Lesson 7: Business Letters
In this lesson, we’ll be taking a look at the format of a business letter and what it should contain.
- To define the goal of a business letter.
- To show the correct format of a business letter.
Quick Navigation through the Lesson 7:
The business letter is the most common kind of business document. It is used to communicate invitations, gratitude and proposals—this is typically sent to external bodies like investors, partners or clients. In this lesson we’ll be tackling the proper format of the business letter so that your message is clear, concise and professional.
Business letters are meant to convey official matters however, even if your tone is direct or clear you should still be able to come off as agreeable. The first paragraph of your sentence should be greeting the person you’re writing to—however the greeting that you choose should be cheerful without sounding unprofessional. It should also provide the premise for your letter—include a brief statement as to why you’re writing.
The second paragraph should include all the details of the matter you’re talking about. Here, you can discuss at length why you’re dealing with this person in particular as well as the different things which your business concern will involve. Before you close your letter, make sure to convey your appreciation at your letter being read—it’s always best to assume that your clients or business partners are busy—as well as the hope for a prompt response (when applicable).
Before your name, you should include a proper sign-off. Simply leaving your name is okay for legal documents but it might come off as cold or distant with business letters. Certain sign-off phrases which are acceptable are Sincerely, Best, Cheers! and Many thanks, because they all convey wishing the other well. Religious sign-offs such like God Bless! or Yours in the Lord, are acceptable in certain contexts but require a lot of prudence—before using this and other similar statements, always make sure that it is appropriate for the person or body you’re communicating with. Avoid using extremely informal phrases such as xoxo, Love, or Hugs & Kisses, for business letters.
A business letter is typically written on legal, letter or A4 sized paper. It should have a 1-inch margin on all sides. The letter should be typewritten in a font that is easy to understand, in black ink—examples of good fonts are Times New Roman, Perpetua, Garamond, Arial and Verdana. The size is typically 12 or 14, depending on the length.
There should also be a header on the top-middle part of the page indicating the office or organization from which the letter was sent. The first few lines on the left-hand side should include the person to whom the letter is being sent along with his official business address and designation. Above the welcoming line and below the addressee statement should be the date the letter was written.
The letter should contain at least two paragraphs and at most four paragraphs. There should be two spaces between every paragraph and sentences within the same paragraph should be single-spaced. The body of the letter should be justified, whereas the opening line (typically addressing the recipient of the letter as Dear or To: ) should be flushed to the left. The sign-off and the sender’s name toward the end of the letter should be flushed to the right—after the sender’s name and/or signature should be his/her designation.
Below is an example of a business letter’s proper format.
In this lesson, we were able to discuss the proper way to format a business letter. We were able to look at what it should and shouldn’t contain as well as how to properly divide the content into paragraphs. We discussed alignment, font and other conventions when writing a business letter.
Next we’re going to be discussing Business Memos. We’ll be discussing what they should contain, how they should be written and the way they should be formatted.