How to Write a Formal Business Letter


The business-letter format is very important for communicating formally with a company. You shouldn't write in the same voice as when you write family or friends, a business letter needs to be more formal. These steps describe the full block format, in which all lines start at the left.

Things You'll Need

  • Envelopes
  • Computers
  • Printers
  • Printer Paper
  • Postage Stamps
  • Type the letter using a word processor. Formal letters should not be written by hand.

  • Use your own letterhead. If you don't have letterhead, use formal, 8 1/2-inch-by-11-inch stationery with a matching envelope. Avoid store-bought note cards.

  • If you don't have preprinted letterhead, type your name, title and return address four to six lines down from the top of the page.

  • Type the date two to six lines down from the letterhead or return address. Three lines below is the standard.

  • Choose your alignment: left aligned or justified on both sides.

  • Skip two lines and type the recipient's full name, business title and address, aligned at the left margin. Precede the name with Mr., Ms. or Dr. as appropriate.

  • Skip two to four lines and follow with your greeting, again using the formal name and closing with a colon "Dear Mr. Jones:" for example.

  • Skip two more lines and begin your letter. Introduce yourself in the first paragraph, if the recipient does not already know you. Examples: 'We recently met at a seminar at the Biltmore' or 'I recently purchased an insurance plan from your company.'

  • Continue with the body of the letter, stating your main purpose for writing. This may be to lodge a complaint, compliment the business on its products or services, or request information. Be as brief and concise as possible.

  • Skip two lines and conclude the letter with 'Sincerely,' 'Thank you' or 'Best wishes,' followed by a comma.

  • Leave at least four blank lines for your signature, then type your name and title. Sign the letter in ink in the space created.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some people prefer to center the date and closing section instead of aligning them at the left.
  • Try to keep the letter to one page. Generally, a short letter will get a quicker response than a long, rambling composition that takes several pages to come to the point.
  • Make certain your punctuation, spelling and grammar are letter-perfect. Use your computer's spell-checking program or have someone proofread the letter before you send it.
  • No matter how upset you are with the recipient, try not to show your anger in your letter. You are much more likely to get the response you desire if you remain courteous.

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