- How to format a business letter
- Business letter formatting guidelines
- Business letter template
- Business letter example
- Business writing tips
To make your business letter professional and effective, you should follow a suitable business letter format, depending on the purpose and content of the letter. Although emails are more popular than printed letters, it is still preferable to use business letters for formal communications like job offers, employee references and employment verification. Here are some basic tips and ideas on how to structure and format a business letter.
How to format a business letter
Follow these standard steps to format a business letter professionally:
1. Firstly, date the letter appropriately
Write the date in standard U.S. format, e.g., ‘April 5, 2019.’
2. Secondly, include your address
Include your street address, email and website. However, if you are using a letterhead that already includes these details, there’s no need to repeat them.
3. Next, respectfully greet the recipient by their name
Use the last name of the recipient in a greeting if the business letter is intended to be formal, such as a job inquiry, such as ‘Dear Ms. Smith.’ Using the first name is considered informal. Honor military titles like Major, General, Lieutenant and Colonel, if applicable.
If you are writing to more than one person, you may use a salutation like Team, Committee Members, or Board of Directors. Similarly, in cases of business letters that take the form of a certificate or declaration, you may use the phrase ‘To whom it may concern.’
5. Remember to include the content of the letter
This part can be broadly divided into introduction, middle section and closing. The introduction sets the context, explains the purpose of your letter and outlines what you expect from the recipient. The middle section describes the subject matter of the letter in more detail, and it may be several paragraphs long. Finally, the closing summarizes the body.
Your letter may include a call to action, which is the steps you’d like the recipient to take. For example, you may ask the reader to call you back, schedule a meeting or seek further assistance.
6. End the letter politely and clearly
Close the letter with a formal sign-off, such as ‘Sincerely,’ ‘Kind Regards’ or ‘Respectfully.’
7. Add your signature if the business letter is being mailed as a paper document
Add your signature in either blue or black ink, and write or type your name above or below it. You may also include your title, email and phone number in the signature block in typed text.
8. Remember to include any attachments necessary
If you are sending any other documents along with your letter, remember to add them as email attachments or in the same envelope as your business letter.
9. Carbon copy (CC)
If you are sending the same letter to multiple recipients, you may want to list the names and addresses of the recipients in this section.
Business letter formatting guidelines
Block format and modified block format are two of the popular layout styles for a business letter. In block format, the entire text is left-aligned without any indentation, whereas in modified block, certain portions of the letter, such as the date, sender’s address and closing, are right-aligned.
A business letter should generally follow these basic guidelines:
- Keep a margin of at least 1 inch and not more than 1.5 inches on either side of the letter.
- Business letters typically use Times New Roman or sans-serif fonts like Arial, Courier and Helvetica due to their formal look and readability. Avoid using decorative fonts like Comic Sans, Brush Script MT and Monotype Corsiva.
- Always left-align the paragraphs in the body of the letter. Any other alignment is considered unprofessional.
Use single spaces between lines and double spaces between paragraphs. Leave sufficient space for your signature between the closing and your name.
Business letter template
Following is a common business letter structure:
Your company’s name
Your street address
Your phone number
Your email address
Recipient’s company name
Recipient’s street address
Recipient’s phone number
Recipient’s email address
Business letter format example
Customer Service Manager
6023 Duchess Drive
Estelline, TX 79233
July 11, 2019
Ms. Lee Wilson
29 Stone Court
Mason, TX 76856
Re: Change in billing cycle
Dear Ms. Wilson,
In keeping with the new government telecom policy, we are revising the billing cycle of our postpaid service plans. Starting Aug. 1, we will be migrating from quarterly billing to a monthly billing cycle.
As you might be aware, the new telecom regulations require all telecom service providers to issue invoices to their postpaid customers on a monthly basis. Hence, all postpaid invoices from next month onward will be generated on the first of each month. Payment may be made by the 10th of the month. All other features of the plan remain unchanged.
This letter is for your information only, and no action on your part is needed. I thank you for your continued business.
Business writing tips
Keep the following points in mind when writing a business letter:
- Use a professional letterhead containing the name, logo and contact details of your business.
- Keep the language simple and to the point. Use unambiguous words and phrases instead of industry jargon to avoid miscommunication.
- If there are any lengthy details to share, send them as an enclosure rather than including them in the body of the letter. Keep the letter as short as possible while including all important details.
- Use a professional tone instead of casual and informal language. Be polite, sincere and courteous.
- Organize your message in a clear and logical manner.
- You may italicize, bold or highlight certain text for emphasis, but do so sparingly.
- Keep the perspective of your reader in mind, anticipating how they will react to your letter.
- Make sure you proofread the letter for readability and to correct any errors.
The way you write a business letter says a lot about your company. Be sure to use a business letter format that will leave a positive impression on the recipient.