Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Parts of Business Letter

What are Parts of Business Letters?

A business letter is more formal than a personal letter. It should have a margin of at least one inch on all four edges. It is always written on 8½"x11" (or metric equivalent) unlined stationery. There are six parts to a business letter.

1. The Heading. This contains the return address (usually two or three lines) with the date on the last line.

Sometimes it may be necessary to include a line after the address and before the date for a phone number, fax number, E-mail address, or something similar.

Often a line is skipped between the address and date. That should always be done if the heading is next to the left margin. (See Business Letter Styles.)

It is not necessary to type the return address if you are using stationery with the return address already imprinted. Always include the date.

2. The Inside Address. This is the address you are sending your letter to. Make it as complete as possible. Include titles and names if you know them.

This is always on the left margin. If an 8½" x 11" paper is folded in thirds to fit in a standard 9" business envelope, the inside address can appear through the window in the envelope.

An inside address also helps the recipient route the letter properly and can help should the envelope be damaged and the address become unreadable.

Skip a line after the heading before the inside address. Skip another line after the inside address before the greeting.

3. The Greeting. It is also called the salutation. The greeting in a business letter is always formal. It normally begins with the word "Dear" and always includes the person's last name.

It normally has a title. Use a first name only if the title is unclear--for example, you are writing to someone named "Leslie," but do not know whether the person is male or female. For more on the form of titles, see Titles with Names.

The greeting in a business letter always ends in a colon. (You know you are in trouble if you get a letter from a boyfriend or girlfriend and the greeting ends in a colon--it is not going to be friendly.)

4. The Body. The body is written as text. A business letter is never hand written. Depending on the letter style you choose, paragraphs may be indented. Regardless of format, skip a line between paragraphs.

Skip a line between the greeting and the body. Skip a line between the body and the close.

5. The Complimentary Close. This short, polite closing ends with a comma. It is either at the left margin or its left edge is in the center, depending on the Business Letter Style that you use. It begins at the same column the heading does.

The block style is becoming more widely used because there is no indenting to bother with in the whole letter.

6. The Signature Line. Skip two lines (unless you have unusually wide or narrow lines) and type out the name to be signed. This customarily includes a middle initial, but does not have to. Women may indicate how they wish to be addressed by placing Miss, Mrs., Ms. or similar title in parentheses before their name.

The signature line may include a second line for a title, if appropriate. The term "By direction" in the second line means that a superior is authorizing the signer.

Business Letter Styles

The following pictures show what a one-page business letter should look like. There are three accepted styles. The horizontal lines represent lines of type. Click your mouse pointer on any part of the picture for a description and example of that part.

Business letter style

Make your letters readable and direct. Choose short, accurate word choices, short sentences, and orderly paragraphs. These are easy to read, understand and remember. Use personal pronouns, active voice, and action verbs. Avoid formal and stuffy expressions (like "thanking you in advance," "as per," "be advised," or "enclosed herewith") and don't use technical terms unless you are positive your reader will understand them as you do. Don't write to impress; write to explain.

Preparing your letters

Make your letters readable by typing them on 8 by 11 inch typing paper. Check your text for clarity, completeness, and readability, and don't ever forget to proofread. Minor errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar hurt your credibility. Make sure that your letters look neat and tidy on the page. Sloppy appearance will detract from even a well written letter.


4455 Turnbolt Ave
Austin, Texas 78713

September 14, 1997

RETURN ADDRESS. Always provide your address so that your reader can contact you.

DATE. The date is useful for record-keeping.

Underwood Computers
11213 Technology Blvd
Houston, Texas 77078

Dear Mr. Underwood:

I am writing this letter to express my appreciation for the wonderful assistance we received from your staff during the past month.

Your salespersons did a terrific job in analyzing our company's needs and providing us with options which were well within our budget for the project. The equipment was shipped in a timely fashion and the installation was as easy as we were told it would be. When a few minor problems arose, your technical assistance staff were very responsive and the problems quickly resolved over the telephone.

Please thank all of the people who were instrumental in getting the project up and running on time.


Joseph Goodenhour

RECIPIENT ADDRESS. Give the reader's name and address as they appear on the envelope in which your letter is mailed.

SALUTATION or attention line. Address the reader by name punctuated with a colon. When writing to a manager you do not know by name or to a department, use an attention line. (Example: "Attention Claims Manager.") Avoid stuffy "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam" salutations.

INTRODUCTION. Begin your letter with a short statement of your subject and reason for writing.

YOUR TEXT. Explain your subject fully and clearly. Be accurate and don't waste your reader's time with unnecessary details.

CLOSING. End your letter by saying something helpful or courteous to your reader. If you thank your reader, explain why.

COMPLIMENTARY CLOSE. "Sincerely" is a good choice. Punctuate your close with a comma.



Picture of Modified Block Style Letters

Semiblock Style Letter


arvin said...

Such wonderlful blogs..really helps me in writing my bussiness letter. I wana know if there is a sample of yours? thanks..free letter

kendra_the1 said...

thanks! it did help me from my home works!!

Madelyn Moreno said...

This article really helped me for my translation class today.

Anonymous said...

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Sample Letters