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How to Write Formal Letters

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If the letter is urgent or the recipient prefers email, you can send an email instead. When addressing your current boss or coworker, you can be slightly less formal. Email is usually fine, and you don't need an address at the top of the page. Write your address and today's date at the top of the page. Write your name and address at the top of the page, on the left.

If you are writing a business letter, use the company name and address instead, or just write on company letterhead. Either way, skip two lines and write today's date.

Write out the full date. Skip the date when writing an email. Write the name and address of the recipient. Unless you're writing an email, skip another two lines and write the contact information for the person you're writing to.

Write each of these on a separate line: Full title and name Company or organization name if applicable Full address use two or more lines, as needed. Skip a line again, then greet the recipient with "Dear" followed by their name. You may use the last name, or the full name first and last , but never the first name alone.

Include an abbreviated professional title if applicable. If you know the job title but not the person's name, you may write "Dear Health Inspector: It's usually possible to find the name with an online search, so try that first.

If you don't have a specific contact, write "Dear Sir or Madam: These sound a little stiff and old fashioned, so try to avoid it when possible. Formal letters should open with a clear statement of purpose. Do not use contractions write are not instead of aren't , and phrase questions formally Would you be interested in? Proofread the letter for spelling and grammar when finished, or ask a friend to help you.

If you are writing on official business, keep it short and direct. If you are writing a distant relative or an acquaintance for social reasons, you can be a little more conversational. It's still best to keep it to under a page. Use a complimentary close. A complimentary close ends your letter on a good note and establishes a connection with the recipient. Make two hard returns after the last paragraph of the letter, then write the complimentary close.

For formal letters, stick to "Sincerely yours," "Kindest regards," or "Best wishes. For typed formal letters, leave about four spaces between the complimentary close and your typed full name. Print the letter, then sign your name in blue or black ink in that blank space. In a formal email, type your full name after the complimentary close.

You may use a courtesy title for yourself when you put your name at the end of a formal letter. For instance, a married woman could sign as "Mrs. Fold the letter optional.

If you're sending a letter through the post, fold it into thirds. Bring the bottom of the sheet up so that it's two-thirds of the way up the page, and crease. Then fold down the top portion so that the crease matches up with the bottom of the paper.

Folding the letter this way ensures that it will fit into most envelopes. Address the envelope optional. Find the center of the envelope, both lengthwise and widthwise. This is where you'll write the full address of the recipient, like so: New York City, NY Write your return address on the envelope optional.

If the US Postal Service cannot deliver your letter for any reason, it will send the letter back to the return address at no extra charge. Write it as you would the address of the recipient listed above ; the only change is that you might wish to simply list your last name instead of your full name. Decide how formal your letter needs to be. How you write the letter will depend on your relationship with the recipient. If you're writing to a distant or elderly relative, or a social acquaintance, write a semi-formal letter.

If that person has sent you emails before, you may email them as well. If not, a handwritten letter is a safer bet. If you're writing a friend or close family member, an email or handwritten letter are both fine.

Start with a salutation. The salutation you use will depend on your relationship with the recipient of the letter, as well as the formality of the letter. This should be displayed on the right-hand side of the page on the line beneath your address and should be written in full format:. In some circumstances it is useful to find a name, especially if you are making a request as this will show that you have done your homework and you are more likely to receive a response.

Mr — for a male Mrs — for a married female Miss — for an unmarried female Ms — for a female whose status is unknown or would prefer to remain anonymous Dr — for a person with the status of a doctor.

If it is potentially unclear what your title would be then include this in brackets next to your printed name. This casual approach and informal writing style can easily be transferred, sometimes subconsciously, when a more formal style is required. The introductory paragraph should be concise and should clearly state the purpose, whether it is to lodge a complaint, make an enquiry or to request something. The main body should clearly state the points that you want to make.

As a general rule it is a good idea to keep this as to the point as possible to ensure that the recipient remains engaged. A longer main body may be more appropriate when making a complaint as you may require to add more detail in order to convey the importance of what you are putting across.

The concluding paragraph should outline what action you would like the recipient to take: A letter of complaint is sent to an individual or organisation in response to receiving poor service or a product that is not fit for purpose.

An example of a letter of complaint would be a one sent to a tour operator who has provided a bad service while you have been on holiday. This does not necessarily need to be concise as it is important that you detail your arguments and points as much as possible. A letter of enquiry makes an approach to an individual or organisation either speculatively or in response to printed public domain material whereby you are requesting some information.

An example of a letter of enquiry would be one sent to a company requesting a copy of their catalogue or brochure. For further information about letters see Writing Cover Letters. Use the menu below to view examples of business letter format. Ah, business letter format--there are block formats, and indented formats, and modified block formats. To simplify matters, we're demonstrating the indented format on this page, one of the two most common formats.

If you are using the indented form, place your address at the top, with the left edge of the address aligned with the center of the page. Skip a line and type the date so that it lines up underneath your address. Type the inside address and salutation flush left; the salutation should be followed by a colon. For formal letters, avoid abbreviations. Indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch. Instead of placing the closing and signature lines flush left, type them in the center, even with the address and date above, as illustrated here.

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Then write the body of your letter as illustrated here, with no indentation at the beginnings of paragraphs. Skip lines between paragraphs. After writing the body of the letter, type the closing, followed by a comma, leave 3 blank lines, then type your name and title (if applicable), all flush left.

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Formal Letter Writing How to Write Formal Letters. Help with formal and business letter writing. A summary of writing rules including outlines for cover letters and letters of . Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of emails and text messages, everyone has to write letters at some point. Letters of complaint, job applications, thank you letters, letters requesting changes or making suggestions — the list goes on and on.

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Typically, a printed letter is reserved for the most important of job-related or other professional communications: recommendation letters, cover letters, resignation letters, legal correspondence, company communications, etc. Formal letter writing is undoubtably one of the most challenging types of letter format. When putting it together, often you are addressing a person or organisation with whom you are not familiar and the quality of your content, including spelling and grammar will be strongly scrutinised.