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Business Communication  - How to Write a Formal Business Letter

Business communication  -, how to write a formal business letter, business communication how to write a formal business letter.

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Business Communication: How to Write a Formal Business Letter

Lesson 7: how to write a formal business letter.


How to write a formal business letter

writing business formal letter

Whenever you need to communicate with another company or share important news, business letters can present your message in a classic, polished style. Unlike internal memos, business letters are usually written from one company to another, which is why they’re so formal and structured . However, letters are also quite versatile, as they can be used for official requests, announcements, cover letters, and much more.

Despite the formality, letters can still have a friendly tone , especially because they include brief introductions before getting to the main point. Regardless of the tone you use in your letter, your writing should remain concise, clear, and easy to read.

Watch the video below to learn about formal business letters.

This lesson focuses on American business letters. Letters written in other parts of the world may have minor differences in formatting.

The structure of a business letter

The business letter’s precise structure is crucial to its look and readability. As you write your letter, you can follow the structure below to create an effective document.

  • Opening : Include your mailing address, the full date (for example, July 30, 2017), and the recipient’s name, company, and address. Skip one line between your address, the date, and your recipient’s information. Don’t add your address if you’re using letterhead that already contains it.
  • Salutation : Address the recipient using “Dear,” along with their title and last name, such as “Dear Mr. Collins” or “Dear Director Kinkade.” If you don’t know the recipient’s gender, use their full name, such as “Dear Taylor Dean.” Finally, be sure to add a colon to the end of the salutation.
  • Body : In the first paragraph, introduce yourself and the main point of your letter. Following paragraphs should go into the details of your main point, while your final paragraph should restate the letter’s purpose and provide a call to action, if necessary.
  • Closing : Recommended formal closings include “Sincerely” or “Yours truly.” For a more personal closing, consider using “Cordially” or “Best regards.” Regardless of what you choose, add a comma to the end of it.
  • Signature : Skip four lines after the closing and type your name. Skip another line and type your job title and company name. If you’re submitting a hard copy, sign your name in the empty space using blue or black ink.
  • Enclosures : If you’re including documents with this letter, list them here.

Another important part of the structure is the layout , which determines how the text is formatted. The most common layout for a business letter is known as block format , which keeps all text left-justified and single spaced, except for double spaces between the paragraphs. This layout keeps the letter looking clean and easy to read.

As stated in Business Writing Essentials , revision is a crucial part of writing. Review your letter to keep it concise, and proofread it for spelling and grammar errors. Once you’re finished writing, ask someone to read your letter and give you feedback , as they can spot errors you may have missed. Also make sure any enclosures are attached to your document and that any hard copies are signed.

After revising the content, consider the appearance of your letter. If you’re printing a hard copy, be sure to use quality paper. Also try using letterhead to give your document a more official look.

Example of a business letter

To see this lesson in action, let’s take a look at a polished business letter by reviewing the example below.

writing business formal letter

This letter looks great! The structure is perfect, and the text is left-justified and single spaced. The body is formal, friendly, and concise, while the salutation and closing look good. It also contains a handwritten signature, which means it’s ready to be submitted as a hard copy.

Knowing how to write a business letter will serve you well throughout your career. Keep practicing and studying it, and you’ll be able to communicate in a classic style.



Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing the Basic Business Letter

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Media File: Writing the Basic Business Letter

This resource is enhanced by an Acrobat PDF file. Download the free Acrobat Reader

Parts of a Business Letter

This resource is organized in the order in which you should write a business letter, starting with the sender's address if the letter is not written on letterhead.

Sender's Address

The sender's address usually is included in letterhead. If you are not using letterhead, include the sender's address at the top of the letter one line above the date. Do not write the sender's name or title, as it is included in the letter's closing. Include only the street address, city, and zip code.

The date line is used to indicate the date the letter was written. However, if your letter is completed over a number of days, use the date it was finished in the date line. When writing to companies within the United States, use the American date format. (The United States-based convention for formatting a date places the month before the day. For example: June 11, 2001. ) Write out the month, day and year two inches from the top of the page. Depending which format you are using for your letter, either left justify the date or tab to the center point and type the date. In the latter case, include the sender's address in letterhead, rather than left-justified.

Inside Address

The inside address is the recipient's address. It is always best to write to a specific individual at the firm to which you are writing. If you do not have the person's name, do some research by calling the company or speaking with employees from the company. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. Follow a woman's preference in being addressed as Miss, Mrs., or Ms. If you are unsure of a woman's preference in being addressed, use Ms. If there is a possibility that the person to whom you are writing is a Dr. or has some other title, use that title. Usually, people will not mind being addressed by a higher title than they actually possess. To write the address, use the U.S. Post Office Format. For international addresses, type the name of the country in all-capital letters on the last line. The inside address begins one line below the date. It should be left justified, no matter which format you are using.

Use the same name as the inside address, including the personal title. If you know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation (for example: Dear Lucy:). In all other cases, however, use the personal title and last/family name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation.

If you don't know a reader's gender, use a nonsexist salutation, such as their job title followed by the receiver's name. It is also acceptable to use the full name in a salutation if you cannot determine gender. For example, you might write Dear Chris Harmon: if you were unsure of Chris's gender.

For block and modified block formats, single space and left justify each paragraph within the body of the letter. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. When writing a business letter, be careful to remember that conciseness is very important. In the first paragraph, consider a friendly opening and then a statement of the main point. The next paragraph should begin justifying the importance of the main point. In the next few paragraphs, continue justification with background information and supporting details. The closing paragraph should restate the purpose of the letter and, in some cases, request some type of action.

The closing begins at the same vertical point as your date and one line after the last body paragraph. Capitalize the first word only (for example: Thank you) and leave four lines between the closing and the sender's name for a signature. If a colon follows the salutation, a comma should follow the closing; otherwise, there is no punctuation after the closing.

If you have enclosed any documents along with the letter, such as a resume, you indicate this simply by typing Enclosures below the closing. As an option, you may list the name of each document you are including in the envelope. For instance, if you have included many documents and need to ensure that the recipient is aware of each document, it may be a good idea to list the names.

Typist initials

Typist initials are used to indicate the person who typed the letter. If you typed the letter yourself, omit the typist initials.

A Note About Format and Font

Block Format

When writing business letters, you must pay special attention to the format and font used. The most common layout of a business letter is known as block format. Using this format, the entire letter is left justified and single spaced except for a double space between paragraphs.

Modified Block

Another widely utilized format is known as modified block format. In this type, the body of the letter and the sender's and recipient's addresses are left justified and single-spaced. However, for the date and closing, tab to the center point and begin to type.

The final, and least used, style is semi-block. It is much like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead of left justified.

Keep in mind that different organizations have different format requirements for their professional communication. While the examples provided by the OWL contain common elements for the basic business letter (genre expectations), the format of your business letter may need to be flexible to reflect variables like letterheads and templates. Our examples are merely guides.

If your computer is equipped with Microsoft Office 2000, the Letter Wizard can be used to take much of the guesswork out of formatting business letters. To access the Letter Wizard, click on the Tools menu and then choose Letter Wizard. The Wizard will present the three styles mentioned here and input the date, sender address and recipient address into the selected format. Letter Wizard should only be used if you have a basic understanding of how to write a business letter. Its templates are not applicable in every setting. Therefore, you should consult a business writing handbook if you have any questions or doubt the accuracy of the Letter Wizard.

Another important factor in the readability of a letter is the font. The generally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used. When choosing a font, always consider your audience. If you are writing to a conservative company, you may want to use Times New Roman. However, if you are writing to a more liberal company, you have a little more freedom when choosing fonts.


Punctuation after the salutation and closing - use a colon (:) after the salutation (never a comma) and a comma (,) after the closing. In some circumstances, you may also use a less common format, known as open punctuation. For this style, punctuation is excluded after the salutation and the closing.

How to Write a Professional Business Letter in 6 Steps

Lindsay Kramer

Throughout your career, you’ll likely find yourself writing business letters. In fact, you may start writing them before your career officially begins, as application and inquiry letters are also business letters.

A business letter is a formal letter that’s generally, but not always, written from one professional to another to further their organization’s interests. In some instances, as with cover letters and interview follow-ups, they serve to further the sender’s career interests.

What is a business letter?

A business letter is a formal message typically sent from one professional to another. Generally, business letters discuss opportunities for companies to work together, such as through a strategic partnership, collaboration, promotion, or request.

It’s important to keep in mind that a business letter is not the same as a business email. By definition, a business letter is a printed letter delivered to the recipient’s desk or address. This attribute is part of what makes business letters stand out from an email inquiry, which is why they tend to be used for important communications. However, there are a few similarities between business letters and business emails. Both follow a similar format and end with a direct call to action.

There are many types of business letters, including these:

  • Sales letters
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Inquiry letters
  • Application letters
  • Letters of intent
  • Transmittal letters
  • Offer letters
  • Resignation letters
  • Interview follow-up letters
  • Request letters
  • Office memorandums
  • Cover letters
  • Invitations

There are two main differences between a business letter and an informal letter: format and content.

When do you send a business letter?

Business letters are sent when individuals, either representing their companies or themselves as self-employed small-business owners, aim to conduct business. Here are examples of these instances:

  • Inviting an individual or team to a networking or other exclusive event
  • Thanking an interviewer for their time
  • Following up on a previous business inquiry
  • Offering a promotional deal or new product or service
  • Notifying all team members of a policy change, important new hire or promotion, or other company news
  • Formally offering an applicant a position

What are the parts of the business letter?

Header (date/address/return address).

Date: When you write a business letter, it’s crucial to include the date on which you wrote it. This information is essential for time-sensitive communication, such as promotional offers.

Address: Write the recipient’s full address, including their PO Box number or office suite.

Return address: Include your company’s full address. This makes it easy for the recipient to send a response.

In a business letter, the standard salutation is “Dear.” Begin your letter with “Dear [recipient’s name]” and add a comma after the name. You may choose to address the recipient by an honorific paired with their last name or simply by their first and last name. When you cannot determine the recipient’s name, you may address the letter to their title.

The body paragraphs take up the bulk of a business letter. This section discusses the offer, proposition, or announcement the letter is making. It includes these sections:

  • An introductory paragraph that states the letter’s main purpose and, if necessary, introduces the letter writer.
  • One or more middle paragraphs that discuss the letter’s subject in greater detail. This could be a job applicant’s relevant experience, the details of an offer, the repercussions of a policy change, or what the recipient can expect at the event to which they’re being invited.
  • A final paragraph that restates the letter’s purpose and offers an incentive, such as early bird pricing, for the recipient to follow up.

After the body section, close the letter with a simple, professional sign-off. Appropriate sign-offs include the following:

  • Respectfully

The final component of a business letter is your signature . Include your full name and any abbreviations that follow, such as MBA or PhD.

How to write a business letter in 6 steps

1 learn the rules.

Before you sit down to write a business letter, familiarize yourself with the rules for writing a business letter, such as these:

  • Address the recipient properly. If you aren’t sure which honorific is appropriate or how to spell their name, take a moment to research this information.
  • Format the letter properly. A business letter format is not the same as an informal letter or email format.
  • Include all relevant information. This means including both the recipient’s address and your own, the date, and all necessary details to engage the reader and enable them to respond in a thoughtful, appropriate manner.

It can be helpful to review business letter examples to see how other writers adhere to these rules. Ask a colleague or your manager for a past letter to read or search for examples of business letters online.

2 Choose a suitable format

The business letter format is a key characteristic of this type of communication. A business letter may be formatted in one of the following ways:

  • Modified block

In block format , all the lines are left-justified, and there are no indents.

In semi-block format , all the lines are left-justified, and each paragraph is indented.

In modified block format , the heading, closing, and signature are right-justified, while the body and addresses are left-justified. In this format, there are no indents.

No matter which format you choose, the letter should be single-spaced with a blank line separating paragraphs and sections.

3 Use formal language

A business letter is formal, professional communication. This doesn’t mean it should be stuffy or stilted, but it should maintain a professional tone and adhere to traditional business letter formatting.

4 Focus on the content/subject

A business letter should focus on one topic. This could be an offer, an inquiry, a thank-you, a response, or a request. Do not deviate from your letter’s subject or include multiple subjects in the letter—doing so may make it confusing and undermine your letter’s intent.

5 Consider the length

Business letters vary in length. Sometimes, they’re only a page long. If your letter exceeds two pages, create a separate report that covers the bulk of the letter’s content. Instead of sending a long letter, send the report with a short letter that summarizes it for the reader.

6 Include your signature

Every business letter should include a signature—i.e., your name, company, and title typed and your name in blue or black ink.

Business letter examples

Mr. Steven Ramirez Ink Company Name 1 Example Rd. City, NY 10001

July 11, 2023

Mrs. Juliana McCue Stationery Company Name 44 Example Way City, CA 94024

Dear Juliana McCue,

I’d like to personally thank you for being such a loyal customer. Over the past five years, Stationery Company Name has been a top seller of Ink Company Name, and I speak for our entire team when I say we genuinely appreciate and value your partnership.

As a thank-you, I’d like to offer an exclusive collaboration opportunity: a fully customized hue exclusive to your retailer. Our team of experienced color specialists can develop any shade of the rainbow, from the darkest light-inhaling blacks to bright, reflective neons and iridescent inks. Offering an exclusive color can make your brand stand out and draw fountain-pen users from around the world to your website and brick-and-mortar store.

I’m happy to show you examples of custom colors our team has developed for other partners. Please let me know if you’d like to schedule a video call, during which I can explain our offer in greater detail and start exploring colors with you. I’m looking forward to showing you all the ways you can express your unique brand through a one-of-a-kind shade of ink.

Steven Ramirez Head of Color Development Ink Company Name 555-0000

Daneris Garcia 4950 Example St. City, WA 10000

May 14, 2022

Mr. Neal Patel Head of Marketing Marketing Agency Name City, AZ 20000

Dear Mr. Patel,

Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the role of graphic supervisor at Marketing Agency Name. I believe we made a strong connection and that I’d be an excellent fit for your team.

As a graphic designer, my passion is finding innovative ways to visually represent emerging and established brands. While I have significant experience working in 2D and 3D, I’ve prioritized designing for VR and AR spaces in the past five years. I know my experience with numerous clients in the tech industry that are focused on developing products in these spaces will make me an asset to your team.

I hope you consider me for the position. If you have any questions or would like me to share additional examples of my previous work, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am proud of the work I’ve done for MANGA firms and excited about doing similar work with your team.

Best regards, Daneris Garcia

Business letter FAQs

A business letter is a formal letter that’s generally written from one businessperson to another to further their career or their company’s interests.

What is the purpose of a business letter?

The purpose of a business letter is to communicate professionally with a company, institution, or nonprofit organization.

What are the different kinds of business letters?

  • Complaint letters

What should every business letter contain?

  • Return address
  • Inside address

writing business formal letter

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Writing a Business Letter: A Step-By-Step Formatting Guide

Last Updated: April 12, 2023 Fact Checked

Sample Business Letter

Starting the letter, writing the body of the letter, closing the letter.

This article was co-authored by Shannon O'Brien, MA, EdM and by wikiHow staff writer, Aly Rusciano . Shannon O'Brien is the Founder and Principal Advisor of Whole U. (a career and life strategy consultancy based in Boston, MA). Through advising, workshops and e-learning Whole U. empowers people to pursue their life's work and live a balanced, purposeful life. Shannon has been ranked as the #1 Career Coach and #1 Life Coach in Boston, MA by Yelp reviewers. She has been featured on Boston.com, Boldfacers, and the UR Business Network. She received a Master's of Technology, Innovation, & Education from Harvard University. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 4,774,231 times.

Need to write a polished, professional letter? Whether you’re following up on a job interview or sending in a sales pitch, knowing how to format a business letter is a great skill to have. Most business letters follow an established, easy-to-follow format you can adapt for any situation. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the process of writing a business letter in full-block format, so you can easily put your professional thoughts on the page and excel in all your business endeavors.

Things You Should Know

  • Include your company’s name and address, the date, and the recipient’s name and address at the top of the page before your salutation.
  • Use a polite and professional tone to clearly explain what you’re trying to say or what action you’d like the recipient to take. Use as few words as possible.
  • Finish the letter with a professional closing like “Sincerely,” followed by your signature, typed name, and address. Proofread before sending.

writing business formal letter

  • Keep your font black throughout your letter, even if you’re composing a business email .

Step 2 Change the top margin to 2 inches.

  • In modified block formats, the heading, close, and signature are right aligned.
  • In semi-block formats, each paragraph is indented.

Step 4 Keep your document single-spaced.

  • Hit “Enter” twice between the first, second, and third body paragraphs, as well as the complimentary close and signature.

Step 5 List your company’s name and address in the top left corner.

  • If your company has a pre-designed letterhead, use that instead of typing out your own.

Step 6 Put the date 2 lines underneath the address.

  • For example, rather than writing “10/15/12,” write the full date as “October 15, 2012” or “15 October 2012.”
  • Putting the date before the month is standard in European countries.
  • If you are writing your letter over several days, date it with the day when it was finished.

Step 7 Add the recipient's information.

  • Address the letter to a specific individual rather than a full company, so it gets to the right person.
  • If you don’t know the name of the person you’re sending the letter to, contact the company to see who you should reach out to for your specific demands.

Step 8 Choose a salutation.

  • If you don’t know the recipient well, "Dear Sir/Madam" is a safe choice.
  • The recipient's title and last name can also be used: "Dear Dr. Smith."
  • If you know the recipient well and have an informal relationship with them, you may consider a first-name address, like "Dear Susan."
  • If you’re unsure of the recipient's gender, type their full name: "Dear Kris Smith."
  • Use "To Whom It May Concern" only if you don't know whom, specifically, you're addressing.
  • Don't forget a comma after a salutation or a colon after “To Whom It May Concern.”

Step 1 Include at least 3 body paragraphs.

  • The first paragraph is your introduction and states the main purpose or subject of the letter. Avoid going into too much detail, and stick to vague points of interest that’ll keep the recipient reading.
  • The second paragraph details specific information about your purpose or subject. Put statistics, data, or first-hand accounts in this paragraph. Your second paragraph could consist of more than one small paragraph, as long as it stays on a single page.
  • The third paragraph is your conclusion and restates your purpose or subject. Explain your “main idea” or reason for writing again while giving the recipient an incentive to get back to you.

Step 2 Strike the right tone.

  • Don't concern yourself with flowery transitions, big words, or lengthy, meandering sentences. Your intent should be to communicate what needs to be said as quickly, clearly, and cleanly as possible.
  • Be persuasive in your letter and state your needs or wants in a way that makes the recipient want to help you.

Step 3 Use personal pronouns.

  • Be aware if you’re writing the letter on an organization’s behalf. If you’re stating the company’s perspective, you should use “we” so the reader knows that the company stands behind your statement.

Step 4 Use active voice.

  • Passive: The sunglasses are not designed or manufactured with attention to their durability.
  • Active: Your company designs and manufactures sunglasses without attention to their durability.

Step 5 Be conversational when appropriate.

  • Use your best judgment when determining how much personality to reveal. Sometimes adding a little humor is helpful in a business setting, but err on the side of caution before making a joke or telling a story.

Step 6 Wrap it up with a call to action.

  • Your call to action could be as simple as, "Please read the attached document and send your feedback," or as detailed as, “Let’s work together to fight climate change by integrating eco-friendly transportation and shipping into our company.”

Step 1 End the letter...

  • "Yours sincerely," "Cordially," "Respectfully," "Regards," and "Yours Truly" are also acceptable and respectable.
  • "All the best,” “Best wishes," "Warm regards," and "Thank you" are slightly less formal but still professional.

Step 2 Sign the letter...

  • Avoid using a colored pen when signing a business letter or professional document. Always opt for black or blue ink.
  • If you’re signing the letter on someone’s behalf, write “pp:” before your signature. This stands for “per procurationem,” which means “by agency” or “on behalf of.” [15] X Research source

Step 3 Include your typed name and contact information.

  • For example, you may write, "Enclosures (2): resume, brochure."
  • “Enclosures” can also be abbreviated as “Encl.” or “Enc.”

Step 6 Add additional recipients’ names.

  • For example, write: “cc: Mary Smith, Vice President of Marketing.”
  • If you’re adding more than one name, list the names in alphabetical order and align the second name underneath the first without the “cc:”

Step 7 Edit your letter before mailing it.

  • Ask yourself whether the letter is clear and concise. Are any paragraphs more than 3 or 4 sentences long? If so, determine if you can eliminate any unnecessary statements.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Print your letter on 8.5” by 11” or “letter size” paper. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Consider printing the letter on your company’s letterhead for an extra professional touch. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 1
  • Business letters are typically 1 page long, but if you go over, repeat the letterhead on the next page with the recipient’s name, the date, and the page number. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

writing business formal letter

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

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Sign a Letter

  • ↑ http://techoutreach.extension.msstate.edu/sites/techoutreach.extension.msstate.edu/files/technology-tips/block-format.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/repository/files/business-and-professional-writing/business_letter_handout-major-rev.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.dummies.com/article/business-careers-money/business/business-communication/how-to-format-a-business-letter-197799/
  • ↑ https://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tpv2guides/guides/wrtps/index-eng.html?lang=eng&lettr=indx_catlog_b&page=9eT0Xdf-62WM.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/business-letters/
  • ↑ https://www.plainlanguage.gov/resources/content-types/writing-effective-letters/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/business-letters/
  • ↑ https://thelawdictionary.org/article/signing-a-letter-on-someone-elses-behalf/
  • ↑ https://sba.thehartford.com/business-management/marketing/business-letter-enclosure-notation/

About This Article

Shannon O'Brien, MA, EdM

To write a business letter, start by putting your company's name and address on the top left-hand side of the page. Then, put the date below that, followed by the recipient's name, job title, and address. At the bottom of the business letter, include your name, job title, and contact information so the recipient can get back to you. Also, make sure you're using a professional font like Arial or Times New Roman to write your letter. For more tips, like what you should include in the body of your business letter, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Writing Business Letters

A good business letter is brief, straightforward, and polite. If possible, it should be limited to one single-spaced typewritten page. Because it is so brief, a business letter is often judged on small, but important, things: format, grammar, punctuation, openings and closings. A business letter is not the place to try out fancy fonts or experimental writing styles.

Two Main Styles

Full block style: Align all elements on the left margin.

Modified block style: Down the middle of the page, align the return address, date, closing, signature, and typed name; align other elements on the left page margin.

Elements of a Standard Business Letter

Return Address: Your address (or the address of the company you represent). If you are using preprinted stationery, there is no need to retype the information.

Date: Leave two blank lines after the return address. Always spell out the month and include the day, a comma, and the year.

Inside Address: Leave two blank lines after the date. Then type the address of the person or company to whom you are writing.

Salutation: Type Dear, followed by the person’s name. End the line with a colon. If you don’t know the name of the person, use a title instead (i.e., Dear Editor, Dear Madam).

Body: Align your message on the left margin. Skip a line before starting a new paragraph, but do not indent the paragraph’s first line. Make sure that each paragraph is clear and concise.

Closing: Leave two lines of space after your last body paragraph, then use a conventional closing, followed by a comma (i.e., Sincerely, Sincerely Yours, Respectfully).

Signature: Your signature should appear below your closing. Unless you have established a personal relationship with the person you are writing, use both your first and last name.

Name and Position: Four lines after the closing, type your full name. Do not include a title (Mr. or Mrs.). If you are writing on behalf of an organization, type your title on the next line.

Abbreviations at the end of a letter: If you send a copy of a letter to someone other than the person addressed, use cc: and the person’s name. Use Enc. or Enclosure if you enclose something with the letter. If someone else types it, put the writer’s initials in capitals, then a slash and the typist’s initials in lowercase: MT/fjr. Just one abbreviation should appear on a line.

Example Letter

How to Write a Business Letter That Won’t Get Ignored

Clifford Chi

Updated: July 24, 2019

Published: November 01, 2018

Nowadays, writing a letter can seem completely archaic. I mean, do people even send mail anymore? Or do they only communicate through email and messaging?


In the business world, though, letters are actually still crucial for collaboration. To convince someone to offer you a job, you need to write them a compelling cover letter. And to persuade someone to speak at your company’s event, you need to write a gripping pitch.

A lot of professionals overlook the importance of writing high-quality business letters because they seem outdated. As a result, most people don’t actually know how to write one.

Fortunately,  if you're in the same boat, we've got you covered . Below, we'll teach you how to craft a persuasive business letter for any purpose and situation.

→ Download Now: 4 Free Memo Templates [Free Resource]

How to Format a Business Letter

  • Write the date and your recipient's name, company, and address.
  • Choose a professional greeting, like “Dear,”.
  • Craft a compelling introduction.
  • State your intent in the letter’s body text.
  • End your letter with a strong call-to-action.
  • Choose a professional closing, like “Sincerely,”.
  • Physically sign the letter with your signature.
  • Type your name, address, phone number, and email address.

To teach you how to write a business letter in more detail than the snippet above, let's take a look at a letter I wrote to Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot’s CTO, when I was a wide-eyed college student trying to convince him to speak at my school.

I’ll analyze the most important parts of my letter -- the introduction, body text, and call-to-action -- and explain how and why they can strengthen your own business letters.

Business Letter Example

October 1, 2016

Dharmesh Shah

25 First Street,

Cambridge, MA 02141

Dear Mr. Shah,

When my freshman year of college ended, I was fortunate enough to work as a digital marketing intern at a startup called SlideBatch. They were introducing a new content marketing tool to the market, and my job was to apply that tool to their clients’ social media marketing campaigns and prove that SlideBatch was an effective marketing solution. I was so excited to get to work, but I had one small problem. I didn’t know what content marketing was. So, I did some research on the Internet and discovered HubSpot’s Marketing blog.

Fast forward a year and half, and I’m still reading HubSpot’s Marketing blog and leveraging its insights at my third digital marketing internship. Reading your blogs changed my life. I entered college believing financial advising was my destiny. But, after learning about HubSpot’s inbound marketing philosophy -- how helping people is the ultimate way to increase brand trust and engagement -- I was hooked. Shortly after my internship with SlideBatch ended, I decided to pursue digital marketing instead of financial advising. I’ve haven’t looked back since.

HubSpot’s influence on my life is the reason I’m writing to you today. I’m certain if you spoke at my school, DePauw University, about your life, HubSpot, and the inbound marketing philosophy, there would be hundreds of undecided students who start pursuing digital marketing. I know this because DePauw’s McDermond Speaker Series is one of the best platforms for business leaders to showcase their passion for their industry, company, and work. Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics, Angie Hicks of Angie’s List, and Bill Rasmussen of ESPN have all successfully used the McDermond Speaker Series to inspire the world’s next generation of business leaders, and I know you could, too.

We would be honored if you spoke at our school. Thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Clifford Chi

313 South Locust St.

Greencastle, IN 46136


[email protected]

Introduction (first and second paragraphs)

To instantly grab Dharmesh’s attention and entice him to read the rest of my letter, you'll notice I didn’t lead with the standard "I’m writing to you today because…” introduction.  Instead, I engaged him with a story about how I discovered HubSpot and how his company changed my life. I thought this would strongly resonate with him because I assumed, as a co-founder of HubSpot, he would love to see how his life’s work has benefited others.

In your own business letters, you don’t necessarily need to tell a story to immediately hook your reader and persuade her to read on. But you should definitely describe how she’s made an impact on your life. This is what will truly grab and hold her attention.

Body text (third paragraph)

After my introduction, I swiftly segued into why I was writing to Dharmesh -- to ask him to speak at my school. Personal anecdotes are an effective way to engage readers, but I’d lose Dharmesh’s attention if I didn’t cut to the chase.

Once I stated my letter’s intent, I quickly pitched the benefits of speaking at my school and bolstered the reputation of my school’s speaker series. By emphasizing how speaking at my school could inspire hundreds of students to pursue digital marketing and highlighting the group of impressive speakers Dharmesh could join, I focused on the dividends he would reap from being a McDermond Series Speaker, rather than how my school would benefit from his guest appearance.

So whether you’re trying to convince someone to hire you or speak at your school, you must first persuade your reader that doing what you ask of them will ultimately benefit them and be in their best interest.

Call-to-action (fourth paragraph)

In my last paragraph, I politely ask Dharmesh to speak at my school again.  Even though I already asked him this earlier, it's important I end my letter with a clear next step. It packs more of a punch and crystalizes the desired action in his mind.

Strong call-to-actions are a crucial element of a persuasive business letter. Because i f you don't tell your reader what to do next, you might as well have never written your letter in the first place.

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Templates for an organizational change, financial update, problem-solving, or general business memorandum.

writing business formal letter

8 Rules for Business Letters

writing business formal letter

  • Punctuation
  • Useful links

writing business formal letter

How to write business letters

By marina pantcheva.

The salutation is an important part of a letter. The choice of the right salutation depends on whether you know the person you are writing to and how formal your relationship is.

Very formal (for official business letters)

Less formal but still professional (business letters),  informal (personal letters).

These salutations should be used with people you are close to, as they might offend others.

  •  There should be a comma after the salutation and a colon after “To Whom It May Concern”.
  • No full stop is needed after Mr, Ms, and Dr.
  • The form Mrs is outdated.
  • Avoid the exclamation (!) in salutations.

Starting your letter

There two ways in which business letters usually start: they make reference to a previous contact, for example, phone conversation, meeting, previous mail correspondence; or they are the first contact with the recipient.

Making reference to previous contact

I am (we are writing) regarding

  • your inquiry about …
  • our phone conversation …

In reply to your request … Thank you for contacting us.

Contacting the recipient for the first time

I am (we are) writing to

  • inform you that …
  • enquire about …
  • complain about …

I am contacting you for the following reason. I recently heard about … and would like to …

Making a request

We would appreciate it if you would … I would be grateful if you could … Could you please send me … Could you possibly tell us … It would be helpful if you could send us …

Giving good news

We are pleased to announce that … I am delighted to inform you that …

Giving bad news

We regret to inform you that …  I’m afraid it would not be possible to … Unfortunately we are unable to … After careful consideration we have decided …

Ending your letter

Please find enclosed (for letters) Please find attached (for emails)

Offering future assistance

If you require more information, please let us know. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any further assistance.

Referring to future contact

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon. We are looking forward to meeting you on 21 January/in Tromsø. We would appreciate your reply at your earliest convenience.

The closing salutation must match the opening salutation and the overall tone of the letter. Choose one of the following closing lines depending on the formality of the salutation.

Very formal

 less formal but still professional.

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