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Every part of a business letter, from the stationary to font to letterhead, is a powerful means of communication and conveys the subject’s importance. Due to their seriousness, business letters are best used for correspondence such as reference/recommendation letters, employment verification, and business proposals. (If you want to know how to write a perfect cover letter as well, here’s the one secret to know.) Follow these business letter format tips and you’re bound to make an impression:
Your own address is typically included in the letterhead, a printed heading stating an organization’s name and address. If the stationary does not include letterhead, set your organization’s name (if you’re sending on behalf of one) address at the top of the letter, right above the date. Don’t include your name or title, because those will be used in the letter’s closing.
Remember to use the American date format when sending the letter within the U.S. It should go in the following order: the month (spelled out), the day, and then the year.
This should include the recipient’s name, title, company, and address. When addressing the recipient, use the appropriate personal title, such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. If you’re not sure of a woman’s preferred title, Ms. is the safest option. Also, keep in mind that people usually prefer to be addressed using a higher title than lower, so if there’s a possibility the person is a doctor but you’re unsure, it’s OK to use Dr.
You want to sound as professional as possible, so the best salutation for a formal business letter format starts with “Dear.” Avoid using casual greetings like Hi, Hello, and Hey. Along with the proper title, address the recipient by their last name followed by a colon. There’s always the more generic option of using, “To Whom it May Concern,” but try to be as specific as possible (here are the only times you should really use “To Whom it May Concern”). Also, stay away from just using the person’s name as that can come off as too abrupt.
Body of the Letter
Make the purpose of your letter clear by keeping it simple, targeted, and concise.
The best business letter format spacing is single space, and leave a line space between each paragraph.
Left justify each paragraph.
The first paragraph should provide a friendly greeting and an introduction to the letter’s motive.
The following paragraphs should provide more information and detail on why you’re writing.
The last paragraph restates the letter’s purpose and thanks the reader for taking the time to review your letter.
There are a ton of phrases you can use when signing off, including “Sincerely,” “Respectfully Yours,” “Best Wishes,” etc. When printing the letter, leave four lines between the closing and the sender’s name for a signature, which is best written in black ink.
If there are any enclosed documents along with the letter, such as a resume, indicate this by typing “Enclosures,” followed by a colon, on one line underneath your signature. Avoid these resume mistakes that could keep you from getting the job.