Learn how to write and format a business letter to convey important information Letter Wizard for additional formatting assistance (look on the Tools menu). Sender's Address: It is a good idea to include sender's email and url, if available.
Knowledge of business letter etiquette is essential for anyone in or entering the workplace. Professional types of correspondence such as letters of application, sales letters and letters of reference differ from friendly letters in that they must follow a specific format and should never include informal or slang language. The seven parts of a business letter include: the heading, date, address of recipient, salutation, body, complimentary close and signature.
Most professional business correspondence is printed on a letterhead template. A letterhead contains the company name, address and contact information. An individual may also create a letterhead that contains his name and personal contact information. While some individuals may choose not to create a formal letterhead, it is always necessary to include a header with the sender's information.
Simply put, the date is the day the letter is sent. The most commonly used date format is: June 21, 2011. Do not abbreviate the month and always include all four digits of the year.
This is the address of the recipient. If applicable, the first line in the address block should include the recipient's name and title, and the second line should state the recipient's company or business. The third and fourth lines are designated for the actual address. For example:
Mr. John Doe, Director of Sales The Sales Firm 123 Main Street Townsville, AR 45678
Different circumstances determine which salutation or greeting is most appropriate. Use "Dear" when the recipient's name or title is known. Examples include "Dear Mr. Doe" or "Dear Sales Director." When the name or title is unknown, use "To Whom It May Concern." Always punctuate the salutation of a business letter with a colon instead of a comma.
The body is the longest part of a letter and is usually divided into three subcategories: introduction, main content and summary. The introductory paragraph states the purpose of the letter. The main content conveys all necessary detailed information and has no set length requirements. The last paragraph summarizes the information provided, restates the letter intent and offers either instructions or an inquiry regarding follow-up correspondence.
The complimentary close is a word or short phrase that basically means "goodbye." "Sincerely" is the most common closing remark. Others include "cordially," "best wishes," and "best regards." The complimentary close can vary in degrees of formality and is dependent upon the relationship between the sender and recipient.
In letters that are sent via email, the signature is simply the sender's name and title typed immediately below the complimentary close. When a letter is mailed, faxed or hand-delivered, however, there should be a large enough space below the closing and above the typed name and title for the sender to provide her written signature.
A personal-business letter is a letter that is sent from an individual to a person or business/organization. Business Get spacing correct (QS & DS). Example.
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Use a professional tone: Save casual, chatty language for email - your printed business letter should be friendly but more professional. As Scott Ober suggests in his book Contemporary Business Communication, "The business writer should strive for an overall tone that is confident, courteous, and sincere; that uses emphasis and subordination appropriately; that contains nondiscriminatory language; that stresses the "you" attitude; and that is written at an appropriate level of difficulty." That said, be sure to sound like yourself - you don't want your letter to read as if a machine wrote it.
Write clearly: State your point early in your letter. To avoid any miscommunications, use straightforward, concise language. Skip the industry jargon and instead choose lively, active words to hold your reader's attention.
Organize your information logically: Group related information into separate paragraphs. In a long, information-packed letter, consider organizing information into sections with subheads. You may want to highlight key words to make them "pop" - this technique is possible with most word-processing programs and your color multifunction printer.
Use Color To Emphasize Words In Text: It's easy to put a few words in color to draw attention to them. Just select the type and click the arrow to the right of the Font Color button, choose the color you want, then click the button. Or, try highlighting a few words in the text. Select the type you want to emphasize, then click the Highlight button. Note: When highlighting parts of a document you intend to print, use a light color such as yellow, light green, or light blue. If you wish to remove the highlighting, select the text and click the Highlight button again.
AutoText automates applying color (or any type style), which would ordinarily take numerous clicks or commands. Say you're creating a report that compares your organization's performance against that of your competitor. Word can automatically color your company's name every time it appears, making those entries easy to locate.
Be persuasive: Establish a positive relationship with your reader right away. If you have a connection to the reader - you've met before or have a mutual colleague, for example - mention it in your introductory paragraph. Whether you think your reader will agree with the point of your letter or not, it is important to find common ground and build your case from there.
Understand your reader well enough to anticipate how he or she will react when reading your letter. Address his or her needs or wishes, or a specific problem, and then outline your solution. Provide proof in the way of examples and/or expert opinions to back up your point. Make sure to maintain a friendly tone.
Conclude your letter with a "call to action." State clearly what your reader needs to do or believe to achieve the desired solution and then state what you, the writer, intend to do next to follow up.
Proofread your letter: All your careful crafting and printing can't cover up spelling or punctuation errors, which leave a lasting negative impression.
Now that you've learned the secrets of writing an effective business letter, you're ready to start composing. Good luck!
For more tips for your small business, check out our Small Business Insights.
A properly formatted business letter contains several major parts which, from the top of the document when using single line spacing in Word.
This page will teach you the how to properly format a business letter, as well as provide a wealth of examples, templates, and writing guides to help you write yours.
Table of Contents
We’ve provided extensive how-to guides for writing the following common examples of business letters. Just click the images below to download our free letter templates.
The business world is filled with intricate behavior guidelines and overly formal communication styles. A business letter allows multiple parties to exchange relevant information professionally. It can also be more impactful to a reader than an email, due its formalized structure, content, and tone.
Our general business letter template can be used for any kind of professional communication/correspondence, including cover letters and letters of interest. Simply decide if you want a letterhead, click the download button, and let our template guide you through the writing process.
Business Letter Format – Without Letterhead (Text Format)
[1234 Street Address]
[City, State, Zip]
[1234 Street Address]
[City, State, Zip]
In this paragraph, deliver a friendly and clear introduction. State the main point of the letter here. Keep this section short and to the point.
In this paragraph, explain the importance of the main point by providing compelling and persuasive reasoning.
In this paragraph, continue to provide background information to back up your reasons. You can use facts, data, and other quantifiable metrics to support your claim.
Close by restating the main point of the letter, and if you can, include a call to action.
When it comes to how to format a letter, you need to pay attention to the format of both the page and the content. Both are essential for creating the professional look that is the foundation of any proper business letter.
Before you begin writing, decide which layout you want to use. There are two common formatting styles: block and modified block. The block format has a left-aligned address and closing, while those in the modified block are right-aligned. While the block format is used more often, both are acceptable for a formal letter.
The following are the standard rules that should be adhered to when formatting the page of a formal letter:
All proper business letters should be left-aligned, any other type of alignment is considered unacceptable in most professional settings.
Your letter should be single-spaced. In addition, there should be a space between the date, address, salutation, and each paragraph. Include four line breaks between the closing and your printed name to leave space for your signature.
The standard font style is Times New Roman, size 12. However, you can use other sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, Courier, or Geneva, also at size 12. Sans-serif fonts have been credited with increased readability because of their balanced typeface.
When using a letterhead, be sure to add a horizontal line underneath it. You can refer to our letters above to see some examples.
Keep your margins between 1 to 1.5 inches. Generally speaking, 1-inch margins are the most widely accepted format for professionals.
If you want to be taken seriously, make sure all of your punctuation is used correctly.
The following tips cover all the parts of a business letter in order from top to bottom.
Most professional business letters include a letterhead – which is comprised of your name, address, phone number, and email address.
Letterheads are meant to make your letter unique, as well as help verify its authenticity to the recipient. Likewise, you can include your company’s logo on the letterhead for brand recognition and a more trustworthy appearance.
Check out the example letterheads below — both of which are acceptable methods for displaying your name and contact information. For more ideas, you can check out ourcover letter templates. See the letterhead sample:
Using a letterhead is always preferable when writing a business letter. However, if you decide to not use one, you must use the following format to maintain a professional appearance:
Example of format when not using a letterhead:
The date should be the day on which you completed the letter, written in standard U.S. format (eg. October 28, 2017). It should be written underneath the letterhead, or underneath the address on the top left of the page.
Write the recipient’s (or “addressee’s”) address on the top left side underneath the date. Begin with the name of the addressee on the first line. Some research may be necessary to find the name (LinkedIn, the company’s website, even Google search are all great tools).
Even if you’re sending your letter as an email attachment, you should still include the address to maintain a professional appearance.
The salutation you will use depends on the title of your addressee, your familiarity with them, and also the context of the letter.
If you are familiar with the addressee, then use their first name (unless they have specifically asked you otherwise).
When it comes to salutations, it is always better to err on the side of caution and be polite as possible.
The body of the letter is located underneath the salutation, and is the field where you get down to business and discuss the reason you’re reaching out to this person. Usually, the body includes several strategic paragraphs meant to inform, persuade, and convey gratitude.
Examples of calls to action:
You should always close with a positive sign-off, such as “Thank you,” “Sincerely,” or “Respectfully.” Remember to only capitalize the first word of this closing line, and to leave four lines of space between the closing line and your typed name to make room for your signature.
An enclosure note is an often neglected aspect of letter writing in the digital era. In fact, not many people actually know what ‘enclosure’ means. When you write “enclosure” in any letter you’re implying that another document is attached to the file.
Think of it as something akin to a “see attachment” note in an email. It alerts the reader to another part of your correspondence – and helps prevent them from overlooking a crucial document.
The image below shows where the word “enclosure” should be placed:
Knowing how to write a business letter is a fundamental skill for your professional life. A proper one will have most or all of the elements mentioned above. Be sure to carefully review the grammar, spelling, and format of your business letter numerous times before you send it out, to avoid leaving a poor first impression with your correspondent.
Looking for some more ideas on how to write a letter? Our experts have written of guides on how to write various types of formal letters. Check out our comprehensive letter of recommendation sample libraryfor more inspiration!
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