Have you ever wondered what the proper formal business letter format is? Get our tips into the do’s and don’ts on how to write a business letter. A business letter is a formal document with a set structure. The right letter can be an effective means means of communication when it is composed with content that sets you apart.
Business Letter Purposes
Here are the various roles and most common types of business letters:
- Reference or recommendation – asking former employers, co-workers or clients to send you recommendation letters that can be enclosed when seeking a job
- Inquiry – Ask about job opportunities that are not posted based on research completed about a company
- Networking – Ask for an introductory meeting
- Counter-Offer – Once you have a job offer, sending a response to it
- Job Acceptance
- Employment Verification – asking one or more of a candidate’s employers to verify their work history
- Job Offer – Sending applicant specifics about offer including salary and start date
- Candidate Rejection – To inform a candidate they will not be hired
- Sending a business proposal
- Apology – when you made a mistake, missed an appointment or behaved poorly
- Appreciation – thanking employees, co-workers, colleagues, clients or anyone that deserves praise
- Congratulations – for a new job, promotion, work anniversary or personal milestone (got married, having a child)
- Resignation – this letter is sent to your immediate boss and should indicate when you are leaving
- Farewell – letting colleagues, clients and business associates know that you’ve taken a new job
- Retirement – when you’re retiring, what’s next and who the person’s point of contact is when you leave.
How to Format Business Letter
Choose standard, letter-sized paper (letterhead is preferable) and use an easy-to-read font style such as Arial or Times New Roman. Type it using 12-point font, black color and keep it to one page. Your letter should include the following seven elements and please make note of the dos and don’ts associated with a standard business letter format.
Business Letter Heading Elements:
DO include your company’s name, address, your phone number and email address.
DON’T provide your name or title.
DO use the correct date structure: Spell out month name, date and year.
DO use recipient’s name, title, company and address.
DO use Dear followed by their first name (if you know them) or formal name (i.e. Mr. Smith). Setting the right tone at the onset is important.
DON’T start he letter Hi, Hello, Hey or To Whom it May Concern.
DO left justify and single space each paragraph.
DO make it very clear why you’re sending the letter within the first paragraph. Be specific, direct, brief and professional.
DO include more specifics in the next one-two paragraphs
DO restate your purpose, follow up plans (for example, I will call you on _______________ to check-in) and thank the reader for their time in the closing paragraph.
DO use sign off words such as: Sincerely, Respectfully Yours, Best Wishes, Thank you, or All the Best.
DO include your name and title. If appropriate, include and denote your cell phone number.
DO write your signature in black or blue ink.
DO make note of what you’re enclosing and use the following format – Enclosure: what it is (i.e. Resume, Business Proposal, Contract, Invoice).
Learning how to write a business letter, will give off a great impression to clients, vendors, associates and employees. Snail mail isn’t dead – it has taken a hiatus (make sure you save a copy especially if you are renting a laptop). Knowing how to compose a letter to a company, establishing the right tone and knowing what to avoid helps put your best foot forward in any situation.
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