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August 06, 2021

How to Write (and Format) a Successful Business Letter

Even while most business communications have gone online, taking place over email, video, and chat, there’s still plenty of room in our digitized world for a well-written—and properly formatted—business letter. Use this guide on how to write a business letter to make sure that you represent yourself (and your business) well, get your points across, and can make things happen with your next letter.

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How to Format a Business Letter

Like the business-casual dress code of writing, the business letter typically sticks to a set structure and standard. Whether you are enquiring about an open position in a cover letter, writing a thank you note to someone at another business, or prospecting a potential customer, partner, or investor, there are certain elements that you’ll want to include within your business letter:

  • Your contact information: Whether in the letterhead of your template or at the top of your business letter, include your name, position, company, address, phone number, and email.
  • The date: Even if you’re sending a digital copy of your letter over email, it’s customary to include the date of writing at the top of your correspondence.
  • The recipient’s contact information: Beneath the date and justified to the left margin of the page, include the contact information of the person or business to whom you are writing.
  • An opening salutation: Begin your letter with a formal salutation like “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. [Last Name].” If you’re not sure who exactly will be on the other end of your letter, use the salutation “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • The body of your letter: After a line break below your salutation, craft the body of your letter using single-spaced lines.
  • A formal closing and signature: Once you’ve made your case or request, sum up and reiterate the main reason for your letter before signing off with a complimentary close. While there are a wide range of appropriate closings to choose from, you can keep it simple with closings like “Sincerely,” “Regards,” or “Respectfully yours.” Below your closing, add your name and, if you have one, your current job title. As an added touch, you can include your written signature above your typewritten name.
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Tips for Writing a Business Letter

To go along with the typical formatting of a business letter, there are some guidelines for writing that should be followed to ensure that your letter is well-received:

  • Be Direct: While it’s typical to include a friendly greeting in the opening paragraph of your letter’s body, it’s important that you get to the point quickly. Use the first paragraph to directly explain why it is that you’re writing the letter, then turn to specifics to support your request or job candidacy in the paragraph that follows.
  • Keep It Concise: Throughout your letter, you will want to use concise writing. Avoid flowery language and stick to a formal tone in your writing.
  • Offer Options for Follow-Up: Within the closing paragraph of your letter, be sure to describe when and how you can best be contacted by the recipient, and if applicable, outline specific steps that can be taken to move forward with your request.
  • Avoid Typos and Errors at All Costs: For most business requests and job applications, typos and grammatical errors will adversely affect your prospects, if not lead to outright rejection. Double- and triple-check that the contact information in your letter is error-free and use a digital writing assistant like Microsoft Editor to help spot mistakes as you’re preparing your letter.

Once you’ve written a few business letters, the content will begin to come easier. Meanwhile, having a customizable letterhead can make the process of formatting your business letters as simple as can be. Explore a range of letter template designs available from Microsoft 365 to find one that suits your style and get a head start on your next business letter.

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