Business Letter Writing Tips
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase business letter? Will a white envelope with fancy letterhead and stuffy writing come to mind? In many cases, you are right. Even if almost everything is done via email today, business letters are not yet extinct or are considered to be completely out of date so it still pays to know how to write and format them correctly.
Part of a Standard Business Letter Format
As you might learn in elementary school, business letters consist of different parts. This section covers what is included in each section and the correct format of the business letter.
It’s important to know how to handle business letters correctly, especially if you expect a reply. This section includes your full address, telephone number, and e-mail address. Some people like to include their full names at the top of this list, but some people consider them excessive because you will sign a letter with your name. You do not need to include this if the paper you are using has letterhead. What must be included and formatted:
- Street address
- City, Country, Postal Code
- Country (if not in the same country as your recipient)
- Your telephone number
- Your email
Spell the month and include the full year. Write the month, date, and year if you are sending a business letter in the US, but start the date with a day (for example 18 October 2018) if you are sending a letter in the UK or Australia.
Address Information (a.k.a. Inside Address)
Include recipient information, starting with their names, followed by their title and full address. Handle the recipient using Ms., Mr., or use a title that is appropriate for whatever job is required
- Job Title
- Company Street Address
- City, Country, Postal Code
- Country (optional)
The greeting used at the receiving end does not have to be the same as the one used here. It all depends on how close or familiar you are with the address, and the context of your letter. The Dean at the College of Science might be your aunt, but if you write to him in an official capacity, it’s better if you use the greetings “Dean (Last Name)” or “Dr. (Last Name)” because there is a possibility of someone else handling his correspondence. Military and religious titles must be written as is.
Not sure about the gender of the recipient? Do not use Mr. or Ms., just write “Dear” followed by their full name. If you don’t know who the person you are actually calling, “To Whom May Concern” will be done. You can also contact the department or group that will handle your letter, such as “Recruitment Committee Members” or “Condominium Association Management.” Always end the greeting with a colon, not a comma.
The body of the letter usually consists of one to three short paragraphs, each with a specific purpose and organized for clarity.
Explain the reason for the letter and what you want to achieve with it. If the recipient does not know who you are, you can also mention the reciprocal relationship here.
Provide more details about your request, such as steps you have taken or fees paid. In the case of marketing or job applications, the second paragraph is where you will sell the product you are promoting or your application.
Optional and included in situations where the second paragraph is not enough to explain the situation in full.
Closing includes one or two sentences asking the recipient to take whatever action is requested in your letter, and thank you for reading your letter.
Example of closing a business letter:
Please email me at (your email) or contact me at (your business telephone) to schedule a meeting. Thank you for your consideration. If you need to discuss anything with me or the team, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (your phone). We are always at your service.
Free closing is a sign-off phrase that is entered before your signature. You have many choices here, but in general you should avoid showing appreciation or gratitude in letters where you don’t ask for anything.
- Best regards
- With respect
- With gratitude
- With appreciation
Sign the letter under the free cover. Be sure to leave at least four spaces between your name and close so there is enough space for your signature. You might want to enter your job title, telephone number, and email address under your full name too.
Before the age of the email, people wrote “Attachments” at the bottom of the business letter to indicate that the envelope included other documents. Think of it as the printed version “see attachment” for email. Attachments are noted at the bottom left of the letter, some space under your signature, followed by a list of documents included. As an example:
- Order form
All about Proper Format of Letters and How to Write Business Letters Correctly Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Anyway, you may have several questions about Proper Format of Letters. You should keep your questions while we have provided the answers below. Yes, there are some popular questions about Proper Format of Letters to client that we got from the readers. With no talk too much, here the lists are:
What is the proper format for a business letter?
The most widely used in formal business letter is “block style”. This type of style put the whole paragraph on justified right. It uses a single space. Thus, in each paragraph, commonly it uses the double space.
How do you structure a business letter?
Anyway, there are some basic structures that you can use in a business letter. And, it must consist:
- Heading is used to convey a positive image of the company.
- Inside Address.
- Context Paragraph.
- The first paragraph of the letter will define the context, providing a clear statement of the letter’s topic and purpose.
- Action Paragraph.
Which address goes first on a business letter?
You can put this in the upper left-hand corner of the letter. Then, you can start it a little below (2 or 3 lines) the first line of your own address. If you need, you may include the name of the person you’re writing to, their job title or department, and company name at the top of this address.
How do you start a professional letter?
Anyway, you may need to choose the proper word to start your business letter. However, it may be important to catch the reader’s attention. Then, there are some word options that you can use and here they are:
- Dear Firstname Lastname; e.g., Dear John Doe.
- Dear Mr./Ms. Lastname; e.g., Dear Mr.
- Dear Mr./Ms.
- Dear Hiring Manager.
- Dear Sir or Madam.
- To Whom It May Concern.
- Dear Human Resources Manager.
- Dear Company Name Recruiter; e.g., Dear ABC Company Recruiter.
3 Types of Business Letter Formats
Business letters usually come in one of three main formats, full block, modified, or indented. Although there is no right or wrong format, there are some examples such as in university applications, where certain formats are needed. If you are not sure which format to follow, just check the previous letter you received from the institution and follow the same formatting.
1. Full Block
Full block is the most common format for business letters because it’s the easiest. You don’t need to worry about indenting and everything is justified. A single space is used instead of indenting for a new paragraph.
The modified format is rather difficult to remember because not everything is justified. Addresses, greetings, and letter bodies are confirmed, while the sender’s address, date, free cover, and signature are aligned to the right.
In the example below, there are two spaces between the sender’s address and the date when the letter was written and three spaces between the recipient’s address and the greeting. There are also two spaces between the first paragraph of the body of the letter and greetings and two spaces for each new paragraph.
The free closing sign, the signature, and the last paragraph of the letter are two separate spaces. Below is an example of a business letter in a modified format from Savvy Business Correspondence: letter format
The indent or semi-block format is similar to the modified format, except that the beginning of each paragraph has an indent.
Formatting Business Letters and Design Tips
Your business letter needs to make a good first impression, because in some cases, reading the letter will be the first time the recipient “finds” your company.
1. Professional Letterhead
The company isn’t the only one who can use letterhead. Solopreneurs, job applicants, and anyone who wants to create a brand for themselves can use letterhead to make their letters unique. Letterhead can also be used to verify the authenticity of documents to recipients, which often happens for government letters and bank letters.
The design of letterhead is diverse, the only thing that is consistent is that it must include your company name and logo, address, and contact information. If you don’t have a logo or company name, just replace it with the part with your full name. Because business letters are formal, choose a letterhead design that isn’t too busy or colorful so that it reduces the message you send.
Do not use scented stationery or paper. Want to make your own letterhead? See this template from Envato:
2. Margin of Business Letters
It’s best to save the tree, but don’t put too much text into one page that doesn’t have any margins left. Leave 1 “to 1.5” per side.
3. Regular Fonts
Avoid fonts that are fancy and hard to read cursive. Choose Verdana, Arial, Courier New, or Times New Roman with a minimum font size of 12.
4. Formal Letter Spacing
Use one space between paragraphs to make letters easier to read. You must also use at least one space between all letter elements, except between your signature and the printed name where four line breaks are needed.
5. 2-page letterhead for Additional Pages
Business letters must be concise enough to only require one page, but that is not always true. Legal contracts, complaints and advice letters sometimes require additional pages.
To avoid confusion if the letter pages are separate, the second and subsequent pages must include letterhead and page numbers at the top. You might also want to enter the recipient’s name and date.
Type of Business Letter
Business letters are sent for all kinds of reasons. Businesses send it to their customers or to other businesses where they work, such as vendors or logistics partners. Individuals write business letters for business and less formal purposes as well. Here are some examples of types of business letters:
Not all complaints can be broadcast and handled properly on social media, some topics are a bit sensitive or embarrassing if you don’t want the risk to become viral. Then there are complaints when calls to the company’s customer service hotline are not enough. For all these complaints, a printed complaint letter is the answer.
Keep your complaints short, to the point, and polite. Don’t just make it about the company’s mistakes, tell them what you want them to do about it.
2. Resignation Letter
Resignation letters are what employees send to their superiors when they want to quit their jobs. In many cases, you must allow at least 14 days or two weeks before the official departure date of the company.
Below is an example of a letter of resignation from an American Recruiter: Resignation-letter
Note: If you do not know the sex of the person who will receive your letter, it is better to use general greetings such as “to whom is interested” rather than using “Father / Mother.” or “Sir.”
3. Cover letter
A printed cover letter is sent along with a resume to explain briefly why you are a good candidate for the job. A good cover letter is like an appetizer in the sense that it gives recruiters a taste of what they can expect from you, without having to repeat what is already on your resume. Read this guide for more information on writing a cover letter:
4. Letters of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation is sent to verify the applicant’s good reputation with the previous employer or manager. In some cases, this recommendation is nothing more than a template made by someone from HR after filling in the blanks about the employee’s start and end dates.
If you write a cover letter for good employees, it would be better if you go beyond the template to show that you value your time working together. See this guide if you need help writing a recommendation letter:
5. Letter to Request Information
Letters asking for information are often sent to businesses by individuals or representatives of other businesses when they want information about certain products or services. These letters can also be written to government offices when requesting information about applying for permits or asking about government procedures.
- 1 Business Letter Writing Tips
- 2 Part of a Standard Business Letter Format
- 3 Body Text
- 4 Closing
- 5 All about Proper Format of Letters and How to Write Business Letters Correctly Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 6 3 Types of Business Letter Formats
- 7 Formatting Business Letters and Design Tips
- 8 Type of Business Letter