Best Business Letter Format (+ Writing Guide) [2020]

business letter format

At least once in your career, you will have to write a business letter. If you’re an attorney or in the healthcare industry, you may become more familiar with writing a better letter sooner than other professionals. Writing one of these letters is a skill that you will develop.

A business letter is a formal message between two professionals. Usually relating to either new or existing correspondence that one or the other professional is similar with.

Common cases where a business letter is used would be a complaint letter (between either an employee or colleague), a formal thank-you message, or sales letter.

Business Letter Format

Here is what should go in your business letter and act as a letter-writing guide.

Letterhead

A letterhead is where you should place information about yourself. This would contain your name, job title, email address, phone number, company name, and mailing address or return address. Your letterhead is what’s going to ensure that you receive a response to your message appropriately. And can help to receive a return response as it provides the reader the sender’s address.

Current Date

It may be helpful to include the current date in case your recipient opens the letter a few days after you send it. This can help the recipient understand how quickly to respond.

Recipient’s Name

You should include the recipient's full name (first name and last name) after a blank line between the letterhead, current date, and recipient information. This should include your recipient’s address as well. This would include the information required to address a standard business letter and a formal letter. Your recipient’s name and recipient’s address will be on the outside of your letter and envelope but it is customary to include inside the letter as an inside address.

Your Salutation

A salutation is a greeting versus an ending to a letter (link). It is always best to refer to the recipient by name. For example, if you are addressing Michael Smith, you should address “Mr. Smith” as the salutation, saying “Dear Mr. Smith”

Your First Paragraph

The first paragraph of your letter can be in block letter format or not or not. If you choose to go with the indented form of opening your message, all you need to do is press Tab on your keyboard to include this indentation. It is more indicative of a very formal business letter to indent your paragraphs. Alternatively, if you choose not to do so, you’ll be writing in block form, which is acceptable as well.

In your first paragraph you should help the recipient understand what this business writing is regarding. And set them up for comprehension of your intention of this business writing is for.

Your Body Paragraph

Your body paragraph is where you’ll get into the meat of your business letter. This is where you should create your request. And prepare to ask for your response or correspondence.

Your Letter Ending

As you end your letter, you should close it with a formal goodbye. This would include closings such as “Sincerely” or “Thank you for your time” as two examples. Always use formal closings, like the following:

Your Handwritten Signature

A handwritten signature is a good way to end your letter professionally. Include this below your printed or typed full name (first name and last name).

Your Letter Format

This concludes your letter format for writing a professional letter. It should look like this once you are complete:

business letter format

download business letter

Download Business Letter Template

Download this business letter template in Word format. Send as a letter or email. Instant download. No email required.

Download Template

Your Envelope

Don’t forget to include your address (sender’s address), the recipient’s address on your envelope before sending it. Double-check that the address is correct so you don't waste valuable time with a "return to sender" event.

Business Letter FAQ’s

Common questions from professionals asking about writing professional and business letters.

What is block format and block style business letters?

Block format and block style is when the entire message or text of the letter is left aligned and single-spaced (which what concludes the format style). This is contrary to when someone may indent paragraphs (or in indeed form). Most business letters are written in this fashion (without indentations in the paragraphs).

What is modified block format?

A modified block format letter is where the entire message or text of the letter is left aligned and single-spaced, along with the paragraphs not having any indentation. But the author’s address, current date, and closing of the letter are centered.

Is a business letter and cover letter the same?

A business letter and cover letter may have the same formatting but they are different letters and should be treated as such. A cover letter may have information like the job title you’re applying for, while a business letter may not.

Learn how to write a cover letter

Is a business letter and resignation letter the same?

A business letter and resignation may have similar formatting but are different letters. And should be treated as such. Information in the letter should be different, including the reference of an end date and reference of the job title you’re resigning from.

Learn how to write a resignation letter

Is a business letter and recommendation letter the same?

While the formats may be similar, you may want to include additional information in your recommendation letter that is not present in this sample letter and business letter template. For example, you may want to include your relationship to the person or professional you’re recommending.

Learn how to write a recommendation letter

Is a business letter and acknowledgement letter the same?

An acknowledgment letter may be used to indicate the receipt of an invoice or other type of business correspondence. You can certainly use this template to write this type of letter.

What is an enclosure notation?

An enclosure notation alerts the recipient that additional material (such as a resume or a technical article) is included with the letter.

When should I include my typists’ initials in my business letter?

Typists initial’s are only included when you are having a typist write your message or letter. The typist initials represent the person or professional who typed the letter. The way it is included in the letter looks like the following:

Sincerely,
Robert Galf

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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