What is letter format and how to use it?

Today, people more and more often use emails for sending correspondence; however, there are cases when it is important to write and send out a letter. It should have a proper format depending on a situation, especially if it is businesses correspondence. Knowing the formatting rules gives the right impression of a sender, while failure to match them may ruin it.

If you write to your friends that you know very well, you, probably, do not have to bother about formalities, but if this is a business letter, you should pay special attention to its format and content. Of course, the content of your letter is crucial matter, but letter format also plays a very important role.

Just several decades ago, people would have to write their letters by hands or using a typewriter, and in case of a mistake, the entire letter would have to be re-written. Today’s modern technologies allow us to enjoy easiness in correcting different errors, and it is a great advantage that we can enjoy.

However, we still have to do lots of work but writing proper content and formatting letters in accordance with their types. That is why before you decide to send out a business letter, you should check if it matches the modern formatting rules. It is recommended to find a relevant sample of a letter format before hand. If you need to send out many letters, you can just keep a sample on your PC and use it to create a letter every time you need it. One of the first things that you should do is to identify the type of the business letter that you are going to write.

What types of business letters exist?

First of all, you should have a clear idea of what is considered a business letter. It is a formal document that can be sent from one company to/from another or to its employees, clients, stakeholders, and other people. Business letters can also be used for professional correspondence between individuals. Although emails are used more and more often, business letters remain important in many cases, including employment verification, reference letters, job offers, and more.

Usually, such letters begin with the salutation, followed by the content of professional type, and end with a signature of a sender.

There are several types of business letters, and their formats differ one from another. The following are the main types of business letters:
  • Acknowledgment letters;
  • Order letters;
  • Sales letters;
  • Cover letters;
  • Inquiry letters;
  • Follow-up letters;
  • Complaint letters;
  • Adjustment letters;
  • Letters of recommendation;
  • Letters of resignation.

How to write business letters?

You should write and format your business letter based on the type mentioned above. The following are more detailed descriptions of the content of each of the letter.

Acknowledgment letters are used as receipts. Companies send them to let others know that they have received a previous message and the information if action has taken place.

Order letters are used by consumers or businesses to send their orders to a retailer, manufacturer, or wholesaler goods/services. These letters include specific information, such as the name of the product, the quantity, price, etc. Payment can also be included.

Sales letters begin with a strong statement to capture the interest of the reader. The purpose of such a letter is to get the potential customer to do something. That is why they must include calls to action, the benefits for the reader, and contact information, such as a phone number or website.

Cover letters usually come along with a report, package, or other merchandise. They describe what is enclosed, its purpose, and why it is needed. These types of letters are usually short.

Inquiry letters are needed for clarifying something from the recipient. It should be clear and short. You can add a list of information that you need. Your contact information should also be included.

Follow-up letters are those that are sent after initial communication, for instance, a thanks letter from the sales department to a customer. It may also be a combination of both a thank letter and sales letter.

Complaint letters to a business should be written carefully because chosen words and tone are important for your complaint to be satisfied. You should use a professional tone. Do not be rude but be direct and tactful.

Adjustment letters are usually sent as a response to a complaint or claim. If the decision is satisfying for the customer, begin your letter with the news, but if it is not, let the customer know that you understand his or her complaint.

Letters of recommendation are provided for employers by job applicants. This type of letter is from a professor or previous employer, and it describes the opinion of the applicant.

A letter of resignation informs a manager about the intention of an employee to leave his or her job. Usually, it includes the reasons for leaving and the last working day.

How to format a business letter?

Now that you know what types of business letters exist, it is time to find out more information about letter format.

There are several sections in a business letter, and each of should adhere to the appropriate format. The following are the structure of your letter:
  • Your and the recipient’s contact information;
  • Salutation;
  • The body of the letter;
  • Closing;
  • Signature.
Below is the standard format as well as tips that you should use while formatting your letter:
Your Contact Information:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Date
Contact Information of Recipient:
  • Name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Address of the Company
The Salutation:
  • Here you can use different types of salutations. For instance, if you do not know who is going to obtain your letter, you should write "To Whom It May Concern."
  • You can use formal salutation “Dear Dr./Mr./Ms., (Last Name),” if you know the name of the recipient, but you do not know each other in person, or you have formal relationships.
  • You can use “Dear (First Name),” only if you know the recipient well and you have an informal relationship with him or her.

The Body

Here you need to write the content of your letter. The following are the formatting basics that you should keep in mind:
  • You should use single-spaced lines and add space between each paragraph, after the salutation, and before the closing;
  • Your letter should be left justified (against the left margin).
The tone of your letter is very important because this is how you present yourself as a polite and serious person. The following recommendations will help you with that:
  • The purpose of your letter should be clear and simple. You can start your letter with, “I am writing in reference to...;”
  • The following paragraphs should include information giving your reader a clear understanding of your objective. You should avoid using too long sentences and words;
  • If your purpose is to persuade the recipient in something like investing money, giving you a reference, hiring you, etc., you should find the strong reasons for that;
  • Your closing paragraph should be 2-3 sentences. Here you should repeat the reason for your letter and thank for considering your request.

Complimentary Close

It is important to finish an official letter in a respectful, formal manner, and the following are some of the options that you can choose:
  • Yours sincerely,
  • Respectfully yours,
  • Respectfully,
  • Cordially,
If you are writing a less formal letter, you can consider the following options:
  • Best,
  • Regards,
  • All the best,
  • Thank you,

The Signature

Your signature must be placed below your closing. You need to leave 4 single spaces between your closing and then type the following information:
  • Full name;
  • Title;
  • Phone number;
  • Email address, and other contact details.
For your handwritten signature, you must use the format below:
  • Full name;
  • Title.

What should you know about sending a business letter via email?

If you are sending a letter via email, you place your contact information below your signature instead of in the heading of the letter. For example:
  • Kind regards,
  • Full name
  • Title
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address

Do not forget to include the topic of your letter in the subject line of the email.

Important tips that you can use in creating a business letter

Today, it is possible to find samples of different documents online without problems. You may find a sample with a more interesting and attention capturing format that you can use. It is just important to ensure that it goes along well with the type and purpose of your letter.

It is time-consuming to learn all the rules and write an official business letter, and that is why another thing that you may want to consider is using our professional writing services. Not only will we make sure that your letter is formatted properly, but we will also take care of the content of your letter. This especially concerns letters that are important for your future, such as job application, sale offers, etc. Our qualified writers have many years of experience, and they will be glad to help you out with writing and formatting any type of a letter that you need. We believe in an individual approach, so every letter is created from scratch. We can also create a template for you that you can use over and over again, which will save you lots of time and efforts while ensuring the best possible quality.

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