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Business Letter

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Business Letter

[Insert Sender’s Name]

[Insert Sender’s Company Name]

[Insert Sender’s Street Address]

[Insert Sender’s City, State/Province, & Zip/Postal Code]

[Insert Sender’s phone number and/or email address]

Note: In the United States, the format for writing the date is month, date, and year, for example, March 3, 2020. Do not abbreviate the month.

[Insert Date]

Note: Recipient's Contact Information: Include the contact information for the person you are writing to. If you do not have a specific name, leave that off.

[Insert Recipient’s Name]

[Insert Recipient’s Company Name]

[Insert Recipient’s Street Address]

[Insert Recipient’s City, State/Province, & Zip/Postal Code]

[Insert Recipient’s phone number and/or email address]

[Reference Line]

Note: You may include a reference line, starting with “Re:” This is often used when corresponding with large companies, or when applying for a job. The reference line can either appear beneath the date, OR beneath the recipient’s address.

Note: If you use a reference line, you should usually omit the subject line. The reference line should be left-aligned for both full and modified block formats. Different types of letters will require different types of subject and reference lines, so choose the one that’s most appropriate to your case.

Why put a reference line? You should use a reference line if the recipient has requested specific information, such as a job number or invoice number, or if you’re replying to a letter. This makes it easier for the recipient to get a speedy response to you.

[Insert Subject]

Note: Why put the subject? It’s a good idea to include a subject so that the recipient can see at a glance what the letter refers to. Try to be succinct but include as much information as possible, Optionally, you may wish to include a subject for your letter. This is becoming more common, perhaps as people have become used to the subject lines of emails. If you do put a subject line, it should be in uppercase, directly below the “Dear name:”

[Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:]

[Introduction – this is where you explain the purpose of the letter such as why you are writing it, what you hope to achieve from it, and any other important information you want to state upfront.] 

[Middle Section – this is where you elaborate and provide more detail about what you outlined in the first paragraph. There may be several more paragraphs like this depending on how long the letter needs to be]

[Conclusion – this is the place where you wrap up and summarize things. There may be a call to action or next steps included in this paragraph.]

[Sincerely],

[Signature]

[Name of Sender]

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A business letter is a semi-formal communication. Appearances matter, so make sure to use this template to follow the formal conventions of a business letter.

A business letter should always follow a certain format and structure to ensure it is received as professional and up-to-standard. While there are many different types of business letters, this guide will go through a detailed example of the most classic business letter format.

If you are writing a cover letter, letter of recommendation, or thank-you note, you will need to follow the formal conventions of a business letter.

How to format and write a letter

Appearances matter! A business letter is a professional piece of correspondence, but it won't be perceived that way if you opt for a wacky font or have lots of typos. Here are some guidelines to follow: Choose an appropriate font and font size. The bottom line here is that you want an everyday, unremarkable font (such as Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial) that won't stand out. The default font in your word processing program is probably an acceptable choice. 

Avoid casual language or slang. This is a formal letter, so you'll want to use more formal language. Prevent typos and grammatical errors by proofreading carefully. If you are printing out the letter, consider choosing high-quality paper. Whatever paper you choose, fold the letter carefully before placing it in the envelope. If you can, type the recipient's address on the envelope; if that's not possible, use your neatest handwriting. 

Business letter overview

In business, a letter is simply any type of correspondence sent between two parties. It may be about any topic and sent via many delivery methods such as email, regular mail, and hand delivery.

The tone you take in the letter will depend on who the audience is and what the purpose of the communication is. Sometimes you will need to be more formal, and other times a more casual voice is appropriate.

A formal business letter format has following elements:

  1. Name and Address of Recipient
  2. Date
  3. Reference
  4. Salutation
  5. Subject
  6. Body
  7. Closing
  8. Signature
  9. Typist initials
  10. Enclosures

Your step-by-step guide:

Formatting a business letter correctly might seem a bit daunting, especially if you’ve never or rarely written this type of letter before – perhaps you’re applying for a job for the first time, for instance, and writing a covering letter.

Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered, so you can use it as a handy checklist:

Step #1: Decide Whether You’re Using “Full Block Format” or “Modified Block Format”.

Try not to mix-and-match between these. Remember, full block format (with everything left-justified) is the more formal of the two styles – but these days, modified block format (with some elements shifted over to the right) is fine for most contexts.

Step #2: Include Your Address

Your address should go on the left for full block format and on the right for modified block format. Don’t right-justify the text – tab across.

Step #3: Include the Date

The date should go directly after your address, and should be left-justified whatever format you’re using. Write it like this: “May 15, 2008”.

Step #4: Potentially Include a Reference Line

If you’re corresponding with a large company or if you’ve been asked to include a specific reference number in your letter, type “Re:” then the reference line. If you’re using a reference line, omit the subject line.

Step #5: Include the Recipient’s Name and Address

This should be left-justified, whatever format you use. It’s important to include their full name as well as the address in case the letter becomes separated from the envelope (which it usually will in a large office). If you’re using a window envelope, make sure the recipient’s name and address are positioned to appear within the window.

Step #6: Include the Greeting

The greeting, sometimes called the salutation, should be followed by a colon. (E.g. “Dear Mr Jones:”) It should always be left-justified.

Step #7: Consider Including a Subject Line

The subject line is optional, but it’s become increasingly common practice. Your subject line should show the recipient, at a glance, what your letter is about. It can be left-justified or centred in modified block format.

Step #8: Write the Letter Itself

The text of your letter itself should be left-justified (in all formats) and single-spaced. You should put a blank line between paragraphs, rather than indenting them. Write in an appropriate business-like tone.

Step #9: Add an Appropriate Closing

Close your letter with a phrase like “Yours sincerely” (a safe formal option) or “Best regards” (a good option for someone who you already know). Follow this with a comma.

Step #10: Add Your Name

Leave a blank space for your signature, then type your name at the end of the letter. If appropriate, you can put your job title and company name on the line beneath your name.

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