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How to Write a Business Letter

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Knowing how to write effective business letters is a practical skill. Business letters serve a variety of purposes from expressing complaints to requesting information to applying for jobs, and how well writers present themselves in business letters can have a significant impact on their futures.

Business Letter Format

Business letters follow simple formats and are typically concise. Most audiences do not wish to read a business letter over a page in length; however, occasionally it may be necessary to write longer letters. The expected format includes three paragraphs as well as the other obligatory parts of a letter: dateline, addresses, salutation, and complimentary close. Several typed formats are acceptable for business letters. One popular format is block style, where all information is generated from (or flush with) the left margin.

Unless letterhead is used, the first section of a business letter is the sender's address, known as the "heading." No abbreviations other than the state abbreviation are used in the addresses within a business letter. This address should be single spaced. After this address but within the heading, the date is included. Two lines are skipped and the "inside address" appears. It too is single spaced. Unlike the address in the heading, which does not include the sender's name, the inside address includes the recipient's name. No abbreviations except for the state should be used in this address either.

Double space again between the inside address and the salutation. The salutation should read Dear + Title + First and Last Names of the recipient. It should be followed by a colon (:) instead of a comma. Writers should then double space between the salutation and the body of the letter.

The first paragraph should be devoted exclusively to identifying the writer and stating the purpose for writing. The second paragraph should relate any narrative or details pertinent to the situation. Finally the third paragraph should state appreciation for any action the reader might take regarding the previous contents of the letter.

The letter closes with a complimentary close located flush with the left margin and double spaced beyond the body of the letter. The close should be formal, i.e. "Sincerely" as opposed to personal--"Love always." Following the close should be four lines and then they typed version of the sender's name. Any enclosures should be itemized following the notation enc:, located three spaces below the typed name. Copies of the letter sent to other recipients may be noted at this same spot by the notation cc:.

Writers should also remember always to sign business letters. A signature provides the letter with a personal touch and at the same time authenticates its validity.

Business Letter Example

Personal Business Letter  Block Style, mixed (or closed) punctuation -  Hit enter 6 times

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October 19, 2004        Use insert date/time if you are unsure of date.  Return 4 times.

 

 

 

Ms. Susan Miller

215 Jones Road

Marietta, GA  30066   Return twice

 

RE:      VISA 1234 289 89192

 

Dear Ms. Miller:          Return twice. 

 

On reviewing my VISA statement, I noticed a charge not made by me.  The charge was in the amount of $25.89 for dinner at the Coastal Restaurant in Tampa, Florida, on July 18, 2005.  I have never been to Tampa, Florida, and could not have made this charge.  A copy of the VISA statement is attached. Double space between paragraphs.

 

Please remove this amount from my credit card. Return twice.

 

Sincerely,        Return 4 times

 

 

 

Lisa Hollis       Include your address below your name as sender

2819 Gornto Road

Valdosta, GA  31602

 

Enclosure

 

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Formats for Business Letters (Types of Business Letter)

  1. Block Style Business Letter
    • Everything is typed at the left margin.
  2. Modified-Block Style Business Letter
    • The Date, Complimentary Close, and Writer/Title are typed at a tab stop at/near the center of the document (3 inch mark).
    • Everything else is typed at the left margin.

Business Letter Template

  1. Left and Right Margins: One-inch margins.
  2. Top Margin: Two-inch margin.
    If you are using Word and the top margin is set to 1 inch, press your ENTER key six times.
  3. Date: Enter your date and press your ENTER key four times.
    • June 14, 2004
  4. Inside Address: Person who will receive the letter and press your ENTER key two times.
    • Jennifer Gill
    • 123 Sample St.
    • Business Letter, GA 12345
  5. Salutation: A greeting (and press your ENTER key two times).
    • Dear Sir:
    • Dear Madam:
    • Dear Sir or Madam:
    • Dear Ms. Gill:
    • To Whom It May Concern:
  6. Body: Type your paragraphs. Press your ENTER key two times between paragraphs.
  7. Closing: Type the closing (this depends on the type of letter you are sending) and press your ENTER key four times to allow for your signature.
    • Best regards,
    • Cordially,
    • Regards,
    • Sincerely yours,
    • Sincerely,
    • Thank you,
    • Yours truly,
  8. Writer and Title: Type your name, press your ENTER key ONCE and type your title (if needed). Press your ENTER key TWICE if you need to add an Enclosure.
  9. Enclosure: Type: Enclosure (something to be included in the envelope).

Business Letter Layout

Block Style

Business Letter Layout
Sample Business Letter
Business Letter Example 

Modified-Block Style

Business Letter Format Block Business Letter Business Letter Sample

Enclosure

Example of Business Letter

More about Business Letters

 

 

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