Writing Business Letters

Letters are the oldest still the most common written communication form for business communications outside of an organization. While the less formal and less standardized use of email continues to grow, for formal and important matters, letters are required.

Letters have important standards that reflect on the sender even before the message is actually read. Knowledge of letter formats and styles is, therefore, an important and easily achieved prerequisite to functional business communications.

The dominant formats for business letters today have been given names that may differ slightly, but are distinguishable as three variations on the basic block format: full-block, block, and semi-block. The overall form of business letters is substantially the same for the different types, although specific elements differ in the various kinds of business letter element organization. The variations in letter formats involve the type of consistent positioning of the six parts of the letter

[1 -- Letterhead] (Letterhead and or sender’s information, including name, street address, city, state, zip)

111 Any Street name --San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 221-1212

[SIX lines of space ]

[2 -- Dateline] (Date of composition)

May 22, 2005

[TWO lines of space]

[3 -- Inside Address] (Receiver’s name, title, street address, city, state zip)

Mr. John Smith
ABC Company
123 Anything Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94115

[TWO lines of space]

[4 -- Salutation] (Dear Title Name)

Dear Mr. Smith:

[TWO lines of space]

[5 -- Body of Letter] (Dear Title Name)

Blah blah blah. With the blocked letter style each paragraph begins on the left margin. Some more important information continues in the first paragraph for two to four sentences.

[TWO lines of space between paragraphs]

Blah blah blah. Between paragraphs there is additional line space indicating a new paragraph. As before, this paragraph begins at the left margin, as do the date of composition, receiverās address, complimentary close, senderās name, title, and additional information.

[TWO lines of space]

[6 -- Complimentary Close] (For example: Best regards)

Sincerely yours,

[FIVE lines of space for signature area]

[7 -- Sender's Signature] (Signed name)

[8 -- Sender's Name Typed] (Complete first, middle, last name. Often more formal than the signed name)

Terry D. Sender
Project Manager

[9 -- (above) Sender's Title Typed] (May be on the previous line, if short)

[TWO lines of space]

[10 -- Additional Information]* (Composer and/or stenographer’s initials, copy distribution list, postscripts, other items as relevant.)

CC: Another receiver


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