Learning Resources

Business Letter

A commercial business letter is a letter written in formal language, usually used when writing from one business organization to another, or for correspondence between such organizations and their customers, clients and other external parties. The overall style of letter will depend on the relationship between the parties concerned. There are many reasons to write a business letter. It could be to request direct information or action from another party, to order supplies from a supplier, to identify a mistake that was committed, to reply directly to a request, to apologize for a wrong or simply to convey goodwill. Even today, the business letter is still very useful because it produces a permanent record, is confidential, formal and delivers persuasive, well-considered messages.

Parts of a business letter
The block format is the simplest format; all of the writing is flush against the left margin.
Other Business Letter Formats

Your Address 1
The return address of the sender so the recipient can easily find out where to send a reply to. Skip a line between your address and the date. (Not needed if the letter is printed on paper with the company letterhead already on it.)

Date 2
Put the date on which the letter was written in the format Month Day Year i.e. August 30, 2003. Skip a line between the date and the inside address (some people skip 3 or 4 lines after the date).

Inside Address 3
The address of the person you are writing to along with the name of the recipient, their title and company name, if you are not sure who the letter should be addressed to either leave it blank, but try to put in a title, i.e. "Director of Human Resources". Skip a line between the date and the salutation.

Salutation 4
Dear Ms./Mrs./Mr. Last Name:, Dear Director of Department Name: or To Whom It May Concern: if recipient's name is unknown. Note that there is a colon after the salutation. Skip a line between the salutation and the subject line or body.

Subject Line (optional) 5
Makes it easier for the recipient to find out what the letter is about. Skip a line between the subject line and the body.

Body 6
The body is where you write the content of the letter; the paragraphs should be single spaced with a skipped line between each paragraph. Skip a line between the end of the body and the closing.

Closing 7
Let's the reader know that you are finished with your letter; usually ends with Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Thank you, and so on. Note that there is a comma after the end of the closing and only the first word in the closing is capitalized. Skip 3-4 lines between the closing and the printed name, so that there is room for the signature.

Signature 8
Your signature will go in this section, usually signed in black or blue ink with a pen.

Printed Name 9
The printed version of your name, and if desired you can put your title or position on the line underneath it. Skip a line between the printed name and the enclosure.

Enclosure 10
If letter contains other document other than the letter itself your letter will include the word "Enclosure." If there is more than one you would type, "Enclosures (#)" with the # being the number of other documents enclosed, not including the letter itself.

Reference Initials 11
If someone other than yourself typed the letter you will include your initials in capital letters followed by the typist's initials in lower case in the following format; AG/gs or AG:gs.