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Business Letters

Business letters are written messages to a person or group within a professional setting. Business
letters are used when the writer would like to be formal and professional. Letters may vary in
length depending on the writer's objective, purpose, and message of the letter. The letter can
address anyone including, but not limited to: clients and customers, managers, agencies,
suppliers, and other business personnel or organizations. It is important to remember that any
business letter is a legal document between the interested parties. These documents can be held
for up to seven years, so it is important that all information is honest and legitimate.
The main thing that differentiates a business letter from other letters is that a business letter is a
legal document. The writer can be held liable for anything written in the letter. For example, if it
is stated that a project will be completed by a certain date in a business letter, the project legally
must be completed by that date. However, if the project can't be completed by that date, another
letter can be written stating that the project is behind schedule and why. For this reason, business
letters must be written differently than letters used for personal use.
A business letter is used primarily to request or provide information, to relate a deal, to bring or
continue conversation, and/or to discuss prior negotiations. A business letter can be classified as
private, however, it is typically not circulated to others, but rather meant for the eyes of the
participants involved. Therefore, a business letter needs to be clear, focused, and to the point.
When writing a business letter, the author should avoid interjecting personal stories.
A business letter needs to be concise and clear. Being too wordy is the biggest downfall in this
form of writing. Keep sentences short and precise. Avoid over using adjectives and adverbs that
distract from the focus of the message. Organize the letter from most important subjects to least.
The content of the letter should be persuasive and usable. The tone of the letter should be formal
and professional.
Also, in a business letter, it is preferable to use personal singular pronouns like "I" and "you".
Avoid using plural pronouns like "we" since it can mislead the audience to assume that the
company supports the message of the letter. In addition, personal pronouns are easier to
understand, because it directly refers to the parties involved.

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 8"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.
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 8" 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. 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.
The greeting in a business letter always ends in a colon
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.
The signature should start directly above the first letter of the signature line in the space between
the close and the signature line. Use blue or black ink.
Business letters should not contain postscripts.
Some organizations and companies may have formats that vary slightly.

Business Letter Template Fields:

Date: Use month, day, year format, e.g., March 3, 2012 or 3 March 2012
Sender's Address: It is a good idea to include sender's email and url, if available. Don't include
this information if it's already incorporated into the letterhead design. This will allow customers
to find your small business more quickly.
Inside Address: Use full name. Mr./Ms. is optional
Salutation: Be sure to use a colon at the end of the name, not a comma as in personal letters
Body Text: State why you are writing. Establish any connection/mutual relationship up front.
Outline the solution, providing proof in the way of examples and expert opinions. Group related
information into paragraphs
Closing "Call to Action": State what the reader needs to do and what you will do to follow up
Signature Block: Sign your letter in blue or black ink
Enclosures: Use if you have an enclosure
Carbon Copy: Use if you are sending a copy to additional person(s)
Formal Business Communication Letter Writing Structure:
1. Return Address Should appear in the upper right hand corner. This should always be
included, because its where the recipient will refer when writing a return letter.
2. Date Should appear under the return address.
3. Mailing Address of Recipient Should appear on the left hand side and one line below
the return address. Providing this helps ensure the letter gets to the appropriate person.
4. Salutation Should appear two lines below the recipients address and should be
addressed to the person its intended for. Do not use Dear Sir or Madam or To Whom
It May Concern. Not providing an exact name might prevent the letter from making it to
a person who can act on it. Make a phone call or visit a website to determine an
appropriate recipient.
5. Body The body of the letter should have three parts. The introduction indicates who
you are and why you are writing. The middle should provide details and encourage the
recipient to react in some way. The closing should tell your reader what action you
recommend they take.
6. Valediction Should appear on the left side, two lines below the body. This is the line
before your signature and could be Sincerely, or Sincerely yours.
7. Signature Should be located below the valediction. Signing your name indicates you
support and stand behind what was written. Its also a good idea to type your name a
couple of lines below, so the reader is sure to know who is writing them.

8. Enclosures - Should be located below the signature. If you have included any additional
materials, describe them here. This can be a brochure, price sheet, business card, etc. For
example: Enclosures (2): business card and price sheet