How to Format a Business Letter
With the quick spread and development of the Internet, e-mail has become one of the main forms of correspondence, in the business setting in particular. However, more traditional and old-fashioned printed letters are still not uncommon. Being a formal document, a business letter is often used as a means of communication between organizations. At the same time, an organization can send business letters to its workers, stakeholders, clients, etc. In other words, a simple business letter can be actually used on a daily basis since there is a number of functions it may perform, and this is why it is important to be familiar with the basic requirements for writing a solid business letter.
Sections of the Business Letter
Business letters have their own structure that should be followed. Usually, they consist of the following:
Contact information. Here, you should include your and your receiver’s names, titles, names of companies, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
Salutation. You need to address the receiver of the letter in a formal manner, so the most common phrases are “Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name” and “To Whom It May Concern.”
The body of your letter. Here, you explain the purpose of writing the letter. A good way to start it is the phrase like “I am writing with regard to…”
Closing. Try to keep this section under 2-3 sentences. Just paraphrase the main topic of your letter and thank the recipient for taking your request into consideration. Finish this with “Yours sincerely” or “Respectfully”; you may also use “Regards” or “All the best” for a more informal tone.
Signature. Place it underneath the closing. You may also provide your contact information under your signature.
Normally, business letters are single-spaced and left-justified. It is preferable to add one space between paragraphs for better readability. Also, add one after the salutation and before the closing.
There are three main formats of business letters: block (the content is left justified), modified block (the text is left justified for the most part with the exception of the contact information and closing that is placed at the center), and semi-block (similar to the modified format; the only difference is that the body of the paper is indented). You can employ any of these formats, but since the first one is the most widespread, we recommend using it. You can easily find templates for this format on the Internet, which means you definitely will not make any mistakes in format.
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Try to keep you letter as focused as possible and do not deviate form your topic. Use the language that is simple and clear. Make sure you provide all the information necessary to explain your point, but at the same time, try to be concise. You need to understand that your recipient probably constantly has to read many letters, so he or she will appreciate brief but comprehensive letters with no typos or other mistakes. If your aim is to persuade your reader to do something (for instance, to hire you or to solve a particular problem), you need to support your request with relevant and compelling arguments. Usually, this can be done by showing that the desired outcome is mutually beneficial. When you are done with your letter, double-check it for grammar and other mistakes or omissions. You may also want to ask your colleague to go through it.
When writing a business letter (especially if it is your first time), it is better to check relevant templates and examples to shape your understanding of what and how should be written. The most common types of business letter are reference letters, cover letters, job offers, appreciation letters, follow-up letters, etc. You can find the examples of these letters on the Internet.
Writing a business letter is not really difficult. All you need is to follow the basic format and stay concise and focused, and you will succeed.
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