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Proper Business Letter Format

The Profcomm Center
Composition Program
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721

September 1, 2000

Center Interns
The Profcomm Center
3333 E. Main, Suite 16
Tucson, Arizona 85712

To all Center Interns:

(when you know the name of the person you are writing to, you can address the letter to "Dear Ms. Brown:")

Thank you for your interest in learning about business letters. In this sample, I have outlined the basic format requirements for a standard block-style business letter. You may be familiar with the business letter templates that many word processing packages offer--you will notice that there are several variations on the basic format, but the required elements are the same. In any letter, you should include

* date,
* name and position of the recipient as well as the organization's name and address,
* salutation (use the recipient's first name only if you would do so on the phone),
* body text,
* closing and signature, and
* a method of contacting you. (If you are not using letterhead, include your address and phone number at the top of the page, and position this information approximately five inches from the left edge of the page and two inches from the top of the page; if you are using letterhead, include your phone number and/or email address in the text of the letter, usually in the last paragraph.)

The "enclosure" and "CC" lines at the end of a business letter are optional. The "encl.:" line tells the reader that you have included an additional piece of documentation with the letter. The "CC" line tells the reader that you have also sent the letter to a secondary audience.

If appropriate, you can also include a "Subject:" line between the address and the salutation.
Margins and Text Spacing

When you use the block form to write a business letter, all the information is typed flush left, with one-inch margins all around. These margins can be adjusted slightly if you need to fit the letter onto one page, or if the page breaks create an awkward flow of information.

First provide the date, then skip a line and include the name, position, and business address of the addressee. Skip another line before the salutation. Then write the body of your letter as illustrated here, with no indentation at the beginning of paragraphs. Skip one line between paragraphs. Skip two lines before each heading within the body of the letter.

Do not double space the body text of your letter.
Using Headings

If your letter is more than two or three paragraphs, including headings can be helpful for your reader--be sure to use headings that capture the key topic of that section and capitalize each major word of the heading. Bolding or underlining the heading will help the visual design of your letter.

It is also helpful to include the date and page number in the footer of a letter that is more than one page long.
A Strong Finish

When you close a letter, it is a good idea to summarize the action that you would like the reader to take in response to the letter, thank the reader for their time, and provide a means of contacting you. If you have any further questions regarding business letters, please contact me at 555-5555 (mxh@u.arizona.edu).

Sincerely,

(Triple space here)

Maxine Howard
Center Instructor

(put 2 - 4 spaces between your signature and the enclosure or CC line, depending on the length of the letter)

Encl.: Center assignment specifications
cc: Tom Miller, Center CFO

 


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