Business Letter Layout
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As in all professional writing, business letters should be brief
but clear. The relationship between the writer and the recipient
should be stated at the outset. If action on the part of the recipient
is requested, then that action should be specified. The tone of a
business letter depends on the recipient: if it’s someone with whom
you’ve worked closely for several years, the tone may be warm and
friendly, but in general business correspondence tends to be formal.
Even if your letter is registering a complaint, your tone should be
Business letters, written on standard business letterhead, should be
written in a block format, with everything beginning at the left
Date: Month (spelled out), day (followed by a comma), year
Inside Address: The inside address
belongs two lines after the date (this is the same address that
appears on the envelope). It includes the recipient’s name preceded by
“Mr.,” “Ms.,” “Dr.,” etc.; the title of office (“President”) follows
the name on the same line if the title is short; then the full
address: street, city, state (official abbreviation only), ZIP code
Salutation: “Dear” followed by title,
last name, colon. Save “To Whom It May Concern” for recommendations
and testimonials, and avoid “Gentlemen” and “Dear Sir”; they’re
Body of letter: The body of the letter
begins two lines below the salutation and uses short, single-spaced
paragraphs. State the purpose for and any connection with the
recipient in the first paragraph. Describe what’s wanted in the middle
of the letter’s body, and request specific action at the end of the
Close: Insert the close two lines below
the last line of the letter. Capitalize the first word; conclude with
Signature: Leave three lines of space
after the close for the signature. The signature should be signed in
ink with the signatory’s name typed one line below and the title typed
one line below that.
Typist’s initials: If the letter is
typed by someone other than the writer, then the typist’s initials
should be inserted below the typed name of the signatory; capitalize
the writer’s initials, and use lower case for the typist’s.
Enclosures: “Enclosures” (or “Encl.”)
indicates that additional material should be included.
Copies: List other recipients
alphabetically (or by rank).