Format for Writing a Business Letter
Typically, a business letter is reserved for only the most important of job-related or other professional communications: recommendation letters, cover letters, resignation letters, legal correspondence, company communications, etc. Since it's such a formal mode of communication, you'll want to make sure you have all of the formatting in place correctly. That's especially true if you're sending a hard copy to the recipient rather than an email.
The following sample letter format includes the information you need to include when writing a letter, along with advice on the appropriate font, salutation, spacing, closing, and signature for business correspondence.
Sample Letter Format
Contact Information (Your contact information. If you are writing on letterhead that includes your contact information, you do not need to include it at the start of the letter.)
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
Contact Information (The person or company you are writing to)
City, State, Zip Code
Greeting (Salutation Examples)
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name: (Use a formal salutation, not a first name, unless you know the person extremely well. If you do not know the person's gender, you can write out their full name. For instance, you could write "Dear Pat Crody" instead of "Dear Mr. Crody" or "Dear Ms. Crody." Note that the person's name is always followed by a colon (:) in a business letter, and not a comma. If you do not know the recipient’s name, it is still common (and safe) to use the old-fashioned “To Whom It May Concern:”).
Body of Letter
When writing a letter, your letter should be simple and focused, so that the purpose of your letter is clear.
Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph. Left justify your letter. Use a plain font like Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, or Verdana. The font size should be 10 or 12 points.
Business letters should always be written on white bond paper rather than on colored paper or personal stationary.
The first paragraph of your letter should provide an introduction as to why you are writing so that your purpose is obvious from the very beginning.
Then, in the following paragraphs, provide more information and specific details about your request or the information you are providing.
The last paragraph of your letter should reiterate the reason you are writing and thank the reader for reviewing your request. If appropriate, it should also politely ask for a written response or for the opportunity to arrange a meeting to further discuss your request.
Leave a blank line after the salutation, between each paragraph, and before the closing.
Best Regards, (Closing Examples)
Handwritten Signature (for a hard copy letter — use blue or black ink to sign the letter)
If you're sending an email letter, here's what to include and how to format your signature.
Tips for Writing a Business Letter
Once you have written your business letter, proofread it (using spellcheck) on the screen. Then print it out and read it through at least one more time, checking for any errors or typos.
(It's often easier to spot errors on a hard copy.)
Be on the lookout for formatting errors as well, such as two paragraphs that do not have a space in between, or lines that are indented incorrectly. Before putting your letter in an envelope, don't forget to sign above your typed name, using blue or black ink.
If you are using Microsoft Word or another word processing program to write your letter, there are templates available that can help you format your letter correctly.
Here is more information on free Microsoft Word letter templates.
More Letter Writing Information
How to write business letters, general business letter format and templates, and employment related business letter examples.
Letter samples for job seekers, including cover letters, interview thank you letters, follow-up letters, job acceptance and rejection letters, resignation letters, appreciation letters, and more great employment letter samples.
What Else You Need to Know: Professional Email and Letter Writing Guidelines