Correct Set Up of Business Letters
Although a well-organized letter may be taken for granted, a poorly executed letter can be the deciding factor as to whether the message within the letter is understood, or even acknowledged. The format of the business letter makes as much of an impression on the reader as the words within the letter. Regardless of the type of letter you are writing, your business letter’s format should be clean, well-organized and include several standard pieces of information.
Create a header and footer for business letter if you are not using letterhead paper. Include your business logo in the header. Include your business’ name, address, phone number and email address in the footer of the page.
Create 1-inch margins on each side of the letter. Select a standard, easily read font, such as Times Roman, Arial or Georgia. Use font sizes between 10 and 12 points with a black or dark blue color so that the words are easy to read.
Use a block style format with everything single-spaced and justified to the left margin. Use double spaces between paragraphs and sections within the letter, unless stated otherwise. Place one space between punctuation and the beginning of the next sentence.
Begin your letter approximately 2 inches from the top margin. Enter the date of your letter by writing out the month, day and year, such as January 1, 2010.
Follow the date with the recipient’s address. Include the recipient’s title with a name, such as Mr., Ms., or Dr. List the address in the standard U.S. Post Office format.
Use professional salutations that reflect the business relationship between your company and the recipient. Use formal salutations when developing relationships, such as Dear Mr. John Doe. Select more relaxed salutations for established business relationships, such as Dear Mark. Follow the salutation with a colon.
Follow the same block style when creating the body of your business letter. Make sure that the body is well-organized with a thought pattern that is smooth and leading. Include a brief introduction, followed by an explanation and an ending.
Provide a formal closing, such as “Thank you,” “Sincerely” or “Respectfully yours” and follow it with a comma. Place four single lines, or two double-spaced lines, between the closing and your typed name for your signature. Provide your full address, using the postal format, immediately after your typed name. Include your phone number with extension, if applicable, and your email address, if you so choose.
Include the word “Enclosure(s),” followed by a comma, one line after your address, if you are including any additional documents with the letter. Type the title of each included document.
Include the initials of the person who typed the letter, if different from you, after the enclosure section. Place four single spaces, or two double spaces, between the enclosure section and the typist’s initial. Type the initials in lower-case font with a period after each letter.
Writing professionally since 2004, Charmayne Smith focuses on corporate materials such as training manuals, business plans, grant applications and technical manuals. Smith's articles have appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and on various websites, drawing on her extensive experience in corporate management and property/casualty insurance.