What is a Business Letter?
A business letter is a formal written communication between parties in a professional context. It conveys information, requests, or decisions and follows a structured format to ensure clarity and professionalism.
Structure of a Business Letter
A business letter typically follows a specific structure and includes various components.
- Sender's contact information
- Recipient's contact information
- Enclosures (if applicable)
Here is a detailed breakdown of each part of a business letter and its purpose, along with concrete examples and tips:
1. Sender's Address
The sender's address is the first component of a business letter, and it includes the sender's name, company name (if applicable), street address, city, state, and ZIP code. This information helps the recipient identify the sender and their location.
Big Tech Co
123 Uptown Street
Cityville, State 12345
- Place the sender's address aligned to the left margin.
- Use a professional font and ensure the information is accurate and up to date.
The date indicates the day when the letter is written or sent. It helps establish a timeline and provides a reference for future correspondence.
July 6, 2023
- Place the date below the sender's address, aligned to the left margin.
- Use a consistent format, such as "Month Day, Year" – for US recipients or "Day Month Year" – for European ones.
3. Inside Address
The inside address contains the recipient's details, including their name, job title, company name, street address, city, state, and ZIP code. It ensures that the letter reaches the intended recipient.
Ms. Joanna Ruth
Advertising Professionals Inc
456 Creative Street
Town, State 77777
- Place the inside address below the date, aligned to the left margin.
- If you know the recipient's name, use it with their appropriate title (e.g., Mr., Ms., Dr.).
The salutation is the formal greeting used to address the recipient. It sets the tone for the letter and should be appropriate for the level of formality.
Examples of salutations include:
- Dear Mr. Glace,
- Dear Ms. Ruth,
- To whom it may concern:
- In a formal letter, use a colon (:) after the salutation.
- If you know the recipient's name, use it with their appropriate title. Otherwise, use a generic salutation like "To whom it may concern."
- Place the salutation on the left margin, two lines below the inside address.
The primary content of the letter is found in the body and the purpose of the communication. It should be clear, concise, and organized into paragraphs. Use proper grammar, punctuation, and professional language.
Dear Ms. Glace,
I am writing to inquire about the status of my recent order (#12345). According to the estimated delivery date provided, the package should have arrived by now. However, I have yet to receive it. Could you please look into this matter and provide me with an update regarding the delivery?
Thank you for your attention to this issue.
- Break the body of the letter into paragraphs for better readability.
- Keep the tone professional, and focus on the purpose of the letter.
- Use bullet points and lists to make the overall letter more readable.
The closing is a courteous and professional way to end the letter. Common examples of closings include:
- Best regards,
- Yours faithfully,
- Use a comma (,) after the closing.
- Choose a closing that matches the formality of the letter and your relationship with the recipient.
- Type your full name two lines below the closing.
Related: Discover 10 ways on how to end a business letter.
If you include additional documents with the letter, such as a resume or proposal, you can list them under the "Enclosures" section.
Here are some examples:
- Action plan – V5
- If there are no enclosures, you can omit this section.
- List each enclosure item on a separate line.
Business Letter Format
Are you looking to know how to format your business letter professionally? Besides the overall structure, there are some essential formatting aspects that you need to consider:
- Block format: A common format for business letters, the block format features left-aligned text with single-spacing within paragraphs and double-spacing between paragraphs. This format is easy to read and creates a clean, professional appearance.
- Fonts: Choose a professional, easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri, with a font size between 10 and 12 points.
- Punctuations: Use proper punctuation and capitalization throughout the letter. Commas or colons can be used after the salutation, and a comma is typically used after the closing.
- Letter length: A formal business letter should be concise and to the point. Unless absolutely required, it should not exceed one page to include additional information.
- Margins: A business letter's standard margins are 1 inch on all sides. This ensures that the letter looks professional and is easy to read.
- Spacing: The spacing for a business letter should be single-spaced within paragraphs and double-spaced between paragraphs. This makes the letter easier to read and gives it a clean, professional look.
- Alignment: The text of a business letter should be left-aligned. This means that the text should be flush with the left margin and not justified.
Key Tips For Writing Business Letters
Find below a set of additional tips to have your letters accepted and get noticed by others:
- Use a clear, concise, and professional tone.
- Keep the letter focused on the specific purpose or request.
- Ensure proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Proofread carefully to ensure there are no typos or grammar issues.
- Use a standard format and font to maintain a professional appearance.
- Include a call to action or next steps, if applicable.
- State the purpose of your letter clearly.
- Keep sentences short and to the point.
- Use specific examples and back up important points.
- Do your research. Make sure facts and references are accurate.
- Close confidently and convey gratitude when appropriate.
- Your tone should be courteous, respectful, and solution-focused.
- For hard-copy letters, use high-quality white or ivory paper.
- Review your letter before sending it. If modifications arise, edit your document, and print the new version.
The most common types of business letter
When you're looking to solve some kind of internal affairs or want to reach a customer, business partner, or employer, then you have to use one of the following types of letters:
- Inquiry letter
- Order letter
- Complaint letter
- Adjustment letter
- Follow-up letter
- Cover letter
- Letter of recommendation
- Letter of resignation
- Sales letter
- Thank you letter
- Apology letter
- Invitation letter
- Letter of introduction
- Letter of intent
- Proposal letter
Tip: You can find examples of some of these letters that you can customize below.
General Business Letter Template
Regardless of what type of letter you want to send, this is the format you must follow. Fill up each section with your details, and you will have a professional letter to send to your next prospect. Remember that it is important to review your letter before sending it and ensure the essential details have been covered.
[City, State, ZIP Code]
[City, State, ZIP Code]
Dear [Recipient's Salutation and Last Name],
[Introduction: Clearly state the letter's purpose in one or two sentences.]
[Main Content: Elaborate on the purpose of the letter, providing any necessary details, context, or specific requests. Keep paragraphs focused and concise, using a professional tone.]
[Conclusion: State the letter's primary ideas in brief, reiterate any requests or calls to action, and express appreciation or goodwill as appropriate.]
[Your handwritten signature]
[Your Typed Name]
[Your Title, if applicable]
Enclosures: [List enclosed documents, if any]
Business letter examples
An inquiry letter seeks information, clarification or requests details about a product, service, or opportunity. Clearly state your inquiry or request politely and concisely to get the most out of it. Provide necessary background information and specify the details you need. Include your contact information so the recipient can respond to your inquiry swiftly.
I am writing to inquire about your pricing and availability of leave management software for our advertising agency. We are a team of 40 people and planning to hire 5 more employees in the next 3 months.
We have already investigated the market, and we're seeking the following features and functionalities:
- Employee self-service so that each employee has an account and can see their leave balance, can book time off, and see who is off in the following days.
- Leave policies, rules, and automations – and the possibility to customize them according to the company's needs.
- Monthly leave reports for payroll purposes and attendance tracking.
- Employee database structured according to the org chart.
If your organization can provide these functionalities, we want the subscription price plus the implementation fee.
We appreciate you taking the time to respond to our inquiry. We look forward to hearing from you.
An order letter is used to make a purchase of products or services from a supplier or vendor. For maximum results, clearly state the quantity, specifications, and other relevant details of the items or services you wish to order. Include payment terms, delivery expectations, and any specific requirements. Provide accurate contact information for order confirmation and delivery updates.
Please process our purchase order #1234, dated September 2, 2023, for the following:
- 50 pcs of iPhone 14 pro max 256GB @ $1000 each = $50000
- 10 pcs of 14-inch 12-Core M2 Pro 512GB @ $2000 each = 20000
Total amount of order = $70,000
We require the order to be shipped within 10 working days from the date of this letter. Please confirm in writing if you cannot commit to the delivery schedule. Payment terms are net 30 days from the date of invoice.
We appreciate your prompt and reliable service.
A complaint letter expresses dissatisfaction or concerns about a product, service, or experience. Clearly state the problem or issue you encountered, providing specific details and supporting evidence if available. Express your emotions and expectations politely and request a suitable resolution. Include relevant order numbers, dates, and relevant documentation to strengthen your case.
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with my recent experience at your hotel. I attended a conference at your venue last week from March 15 to 19. I encountered issues with reservations, billing, and room service throughout my stay.
- My guaranteed reservation for a non-smoking king room was lost, and I had to wait 2 hours for the correct room type.
- I was double-billed for the service charge on the room. I expect a refund to be issued promptly.
- Room service took over an hour and a half to deliver a simple breakfast order. The food arrived cold, and half of the order was missing.
Compared to my many previous stays over the last 5 years at your hotel, this experience fell well below expectations. I hope you take appropriate action to address these issues and prevent future service lapses of this magnitude. I look forward to your response and resolution of this matter.
A sales letter is a persuasive communication sent to potential customers to promote a product, service, or offer. To get the most from it, grab the reader's attention with a compelling introduction and clearly state the advantages and characteristics of the good or service. Use persuasive language, testimonials, and special offers to entice the reader. Include a clear call-to-action, such as placing an order or contacting your sales team.
Dear [Prospective Customer],
I am introducing you to our revolutionary cloud-based HR software for small and mid-sized businesses like yours. In the last 10 years since we operate in this market, we have become aware of the difficulties companies encounter when managing their HR operations. That's why I'm excited to offer you a solution that can streamline your HR processes, save you time and money, and help you focus on what really matters: growing your business.
Our cloud HR software is easy to use, flexible, and scalable, making it the perfect solution for businesses of any size. With our software, you can manage all aspects of HR, from recruiting and onboarding to performance management and compliance. You may even tailor the application to your specific business requirements, ensuring you get the most out of it.
But what really sets our software apart is its cloud-based nature. With our software, you can access your HR data from anywhere, anytime. This means you can stay on top of your HR functions, even when on the go. And because everything is stored in the cloud, you don't have to worry about backups, updates, or maintenance.
We understand that choosing HR software is a big decision, so we offer a free trial and implementation so that you can try our software before you buy it. We can also schedule a demo to discuss your needs and show you the functionalities your business aims to digitize. We are confident that once you see how easy it is to use and how much time and money it can save you, you'll wonder how you ever managed HR without it.
Thank you for considering our cloud HR software. We look forward to helping you take your business to the next level.
A proposal letter presents a formal offer, suggestion, or business proposition to a potential client, partner, or organization. It is used in business settings to outline a proposal, project, collaboration, or investment opportunity.
Here are key tips for successful proposal letters have the following:
- Do clearly state the purpose, objectives, and benefits of the proposal.
- Provide a detailed plan, timeline, and cost estimate.
- Highlight your expertise, credibility, and unique selling points.
- Personalize the proposal to the recipient's unique requirements and interests.
- Follow up with the recipient to address any questions or concerns and discuss the next steps.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit a proposal for [ describe project or service]. We are pleased to provide the following details on how we will deliver [outcome or results].
We have created a team of certified and experienced [professionals/consultants/etc.] to work on this time-sensitive project. Our approach will be:
- [STEP 1]: [ Description of key step, timing, deliverables]
- [STEP 2]: [Description of key step]
- [STEP 3]: [Description of key step]
We will complete all work within [X] weeks/months from the approval date. The total cost of our proposal is [AMOUNT], which includes all consulting fees, meetings, research, and administration costs. Please see the attached schedule of rates and pricing for a detailed cost summary.
Client satisfaction and maintaining our reputation for excellent work is our top priority. We appreciate you considering our proposition, and we're eager to collaborate.
Now you have the big picture of what it means to write a business letter professionally. You have the key details of the structure, specific examples you can customize according to your details, and if you follow the tips provided, you will not hesitate when you submit your request. Still, here are three key takeaways that we would like that you remember if you read this article in diagonal.
- Clarity and professionalism are essential: Effective business letters convey information or requests in a clear, concise, and professional manner, ensuring that the recipient understands the purpose and expectations.
- Follow a standard format: Using a consistent format, font, and structure helps maintain a professional appearance and makes the letter easy to read and understand.
- Proofread and revise: Ensure that your business letters are free of errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and double-check all contact information and details to minimize the potential for confusion or miscommunication.