The style and format for writing business letters has evolved over the past several decades and has adjusted itself to more or less the corporate culture of its times. The most commonly followed and universally accepted business letter format of the present times is the Block format of writing business letters.
Apart from the Block Format there are also two more formats namely the Modified Block Format and the Semi-Block Format. But we recommend that you follow the block format of business letters unless specified otherwise by your organisation.
The block format is the simplest format to follow and specifies that all the content of the business letter should be left aligned and justified. Note that you don’t indent at all in the block format or block style. Have a look at the following sample business letter to understand the different elements of the block format of business letters.
A Business Letter is always written on a standard 8”x 11”A4 size paper with 1” to 1.5” margin on the each side of the paper. Official letters are printed on a bond paper of good quality. The font has to a standard font out of Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman or Verdana.
The address of the sender is written without the name of the sender. There is no heading or any indent and the address line starts on the left.
The date is written after a single space starting with the month eg. January 10, 2015 or starting with the day followed by the month eg. 10 January, 2015. The comma is always placed before the year.
Refer to the sample above for line spacing mentioned in italics wherever applicable.
The address of the recipient with the Name and designation of the recipient. If you are not sure of the designation it’s better to leave it blank. Note that both the return address and the inside address do not have any commas or full stops.
The salutation starts with a Dear followed by Mr. / Mrs. / Miss followed by full name and ends with a colon. Some organisation prefer to leave out the word dear and simply address the recipient with Mr./ Mrs/ Miss. A doctor should be addressed as Dr.
The subject line is very important and should be as concise as possible yet give the full context of the letter. Read more about how to write a professional business letter to get this right. The above sample is a type application letter.
The main content of the letter is written mainly in three to four paragraphs. The first paragraph is the introduction followed by the details and third and fourth paragraphs are action points and conclusion respectively. Double line spaces are left after each paragraph. The body changes as per the different types of business letters and needs to be modified accordingly.
The closing of the letter is used to establish your position with respect to the recipient. It tells the reader that you have finished and is usually written as ‘Sincerely yours’ or ‘Thanking you’. Notice that only the first letter is capitalised and not each letter. Keep this short to two to three words.
This is where you sign. Leave enough space of four to five lines so that you signature is just above your printed name.
Your printed name along with your designation. Again there are no commas or full stops in here too.
If there is only one enclosure mention it in front of the word <Enclosure:>. If you have more than one enclosures the mention the number of enclosures other than the letter itself in the brackets as shown above. Then write the document names and reference numbers of each enclosure in a ordered list below it.
(Optional) if you have marked cc or bcc to any other department mention it here.
This is about it! Congratulations! You can now draft those perfect professional business letters in the block format. However it’s always good to have a look at some business letter templates or application letters and understand the process of drafting good quality business letters.
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