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A business letter, as the name suggests, is a letter which has a formal tone and is used for business purposes. Apart from this, business letters are also written for conveying messages to people who we do not know personally. This makes the business letter different from the usual casual or informal letter.

While writing a business letter, a person has to follow certain rules. One of the most important rules is that it should be short and concise. Businessmen do not have the time to read long letters and hence, the letter should not be more than a page i.e., with maximum 2-3 paragraphs. Apart from this, you have to follow a unique format for business letters, which differs to a large extent from informal letters. So, if you are about to write a business letter, this article will give you various formats which you can use as guide.

Formal Letter Writing Tips

It will be a good idea to gather some crucial information on the things that you have to keep in mind while writing a business letter. Here, you will find some important tips for the same.
  • Margin: To start with, leave a 1.5'' margin from all the four sides of the paper.
  • Sender's address and date: According to the rules, it is important to begin the letter with the address and other contact details of the sender. However, this can be avoided, if the letter is typed on the letterhead. Followed by this, one has to mention the date on which the letter is written.
  • Recipient's name and address: After you have written the date, you have to mention the recipient's name and full address. This should come 4-6 lines after the date.
  • Salutation: Once you are done with the address of the recipient, you have to begin the letter with a salutation. The salutation should have a greeting word or phrase followed by a personal title - Mr./Ms. - and the full name of the person. Some of the letter salutations that you can use for business letters include Dear (full name), Dear Sir/Madam, etc. If you do not know the name of the recipient, it would be best to begin with To Whomsoever It May Concern.
  • Subject: After the salutation comes the subject line where you have to mention the purpose of the letter in short. Make sure that the subject line is in uppercase characters and is aligned either to the left or to the center.
  • Body: The body of the letter can have 2-3 paragraphs. In the introduction, talk about the reason for writing the letter and in the following paragraphs, you can give the necessary details. It is important to maintain double-line spaces between paragraphs when you are writing a business letter.
  • Complimentary closing: Once you finish writing the letter, you have to end it with a complimentary closing. Some of the closings include Respectfully Yours, Sincerely, etc. Leave four blank spaces after the complimentary closing and then, write your full name. The blank space should be used to sign your name.
  • Enclosure: If you have enclosed some document with your letter, it is important for you to mention it just below your name. Leave two spaces and write 'Enclosure' or 'Enclosures' below it. If you have attached more than one enclosure, do not forget to mention the correct number in brackets.
  • CC: If you are sending the same letter to more than one person write "cc" below the enclosure and write the name of the other person to whom you are sending the same letter. If there is more than one person, continue adding the names with "cc"; each on a new line.
Types of Formats

Although the information given below will help you in understanding the business letter format correctly, looking at a sample will make it very clear.

Block Letter Format
In this type, all the text in the letter is left-aligned. Indent is also not required if you are using a block letter format for writing a letter. The paragraphs are spaced either using double or triple paragraph spacing, but there is no indention for the paragraphs.

Address
Telephone Number
Email Address

Date

Recipient's Name
Address

Dear Mr./Ms. (Recipient's Full Name),

Subject: (PURPOSE OF THE LETTER)

In the first paragraph, you can introduce yourself, if the recipient does not know you. After this, mention the purpose of the letter. (Use Double Paragraph Spacing)

In the second paragraph, give out the details i.e., the facts that support the statement you made in the first paragraph. You can end the letter with this paragraph or you can have another one, if the information you want to convey does not fit in this paragraph. Complete the letter by thanking the recipient for taking out time to read the letter.

Respectfully Yours,

(Your Signature)

(Your Name)

Enclosure(s) (mention the number)

cc:

Semi-block Format
This type of format follows the same arrangement as the block format (i.e., left alignment) except for paragraphs where indention is applied.

Address
Telephone Number
Email Address

Date

Recipient's Name
Address

Dear Mr./Ms. (Recipient's Full Name),

Subject: (PURPOSE OF THE LETTER)

In the first paragraph, you can introduce yourself, if the recipient does not know you. After this, mention the purpose of the letter. Write to the point and in brief. (Use Double Paragraph Spacing)

In this part you can start with justifying the objective of writing the letter. Generally, a formal letter is short and has only one or two main body paragraphs, but in case you need to inquire about a series of information you can include it all in the main body, spread over three to four paragraphs. Body paragraphs are used to give suggestions, advice, solutions or proposals.

In the last paragraph, called the conclusion, you must restate your purpose of writing this letter and request for any action if required. Also mention the time by which you will be expecting a reply. End on a casual and friendly note.

Respectfully Yours,

(Your Signature)

(Your Name)

Enclosure(s) (mention the number)

cc:

Modified Block Format
In this type also all the text is left-aligned with the exception of the sender's address, business date and closing signature, which are placed toward the right hand side. In this format also, there is no indention of paragraphs.

Address
Telephone Number
Email Address

Date

Recipient's Name
Address

Dear Mr./Ms. (Recipient's Full Name),

Subject: (PURPOSE OF THE LETTER)

In the first paragraph, you can introduce yourself, if the recipient does not know you. After this, mention the purpose of the letter. (Use Double Paragraph Spacing)

In the second paragraph, give out the details i.e., the facts that support the statement you made in the first paragraph. You can end the letter with this paragraph or you can have another one, if the information you want to convey does not fit in this paragraph. Complete the letter by thanking the recipient for taking out time to read the letter.

Respectfully Yours,

(Your Signature)

(Your Name)

Enclosure(s) (mention the number)

cc:

Modified Semi-block Format
This format follows all the rules of the modified block format with the inclusion of paragraph indention.

Address
Telephone Number
Email Address

Date


Recipient's Name
Address

Dear Mr./Ms. (Recipient's Full Name),

Subject: (PURPOSE OF THE LETTER)

In the first paragraph, you can introduce yourself, if the recipient does not know you. After this, mention the purpose of the letter. Write to the point and in brief. (Use Double Paragraph Spacing)

In this part you can start with justifying the objective of writing the letter. Generally, a formal letter is short and has only one or two main body paragraphs, but in case you need to inquire about a series of information you can include it all in the main body, spread over three to four paragraphs. Body paragraphs are used to give suggestions, advice, solutions or proposals.

In the last paragraph, called the conclusion, you must restate your purpose of writing this letter and request for any action if required. Also mention the time by which you will be expecting a reply. End on a casual and friendly note.

Respectfully Yours,

(Your Signature)

(Your Name)

Enclosure(s) (mention the number)

cc:

Before you send a letter, proofread thoroughly to avoid the occurrence of grammatical as well as spelling mistakes. Following the proper letter format helps in setting the tone of the letter and makes the recipient realize the seriousness of the letter, and also helps in getting a quick reply.