How to Format the Front of a Letter

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Proper formatting is important in writing a letter. The front of the letter is the first page the recipient sees, with the mere appearance of the words and paragraphs shaping an initial tone. Letters neatly written or typed with proper spacing and style are appealing to the eye. It is important to follow good letter-writing etiquette as you write the first page, or front of the letter. Basics such as inserting the date while spelling out the month, and adding a salutation (greeting) and valediction (closing) are important.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper or letterhead
  • Pen or pencil
  • Write the letter in block format, one of the most common formats for business letters. With a block format the entire letter is left-justified, meaning each line starts at the left margin without paragraph indentations. The letter is singled-spaced with two lines between paragraphs.

  • Start the letter 8 to 10 lines from the top of front page. Enter your address if this is a blank sheet of paper, or skip this if you are writing on letterhead. Do not enter your name or title -- just your street address on one line with the city, state and zip code on the next.

  • Drop down three lines and enter the date. Skip three lines and enter the recipient's address, called the inside address. Start with the person's name while including an appropriate title such as Mr., or follow a woman's known preference for being recognized as Ms., Miss or Mrs. Don't guess at titles. Do not use a title if in doubt -- only the person's name. Place the street address on the next line, followed by the city, state and zip code on the line below.

  • Skip three lines to enter the salutation, such as "Dear Mrs. Jones" or "Dear Sally Jones."

  • Skip three lines and write the letter.

  • End with a valediction such as "Sincerely yours." Leave room for your signature by skipping a few lines and then write your printed name and title if you are writing on letterhead. Sign the letter between the valediction and your printed name.

References

  • "The Business Letter Handbook"; Michael Muckian, et al.; 1996
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
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