A Business Letter can be a formal or a semi-formal communication, depending on why you are using it. The specific content of a Business Letter will vary depending on why you are sending it. However, it is a good idea to ensure your company follows a consistent format and structure when sending such communications. Doing so will help ensure you are seen as diligent and professional and help ensure what you are saying is clear to the recipient.
What should be included in a Business Letter?
The specific content of your Business Letter will depend on why you are sending it in the first place. Ideally, your Business Letter should be as concise and to the point as possible. However, irrespective of the reason you are sending the letter and what you will write in it, you should include the following to ensure a robust, professional structure:
- The sender’s details. Include a name, ideally the department head from which the letter is coming, your company name, and address. In addition, include an email address and telephone number if you wish to give the recipient the option of contacting you via these methods.
- The date. As is standard in any letter, include the date it is written.
- The recipients' details. Include the same information as you did about yourself and your company. Leave out any information you do not know if you are writing to a company or department in general rather than a person.
- A reference line. Including this is a good idea as it immediately helps the reader understand what your letter is about. If you are sending the letter to a company rather than a specific person, this will also help them direct it to the relevant department or person to deal with it. If your Business Letter relates to an ongoing matter, then you can include that here.
- A subject line. This is optional but may be helpful if you want to address a specific matter within a wider reference point.
- A salutation. If you know who you are writing to, you may opt for “Dear Mr/Ms <surname>." If you know them personally, you could even use their first name. If you do not know who you are writing to, "To whom this may concern" or "Dear <job title/department>" are fine to use.
- Your introduction. The reason you have written to them and a summary of what you want your letter to achieve. For example, you might start with, "Following our meeting, I wish to formally confirm the terms of our agreement..."
- The middle section. This is where you get into the detail of what you said in your introduction. Depending on the context of your letter, this could be a single line or several paragraphs, potentially confirming discussions, asking questions, or asking for clarification on things.
- The conclusion. Summarize the main points and the next steps, plus any deadlines or milestones to be met.
- Your sign-off. Use “Yours Sincerely,” and add the signature, name, and position of the sender.
- Enclosures. Add this as a footnote if you enclose anything with your letter, like a non-disclosure agreement, internship agreement, or any other contract or document.
When should I use a Business Letter?
A Business Letter is helpful whenever you need to communicate with another business or individual about a general matter.
Business Letters are excellent for several things, including following up on meetings or sending rejection letters to unsuccessful job applicants. They are also ideal as a cover letter if you are sending accompanying documents.
While Business Letters are a fantastic tool, check out our full range of templates to see if a specific document will better suit your needs and has a more relevant template for you to use. For example, if you are hiring someone, an offer letter will be more appropriate, and our template is set up to ensure you do not miss out any essential information.
Why use a Business Letter?
Business Letters are ideal for keeping communication lines open between yourself and another business or individual. In addition, it never hurts to put things in writing, even if you use Business Letters on a semi-formal basis.
Using Business Letters helps ensure your company's communication is professional and consistent and will highlight these characteristics to the recipient. Taking the time to compose a Business Letter shows a level of respect for the company or person you are writing to and will make them look favorably upon your organization.
Where and how to use a Business Letter?
Use a Business Letter whenever you need to follow up on an event, an existing communication chain, or when you are looking to open dialogue with a business or individual.
Contractbook's Business Letter template will ensure all your business communication is structured and valuable to the reader, enabling you to do deals, hire talent, or hit whatever objectives you have.
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.
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.