A Business Letter
Letters can be an effective means of communicating for a variety of purposes. You will need to
request information, order products, make a complaint, convey your appreciation, or apply for a
job. You may also want to write letters of social correspondence. Whether you are writing for
personal or business purposes, your letters and completed forms will be judged not only on their
content but also on their appearance.
The Appearance of a Business Letter
Business letters follow certain standards of style and format.
Use plain paper (8½” X 11”).
Type your letter if possible (single-spaced, leaving an extra line between
paragraphs). Otherwise, write legibly, using black or blue ink.
Center your letter on the page with equal margins, usually one inch, on all sides.
Use only one side of the paper. If you need a second page, leave a one-inch
margin at the bottom of the first page and carry over at least two lines to the second
Avoid mark-outs, erasures, or other careless marks. Check for typing errors and
The Parts of a Business Letter
A business letter contains six parts:
(1) the heading
(2) the inside address
(3) the salutation
(4) the body
(5) the closing
(6) the signature
There are two styles used frequently for business letters. With the block form, every part
of the letter begins at the left-hand margin, and paragraphs are not indented. In the
modified block form, the heading, the closing, and the signature are aligned along an
imaginary line just to the right of the center of the page. The other parts of the letter
begin at the left-hand margin. All paragraphs are indented.
The Heading. The heading usually consists of three lines:
your street address (or post office box number)
your city, state, and ZIP Code
the date that you wrote the letter
The Inside Address. The inside address shows the name and address of the person or
organization you are writing. If -you’re writing to a specific person, use a courtesy title
(such as Mr., Ms., Mrs., or Miss) or a professional title (such as Dr. or Professor) in front
of the person’s name. After the person’s name, include the person’s business or job title
(such as Owner or Sales Manager), followed by the name of the company or organization
and the address.
The Salutation. The salutation is your greeting. If you are writing to a specific person,
begin with Dear, followed by a courtesy title or a professional title and the person’s last
name. End the salutation with a colon.
If you don’t have the name of a specific person, you can use a general salutation,
such as Dear Sir or Madam or Ladies and Gentlemen. You can also use a department or
a position title, with or without the word Dear.
The Body. The body, or main part, of your letter contains your message. If the body of
your letter contains more than one paragraph, leave a space between paragraphs.
The Closing. In closing, you should end your letter in a courteous manner. Closings
often used in business letters include Sincerely, Yours truly, Respectfully yours, and
Regards. Capitalize only the first word of the closing.
The Signature. Your signature should be written in ink, directly below the closing. Sign
your full name. Do not use a title. If you type your letter, type your name neatly below