Business Letter Format
A business letter is a document you send to a reader outside of your organization. A memo is used internally in business. (Memo format.) Here is a standard business letter format model, based on The Business Writer’s Handbook:
March 22, 201_ (DATE – three lines below the letterhead)
Mr. George Vogel (INSIDE ADDRESS – Include the recipient’s name, title, and address, two to six lines below the date, depending on length of letter)
Director of Operations
New York Transit Authority
New York, NY 10010
Dear Mr. Vogel: (SALUTATION – Two lines below Inside address, aligned left margin. Note a business letter salutation uses a colon. A personal letter uses a comma.)
Enclosed is our final report evaluating the safety measures for the New York City Transit System. (BODY – Begin two lines below the salutation, justified left.)
The report addresses all issues you raised in our last meeting. I believe you will be happy with the issues resolution. However, if you have any further questions, I would be happy to meet with you again.
Thank you for your willingness to fully share data, and for your insights as we compiled this report. Your experience was invaluable.
Sincerely, (CLOSING – Two spaces below the body. Use Best regards or Best wishes if the recipient is a close colleague.)
Marilyn Jones (YOUR SIGNATURE, HANDWRITTEN)
Marilyn Jones, Ph. D. (WRITER’S SIGNATURE BLOCK – Your full name four lines below closing. Include business title and individual contact info.)
Director of Research
MJ/ls (END NOTATIONS AS NEEDED: letter writer initials/typist; enclosures; courtesy copies)
Enclosure: Final Safety Report
cc: ITS Safety Committee Members
Note that all text is fully justified left. It is also acceptable to indent the Inside Address and the Closing, Signature, and Writer’s Signature Block. If you choose this format option, indent them to the center of the page and align all of these elements.
If a letter requires a second page (or, in rare cases, more), always carry at least two lines of the body text over to that page. Use plain (non-letterhead) paper of quality equivalent to that of the letterhead stationery for the second page. It should have a header with the recipient's name, the page number, and the date. Place the header in the upper left-hand corner or across the page.
Ms. M.C. Marks
March 16, 2012
(we prefer this format)
Ms. M.C. Marks Page 2 March 16, 2012
Letter writing is just one of the skills that we teach in our most popular effective businsess writing course.
About the author
Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Rhode Island, an M.A. in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.