The Foolproof Business Letter Format
Sound smart and look sharp with these guidelines.
In the same way that everyone should know how to write a solid cover letter, it’s worth knowing the proper business letter format to use when reaching out to colleagues and other professionals. These notes can be used for just about anything—from ordering supplies to proposing a partnership.
As far as professional letter formats go, a business letter is fairly straightforward, but you still need to pay attention to tone and clarity.
Remember that these are formal communications and not off-the-cuff emails, like the kind you’d write to a co-worker. When you write a business letter, you’re serving as a representative of your employer, and you’ll want to triple-check that it’s free of typos, grammatical issues, or non-concise language.
Follow the steps below and learn how to write a business letter that sounds professional and clearly states your intentions.
Common business letter format
A business letter should be left-justified and single-spaced, save for a line space before and after the date.
1. Contact information and date
Before the actual body of your letter, you’ll need to include both your own and the recipient’s contact information. Start with yours at the very top, with one item per line:
- complete address
Below that, write the date. If you’ve been working on this business letter over several days’ time, use the date it was completed.
Next, you’ll need to include the contact information of the person you’re writing. This may require a bit of research if you know the company’s basic details, but not those of the specific individual you need to contact. Don’t worry about tracking down their phone number or email. The following details are included as parts of the standard business letter format:
- business address
2. Opening salutation
Continue to use left-justified formatting and single-spaced lines for the remainder of the letter. For your business letter salutation, use the same name listed in the contact section. Dear Mr. _____, Dear Ms. _____, and so on. Keep it limited to their last name unless you already have an informal relationship with the recipient and feel comfortable writing, for example, “Dear Bob” or “Dear Janet.”
Not sure of your reader’s gender? Just write “Dear [First name] [Last name].” You can also use “to whom it may concern” if you’re unable to track down the right person’s contact information and are writing to a general department or business.
3. Body copy
From here, you can begin writing the body copy, or the actual content of your note. Regarding your business letter format, leave an extra space between each paragraph (the same way this article is formatted).
Tonally, aim for concise language that gets your point across as clearly as possible. The beginning and end of your letter can restate your intentions, with supporting details coming in the middle.
4. Closing salutation
After your concluding paragraph (which should only be a sentence or two), leave an extra line and write your closing salutation. There’s some flexibility here depending on how formal your business letter is; language like “Respectfully yours” or “Sincerely” tends to work well for less-formal correspondence. On the more formal end, you can rely on closing salutations like “Yours” or “Regards.” Whichever way you go, make sure the first letter is capitalized and the line ends in a comma.
Business letter formats change ever so slightly if you’re printing yours out and mailing it, or if you’re sending it via email.
If your letter will be printed and sent physically, leave enough space below the closing salutation to write your signature by hand. Then, below that, type your full name and title one more time (you may need to play with the spacing a bit to get it right).
To format a business letter sent as an email, simply type out your full name at the end of your note, followed by your title and the same basic contact information from the top section.
Example of a business letter
Founder & Owner
123 4th Street
Sometown, MA 01234
Director of Housekeeping
789 10th Street
Othertown, MA 12345
Dear Lee Smith,
As a busy traveler, I enjoyed numerous stays at many of your hotel properties in the past year and I can attest to your commitment to providing guests with exceptional services. However, there is one area where I feel you could be providing an even better experience: your toiletries.
That is where I come in. I founded New Soap in 2015 and our products have received rave reviews in the press and from customers online. All of New Soap's products are made from locally sourced organic ingredients, are biodegradable, and come in packing made from recycled paper.
I know XYZ Hotels are committed to preserving natural resources, using renewable energy, and cutting down on waste. I feel a partnership would be mutually beneficial. I would love to send you more information about our products and a selection of samples, and set up time to talk.
I can be reached at 555-678-1234 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Owner & Founder, New Soap
Make more contacts
This tried and true business letter format will help your professionalism shine through, which is something all companies (and potential future employers) appreciate. Looking for more ways to get connected to people in your industry? Monster can set you up. Recruiters search Monster every day to find top-notch talent. Help them find you by uploading up to five versions of your resume for free today. In addition, you'll get workplace insights, career advice, and job search tips sent directly to your inbox.