Professional Letter and Email Writing and Format Guidelines
What's the best way to write a letter? Do paper letters still work or is email a better option? There isn't one best way to communicate. In some cases it makes sense to communicate via email, at other times you may need to send traditional typed, printed, and signed letters.
Which you choose depends on who you're communicating with, and the purpose of your correspondence. Email is quicker and easier, but some email messages never get opened and, depending on who you are writing to and why you are writing, you may be required to mail a typed and signed letter or upload it online.
Professional Letter and Email Writing Guidelines
Regardless of how you communicate, well-written letters include several sections, what you include in each section and how the document is formatted will depend on whether you are sending a typed letter or an email message.
Here are guidelines for writing letters and email messages, including how to write, format, and proofread your letters, with examples of various types of business letters.
What to Include in a Letter or Email
This guide to writing letters includes what should be listed in each part of a letter, how to address and sign typed and email communications, letter formats and layouts, and examples and templates.
Parts of a Letter
- Contact Information
- Salutation (Greeting)
- Body of Letter
How you include your contact information will be different based on how you are sending your letter. When you send an email message, your contact information will be at the end of the message instead of the top of the page.
Here's what to include and samples for both typed letters and emails.
The salutation is the greeting section of your letter. Here's a list of letter salutation examples that work well for professional correspondence.
Body of Letter
The body of your letter will include several paragraphs.
The first paragraph should include an introduction and a brief explanation of your reason for writing. The second paragraph (and any following paragraphs) should explain further your reasons for writing. The last paragraph should either request action from the reader, if you are requesting something, or state how you will follow-up.
Be sure that the purpose of your letter is clear. The reader will need to know what you are asking for and how they can help you. Or, if you are offering services or assistance what you can provide to the reader.
A letter is closed with a term like "Best regards" or "Sincerely" which is followed by a comma, then your signature if you're sending a typed letter. If you're sending a email message, simply type your name after the closing. Here's a list of letter closing examples that are appropriate for business and employment related correspondence.
The finishing touch to your letter is your signature, which, in an email message, will include your contact information.
How to Address a Letter
It's important to address the individual you are writing to formally, unless you know them very well. Here's how to address a letter including generic information you can use if you don't have a contact person at the company.
Formatting Your Correspondence
Now that you have all the information you need to include, review the standard format to use for letters and email messages:
Letter Writing Guidelines
The next step is to polish up your letter, so there is plenty of space between paragraphs and the top and bottom of the page. You will also want to select a readable, professional style and size of font. What you say will depend on the reason you're writing, so be sure to tailor your letter to fit your personal and professional situation.
Here are step by step guides to writing a variety of different types of letters, including page margins, fonts, spacing, and details of what to include, along with examples of each.
- How to Write a Reference Letter
- How to Write a Resignation Letter
- How to Write a Thank You Letter
- LinkedIn Message and Invitation Guidelines
- Professional Email Message Guidelines
Examples and Templates
Using a template is a great way to start your own letter or email message because you are starting with the basic format in place. Simply fill in your information in the appropriate section of the letter.
Looking at examples is helpful, too, because you'll get ideas for what to say in your own correspondence.
Letter samples including business letters, cover letters, interview thank you letters, follow-up letters, job acceptance and rejection letters, resignation letters, appreciation letters, business letters, and more letter samples and templates.
Email Message Examples
Employment, job search and business email message examples, plus email templates, formatted message examples, and subject line, greetings and signature examples.
Proofread and Spell Check
Finally, before you print or upload your letter or send your email message, spell check, grammar check, and proofread it. A tip for making sure there aren't any errors is to read it out loud. You may notice mistakes you didn't catch reviewing it by looking it for.
Related Articles: Letter Salutations and Greetings