Several formats are acceptable in a business letter. This example utilizes a block format that is left justified (all lines are aligned with the left margin)
- Sender’s Address
In the first line of the sender’s address include your street name and number. The second line will be your city, state, and zip code. There is no need to add your name in a formal business letter as this is included in the salutation. Single-space the lines between the sender’s address.
The date should be written out fully placing the order: month, day, and year. The date will be double-spaced between the sender’s address and the inside address.
- Inside Address
The inside address is the recipient’s address. The first line will be a representative of the company. Use the full name of the contact person. Use professional titles where applicable. The second line is the official company name. The third line is the street number and address. The fourth line is the city, state, and zip code. This section is single-spaced. Use a double space between the inside address and the salutation.
Personal title rules: For males, use the personal title Mr. For females, use her preferred personal title Miss, Mrs. Ms. If you are unsure of personal preference, revert to Ms.
The salutation directly addresses to whom the letter is directed. When directing a letter to a company several variations of the salutation are acceptable depending on your association with the company.
No contact name: If you are writing to a company and do not have the name of a contact person use ‘to whom it may concern’.
Business letter between friendly associates: You can use the first name of your contact person if you would normally address him or her in this manner.
Serious business letter: Use the recipient’s full name, or use the formal Mr. Ms. Followed by the recipient’s last name.
Unlike a personal letter where the salutation is followed by a comma, in a business letter, a colon should always follow the salutation (:).
The body of a business letter explains the intent of the letter and expectations. Emotion should never enter into a business letter. The first paragraph will concisely explain the intent of the letter. The next paragraph (s) will give details supporting the first paragraph. The last paragraph will restate the intent and will include any course of action expected.
Format: The block format is the most widely accepted format for business letters. The block format is left justified, including the first line. Do not indent the first sentence of the paragraph. All sentences included in the paragraph are left justified and single-spaced. There is a double-space between paragraphs.
Font: Always use a traditional, widely accepted font in a business letter. A fancy font tends to look personal and unprofessional. Instead, use a font such as Times Roman Numeral or Arial. Choose a legible size such as size 12 Times Roman Numeral.
Leave a double-space between the last line of the body and the closing. The closing should be formal such as sincerely, your attention is appreciated, etc. Only the first word of the salutation is capitalized. Follow the chosen salutation with a comma. Double-space twice after the closing to leave room for the signature.
Type the signature four spaces below the closing.
The official signature should be handwritten in ink between the closing and the typed signature.
Additional additions may be necessary when writing a formal business letter depending on the circumstances.
Enclosures: If you have sent documents to accompany your letter, type ‘Enclosures’ below the typed signature line. List the names of the documents that were included in the correspondence to ensure that they were not separated from the letter.