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Parts of a Business Letter


In order to be taken seriously when writing to any company, it is important to understand the parts of a business letter. Ten elements need to be considered; each appears in a certain order within the letter.

The heading includes the sender’s contact information, traditionally the address and phone number. Today, an e-mail address, website, and FAX number are often included. Companies frequently use letterhead with pre-printed logo and information. In this case, of course, do not type the address again.

This is the date the letter was completed and sent, even if the letter was started earlier and finished over time.

Inside address:
The inside address is the person and place to which the letter is directed. The recipient’s name, with an appropriate title, (Mr.; Mrs.; Miss; Ms.; Dr.; John Smith, Executive Editor) is on the first line, followed by the company name and address.

Subject line:
The subject line helps the recipient quickly comprehend the purpose of the letter. This line is headed with “RE:” or “Subject:”. Brevity is the key here; a complete sentence is not necessary.

The salutation, or greeting, always begins with “Dear” followed by the person’s name and title. The salutation is followed by a colon.

Body of the text:
A three paragraph formula is standard for the body of the text, although more may be required depending on subject. The first paragraph introduces the subject and states basic facts. Paragraph two and following elaborates or expands on the issue or concern, and gives further information. The final paragraph concludes by restating the subject, suggesting a possible solution to the problem, or asking for a resolution, and thanks the recipient for their time in reading the letter.

Complimentary closing:
A standard business closing is “Sincerely,” or “Sincerely yours,” followed by a comma.

The signature is always hand-written, and falls between the closing and the sender’s typed name. Use black or blue ink only.

Typed name:
The name is typed in standard order: first name, middle initial and last name. Women may indicate their preferred title in parenthesis before the name (Miss, Mrs., Ms, Dr.)

Typed by, encl, cc:
This line contains additional information which may be needed by the recipient, such as who typed the letter, who else is receiving a copy, and any enclosure which should be in the envelope.

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