Sandra wrote today asking about the expression “enclosed please find”:
I took a business letter writing class in 1988 and was told NEVER to say “enclosed please find” because it’s redundant! I see correspondence from lawyers using “enclosed please find.” As the letter writer you are saying “enclosed” SO WHY would you say again, PLEASE FIND?? It doesn’t make sense.
Good question, Sandra! Here’s the short answer:
Only use “please find” if you have lost something and want your reader to find it.
Like Sandra, I have seen the phrases “attached please find” and “enclosed please find” countless times in other people’s writing. In my first office job back in college, people wrote, “Enclosed herewith please find.” Those were the painfully verbose years.
We have many options to replace those needlessly wordy phrases:
- Here is . . .
- Enclosed are . . .
- Attached is . . .
- We have enclosed . . .
- I have attached . . .
- The attached proposal includes . . .
- The enclosed document shows . . .
- Please review the attached diagram . . .
- The attached spreadsheet covers . . .
- Please use the enclosed envelope to . . .
You may be wondering whether legal documents require a formality that only “enclosed please find” and similar phrases convey. Well, legal writing expert Bryan Garner calls “please find enclosed” and like phrases “archaic deadwood.”
Garner points out that such phrases have been condemned in business writing texts since the late 1800s. In his HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, he cites an 1880 text in which a man named Richard Grant White wrote, “A more ridiculous use of words, it seems to me, there could not be.”
There’s your answer, Sandra. Let’s echo Richard Grant White’s cadence and confidence: “A more ridiculous use of words, it seems to be, there could not be.”
In your work do you still see “please find attached” and other old-fashioned phrases? Feel free to share your frustration here.