Shaun Fawcett is Webmaster of two of the most visited writing-help Web sites on the Net. He is the author of numerous “how-to” books on everyday practical writing help. He also writes about how to create and publish books and ebooks. His main “writing tools” site is: