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Correct spacing for business letter

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Correct spacing for business letter
October 12, 2018 Anniversary Wishes 2 comments

Professional correspondence like business letters have different rules and follow a The Correct Way to Use Suites in Addresses there should be a large enough space below the closing and above the typed name and title.

How To Use The Correct Business Letter Format

Be a Professional: Use the correct business letter format.

The way a business letter looks immediately gives the reader their first impression even before they read it. The quality of the paper, letterhead design, the margins, spacing and more all have something to say about the organization.

A weakness in any of these elements can detract from the effectiveness of the message, even though it is expertly written. To put it simply, you look unprofessional.

I have a long list of the elements of the formal business letter format below. There is also a few samples with all the elements highlighted for easier reference.

Common Business Letter Format Elements

The following example contains the most common elements in a professional business letter format.

For easier reference, the letter in the infograph above.

1: Your own address. 

In most business situation, you will be using your company pre-printed letterhead. If you are using a blank paper, then type out the address.

2: Date Lines

Place the date at least two spaces below the letterhead. The line may be flush left or right, or centered below the letterhead.

Do not abbreviate the month or use nd, st, or th with the day numbers, like May 5th, 2011. Also, do not use a month’s number, like 6/23/11.

Both date orders listed below are appropriate; however, the latter is used mainly by the government, the military, and those outside the United States.

December 10, 2010
10 December 2010

3: Receiver Address

Type the receivers address in this section.
City, State Zip

Make sure a person’s name is spelled correctly. A recipient may decide to ignore a letter that was written by someone who cannot spell his/her name.

Do not use both the title and the degree of a person. For example, write either Howard Wyatt, D.D.S. or Dr. Howard Wyatt and not, Dr. Howard Wyatt, D.D.S.

Two or more men are addressed as Messrs., which means Misters. Do not use first names with this abbreviation.
Messrs. Smith, Wyatt, and Fury

Two or more women are addressed as Mesdames, Mmes., or Mses. Do not use first names with these abbreviations:
Mses. Farb, Lionel, and Gray

When addressing couples, give both appropriate titles:
Dr. and Mrs. Harold Wright
Mr. Harold Wright and Dr. Margaret Wright
Drs. Harold and Margaret Wright
Dr. Margaret Wright and Mr. Steven Jones
Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Adams-Quinn
Ms. Margaret Wright
Mr. Steven Jones

In selecting a title, always notice the way an individual identifies him or herself. For example, some who hold degrees do not use their titles while others do.

Some married women prefer Mrs.; others prefer Ms. If you do not know the title the woman prefers, use the standard Ms. or drop the title altogether:

Place the inside address at least two lines below the date.

Place a person’s title after his name unless it is unusually long, then go to the next line.
Ken Green, President
Ken Green
Vice President of International Operations

The comma before the abbreviations Jr. and Sr. is optional.
Michael Jordan, Jr.
Michael Jordan Sr.

4: Salutation

Always use the name of the individual if you know it.

Dear Amy: (personal friend or close business associate)
Dear Mrs. Rider:
Dear Miss Spears:
Dear Ms. Tyler: (use Ms. If you don’t know the marital status or the preference)
Dear Mr. Farnham:
Dear Dr. Doom:
Dear Sir Elton John:

If you don’t know the name of the individual, address it to the individual’s title in the company and then use dear Sir or Madam: Here is an example:

Head of Human Resource
ABC Company
123 Sesame Street

Dear Sir or Madam:

But please only use this if you really cannot find out the name of the person. Most companies will tell you who the person is. All it takes is a phone call. It is also quite easy to find this information on Linkin these days.

If you are addressing to an organization and not an individual, then use the following:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

And if you want to highlight the letter to an individual(s) in the organization, use the attention line as follows:

Attention: Miss J. Fonda, CEOand Mr. M.Jackson, CFO

Ladies and Gentlemen:

5: Letter Body

This is the body of your letter. The rest of this site explains more about how to write effectively for each type of letter you want to write. I try to cover how to write the body effectively so that you can get your message across and achieve your objective.

6: Complimentary close

For a normal business letter format, I prefer to use Regards, Sincerely, and Sincerely yours. Other acceptable formal business letter close includes Cordially, Cordially yours, Very sincerely yours, Very cordially yours, Yours very truly, Very truly yours and if the person is of high stature, Respectfully yours.

Dig Deeper: More on business letter closings
Including the last sentence of the letter.

7: Signature

Do use a title (Mr., Miss, Ms) to indicate your preference and you gender and give you First and Last Name.

Your official business title goes under your name. This is optional and depends on how serious you want to be. For example, a formal employment offer letter would require one.

The Paper

I recommend using the 20lb for normal use and 32lb for important letters like resume cover letters and thank you letters.

Color: White is the standard and should usually be used. Light tints (gray, blue, green, etc) are also becoming popular.

Size: To me the Letter or A4 are the only acceptable sizes. There are other sizes but I don’t recommend it unless you are in the creative field or you are trying to capture attention for a sales letter.


In a business letter format, there are many layouts; the three most popular are the semi-blocked, blocked and full-blocked. Below are samples of how these layouts will look like on a two page letter. (click on the image below to see the samples)

Whatever layout you wish to use, it does not really matter. As for me, I prefer the blocked simply because it is easier to type on the computer.


Left and Right 1 Inch
Top and Bottom 1 ½ Inch


Most business letters using the correct business letter format are single spaced. Use double space for short letters. Leave one blank line between paragraphs, 2 Blank lines before the complementary close (i.e. Sincerely) and 3 to 4 lines for the signature.


Make sure the address on your envelope is easy to read so that it does not get tossed in some mail room. Place the address just below the vertical center and just to the right of the horizontal center.

Any special instruction such as “Personal,” “Please Forward,” or “Confidential,” goes on the left side of the envelope below the return address. Place an “attention line” directly below the company name on an envelope.

Confidential: Ms. Susan Johnson

Make sure the address on the envelope is written so that a postal worker can read it at a glance.

When both a street and a post office address are given, the postal service will deliver your letter to the address that appears directly above the zip code.

On the envelope address, type the names of foreign countries all in caps.

Spell out all numerical street names from one to ten.
127 Ninth Avenue, North
127 E. 15 Street
Five Park Avenue
One Wingren Plaza

Use a hyphen between street and residence numbers.
556 - 91 Street

Professional correspondence like business letters have different rules and follow a The Correct Way to Use Suites in Addresses there should be a large enough space below the closing and above the typed name and title.

Proper Spacing for Business Letters

correct spacing for business letter

Writing the Basic Business Letter

Parts of a Business Letter

This resource is organized in the order in which you should write a business letter, starting with the sender's address if the letter is not written on letterhead.

Sender's Address

The sender's address usually is included in letterhead. If you are not using letterhead, include the sender's address at the top of the letter one line above the date. Do not write the sender's name or title, as it is included in the letter's closing. Include only the street address, city, and zip code.


The date line is used to indicate the date the letter was written. However, if your letter is completed over a number of days, use the date it was finished in the date line. When writing to companies within the United States, use the American date format. (The United States-based convention for formatting a date places the month before the day. For example: June 11, 2001. ) Write out the month, day and year two inches from the top of the page. Depending which format you are using for your letter, either left justify the date or tab to the center point and type the date. In the latter case, include the sender's address in letterhead, rather than left-justified.

Inside Address

The inside address is the recipient's address. It is always best to write to a specific individual at the firm to which you are writing. If you do not have the person's name, do some research by calling the company or speaking with employees from the company. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. Follow a woman's preference in being addressed as Miss, Mrs., or Ms. If you are unsure of a woman's preference in being addressed, use Ms. If there is a possibility that the person to whom you are writing is a Dr. or has some other title, use that title. Usually, people will not mind being addressed by a higher title than they actually possess. To write the address, use the U.S. Post Office Format. For international addresses, type the name of the country in all-capital letters on the last line. The inside address begins one line below the date. It should be left justified, no matter which format you are using.


Use the same name as the inside address, including the personal title. If you know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation (for example: Dear Lucy:). In all other cases, however, use the personal title and last/family name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation.

If you don't know a reader's gender, use a nonsexist salutation, such as their job title followed by the receiver's name. It is also acceptable to use the full name in a salutation if you cannot determine gender. For example, you might write Dear Chris Harmon: if you were unsure of Chris's gender.


For block and modified block formats, single space and left justify each paragraph within the body of the letter. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. When writing a business letter, be careful to remember that conciseness is very important. In the first paragraph, consider a friendly opening and then a statement of the main point. The next paragraph should begin justifying the importance of the main point. In the next few paragraphs, continue justification with background information and supporting details. The closing paragraph should restate the purpose of the letter and, in some cases, request some type of action.


The closing begins at the same vertical point as your date and one line after the last body paragraph. Capitalize the first word only (for example: Thank you) and leave four lines between the closing and the sender's name for a signature. If a colon follows the salutation, a comma should follow the closing; otherwise, there is no punctuation after the closing.


If you have enclosed any documents along with the letter, such as a resume, you indicate this simply by typing Enclosures below the closing. As an option, you may list the name of each document you are including in the envelope. For instance, if you have included many documents and need to ensure that the recipient is aware of each document, it may be a good idea to list the names.

Typist initials

Typist initials are used to indicate the person who typed the letter. If you typed the letter yourself, omit the typist initials.

A Note About Format and Font

Block Format

When writing business letters, you must pay special attention to the format and font used. The most common layout of a business letter is known as block format. Using this format, the entire letter is left justified and single spaced except for a double space between paragraphs.

Modified Block

Another widely utilized format is known as modified block format. In this type, the body of the letter and the sender's and recipient's addresses are left justified and single-spaced. However, for the date and closing, tab to the center point and begin to type.


The final, and least used, style is semi-block. It is much like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead of left justified.

Keep in mind that different organizations have different format requirements for their professional communication. While the examples provided by the OWL contain common elements for the basic business letter (genre expectations), the format of your business letter may need to be flexible to reflect variables like letterheads and templates. Our examples are merely guides.

If your computer is equipped with Microsoft Office 2000, the Letter Wizard can be used to take much of the guesswork out of formatting business letters. To access the Letter Wizard, click on the Tools menu and then choose Letter Wizard. The Wizard will present the three styles mentioned here and input the date, sender address and recipient address into the selected format. Letter Wizard should only be used if you have a basic understand of how to write a business letter. Its templates are not applicable in every setting. Therefore, you should consult a business writing handbook if you have any questions or doubt the accuracy of the Letter Wizard.


Another important factor in the readability of a letter is the font. The generally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used. When choosing a font, always consider your audience. If you are writing to a conservative company, you may want to use Times New Roman. However, if you are writing to a more liberal company, you have a little more freedom when choosing fonts.


Punctuation after the salutation and closing - use a colon (:) after the salutation (never a comma) and a comma (,) after the closing. In some circumstances, you may also use a less common format, known as open punctuation. For this style, punctuation is excluded after the salutation and the closing.

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Formatting Your Business Letter: Definitions, Tips and Examples

correct spacing for business letter

The standard business letter format is designed for simplicity, and using it correctly is a mark of good manners and professionalism. Using proper spacing and format gives your correspondence a polished, proper look and allows the recipient to find essential information at a glance. Always use a 12-point, serif typeface such as Times New Roman. Left justify all text.

Formatting the Inside Address

If you are not using letterhead, type your street address, city, and ZIP code in the upper left hand corner of the page. Type each address fact on its own line, as if addressing an envelope. Skip one line and type the date, spelling out the name of the month and using a comma after the day. Space down about one inch and type the recipient's courtesy title (Mr., Ms., Dr.), name, formal job title and address.

**123 Apple Drive Pietown, Kansas 12345

July 15, 2016

Ms. Jane Evans, Personnel Manager Acme Widget Corporation 269 Crusty Parkway Pietown, Kansas 12345**

Formatting the Salutation

Type your salutation one inch below the last line of the recipient's address. Use the same courtesy title you used in the inside address. If you are writing to someone whose name you don't know, "Dear Personnel Manager (or other job title)" and "Dear Sir or Madam" are acceptable, as is "Dear Acme Widget Corporation." If you have a name but aren't sure of gender, you may substitute the first name for "Mr." or "Ms.": Dear Chris Williams. Use a colon after the salutation, and skip a line before you begin the body of your letter.

Formatting the Body of Your Letter

Use single line spacing; leave a blank line between paragraphs. Stick to the basic format of a friendly greeting and statement of the letter's purpose in your first paragraph, facts and supporting evidence in the second and a summary and a call to action, if appropriate, in the third. Thank your reader for her time and attention on a separate line just above your closing.

Formatting Your Closing

One line below the end of your last paragraph, type "Sincerely yours" or "Best regards," followed by a comma. Skip four spaces, leaving room for your handwritten signature, and type your name. If you're enclosing one or more documents with your letter, skip a line and type "Enclosed" or "Enc." and list them. If you are sending copies of your letter to more than one person, skip another line and type "cc:" and the names of all recipients.

Learn the correct layout to use when writing a business letter with these on business letters, including selecting a font, paragraph spacing.

Q. What is block format when writing a paper or letter?

correct spacing for business letter

Block format is typically used for business letters. 

In block format, the entire text is left aligned and single spaced. The exception to the single spacing is a double space between paragraphs (instead of indents for paragraphs).

An example block style letter is shown below and can be linked to in our eBook, The AMA Handbook of Business Writing, page 455.

Another sample block-style letter is provided below from the eBook Everyday Letters for Busy People. (Click on the link to the left or the image below to go directly to this section in the eBook!) Note: Your block letter will likely not include the "Account Number" line, "Attention: Customer Service Manager", or "Receipt enclosed".

If you have been asked to complete a project in both block style and APA style, ask your instructor for clarification. It is likely that s/he wants you to cite your sources using APA style and format the letter using block style.

*APA does use block quotations for quotes of 40 or more words, but this is something entirely different from block letter format. If you need information about block quotations, NOT block letters, visit: http://rasmussen.libanswers.com/faq/32569


WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Examples of Business Email Writing in English - Writing Skills Practice

Using proper memo format. Setting margins. Aligning text. Using the default tab. Setting line spacing. Formatting a bulleted list. 2 Block Style Business Letter.

correct spacing for business letter
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