BUSINESS LETTER WRITING GUIDE OR TUTORIAL
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Look at an example of Block Style Letter below
 
       
   

XYZZZ EXPORTER
Highway Street, Central Java . Indonesia
telp: 62291 12345678

 

FURNITURE IMPORTERS
ABCDEF Street B.IX 20A
Richmond BC
Canada

 

 


29 February 2008

 

 

 

Dear Mr Jeffry

Antique Reproduction Furniture

Thank you for your recent inquiry about our antique reproduction furniture.

We are enclosing our catalog and price list for your review and are confident that this catalogue will provide many of
the answers you have inquired.

If there is additional information you would like to know regarding our products, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We will be most happy to be of assistance.

We are looking foward to hearing from you..

Yours sincerely

Mr Warm Hearted
Export Manager

Block Style:
There are many ways to lay out a business letter. The letter from XYZZZ Furniture Exporter is an example of a modern way, called 'block style'. Here are some notes that you need to know about block style:

  • the name and address of the addressee or recipient are at the top on the left.
  • the date is on the right
  • there is no punctuation in the address or after 'Yours sincerely/faithfully' or Dear...
  • the paragraph start at the margin and there are line spaces between them
  • the writer's name and title are under the signature

Block style is the most useful to learn because it is accepted everywhere or worldwide.

How to Format a US Business Letter

Whatever you do – whether you are a student, employed in an office job, or working as a freelancer. I can guarantee that at some point in your life, you will need to sit down and write a formal business letter.

It might be to a customer, to an employer with a job that you want, or to apply for university funding. Perhaps it will even be to a literary agent or publisher who just might take on your undiscovered novel. Of course, you’ll want the letter to be well-written – but almost as important is knowing how to format it correctly. This article is about US business letter format (for UK readers, don’t worry, I’ll be writing a follow-up one for you.)

The main formats for business letters in the US are called full block format and modified block format.
Full block format means that all the elements of the letter are left-justified so that the start of each line is at the left-hand margin. This is the more formal style, so use it if you’re unsure which to go for.
Modified block format means that some elements of the letter are shifted over to the right. Nowadays, this style is appropriate in most contexts.

letter format

letter format

Let’s break those down into the main elements, in top-to-bottom order:

Your Address

Your address, also known as the “return address”, should come first. (Note that this applies when using standard plain paper. If you have letter headed paper, you should omit this.)
123 Acacia Avenue
Newtown
Anywhere
AN 98765
Your return address should be positioned:
On the left-hand side if you’re using full block format
On the right-hand side (tab across, rather than right-aligning) if you’re using modified block format
Why put your address? Even if the recipient has your details in their address book, you want it to be as hassle-free as possible for them to reply – you’re likely to receive a speedier response.


The Date

Directly beneath your address, put the date on which the letter was written:
May 15, 2008
To avoid any confusion, especially if you are writing to a business abroad, it is best to put the date in word rather than number form, and you should omit the “th”.
The date should be positioned on the left-hand side, for full block format and for modified block format
Why put the date? It’s standard practice to include the date on which the letter was written. Correspondence is often filed in date order. It makes it much easier for the recipient to send a timely reply, and easier for you to chase up an answer if necessary. Eg. “In my letter of May 15…”

Reference Line

I’ve not included this on the diagram as guidance varies on where it should be placed. You may include a reference line, starting with “Re:” This is often used when corresponding with large companies, or when applying for a job. The reference line can either appear beneath the date, OR beneath the recipient’s address.
If you use a reference line, you should usually omit the subject line (see below).
The reference line should be left-aligned for both full and modified block formats.
Why put a reference line? You should use a reference line if the recipient has requested specific information, such as a job number or invoice number, or if you’re replying to a letter. This makes it easier for the recipient to get a speedy response to you.

Recipient’s Name and Address

Beneath this, you should put the name and address of the person you’re writing to, just as it would appear on the envelope. If you’re using a window envelope, this should be aligned on the page to show through the window – but even if it won’t be visible until the letter is opened, it should still be included.
The recipient’s name and address should be positioned on the left-hand side, for both formats.
Why put their address? If you’re writing to someone in an office, it probably won’t be them who opens the post. An administrator is likely to do so – and letters may be separated from their envelopes at this stage. Particularly if there are multiple departments within one building, or if you are starting your letter “Dear Bob”, a name and address ensures your letter reaches the correct recipient.

The Greeting

After their address, you should leave a line’s space then put “Dear Mr Jones”, “Dear Bob” or “Dear Sir/Madam” as appropriate. Follow this with a colon.
The greeting, sometimes called the “salutation”, should always be left-aligned.
Why put a greeting? Business letters are a formal type of writing, and it’s considered polite to start with a greeting. Although you can get away with starting emails “Hi” or “Hello”, letters follow more conservative conventions.

The Subject

Optionally, you may wish to include a subject for your letter. This is becoming more common, perhaps as people have become used to the subject lines of emails. If you do put a subject line, it should be in uppercase, directly below the “Dear name:”
The subject (if you include one) should be left-aligned for full block format, but can be either left aligned or centred for modified block format.
Why put the subject? It’s a good idea to include a subject so that the recipient can see at a glance what the letter refers to. Try to be succinct but include as much information as possible, eg. “Funding application from Joe Bloggs, candidate 222-456”.

The Text of Your Letter or Body of The Letter

Now, finally, you can write the main body of your letter. Your text should have:
Single-spacing between lines
A blank line (NOT an indent) before each new paragraph
(And, of course, you should conform to all the usual rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling: for example, ensuring that you start each sentence with a capital letter, and finish with a full stop.)
Why leave blank lines? In the business world, it’s standard practise to put a blank line between paragraphs. This helps to break up the text on the page and make it more readable.

The Closing

After the body of text, your letter should end with an appropriate closing phrase and a comma. The safest option is “Yours faithfully” (when you don’t know the name of the person to whom you are writing, ie. when you began “Dear Sir/Madam”) or “Yours sincerely” (when you do know their name). If you are already acquainted with the recipient, it may be appropriate to use a phrase such as “Best regards”, “With warmest regards”, or “Kind regards”.
The closing should be:
Left-aligned for full block format
On the right (tab across so it matches up with your address) for modified block format
Why use these phrases? Although “Yours sincerely” and “Yours faithfully” might sound archaic, they are time-honoured ways to close a formal letter.

Your Name and Signature

Put several blank lines after the “Yours sincerely,” or “Yours faithfully,” then type your name. You can optionally put your job title and company name on the line beneath this.
Joe Bloggs
Marketing Director, BizSolutions
Your name and signature should be:
Left-aligned for full block format
On the right (tab across so it matches up with your address) for modified block format
Why leave a blank space? The blank space is so that, when you’ve printed the letter, you can sign it with your name. This is taken as proof that the letter really is from the person whose name is typed at the bottom. Sometimes, another person may sign the letter on your behalf. If this is the case, they should put the letters “p.p.” before their name, which stands for the Latin per procurationem meaning “by agency”.