How to write a business letter – with samples

Whether you are a business owner communicating to customers or employees, an employee communicating on behalf of a business, or a customer writing to a business, it is important to follow some basic formatting and style rules when writing a business letter. In this article, we will describe how to write a business letter, the different parts of a business letter, give you some tips for writing a successful letter, and provide a short sample letter.


Parts of a business letter

Sender’s address: Provide your street address, city, state, and ZIP code. Since your name, title, and company name (if applicable) will be included in the closing, you do not need to provide it here. Note: If you are using pre-printed letterhead that includes this information, you do not need to repeat it.


Date

Provide the month, day, and year on which your letter will be sent.


Inside address

Provide the name, company name, street address, city, state, and ZIP code of the person to whom you are sending the letter. While it is best to address your letter to a specific person when possible, if you do not have the name of a specific person, you can simply provide the company’s name and address.


Salutation

Most salutations begin with the word “Dear” followed by the name of the person to whom you are writing. If you are writing a formal letter, you should use the person’s honorific (e.g., Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr.) and their last name. If you are unsure of the person’s gender, simply use their first and last name. If you know the person is female but you do not know if she is married, use Ms. instead of Mrs. If you are writing to a group of people (e.g., a hiring committee), use a salutation such as “Dear Selection Committee Members.”


Body

In the body of the letter, begin by briefly stating why you are writing. Then, use simple, clear statements to convey your ideas, describe a problem you are having, or present any other information your reader needs to know. If you are writing regarding a problem, it can be a good idea to provide your ideas or suggestions regarding possible solutions. Remember to use a professional, formal tone instead of an informal, chatty tone. Make sure your writing is clear, concise, and courteous. Furthermore, remember to group related ideas into paragraphs and ensure that your information flows logically.


Closing

Let your reader know what action(s) you will take next and summarize any action(s) you expect him or her to take. On a separate line, use a formal closing such as “Sincerely” or “Regards” followed by a comma. Leave three or four lines blank, then type your name, title, and company name if applicable.


Business letter formatting

Most business letters use block format, which means that all paragraphs and other elements of the letter are justified left instead of being indented. You can generally use regular page margins for a business letter. Except for the space between the formal closing and your name, insert one blank line between all the letter elements and between each paragraph in the body. Between the formal closing and your name, insert approximately 3 lines so you have room for your signature (note that if you’re sending a digital version that doesn’t require a signature, you can insert one or two lines). Before sending your letter, remember to proofread it to catch any errors.


Sample Letter 

123 Main St.
Miami, FL 33101
USA

May 11, 2016

Mr. John Q. Smith
Mega-Retailer
456 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10001
USA

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am writing to express my concern regarding your return policy. I purchased a toaster on April 1, 2016, in your store in Miami, Florida, but it did not work. I attempted to return it to the store, but because I did not have my receipt, I was unable to get a refund. I believe that because the toaster was faulty, I should have received a full refund. I am requesting that you review your return policy and have your company send me a check for the purchase price ($19.99).

I appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe


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