Parts of a Business Letter

Understanding the parts of a business letter will help you create a polished and professional communication. Writing a formal business letter is an art. Once you are comfortable with the format and basic elements, you will find business letters easy to write. Before you write a business letter, it is important to take a look at all of its parts.

Format
The business letter follows a strict format. It begins with the date and the addresses of the sender and the recipient. This is followed by a salutation, main body of the letter and a closing. The letter is almost always left justified, and is always typed.

Date
The date indicates the time when the letter was written or finalized. It should be the first piece of information on the business letter, not including any possible letterhead. The month should be spelled out and not abbreviated.

Address Of Sender
The address of the sender is the only optional part of a business letter. If you are using a personalized letterhead, you can leave out the address of the sender. Be sure to include the physical or mailing address, but no extra information.

Address Of The Recipient
You should follow a similar format as with the address of the sender. An important difference is that the recipient's name and job title should be above the recipient's address. Address your business letter to a specific person, but if that is not possible, leave out the name and job title altogether. Before the name of the recipient, include a personal title, such as Dr., Mr., Mrs. or Ms. If you are unsure of a woman's marital status, be sure to use the title Ms. and not Mrs.

Salutation
In the salutation, you directly address the recipient of your letter. It is proper to include "Dear Ms. Surname." If you don't know the name of the intended recipient, use "To Whom it may concern:" or "Dear Sir or Madam:" as your salutation. After the salutation, be sure to include a colon ":" and then leave one blank line before continuing into the body of the letter.

Body
The body is the main content of the letter. It should be direct and to the point. The first paragraph should encapsulate the purpose of your letter. The following paragraphs should expand on your purpose. The final and closing paragraph should summarize the point of the letter and invite the reader to act upon it. The paragraphs in the body are written in block text form, which means there is no indentation.

Closing
The closing is where you leave your final goodbye. It is common to use the word "sincerely." Be sure to capitalize the first letter of your closing word or phrase. Under your closing, type your name. Leave a large enough space between your name and the closing so that you may include your handwritten signature.

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Writing as business letter is an important skill to learn when entering the real world. Business letters have their own formal style that is different than the style you may use to write letters to your friends and family.
Writing as business letter is an important skill to learn when entering the real world. Business letters have their own formal style that is different than the style you may use to write letters to your friends and family.
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