Business Letter Format: How to Write a Business Letter

business letter format

The act of writing a letter seems outdated in today’s digitised workplace. Instead of putting pen to paper, we use emails, texts, and social media comments to communicate with our colleagues and other businesses. Why would any businessperson need to know how to write an official letter?

As it happens, business letter writing is still a super important skill. The professional letter format is the preferred way of communication, even if you’re writing an email. A good grasp of the business letter format will ensure you have clear, polished, serious and reliable communications.

Grappling with the idea of writing a formal letter can seem daunting if you’re not the wordy type. But you don’t need to be Charles Dickens to be able to write a good business letter. Luckily, there’s a standard business letter format you can follow. Follow these easy letter writing steps to generate a brilliant letter that will impress anyone.

Why is Business Letter Writing a Big Deal?

The Royal Mail delivered a little under eight billion letters in 2022. Sitting down at a desk and scratching out a letter seems incredibly old-fashioned. But physical letters still play an essential role in business.

A well-structured business letter ensures your correspondence looks professional. It shows that you respect the reader and ensure your message is more likely to be taken seriously.

Following the formal letter format is advisable if you are involved in any type of correspondence that has a legal basis. This includes negotiating contracts with clients and suppliers, issuing tenders, raising a complaint, requesting a permit, or writing to your local council or member of parliament.

Even if these business letters are created digitally, you may need to print them and keep a physical copy. If your correspondence is required as evidence, you want it to read like it was written by someone who knew what they were doing.

Let’s take a look at how to write an official letter.

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How to Write a Business Letter and Envelope

There are a few general points to remember regarding good business letter writing. You should always keep your tone formal and polite. Be concise and stick to what’s relevant; don’t clog up your letter with pleasantries or irrelevant information. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. And make sure that all your formatting and spacing are consistent.

Before you write a word, make sure that:

  • You’re using a clear, legible font. Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman set to a font size of 12 are standards
  • Align your text to the left
  • Single-space your text. There’s no need to put two spaces between sentences
  • Break the text up into paragraphs
  • Add a blank line between paragraphs
  • Have a 5-centimetre margin at the top and bottom with 2.5-centimetre margins on the sides

Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to get started. Be sure to write according to the standard business letter format.

The Standard Business Letter Format

  1. You may use a letterhead that has your company details. If not, the top right of the page should contain the following:
    • Your company name
    • Your name
    • Your job title
    • Your company address
    • The date of the letter
  1. On the top left of the page, put the recipient’s details. Make sure to space this a few lines lower than your details.
  2. Address the reader with ‘Dear Mr/Ms/Dr/etc…’. If you don’t know their name, begin with ‘Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’.
  3. The opening line of the first paragraph should get right to the point. ‘I am writing to you because…’ or ‘I am writing to inform you…’ are good examples. Don’t bother with pleasantries like ‘I hope you’re well…’.
  4. Your second and third paragraphs should flesh out your topic and provide any relevant details or information.
  5. If any action is required from the reader, you should request this in the last paragraph. ‘Please complete the form attached/enclosed and send it back to us…’.
  6. If you know the recipient’s name, you can end your letter with ‘Yours Sincerely’. If you don’t know the person’s name, use ‘Yours Faithfully’.
  7. Skip down a few lines, usually four, and type your name. Leave space for a physical signature and type your name and job title underneath this area. Use blue or black ink to sign your name. If you’ve attached or enclosed any documents, list them here.

After you’ve written the letter, read over it a few times. Trim the sentences so that only relevant information is conveyed and be sure you have the right tone. Having someone else look at it before you send the letter is a good idea.

Common Abbreviations Used in Business Letters

  • ASAP – As Soon As Possible
  • – Enclosed
  • pp – Per procurationem. Used if you are singing on someone else’s behalf
  • cc – Carbon copy. Informs the reader the letter is being sent to more than one recipient
  • PS – Postscript. Used for adding additional information after the signature at the end of a letter

An Example of Letter Writing

ABC Company
Pete Smith
Director
1 ABC Lane
London
F2 51428
12 December 2023

EFG Company
Ms Jane Doe
4 EFG Street
Manchester
M2 2DF

Dear Ms Doe,

I am writing in response to your query about our services. I am pleased to inform you that my company can provide you with the requested services.

Our team will require access to the site for an inspection before we can provide you with a firm quote. The assessment should take approximately one hour and can be arranged at a time that suits you.

We thank you for your interest in our company and look forward to working with you. To arrange a time for the inspection, please fill out the enclosed form and send it back to us in the return envelope provided.

Yours faithfully,

 

Pete Smith – Director
ABC Company

Enc.: Inspection request form and return envelope.

How to Address a Business Letter Envelope

Now that you’ve written the letter, you must know how to address it. There’s no point in putting in all that effort if the Royal Mail don’t know where to send it!

  • Put the recipient’s name, the company name and address on the front of the envelope
  • Put the stamp in the top right corner
  • You should put your name and return address on the back of the envelope

The recipient’s name, company name and address should be written in the middle of the envelope. Always include the postcode. Put the country’s name last if you’re sending an international letter.

The envelope and paper you print your letter on are also important. Use good quality paper and a quality envelope so your letter maintains a professional appearance. Avoid coloured paper or anything with a design other than your branding.

How to Improve Your Business Communications Skills

Mastering the business letter format will help you to keep all your correspondence professional. If you want to develop your communication skills even further, look at our online training courses.

Our HR Compliance Courses cover various topics, from accident prevention to conflict resolution training to communication skills.

These courses will help you to manage your team more effectively and ensure that your business complies with health and safety legislation. You don’t need to send us a formal letter if you’re interested. You can sign up via our website today.

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