Writing a Formal Business Letter

Most people would not write a formal business letter in crayon because it would never be taken seriously. And if your letter is not presented in the proper format and style, then it will leave almost as bad an impression as it would had it been written in crayon. Whether your letter is a compliment or complaint, a request for information or a provider of information, here is what needs to be included in that letter for it to be taken in its most appealing light:

A – As if crayon was bad enough, formal business letters must never be hand written. Always type them out. Handwriting is absolutely wonderful for letters and notes, but completely inappropriate for formal business communications.

B – Personal/business letterhead is important, but not necessarily required. Just use formal stationary pages of the normal 8 ½”x11″ with a matching envelope. That means not the cheap copy paper from your usual printer pack of 500 in a package.

C – If you aren’t using personal letterhead stationary, four to six lines from the top center of the page, type your name with title, and return address.

D – The complete date goes between two and six lines below the letterhead or return address, most commonly on the left side of the page.

E – Speaking of the left side, the left side of the letter should be justified. The right side is optional, either justified or not. It sometimes looks better justified, and sometimes looks better not justified. Try it both ways before printing it out.

F – After the date, skip another two lines before putting the recipient’s name (including Mr., Mrs., Dr., or whatever), title, and address. Naturally, the recipient’s name and address go flush with the left hand margin.

G – Two to four lines later, use your greeting and the recipient’s name followed by a colon. I still do not know why a colon is better than a comma, but in basic scholastic mechanics, it should be a comma.

H – Then another two lines later, begin your letter with an introduction of yourself in the first paragraph, the body of the letter following. Keep the letter short and concise.

I – Then your closing. Skip two lines after the body of the letter and type in “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” or “Best wishes,” followed by a comma of course.

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