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Business Letter Writing Guide

A business letter should be aimed at the readerís needs. What are the readerís needs? They are relevant information presented in an easy-to-understand style. So make your letter clear, helpful, and as friendly as the topic allows. The key principles of business letter writing are:

  • Keep it short: Cut useless words, needless information, and stale phrases.
  • Keep it simple: Use familiar words, short sentences and paragraphs, and a simple conversational style.
  • Keep it strong: Start subject matter in the first paragraph, use concrete words and examples, and do not stray from the subject.
  • Keep it sincere: Write as if you were talking to the reader, and be as friendly as possible.

Use active verbs rather than passive verbs. Passive verbs are long-winded, ambiguous and impersonal. Active verbs are simpler, less formal, and more precise.  

The start:

Dear Sir or Madam (if you don't know who you are writing to)

Dear Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms (use if you know who you are writing to, and have a formal relationship with)

The finish:

Yours faithfully (if you don't know the name of the person you're writing to)                                             

Yours sincerely or Yours truly (if you know the name of the person you're writing to)

Best wishes or Best regards, (if the person is a close business contact or friend)

Formats:

1. Block

[Recipientís Name]
[Company Name]
[Address]
[Address]

Attention [Recipientís Name]

Dear [Recipient's name]:

[SUBJECT]

The main characteristic of full block business letters is that everything (except a preprinted letterhead) is flush with the left margin.  Block letters are formal.

If your letter is only one page, type the complimentary close and optional components as shown below.  Otherwise, type them on the last page of your letter. 

Sincerely,

[Sign here]

[Your name, title]

[Identification Initials]
Enclosures: [Number]
 

cc: [Name for Copy]
    [Name for Copy]

 

2. Modified Block

[Your Name]
[Address]
[Address]

[Date today]

Re: [To what this letter refers]

[CERTIFIED MAIL]
[PERSONAL]

[Recipientís Name]
[Company Name]
[Address]
[Address]

Attention [Recipientís Name]

Dear [Recipient's name]:

[SUBJECT]

The main characteristic of modified block business letters is that everything is flush with the left margin, except as shown.  Modified block letters are a little less formal than full block letters.

If your letter is only one page, type the complimentary close and optional components as shown below. Otherwise, type them on the last page of your letter. 

                                                                                                             Sincerely,

                                                                                                             [Sign here]

[Your name, title]

[Identification Initials]
Enclosures: [Number]
 

cc: [Name for Copy]
    [Name for Copy]

                                                                                                                                       3. Modified Semi-Block

[Your Name]
[Address]
[Address]

                                                                                       [Date today]

Re: [To what this letter refers]

[CERTIFIED MAIL]
[PERSONAL]

[Recipientís Name]
[Company Name]
[Address]

Attention [Recipientís Name]

Dear [Recipient's name]:

[SUBJECT]

         Modified semi-block business letters are the same as modified block letters, except the paragraphs are indented.  Modified semi-block letters are a little less formal than full block letters.

     If your letter is only one page, type the complimentary close and optional components as shown below.  Otherwise, type them on the last page of your letter. 

                                                                     Sincerely,

[Sign here]

[Your name, title]

[Identification Initials]
Enclosures: [Number]

cc: [Name for Copy]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Business Letter Samples

 

Other Writing Guides:

                                            

Home > Articles/Guides > Business Letter Writing Guide

 

 

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