Business Letters

Business letters are written messages to a person or group within a professional setting. Business letters are used when the writer would like to be formal and professional. Letters may vary in length depending on the writer’s objective, purpose, and message of the letter. The letter can address anyone including, but not limited to: clients and customers, managers, agencies, suppliers, and other business personnel or organizations. It is important to remember that any business letter is a legal document between the interested parties. These documents can be held for up to seven years, so it is important that all information is honest and legitimate.

The Difference Between a Business letter and other letters

The main thing that differentiates a business letter from other letters is that a business letter is a legal document. The writer can be held liable for anything written in the letter. For example, if it is stated that a project will be completed by a certain date in a business letter, the project legally must be completed by that date. However, if the project can’t be completed by that date, another letter can be written stating that the project is behind schedule and why. For this reason, business letters must be written differently than letters used for personal use.

A business letter is used primarily to request or provide information, to relate a deal, to bring or continue conversation, and/or to discuss prior negotiations. A business letter can be classified as private, however, it is typically not circulated to others, but rather meant for the eyes of the participants involved. Therefore, a business letter needs to be clear, focused, and to the point. When writing a business letter, the author should avoid interjecting personal stories.

A business letter needs to be concise and clear. Being too wordy is the biggest downfall in this form of writing. Keep sentences short and precise. Avoid over using adjectives and adverbs that distract from the focus of the message. Organize the letter from most important subjects to least. The content of the letter should be persuasive and usable. The tone of the letter should be formal and professional.

Also, in a business letter, it is preferable to use personal singular pronouns like “I” and “you”. Avoid using plural pronouns like “we” since it can mislead the audience to assume that the company supports the message of the letter. In addition, personal pronouns are easier to understand, because it directly refers to the parties involved.

Formatting Your Business Letter

  • Use single spacing. NEVER use double spaces within the business letter.
  • Use a simple format with font that is easy to read.
  • For block, and modified block formats use single spaces.
  • Leave a blank line between each paragraph. This makes it easier to follow the changes of topics within the letter.

The Introduction

  • This paragraph should introduce why you are writing the letter and sum up the key points in the following paragraphs.
  • Include a statement that shows you are knowledgeable of the audience to which your letter is directed.
  • Provide background or history regarding the purpose of the letter.
  • Talk about key points you are making.
  • Include a justification of the importance of the main points.
  • List any important dates, discussions, and conversations that are relevant.
  • Ask questions, if necessary.
  • Summarize the main points of the letter.
  • Restate the problem and resolution if pertinent.
  • Include deadlines.
  • Provide contact information (Email, Phone Number, Fax, Etc…).

Closing Salutation

It is important to take into account your audience when ending any business document. Being both respectful and professional are two important elements of your ending salutation. You must remember that each employer, boss, or co-worker may have different expectations as to what is acceptable as a proper salutation. A few general ending salutations deemed professional include:

  • Respectfully yours,
  • Yours truly,

These should be used with individuals whom you do not have a relationship with, new co-workers, potential clients, or a large email to a wide variety of individuals. When you are sending a business document to an individual to whom you are accustomed, your salutation should change. Consider a professional salutation, which is not too formal. Examples include:

  • Kind regards,
  • Best regards,
  • Many thanks,
  • With appreciation,
  • Best wishes,

When in doubt about which type of salutation should be used, a simple “Thanks” or Thank you” is always appropriate.

“Signature Block”

Always close a letter. ‘Sincerely’ would be the safest way to close out a business letter. On a typed business letter, following the closing, you should leave a space to sign your name with a pen. This will allow for a more personal touch on an otherwise bland letter. This is the only handwriting on the paper so make sure the signature is clear. Below this personal signature should be your typed first and last name to allow for easy reading. After this you can include anything else that the reader may need to know. This could include anything from job title, identification, a notation that there are copies attached at the bottom of the document, or other contact information, such as e-mail address or business phone number.

Tips on Writing Business Letters

  • Address the reader formally (Mr., Miss, or Mrs.) unless otherwise directed.
  • Address the letter to a specific person whenever possible, and not the company so it does not get discarded.
  • Use a colon after the salutation if using the reader’s last name and a comma if using their first name.
  • Use company letterhead to make the document more professional, if the document is related to company affairs.
  • Use a subject line to inform the reader quickly of the documents content.
  • Sign your name in ink neatly at the bottom, between the closing and the Electronic Signature of the document.
  • If a letter does not fill an entire page, put be sure the content of the letter is in the middle of is the page and the document is balanced.
  • Be sure to list the people on the letter that you are sending copies to so a certain individual is not left out.
  • It is okay to use specific pronouns, such as “I” and “You”, but be careful when using “We”. This is simply because it can commit your company to what you have written.
  • Business Letters. Provided by : WikiBooks. Located at : . Project : Professional and Technical Writing. License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

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35 Writing Business Letters

At Canadian businesses, internal communication is usually accomplished through email and memos. Letters are considered a more formal mode of communication used to give information to external stakeholders.

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • understand when to use a business letter format
  • different letter formats
  • essential elements
  • optional elements
  • evaluate the components of a standard request letter
  • address an envelope for mailing (Canada Post, n.d.)

Purpose of a Business Letter

Business letters are often used to communicate with clients or other external stakeholders or for more personal reasons; you may need write a letter as part of an application package for a scholarship or a job or to support a colleague’s immigration application, to nominate someone for an award or scholarship, or to recommend someone for a job. Letters offer the advantage of formality, confidentiality (it’s illegal to open someone else’s mail), and provide a written record of evidence. In the past, letters were always mailed, but if a letter contains information that is time sensitive, sometimes the letter is sent as an email attachment or even faxed.

As one of the most formal documents you can send, a letter conveys a high degree of respect to its recipient. Sending a letter is your way of saying that the recipient matters. Letters are usually one- to two-page documents sent to people or organizations outside of the organization from which they’re sent, whereas memos are equivalent documents for communications within an organization. Though we use email for many of the occasions that we used to send letters for before the twenty-first century, letters are still sent rather than emails for several purposes:

  • Cover letters to employers in job applications
  • Thank-you letters and other goodwill expressions
  • Letters of recommendation (a.k.a. reference letters)
  • Letters of transmittal to introduce reports or proposals
  • Campaign initiatives, such as for fundraising or political advocacy
  • Official announcements of products, services, and promotions to customers
  • Claims and other complaints sent to companies to lay down a formal paper-trail record as evidence in case matters escalate into the court system
  • Formal rejection notices to job or program applicants
  • Collection notices to people with overdue payments

writing business letters for various purposes

Formatting a Business Letter

There are two main types of letters: full block-style  letters and  modified-block style. The block style used by organizations has a company letterhead at the top, whereas modified-block letters are typically written independently by individuals.

Example letter styles

Image from Communication for Results: A Canadian student’s guide , 4th ed.  (2017), p. 237 [1]

Tips for Formatting Letters

  • Start the date 5 cm from the top or 1 blank line below the letterhead.
  • For block style, begin all lines at the left margin and left-align; do not indent and do not use full justification.
  • Leave side margins of 2.5 to 4 cm depending on the length of the letter and the font size.
  • Single-space the sections and use white space between sections.
  • Place the title of the receiver wherever it best balances the inside address.
  • Place the title of the author wherever it best balances the closing line.

Standard Elements of a Business Letter

All professional business letters should include

  • Letterhead and Return Address
  • Recipient Address
  • Subject Line
  • Message Opening
  • Message Body
  • Message Closing
  • Complimentary Close and Signature
  • Enclosure Notice

Each of these elements is discussed in more detail, below.

1. Letterhead/Return Address

A company letterhead  features the following information: company, name, full address, telephone number, and, if applicable, a website address, fax number, and company logo. When a letter extends beyond one page, use letterhead for the first page and plain sheets for the subsequent pages.

Because  modified-block-style letters  are sent by individuals unaffiliated with a company, they typically include only the sender’s two-line address at the top, which divides the above address style in half so that the street number, name, and type go on the first line (with no comma at the end), and the city/town, provincial abbreviation, and postal code go on the second, as shown below:

Example Address

1385 Woodroffe Avenue Ottawa, ON   K2G 1V8

In both styles of address, strike a formal tone by fully spelling out the street type rather than abbreviating it (e.g.,  Street , not  St .;  Avenue , not  Ave. ;  Road , not  Rd. ;  Crescent , not  Cres. ;  Boulevard , not  Blvd. ;  Court , not  Crt. ; etc.). Using the abbreviations is fine in informal, personal letters, however.

A distinguishing feature of the modified-block style is that the sender address is justified (flush) to the vertical middle of the page (i.e., the left edge of its text lines up with it) rather than the left margin. Do this by highlighting the two address lines, then clicking and dragging the base of the left-margin tab in your word processor’s ruler right to the vertical midpoint of the page. If your page has 2.5 cm margins, that would be at around the 8.25 cm mark. Note that modified-block-style letters place the sender’s address on the first line below the header (i.e., about an inch or 2.5 cm from the top edge of the page) and don’t include the sender’s name at the top of this address block. The reader can find the sender’s name by darting their eyes down to the signature block at the bottom.

In some circumstances, you may want to use block-style letters with a letterhead when writing on your own behalf rather than for a company. When writing a cover letter, for instance, you can stylize your name prominently as if it were the name of a company so that it stands out in a larger font in bold typeface, possibly in an eye-catching colour. Because this appears in the header margin, adopting the block style has the additional advantage of placing your name and contact information automatically on every page so that consistent personal branding extends to the one- to two-page résumé that follows, including the references page that would be separated out for confidentiality reasons.

2. Dateline

In a formal letter, the date must follow the unambiguous style that fully spells out the month, gives the calendar date, a comma, and the full year (e.g., April 25, 2020). In block-style letters, this appears left-justified (its left edge lines up with the left margin) often with 2-3 lines of space between it and the company letterhead above it and, for symmetry, as much between it and the recipient address below.

In modified-block-style letters, however, the date often appears as the third line of the sender address block. Its left edge therefore lines up with the vertical middle of the page. Only one line of space should separate the date line from the recipient address below. After this, block-style and modified-block letters are formatted in the same way until you get to the signature block at the bottom.

3. Recipient Address

No matter what style of letter you use, the recipient address is left-justified, begins with the recipient’s full name on the top line, and follows with their mailing address on the lines below in the format options given below.

The first line begins with the person’s courtesy title: Mr., Ms. (applies to women unless a preference for Mrs. or Miss is known), Dr., etc . Omit the courtesy title if the addressee’s gender is unclear or unknown. A business or professional title–for example, Chair, Treasurer – may follow the surname on the same line or on the next line if the title is long. Abbreviate the names of provinces and territories (AB, BC, YT, etc.). Leave two spaces, then type the postal code.

Michelle Masterton, MBA Freelance Marketing Consultant 3489 Cook Street Victoria, BC  V9G 4B2

Notice that commas follow only (1) the recipient’s name if followed by a professional role (capitalized) or credentials abbreviation and (2) the city or town. Two spaces separate the provincial abbreviation (PA) from the postal code, which has a single space in the middle dividing the six alpha-numeric characters into two groups of three for readability. Though you sometimes see addresses that fully spell out the province, rather than abbreviate it, and have only one space between the province and postal code, the style given above is dominant and has the advantage of being more concise and clearly distinguishing the province from the postal code without crowding the line with commas. Keep the end of each line free of any punctuation.

4. Subject Line

Like a subject line in an email, letters can have subject lines that indicate the topic or purpose. The same titling principles as email apply, only the letter’s subject reference begins with “ Re: ” or “RE:” or  “Subject:” and is entirely in either bold typeface or all-caps, but not both. You might also see it positioned above or below the opening salutation, but usually above. Like all the text blocks besides the date line, a blank line of space separates this from the other parts above and below.

5. Salutation

The salutation is a greeting that is necessary in letters and emails. It is typed flush with the left margin two lines below the inside address or attention line.

Dear Ms. Françoise Hardy: Dear Mr. Serge Gainsbourg: Dear IT Professionals: Dear Dr. Landy: Dear Ms. Vartan: Dear Dana ,

The Dear, title, full name, and colon all signal formality. Variations in formal letters include omitting the title or the first name, but not both at once. Omit the title if you’re at all concerned about its accuracy. For instance, if the recipient’s first name is a unisex name and you’re not sure if they’re male or female, skip the gender title to avoid offending the recipient by mixing up their gender. the courtesy title Ms. is standard for women regardless of marital status. If you’re addressing someone who identifies as non-binary, then  Mx.  might be best if you must use a title, or just no title at all. Other considerations in the opening salutation include the following:

  • Using the recipient’s first name only is appropriate only if you know them well on a friendly, first-name basis.
  • Using a comma instead of a colon is appropriate only for very informal letters.
  • To whom it may concern:  is an appropriate opening salutation only if you really intend for the letter to be read by whomever it is given to, as in the case of a reference letter that an applicant gives copies of to potential employers. Otherwise, every effort should be made to direct the letter to a particular person, especially cover letters. If an employer has deliberately omitted any mention of who is responsible for hiring an applied-for position, addressing the person by professional role (e.g.,  Dear Hiring Manager: ) is acceptable.

6. Message Opening

Letters are ideal for both direct- and indirect-approach messages depending on the occasion for writing them. Direct-approach letters get right to the point by stating their main point or request in a paragraph of no more than a sentence or two. Letters organized with openings like this lend themselves to positive or neutral messages. Ideal for formally delivering bad-news or persuasive messages, indirect-approach letters begin with a buffer paragraph—again, this may only be a sentence or two—just to say some nice things before getting to the bad news or difficult request in the body of the message.

7. Message Body

Whether the opening takes the direct or indirect approach, the body supports this with explanatory detail. Ensure that your message is concise and, if appropriate for the content, use effective document design features such as numbered or bulleted lists to improve readability. For instance, if your letter contains a series of questions, use a numbered list so that the reader can respond to each with a corresponding numbered list of their own.

Message body paragraphs should be proper three-part paragraphs. Like all other text blocks throughout (except for the return address above and signature block below in a modified-block letter), every line in the message body must be flush to the left margin, including the first. In other words, rather than indent a paragraph’s first line as novels do to mark where one paragraph ends and another begins, separate them with a blank line. Brevity in formal letters limits the number of paragraphs to what you can fit in a page or two.

8. Message Closing

The closing mirrors the opening with a sentence or two that wraps up the letter with something relevant to the topic at hand. Because of their formality, letters almost always end with a goodwill statement, such as an expression of gratitude thanking the reader for their attention or consideration. For instance, a cover letter thanks the reader for their consideration, invites them to read the enclosed résumé, and expresses interest in meeting to discuss the applicant’s fit with the company in person since getting an interview is the entire point of an application. A thank-you letter will thank the recipient again, and a recommendation letter will emphatically endorse the applicant. Even letters delivering bad news or addressing contentious situations should end with pleasantries rather than hostile or passive-aggressive jabs. If an action is required, be sure to indicate when you would expect follow through.

9. Complimentary Close and Signature Block

The complimentary close is also know as a “closing salutation”. A simple  Sincerely  or  Cordially  are standard business letter closing salutations that signal the formal end of the message much like the opening salutation did before the beginning of the message proper. A more personal letter sent to someone you know well may end with  Yours truly (with the second word all lowercase), but don’t use this with someone you’ve never met or with anyone you want to maintain a strictly professional relationship with. Always place a “hanging comma” at the end of the line:

writing business letters for various purposes

You may add pronouns after your name or include a courtesy title in the parentheses before your name to help your reader know if you prefer to be identified as male or female: (Ms.) Sam Jones.

You can create a signature by handwriting it on a piece of paper and then scanning it to make a digital copy that you can use in your typed correspondence; however, many people simply use an italicized font, like “Brush Script” or “Lucinda Handwriting”.

The signature block appear immediately underneath the signature. It clarifies the sender’s name in full since handwritten signatures are rarely legible enough to do so themselves. The sender’s professional role follows their name either on the same line (with a comma in between) if both the name and role are short enough, and on the second line if they are too long together. On the line below the sender’s name and role can appear the name of the company they work for and their work email address on the third line; all three lines are single-spaced. If you are writing independently, putting your email address and phone number on the line(s) after your printed name depends on if you used a simple modified-block style address at the top, in which case you should add your contact info in the signature block. If you used a personal letterhead, perhaps for a job application cover letter, then you need not include anything more than your full printed name in your signature block.

Sometimes letters are written on someone else’s behalf, perhaps by an administrative assistant. In such cases, the signature and typed-out name of the person responsible for the letter is given at the bottom, then the initials of the person who typed it appear after a line of space below the last line of the signature block.

10. Enclosure Notice

Just as emails can include attachments, letters are often sent along with other documents. Cover letters introduce résumés, for instance, and letters of transmittal introduce reports to their intended recipients. In such cases, an enclosure notice on the very last line of the page (above the footer margin) tells the reader that another document or other documents are included with the letter. This would look like the following:

Enclosures (2): Résumé, Portfolio

For other documents included with the letter, simple, brief titles such as  Brochure  or  Thank-you Card  would suffice. Separate each with a comma if you have more than one.

Standard “Request for Information” Letters

Example of the a standard request letter format

Image from Communication for results: A Canadian student’s guide, 5th ed . (2020), p. 239. [2]

Knowledge Check

Sample 1: Ineffective Letter

Sample 2: Revised Letter

Addressing Envelopes

Canada Post has specific instructions for how to address envelopes:  Canada Post Guidelines

  • Meyer, C. (2017). Routine and goodwill messages. In Communicating for results: A Canadian student’s guide (4th ed., p. 237). Oxford. ↵
  • Meyer, C. (2020). Routine and goodwill messages. In Communicating for results: A Canadian student’s guide (5th ed., p. 239). Oxford. ↵

A printed heading on a company stationary, containing the company's name, address, telephone number, and, if applicable, website, fax, number, and logo.

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Home » Business Communication » Business Letter – Meaning, Purpose and Components

Business Letter – Meaning, Purpose and Components

A letter is price of conversation by post. It is the most important means of written communication . Every organization has to maintain contacts with its customers, suppliers, Government Department and so on. The organization has also to exchange information with various parties. Placing orders, soliciting enquires, executing orders etc. require communication. For such type of communication the media used by the organization is a letter. This letter is known as business letter.

  • In the words of H. A. Murphy and others, “The medium used most often for written messages to persons outside your organization is the business letter.”
  • W. J. Weston said, “Business letter is the process of accomplishing business transaction in written form.”

The Purposes of a Business Letter

Business people have to communicate with the suppliers, debtors, creditors, customers and with other concerned parties to exchange information. Business letters are basically used to communicate with the above parties.

According to Ricks and Gow, “The primary purposes of business letters are to inform, instruct, request, inquire, remit, order, advice, correct and to question.”

The main purposes of Business Letter are;

  • Convey Information: The basic purpose of any business letter is to convey information regarding business activities. Information can be transmitted through business letter to customers, suppliers, debtors, government authorities, financial institutions, bank and insurance companies and to any other parties related with the business.
  • Conclude Transaction: This is one of the specific purposes of business letter. To conclude in completed transactions business letters are frequently used.
  • Creation of Demand: Business letters especially circular letters used to create demand for new products. Circular letters can communicate many people in the same time.
  • Creation of Goodwill: In this electronic era messages can be sent within few seconds through electronic media but a well decorated business letter has its own importance in creation positive image of the company.
  • Expansion of Business: Through goodwill messages and through circular letters existing market can be expanded.
  • Establishment of Relationship: Another important purpose of business letter is, it helps to establish mutual relationship with the customers, suppliers and with the other interested parties.
  • Evidence: Business letters are also used to maintain documentary evidence. Letters can be preserved for future reference.
  • To Inquire: A business concern not only sends messages but also receive information from the outside. To run the business any firm need different types of information from outside. Through business letters firms can inquire regarding necessary matters.
  • Placing Order: It is a very common purpose for using business letter. Both trading and manufacturing concerns need to place orders for finished goods or raw-materials to run the business.
  • Problem Solving: In the course of business, disputes and misunderstanding may arise. Business letters play vital role in solving such misunderstandings.

Essentials for a Good Business Letter

Business letters are an important part of any business or profession. They are written to different persons with different motives. Letter writing is basically an art. The writer can cultivate a good style of writing various business letters by a constant and regular practice. Below are mentioned some of the important features which should be closely followed by a letter writer:

  • Clarity: A letter must have clarity. The purpose of communication should be made clear. Whether it is to inform, invite, reiterate, emphasize, remind, announce, seek participation or clarity and correct the earlier message, the purpose should clearly be stated. Lack of clarity affects the intended purpose of the letter. 
  • Impact: The letter should create the necessary impact. Behind every letter there is an objective and the letter should have a clear purpose. The purpose of writing a letter is not just to reach out to the customer. Every letter has an intended impact which must be felt.
  • To create the desired impact: It is often necessary to lay emphasis. Emphasis can be laid in many ways. It can be done by proper positioning—placing them in an important position. It can be done by repetition.
  • Relevant Information: The letter should provide the relevant details forming part of the message. Facts, figures, illustrations and other such information, which are accurate and reliable, as well as relevant to the context of the communication, should be incorporated in the letter.
  • Brevity: Any good communication—oral or written—should necessarily incorporate this essential feature. Brevity is a very important attribute for any business letter. For everyone connected with business, time is of essence.
  • Concise: The time that one can allot for reading business letters is certainly limited. The receiver does not have unlimited time to spare towards reading and re-reading the letter and drawing out the message in its entirety.
  • Simplicity: Simplicity is the hallmark of any good communication . Simplicity refers to the ease of understanding. Simple writing is the opposite of complex and involved writing. The art of simple writing is mastered through conscious effort and practice. A letter written in a simple, easy, informal style using easily understood words catches the attention, and makes an impact.
  • Timeliness: Business letters, to be effective, should have proper timing. Letters should be written and dispatched on time. Some messages have a sense of urgency. They call for action, which is ‘immediate’ or ‘urgent’, or within a given time frame. Letters which carry such messages should reflect the associated urgency.
  • Language: Language is an extremely important facet of business communication. First and foremost, it is necessary to ensure that the language used is appropriate, i.e., the language with which the reader is at ease. Apart from English and Hindi, various regional languages are in common use in businesses in different parts of the country. Public sector organizations such as banks follow the three-language formula.
  • Appeal: A good letter should appeal to the reader’s sensibilities. It should go beyond the message it conveys and make a good impression. It should have elegance, which means taste, beauty and decency.
  • Style: Style refers to the manner of writing. It constitutes the collective characteristics of the writing or impression or way of presenting things. Each person has an individual style. The writing style, to create an impact, again needs conscious effort, on an ongoing basis.
  • Positive Approach: A good business letter, in the ultimate analysis, is that which has a positive approach. It creates a friendly atmosphere. It avoids negative feelings. One must be in a proper frame of mind to write a really good letter.

Components of a Business Letter

The components of a letter constitute the different parts of a letter. The following parts usually constitute the structure of a business letter.

  • Heading: The heading which is also known as „head address‟ or “letter head” contains information relating to the name of the organization and its address. It is usually given at the top centre or top right side of the paper. Following information’s are provided in the heading.  The firm’s name, address, trade mark, telephone number, telexes number, Ethics-mail address etc.
  • Reference Number: The number which the receiver refers in all future correspondence is called reference number. It is usually printed below the date line or on the same line where the date is written to the right margin. The purpose of reference number is to enable replies to be linked with the previous correspondence and to send replies to these letters to the proper official or department.
  • Date: The date consists of day, month and year. The date finds its place either at the starting of left margin or at the closing of the right margin as the style adopted. Date enables quick references in future and helps in prompt action and orderly filing.
  • Inside address: The inside address contains the name and address of the organization or the individual to whom the letter is written. It is written below the reference time starting from the left margin. The inside address makes a record on the copy which helps in identification for filling purpose.
  • Attention line: Attention line is placed below the attention time and above the salutations and is underlined. It indicates the name of those for whom the letter is meant.
  • Salutation: Salutation means to greet the addressee. It is the complementary greeting with which the writer begins his letter. it is written below the inside address or attention line leaving some space. It starts from the left side margin. It may or may not end with comma depending upon the style of the letter.
  • Subject line: Subject line tells what the correspondence is about. It is placed just below the salutation line. It usually begins at the left margin and may also begin from the center. It may contain apart from the subject any specific identification material i.e. date of previous letter, invoice number etc.
  • The first (or the opening paragraph) begins the letter and builds up a relationship with the reader.
  • The second paragraph contains the proper subject matter. It is the main paragraph of the letter.
  • The third paragraph is an extension of the second paragraph.
  • The fourth (or the closing paragraph) brings the letter to an end. It must be natural and logical must be final and complete.
  • Closing with an important statement, a question, an offer or a request leaves the door open for further communication.
  • Formal Close: It is also known as subscription. It is merely a polite way of ending a letter. It is written below the last paragraph of the body of the letter, either at the left side or at the right side, depending on the style of letter. The subscription should be corresponding to the salutation.
  • Signature block/slot: Signature is the assent of the writer to the subject matter of the letter and is a practical necessity. It is usually hand written and contains the writers name, status, department, firm etc. Signature is put just below the complementary close.
  • Enclosures: Sometimes some documents like price list catalogue etc are attached with the letter. Enclosure mentions the documents which are enclosed or attached with the letter. The enclosures usually find their place at the bottom left margin.
  • Postscript: It is commonly known as is something written after the letter is closed. It is usually done when the writer forgets to put in some information or message in the main part. It should be very precise and to the point.
  • ‘CC’ or Carbon Copy notation: When copies of the letter are meant to be sent to more than one person it is mentioned under “CC” or carbon copy notation.
  • Reference initial: When typed initials are put it refers to reference initials. These are useful for office checking. They are typed adjacent to the left margin.

Differences between Business Letter and other Letters

  • Nature: Business letter or commercial letter it is impersonal and universal in nature. But other letters may be fully or partly personal in nature.
  • Purpose: Business letter is exchanging various business related issues and information. But other letters are mainly exchanging personal or family related affairs and information.
  • Scope: Business letter scope is wide and contains various types of business information. But Scope of other letters is limited and contains only personal information.
  • Structure: Business letter follow officially recognized structure. But other letters may or may not follow any recognized structure.
  • Formality: Business letter it maintains formal rules and procedure. But other letters may be informal.
  • Size: Business letter generally it is concise in size and avoids irrelevant matter. But other letters may be concise or large in size.
  • Types: Business letter it can be categorized differently. But other letters generally cannot be categorized.
  • Language: Business letter language should be easy and simple. But other letter’s language may easy, poetic, emotional etc.
  • Copy: Business letter copy of business letter is preserved. But Copy of other letters may or may not be preserved.
  • Method: Business letter it uses direct and persuasive method. But other letters may use only direct method.

Related Posts:

  • Barriers in Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Causes and Prevention of Miscommunication in Business
  • Design and Placement of the Corporate Communication Function
  • Introduction to Group Communication
  • Grapevine Communication
  • Elements of the Communication Process
  • The Characteristics of Business Communication
  • Definition of Interpersonal Communication
  • The Importance of Non-Verbal Communication
  • Principles of Effective Communication

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The Purposes of Business Letters

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The Objectives of a Sales Letter

How to write a business inquiry, circulars in business communication.

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Business letters can be written to employees or managers, as well as clients and prospective customers. The business letter is a formal type of communication that is usually typed on 8 1/2 by 11-inch white stationery paper. Business letters must be targeted to a specific individual or group, have a clear and concise purpose, be convincing and end with a specific objective, like a meeting date.

Importance of Letter Writing for Sales

The purpose of a business letter can include introducing customers to new products. In direct mail, a form of advertising, these letters are called sales letters. The sales letter is usually mailed with a brochure and order form. While the color brochure often features a company's products, the sales letter is designed to highlight the key benefits of the products for the consumer or business customer.

All introductory or sales letters will generally follow the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) principle, reports Business Balls . The heading or letter should grab the reader's attention, interest them enough to read it, increase their desire to own the product, and prompt them to purchase it.

Relationship Building

Purposes of business letters also include apprising or thanking business associates or customers. For example, a cover letter sent with a report can apprise business associates about the contents of the report. These letters are often very short, with bullet points highlighting key topics discussed in the report. Thank you letters can be used by companies to thank customers for a recent order. The objective of the thank you letter is to build rapport with the customer, and remind them of the company's products or website.

Another purpose of a business letter is to order products. This type of letter usually takes the form of a purchase order. The purchase order is a legal document between the buyer and seller that states the quantity and dollar amount of a specific order.

Selling Incentive Sales

The purposes of business letters can include providing sales incentives for customers. Selling incentive sales letters are used to offer rebates, coupons or special deals to long-term customers. For example, a small printing company may offer a 20 percent discount to customers who have used their services for six months or longer. An alternative would be to offer the discount to customers who spend a certain dollar amount with the printer. Companies typically use selling incentive sales letters to promote existing products.

Prevention/Solution Types of Letters

Sometimes, a business must write a letter to acknowledge a complaint. This complaint could involve a customer service issue, damaged product or even an inaccurate shipment. Consequently, the company must write a letter to the customer that informs them what is being done to correct the error. Complaints can lead to potential legal problems. Therefore, it is important for companies to address customer complaints immediately.

Lost Customer Letter Format

Finally, a company may write a business to a "lost customer" or someone who has not purchased products for a while, according to the brand-building website, Authority Alchemy . Internet, mail order, retail and e-commerce companies that use databases often have the ability to pinpoint these customers. Subsequently, they may write to these customers and offer them a special deal. For example, a small cell phone company may send letters to customers who have cancelled their service introducing a new monthly rate that is lower than their competition.

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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 letters for various purposes

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 letters for various purposes

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.



iEduNote. Studying Made Simple!

Business Letter: Purpose, Process, Format

Business Letter: Purpose, Process, Format

Business letters must deal with business matters, such as buying and selling goods or services, entering job contracts, or claiming compensation for damaged goods in transit. Therefore, only the exchange of information related to business in the form of a letter qualifies as a business letter.

Understand Business Letter!

What is a letter.

A letter is a written message addressed to a person or an organization, usually placed in an envelope and sent by post (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary). It is the age-old written communication used to exchange views among people in our civilization.

A letter is the most personal form of presenting individual ideas to others for various purposes. Gracian said, “A letter is a deliberate and written conversation.” Initially, personal messengers carried it.

After the introduction of the postal system, postcards and envelopes were used to send messages through letters. However, a letter is a written message in a specific format addressed to a person or an organization sent through the postal system or a personal messenger.

Meaning of Business Letter

A letter that contains a message related to any business matter is called a business letter. In other words, business letters involve exchanging business information contracts, receiving or paying for goods or money, etc., between two or more business enterprises or organizations. The exchange of letters between businessmen about trade and commerce is known as a business letter.

11 Purposes of Business Letter

Every letter has a purpose, which is the main idea the writer wants to convey. The writer’s objective is achieved through letter communication. Of course, some business letters have more than one purpose. Generally, a letter may have any of the following purposes or a combination of them:

Business letters are written to inform a businessperson or organization about some issue of business interest by another businessperson or organization. The intention is to establish a business relationship between them to facilitate an exchange of goods or services.

Information exchange is the foundation upon which a sustainable relationship can be built between persons or organizations. Thus, the central purpose of letters is to inform one another about matters of business interest.

To instruct

Giving instructions about the desired way of action to another party is a common purpose of business letters.

Through letters, employees are instructed about the business plan, strategy, courses of action, etc.. It is also used to give instructions about the mode of delivery, packaging , transportation systems, or other related matters to the suppliers of goods or services.

Business letters aim to request people or organizations to follow a particular course of action the writer desires. Business relations are mutually supportive and interdependent relationships.

Therefore, requests are made to establish peer relationships to get the best benefits out of them. Letters carry personal requests to the other party for affecting a change in the organization’s or the person’s behavior.

One of the purposes of business letters is to inquire about the products to be purchased, the persons to be appointed, or the firms to be given a credit facility. This inquiry provides basic information to make buying and appointment decisions and assess a firm’s creditworthiness .

Business letters are used to remit money from one place to another. They contain the details of the remittance and facilitate correct delivery.

Business letters serve the purpose of giving orders to operating people to get the job done on time. Letters are a very popular mechanism to convey orders to subordinates conveniently.

Business letters carry necessary advice from superiors to working people and from one firm to another. Advice is required to get the desired action from the opposite party. It guides people to perform the job accordingly.

Managers require frequent communication to correct orders or instructions. Working people also need corrective instructions from superior authorities. Any delay in this respect will cause disruptions in workflow. Letters help managers provide corrective orders to the concerned person or party.

To question

Business letters convey questions to the other party about matters of certain interest. They aim to communicate questions to the other party or person to settle particular points of disagreement between them.

To document

Business letters provide documentation of the communication. The goal of the business letter is to ensure the documentation of the exchange of messages for future reference.

To persuade

Business letters serve the purpose of persuading people. A message is developed to convince a certain person or firm in favor of the sender’s position and is transmitted through letters.

17 Essentials of a Good Business Letter

A good business letter is also a good communication tool. Experts have prescribed the following qualities or essentials of a good business letter:

Definite structure

There is a standard structure of a business letter that is recognized as a conventional format by business people throughout the world. A good business letter should adhere to that structure, making the letter attractive and presentable (the structure is exhibited at the end).


Conciseness is an inevitable quality of every business letter. Executives don’t have time to go through a lengthy letter. A business letter must be concise in content and description for their convenience.

A business letter’s content should focus on one issue and its description. Including any other issue would be irrelevant and jeopardize the purpose of the business letter, making it counterproductive. Thus, a good business letter should concentrate only on relevant matters.


A good business letter should be complete in all respects. The reader should not have any questions about the issue of the letter. The business letter would be deemed incomplete if the reader has any questions.

Simplicity is an essential virtue of a good business letter, as the message of the letter will be easily understood with the same encoded meaning. Simplicity means using simple words, simple sentences, and presenting complex things in a simplified manner. It will make the business letter successful.

The subject of the business letter must be stated in clear terms. It will make the letter unambiguous and easily understood without any confusion. One should follow the principles of clarity to make the letter clear to its reader.

Common Language

Some terms, words, sentence structures, and styles have common usage in a particular trade or business. A culture may also have such types of words. In a good business letter, one should use this common language to ensure it is understood without any ambiguity.

Courtesy makes interpersonal or inter-firm relationships congenial and favorable to continuing business. Therefore, a good business letter should be courteous to the other party. One should follow the principles of courtesy to make the business letter successful.

Neutrality is the unbiased presentation of facts and figures. This type of presentation makes the business letter more acceptable to the other party, as it does not harm anybody’s attitude . Therefore, a good business letter should have neutrality in its message.

A cordial presentation of a message in a business letter helps develop mutual faith and trust. It also promotes good human relations between the parties, which helps maintain long-term business relationships. Thus, a good business letter should present the encoded ideas very cordially.


Mistakes affect the success of a business letter. They create a bad impression in the receiver’s mind about the integrity and commitment of the sender. Therefore, a good business letter should have no mistakes in any form and should be correct in all senses.


A good business letter should not have excessive descriptions of an issue that is intended to transmit. All exaggerations are counterproductive and destructive to the purpose of the letter. Thus, a good business letter should be non-superfluous.

The message of the business letter should guide the receiver to the purpose of the letter to get the desired response. The description should be centered on the objective of the letter. Otherwise, it will lose its purpose. Therefore, a good business letter should be purposeful.

Unity makes the letter consistent and attractive. It means the size of paragraphs, the chronology of the descriptions, the margins of the letter, etc., should have similarities. It will give a pleasant look to the letter. Therefore, a good business letter should have all the qualities of unity.

Capture and Hold Attention

A good business letter should be such that it captures and holds the reader’s attention up to the last part of the letter. The receiver should read it in one breath without any break. It will favor the right understanding of the letter.

Build Confidence and Be Action-Oriented

A good business letter should state the message in a way that develops a sense of confidence in the reader’s mind and motivates them to take immediate action.

Coherence refers to the logical order of ideas, thoughts, reasoning, etc. The content of the letter should be arranged in a logical order.

Facts and figures should be consistent with the topic. This will make the letter easy to grasp and understand. Therefore, a good business letter should have coherence in the description of the message.

7 Process of Writing a Letter

A good business letter is also a valuable communication tool. Experts have identified the following qualities or essentials of a good business letter:

Specified Purpose

A business letter should have a clearly defined purpose. To achieve this purpose, every writing effort must follow a systematic approach.

Planning the Letter

Begin every letter-writing endeavor with a well-thought-out plan. Determine the objectives of the letter, predict how the reader will react to your presentation, and evaluate possible reader reactions. Create an outline of the letter’s content.

Gathering Facts

Business letters convey purposeful messages constructed with relevant facts and figures. Ensure that you collect this information from reliable sources and verify its accuracy.

Analyzing and Organizing Information

Organize the gathered information systematically within the letter to serve the message or firm’s objective and elicit a positive response from the recipient. Employ statistical methods if necessary.

Writing the Letter

Remember that a letter is a written form of communication, so adhere to the principles of effective communication . Choose a direct order for favorable situations or an indirect order for unfavorable ones. Incorporate all the qualities or essentials of a good business letter into your writing.

Rewriting the Letter

Review your work, as a second look often leads to improvements. Seek input from relevant individuals and incorporate their feedback into your letter. Consider the overall appearance and approach it from the reader’s perspective. Then, make necessary revisions.

Editing and Presenting the Final Document

This marks the final stage of the letter-writing process. Since the letter will soon be out of your hands, carefully check all spellings, words, sentence structures, and the placement of facts.

Ensure all details are accurate and well-organized. Once satisfied, produce the final printed version of the letter and send it to the recipient.

9 Importance of Business Letter

A business letter is a form of communication exchanged among people in business and between business individuals and their customers or prospective customers. Each business letter has a central purpose and the main idea the writer aims to convey.

This central purpose may include supporting points related to the main goal. Some business letters have more than one purpose. To achieve any of these purposes, letters must capture and retain attention, state the case clearly and concisely, establish confidence, and prompt action.

Given the increasing complexity and competition in today’s business environment , the importance of correspondence has greatly increased. It also reflects the image of the business.

Therefore, Hagar (1987) stated that the business letter is the ambassador of business. Hence, the business letter is important and essential for every business concern. Some of the key aspects of the essentiality of business letters are discussed below:

Establishing rapport

Business letters convey friendly messages and information of mutual benefit. They focus on building mutually beneficial relationships that can be achieved through ongoing business interactions. Therefore, business letters play a vital role in establishing rapport between business individuals and firms.

Conducting trade

Business letters are essential means of exchanging information between buyers and sellers regarding products and trade terms. They facilitate the development of mutual understanding and the formation of contracts between parties. Thus, business letters help facilitate trade in the economy.

Creating demand

Business letters serve as effective vehicles for delivering personal appeals to prospective customers. Direct mail is currently a highly effective promotional tool.

Circular letters also simultaneously disseminate product information and sales appeals to a mass audience . Thus, business letters help create demand for products in the market.

Conducting commerce

Commercial activities are necessary to eliminate barriers to conducting business. Business letters assist commercial firms in establishing contact with other business entities and overcoming obstacles in their operations. Thus, business letters facilitate the efficient conduct of commerce .

Assembling and distributing goods and services

Resources are gathered from various sources for production, and finished goods are distributed to the market through various channels.

Vendors and channel members are selected, appointed, and managed through the exchange of letters. Therefore, business letters manage the entire process of assembling and distributing a firm’s goods and services.

Settling transactions and problems

Business letters are widely used to settle transactions involving the exchange of goods and services between firms. They are also an effective tool for resolving issues by facilitating communication between parties in dispute.

Establishing goodwill/reputation

Business letters are used to establish personal connections with individuals and can effectively employ emotional appeals. This contributes to building goodwill and enhancing the reputation of the organization among the individuals contacted.

Supporting oral communication/contact

Oral communication lacks documentation. To strengthen oral communication and provide a record of it, subsequent business letters are used. Thus, business letters support oral communication, making it both useful and legally recognized.

Expanding the scope of business

Business scope can be expanded through various means of communication, with business letters being a strong and effective method among them. Business diversification, market expansion, and product differentiation can be effectively accomplished using business letters.

9 Advantages of Business Letter

Business letters are the most effective means of communication that establish personal contact with people and increase the market potential of a firm’s products. They offer manifold benefits to every business concern, with a few advantages discussed below:

Pervasive presence

Business letters are a ubiquitous form of communication that can reach every corner of the world, including within the homes of even the most conservative families and their members. They can also access strictly confidential areas within offices. This quality gives letters an advantage over all other forms of communication.


Business letters, being written communications, provide records of all messages exchanged between firms.

Legal validity

Business letters serve as legally valid documents of exchanges made between firms. They can be presented as legal evidence in support of any business deal in a court of law and are widely accepted as legal documents.

Established credibility

Business letters are universally accepted documents within the business world, and there is no doubt about their credibility.

Future reference

Business letters, being written legal documents, serve as references for events in the future.

Effective communication

Business letters can convey personal and emotional messages and highlight the direct benefits of a particular transaction for the other party. Therefore, they are the most effective form of communication.


Business letters require very low costs compared to other communication methods, making them the most cost-effective communication option for any business firm.

Business letters are typically sent in envelopes and addressed to specific individuals, which enhances the confidentiality of the message more effectively than other media.

Reduced need for personal presence

Business letters establish personal contact and relationships without the physical presence of the individuals engaged in communication.

4 Disadvantages of Business Letter

Business letters are a widely used form of communication. However, they have some limitations and cannot be employed in all situations. These limitations are discussed below:

Non-mass communication

Business letters are not as effective as other methods for mass communication to persuade a large audience.

Useless for illiterate people

Illiterate individuals cannot be reached through letters since it is a written form of communication.

Not suitable for all locations

Business letters are transmitted through the postal system, so they cannot be used in areas without postal services.

Inappropriate for many occasions

There are certain business situations where a business letter may not be suitable, such as contracting, public speaking, meetings , investigations, or signing situations, among others.

Difference Between a Business Letter and a Personal Letter

Personal letters and business letters are two different types of letters oriented to two different purposes. There are many differences between the two, which are exhibited below:

Recommended Forms of Address and Salutation in Formal Business Letters

11 parts of a business letter.

Business Letter: Purpose, Process, Format

A business letter has a specific format with specific parts. The following discussion contains conventional parts of a business letter.

  • Heading (Date)

Inside Address

  • Subject heading
  • Reference I-initials
  • Body of the letter
  • Complimentary close
  • Signature identification
  • I.E.D Block
  • E-enclosure
  • D-distribution list

The letterhead contains information related to the name and address of the organization on behalf of which the letter is written or the person writing the letter. It provides the name, telephone number, fax number, email address, telex number, and the firm’s monogram.

The heading refers to the date of writing the letter. The date should always be shown in full, and it is crucial to put the date on every letter. It enables quick reference in the future, aids in prompt action, and facilitates orderly filing. The date includes the day, month, and year. It is written below the address or the letterhead, leaving some space for a better appearance.

The date is typed either starting close to the left margin or ending close to the right margin, depending on the chosen style. In the UK, it is usual to display the date in the order day/month/year, without using commas.

The name and address of the recipient should be typed on separate lines, as they would appear on an envelope. This creates a record on the copy, serving to identify the letter for filing purposes. It also assists the outward clerk in addressing the cover with the same information.

The inside address should be written below the date, starting from the left margin, and it can be in either indented or block form. Care should be taken to address the recipient exactly as they sign their letters.

Subject Heading

The subject heading is a one-line mention of the major theme of the letter. It is inevitable in the case of lengthy communication. It may be written after the inside address or just after the salutation along with the left alignment or in the middle of the letter. Write “Subject” or “Sub:”.

The reference is the identification of the source of the letter. It bears the abbreviated code of the name of the department or section that is writing the letter, the name of the particular file, a number, and the code of the subject matter. The purpose of the reference is to enable replies to be linked with the previous correspondence and also to send replies to these letters to the proper official or department. It helps with quick and easy future references and locating the document as well. Therefore, respondents are requested to mention the reference in their future correspondence or replies.

The reference is written just after the subject heading or in the body of the letter after the salutation, along with the subject heading. It may be written with left alignment or after a space from the left alignment.

The salutation is the complimentary greeting with which the writer opens their letter. It is the written equivalent of the conversational “Hello.”

It should be written below the inside address, subject heading, or reference, leaving some space, and should start flush with the left-side margin or along the left margin. Depending upon the style adopted, it may or may not end with a comma.

“Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” for a singular man or woman, and “Dear Sirs” or “Dear Mesdames” for addressing two or more persons, i.e., a firm or an association.

Body Of The Letter

The body of the letter is the description of the subject matter intended for communication to the letter’s receiver. The body contains (a) the subject and reference, (b) the opening part, (c) the main part, and (d) the closing part of the letter.

The opening part expresses greetings, gratitude, acknowledgment, or a reference to the action of the previous correspondence. It should be attractive and interesting to make the reader go through the entire letter with curiosity and hope.

The main section of the letter contains a clear statement of the subject matter. It should be brief and to the point, written in unambiguous, sincere, simple, and correct words and sentences. The thoughts must be complete and concrete.

The closing part of the letter must be gentle but firm, friendly yet forceful. It should use the “you” address and contain an important statement that provokes the reader to take action.

Complimentary Close

It is customary to end the letter in a polite way by using a complimentary close. The two most common closes are “yours faithfully” (used only with Dear Sir/Sirs/Sir or Madam) and “Yours sincerely” (used with personalized salutations).

Other styles of complementary closes are shown below:

  • Yours truly
  • Sincerely yours
  • Very truly yours
  • Respectfully
  • Warmest regards
  • Respectfully yours
  • With warmest regards
  • Best wishes
  • Best regards
  • With best wishes
  • Dear Sir – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Sirs – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Madam – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Sir or Madam – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Mr. Leighton – Yours sincerely
  • Dear Mrs. Jackson – Yours sincerely
  • Dear Melanie – Yours sincerely
  • Dear John – Yours sincerely

A signature denotes the confirmation of the writer that the letter belongs to them and that they hold responsibility for the matter expressed in the letter. It is the writer’s assent to the subject matter of the letter and is a practical necessity.

A signature is handwritten and contains a symbol representing the writer. It should be legible clear enough to be easily read. The signature is placed after the complementary close, either on the left-hand side or the right-hand side, depending on the style of the letter.

Signature Identification

The signature of the writer should be identified with an official seal containing the name, designation, department/division/section, and organization. In case of the absence of a seal, all this information should be typed. It provides a clear identity of the letter’s writer to the receiver.

This block contains the “I” for the initial of the writer or the comparer, the typist, or the person entrusted to do associated tasks related to the letter.

The letter may be attached to some documents, circulated to or distributed among other persons, departments, or organizations, or a copy may be kept in a relevant file. The person performing these tasks will put their initial at this place.

“E” refers to enclosure. The names of the documents attached should be written at the bottom of the letter. This informs the reader about which documents are enclosed with the letter. It also serves as a record that the relevant documents are duly attached if the receiver is missing any document during the handling of the letter.

“D” refers to the distribution list. If the letter is distributed to different persons, departments, or organizations, this is the place to write their names.

2 Formats or Styles of Business Letter

There are two popular styles or formats of writing business letters: one is the British style, and another is the American style.

British Style of Format or Style of Business Letter

In this format:

  • Your contact information is placed at the top left corner.
  • The date is written below your contact information.
  • The recipient’s contact information is placed below the date, aligned to the left.
  • The salutation, such as “Dear Mr./Ms. Recipient’s Last Name,” follows.
  • The body of the letter is written after the salutation.
  • The complimentary close, such as “Yours faithfully,” is aligned to the left.
  • You sign your name in the space between the close and your typed name.
  • Your typed name, if necessary, is placed below your signature.

Remember that British-style formatting often uses “Yours faithfully” when you don’t know the recipient’s name and “Yours sincerely” when you do.

American Style of Format or Style of Business Letter

The American style, the various parts of a letter, and their positions are shown in a specimen letter below. It starts all parts from the left-hand margin.

  • Your contact information is placed at the top left corner. You can include your title, company name, email address, and phone number if relevant.
  • The complimentary close, such as “Sincerely,” is aligned to the left.
  • Your typed name and title, if applicable, are placed below your signature.
  • If you have enclosed additional documents with the letter, you can mention “Enclosure” or “Enclosures” at the bottom to indicate this.

This American-style format is commonly used for business correspondence in the United States.

4 FAQs About Business Letter

What are the essentials of a good business letter.

A Good Business Letter should have a definite structure, conciseness, relevancy, completeness, simplicity, clarity, common language, courtesy, neutrality, cordiality, correctness, non-superfluity, purposefulness, unity, ability to capture and hold attention, confidence-building, action-oriented nature, and coherence.

What is the difference between a Business Letter and a Personal Letter?

A Business Letter is structured, follows guiding principles, may have enclosures, can follow direct or indirect styles, has a wide scope, and is emotionally neutral.

In contrast, a Personal Letter does not have a specific structure or set principles, does not typically have enclosures, follows only a direct style, has a limited scope, and is emotionally biased.

How does a Business Letter contribute to conducting trade and commerce?

Business Letters facilitate the exchange of information between buyers and sellers regarding products and trade terms, help in forming contracts, and are essential in overcoming obstacles in operations, thereby aiding in the efficient conduct of commerce.

Why is neutrality important in a Business Letter?

Neutrality in a Business Letter refers to the unbiased presentation of facts and figures. It makes the letter more acceptable to the other party as it does not harm anybody’s attitude , thereby contributing to the success of the communication.

A Business Letter is a formal document exchanged between enterprises or organizations for various business-related purposes such as informing, instructing, and requesting. It follows a definite structure and principles, ensuring conciseness, clarity, courtesy, and correctness.

The letter may include several parts, including the letterhead, inside address, salutation, body, and signature. The process of writing such a letter involves specifying the purpose, planning, gathering facts, analyzing information, and revising.

Business Letters offer advantages like legal validity, cost-effectiveness, and effective communication, but they also have limitations like inaccessibility to illiterate people and unsuitability for all locations. They differ from personal letters in structure, style, scope, and emotional tone.

Formal Business Letters use specific forms of address and salutation depending on the recipient’s title.

Neutrality in a Business Letter is crucial as it presents facts unbiasedly, making the letter more acceptable. These letters play a vital role in trade and commerce by facilitating information exchange, forming contracts, and overcoming operational obstacles.

Now that you are familiar with business letter; explore complete guideline on business communication .

  • Horizontal Communication: Functions, Forms, Importance
  • Upward Communication: Advantages, Disadvantages, Methods
  • Downward Communication: Objectives, Advantages, Factors
  • Oral Communication: Meaning, Advantages, Limitations
  • Written Communication: Principles, Merits, Demerits, Techniques
  • Memos: Meaning, Advantages, Formats, Example
  • Business Report: Objectives, Qualities, Steps
  • Documentation and Bibliography: Meaning, Methods, Guide
  • Types of Communication Styles
  • Internal Communication: Meaning, Functions, Features
  • Small Group Communication: Meaning, Factors, Types
  • Group Communication Network
  • Types of Reports
  • Market Report: Meaning, Importance, Structure
  • Analytical Report: Meaning, Characteristics, Importance

writing business letters for various purposes

8 Rules for Business Letters

writing business letters for various purposes

Why is it Important to Write Business Letters?


Table of contents

  • Writing Metier

Business letters are incorporated in organizations as a medium through which information is exchanged between external parties such as customers and clients. The letters are written in professional and formal language. The particulars of the business letters include details regarding policies, rules, prices of the services and goods, and supply orders.

These letters are important because of the formal channel they serve – companies must have communication between themselves and their consumers. Business letters also serve legal reasons and therefore need to be written following the legal writing procedures and jargon. Conclusively, business letters are used for transactions, reference material, and communication with consumers, and that is why even Marketing Agencies require business writing.

In France, business letters are adopted, so goodwill is promoted and sustained. Understanding that business relations are built and maintained through various communication channels is essential. For any business to progress, spreading it worldwide is a key indicator necessary. Having said this, the electronic business age requires businesses to be aware of the diverse cultures and language that comes with it. This is crucial for businesses to set camp in foreign markets as well. Often, you may require that the letter is translated into a different language based, as well as press release on the audience you have on board, that’s why you can learn some additional tips by reading my article on speech writing .

A stack of business letters with different envelopes and stamps

A Brief History of Business Letters: How They Have Evolved Over Time

Throughout history, letters have played a huge role in communication. In the earlier eras, before we had telephones, people used letters and telegrams to share news of happiness and sorrows with people worldwide. People waited for days to hear from their loved ones, who would write letters to them. Eventually, letters were incorporated into the business world for professional reasons. Unlike informal letters, business letter writing templates serve different purposes.

Memos and similar material have often been circulated throughout the organization to share the message, such as new policies or rules, among the employees. Business letters, however, have always served a different purpose, even a l ack of content can draw your website. From early on, organizations used business letters to communicate with their current and potential consumers. If, for instance, a company is to state a new policy change on hiring members of the transgender community, the medium of communicating this would be through business letters or backstory writing .

While digital media has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other, for organizations, business letters still hold the same importance in modern 2020. Using Grammarly for your business will also help you to reach new goals. If you are involved in Digital Media, the article about SEO tools will help. Whenever a company is to release a statement, they do that in a letter format style and, at the same time, removes a digital version of it, so it is communicated to the modern consumer base.

Types of Business Letters: A Comprehensive Overview

Writing a business letter is not as hard as it may sound. Sometimes you need to follow a letter-writing template, sometimes, you need legal tips for writing a letter. This means we need to consider the different types of business letters. There are many articles on how to write a letter that will help you to understand and develop writing skills in real business processes. For that, let’s get into discussing the various types of letters and how they serve the different activities pertaining to businesses:

☑ 1. Sales Letters: Persuasive Writing to Generate Interest

Sales letters are a medium that introduces a product or a service to customers and clients. Sales professionals make use of such letters to increase consumer base potential. This letter includes the following:

  • ☑️ Call to Action: This part of the letter includes the direction the consumers (or readers) need to go to make the purchase. Contact information, product availability, and other details are mentioned in the parts of a business letter. .
  • ☑️ Cost: As it tells in the name itself, the purpose is to make sales. And how can people buy anything unless they know the prices? The letter includes the price of the service and product so that consumers know what they are about to get.
  • ☑️ Product Description : Last but not least, the sales letter reveals all the relevant details about the company’s service and items. It usually describes the specific solutions the service or product offers to justify the price.
☑ 2. Acknowledgment Letters: Gratitude and Professionalism in Communication

A writing template is important for some business letters, and a letter of receipt or acknowledgment letter is one of those. These letters act as a confirmation and often serve as legal evidence showing that the said business activity has been acknowledged. They are simple yet very important in the world of business.

  ☑ 3. Cover Letters: Essential Elements and Tips for Success

Now, this is a sort of business letter which you may have heard about before. Cover letters are partnered with your CVs when applying for a job. Cover letters are required to be short but crisp. These letters explain why the applicant applies for the vacancy, how their credentials match it, and the organization’s culture.

  ☑ 4. Apology Letters: Navigating Difficult Situations with Empathy and Accountability

Apology letters play a huge role in today’s political climate. Now and then, businesses often hurt the sentiments of a particular group, and to solve that, there needs to be an official statement so that the inconvenience does not result in a loss. The company shows that they accept the mistake, takes responsibility for it, and will not ignore the damage it has caused. Also, important to pay attention to copywriting .  The thing about apology letters is that they need to be written so that the sentiments are not hurt further. The wording, therefore, of a business apology letter plays a crucial role.

Speaking of wording, you need to hire a writing company if you find it difficult to write business letters.

Here is a short video guide and example how what a simple business letter may look like :

Why Hire a Professional Business Letter Writing Service: Benefits and Considerations

Importance of writing business letters guide through

Be it writing a business reference letter, or whether you are looking for tips for writing business letters, a writing company makes the job a lot easier. For business purposes, there is always a sense of finding professional letter writers and ranking the performance of routine processes higher. Writing services have hired professionals to get the job done. Professional writers at a writing company know how to write a business letter and are familiar with the templates required by different business letters.

You may also be interested in our speech writing guide , just check it out right after this article.

If you hire a business letter-writing service, you will not have to worry about sending the wrong message to the masses. On the other hand, the professional writers at the service are highly trained individuals who follow the instructions for making the letters free of errors. Also, a professional writing service can help you with business goals, including letter writing and building a self brand .

So, there you have it—the importance of the different business letter types and their roles, that is why business writing can help . If you need to hire a writing company to get the job done, do not doublethink and make the order !

Vitalii Anufriiev

CEO and Co-founder at Writing Metier OÜ

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Writing the Basic Business Letter

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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.


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