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How to Write a Business Letter

You’ll write numerous different letters in the course of your business writing, but they should all be set out in business letter writing format.

But just as with documentation of essays, so, too, with business letters — there’s no one right way of setting out. The important thing is to experiment with the different ways and then to settle on one way and to stay with it. The following business letter examples are suggested layouts for business letters using letterheads and fully typed letters.

What You Should Write in a Business Letter

According to Strano, Mohan and McGror, in their book, Communicating!, a business letter has five main parts:

  • 1. the heading
  • 2. the date
  • 3. the opening
  • 4. the body
  • 5. the closing.

1. What to Put in the Heading of a Business Letter

This is your name and address.

You can use your fancy letterhead or just type up your business name and address.

The letterhead address can be positioned anywhere on the top of the page: centred, left side or right side.

However, if you’re typing the business address, it should be located in the top right-hand corner.

2. How to Write the Date in a Business Letter

The date is very important, since it can be useful in determining priorities, for filing and it also can have legal ramifications.

In a typed address letter, the date goes immediately under your address.

In a letterhead letter, the date can go on the left-hand side, or the right-hand side, immediately under the letterhead.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Washington, D.C. 22202

1 January 2020

The method of writing the date shown here is the easiest and least likely to lead to confusion. It looks neat and is clear and concise.

Always write the name of the month; if you are dealing with overseas clients or markets, or even with people who were born overseas, you can run into all sorts of problems if you only use numbers:

11-3-2020 could be 11 March 2020 OR 3 November 2020, depending on where you come from!

3. How to Write the Opening of a Business Letter

This is the:

  • Name
  • title (if any Manager, Principal etc)
  • address of the person to whom you are writing and the greeting or salutation.

This information always goes on the left-hand side of the page, starting one line lower than your business name and address and the date.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 22202
1 January 2020

Mr Garth Hopper
Country Publications
PO Box 123

Dear Garth,

4. How to Write the Body of the Business Letter

This is like the message in your memo and it follows the same rules in that it should be:

  • clear
  • concise
  • courteous.

I know I’ve said that before (a couple of times) – it bears repeating.

The way you organise the body of your letter will depend on the reason for writing it … naturally.


What Should Be Included in a Business Letter

When writing a business letter, you must be sure that no part of your letter will be misunderstood. This is why the language you use should be simple. There are no prizes for using the biggest words in a business letter – especially if your reader is not familiar with the words and has to waste time finding out what you mean.

Worse still – if you are not familiar with the words you’ve used – you make yourself look a right twit! And that is definitely not good for business.

Time is money these days, so you need to ensure that you make your point as quickly as you can in any correspondence.

Like any other piece of writing a business letter should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

It doesn’t matter how short a letter is, the important thing is to communicate your message effectively. Don’t feel you have to ‘fill up’ the page to make it look ‘balanced’.

5. How to Write the Closing of a Business Letter and Sign Off

This includes the final words to your reader – the bit that tells him or her what action will follow or thanks him or her for any help given. It also includes the ‘signing off’ and name of the writer.

It is customary to sign off, ‘Yours faithfully’ if it is a formal business letter or if you don’t know the name of the person; you sign ‘Yours sincerely’ when you do know the name of the person.

It is acceptable to use less formal closings — ‘Kind regards’, ‘Regards’ — if the whole tone of your letter has been the same, but don’t end a very formal letter in this way.

Your closing signature can be placed on the left-hand side of the letter (which makes it easier on the typist) or on the right-hand side — in line with the address (if the address has been typed in the right-hand corner and / or with the date (if it has been placed in the right-hand corner).

The Most Important Step When Writing a Business Letter

And always (always) proofread your letter before you send it. Better still, have an editing program guiding you every step of the way!