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How to Write a Business Letter Expert

Five Parts: Sample Business Letter Beginning the Letter Composing the Body Closing the Letter Finalizing the Letter

Need to write a polished, professional letter? Most business letters follow an established, easy-to-learn format that you can
adapt to any type of content. A business letter should always contain the date, information about the sender and recipient, and
a few body paragraphs. Follow these steps and modify as necessary to fit your company's standards.

Beginning the Letter

1 Know the format. Whatever the content of your letter, there are a few business standards to follow regarding the
way it looks. Business letters should be typed and composed in a common font such as Arial or Times New
Roman. Employ block paragraphing. This means that you start a new paragraph by hitting "return" twice. Dont use
indenting for block paragraphs.[1]
Use one-inch margins on all sides.
An emailed business letter should also be composed in a common font. Don't use script or colors other than
black and white in a business email.

2 Choose the right kind of paper. The letter should be printed on 8.5 by 11 (known as letter size). If you are
outside the U.S., you might use size A4 paper. Some lengthy contracts may be printed on 8.5 x 14 (legal size).
If you're printing the letter to send, consider printing the letter on company letterhead. This lends it a more
professional air and provides your company's logo and contact information.

3 Include information about your company. List your company name and the company address, with each part of
the address written on a different line. If you're self-employed or an independent contractor, add your name either
in place of the company name or above it.
If your company has pre-designed letterhead, you can use this instead of typing out your company and
If you're typing out the address, it should appear either right or left justified at the top of the page, depending on
you and your company's preference.
If youre sending the letter to an international location, type out the country in capital letters.[2]

4 Include the date. Writing out the full date is the most professional choice. For example, write either "April 1,
2012" or "1 April 2012." This should appear left justified a few lines below the sender's address.
If you wrote your letter over several days, use the date that you finished the letter.[3]

5 Add the recipient's information. Write out the recipient's full name, title (if applicable), company name, and
address in that order, with each piece of information on a separate line. If necessary, include a reference number.
The recipient's information should be left justified a few lines below the date.
It is best to address the letter to a specific person. This way, an actual person will be able to respond to your
letter. If you dont know the name of the person to whom you should send the letter, do a bit of research. Call
the company to find out the persons name and title.[4]

6 Choose a salutation. The salutation is an important indicator of respect, and which one you use will depend on
whether you know the person to whom you're writing, how well you know them and the level of formality in your
relationship.[5] Consider the following options:
Employ "To Whom It May Concern" only if you don't know whom, specifically, you're addressing.
If you do not know the recipient well, "Dear Sir/Madam" is a safe choice.
You may also use the recipient's title and last name, e.g. "Dear Dr. Smith."
If you know the recipient well and enjoy an informal relationship with him or her, you may consider a first-name
address, e.g. "Dear Susan."
If you are unsure of the recipient's gender, simply type the whole name, e.g. "Dear Kris Smith."
Don't forget a comma after a salutation or a colon after To Whom It May Concern.

Composing the Body

1 Strike the right tone. Time is money, as the saying goes, and most business people hate to waste time. The tone
of your letter, therefore, should be brief and professional. Make your letter a quick read by diving straight into the
matter and keeping your comments brief in the first paragraph. For instance, you can always start with "I am writing you
regarding..." and go from there.
Don't concern yourself with flowery transitions, big words, or lengthy, meandering sentences - your intent
should be to communicate what needs to be said as quickly and cleanly as possible.
Be persuasive in your letter. Most likely the purpose of your letter is to persuade your reader to do something:
change their mind, correct a problem, send money or take action. Make your case.

2 Use personal pronouns. It is perfectly fine to use I, we, and you in your business letter. Refer to yourself as
I and your reader as you.
Be aware if youre writing the letter on an organizations behalf. If you are stating the companys perspective,
you should use we so that the reader knows that the company stands behind your statement. If you are
writing your own opinion, stick with I.[6]

3 Write clearly and concisely. Let your reader know exactly what you are trying to say. Your reader will only
respond quickly if your meaning is crystal clear. In particular, if there is some result or action you want taken
because of your letter, state what it is. Explain your position in as few words as possible.

4 Use the active voice. When describing a situation or making a request, make sure to choose the active voice,
rather than the passive voice. The passive voice can make your writing ambiguous or impersonal. In addition, the
active voice is more streamlined and straight to the point.[7] For example:
Passive: The sunglasses are not designed or manufactured with attention to their durability.
Active: Your company designs and manufactures sunglasses without attention to their durability.

5 Be conversational when appropriate. Letters are written by people to people. Avoid form letters if possible. You
cannot build a relationship with canned impersonal letters. However, stay away from colloquial language or slang
such as "you know," "I mean," or "wanna." Keep the tone businesslike, but be friendly and helpful.
If you know the recipient well, it's fine to include a friendly line sending good wishes.
Use your judgement when determining how much personality to reveal. Sometimes adding a little humor is
actually helpful in a business setting, but err on the side of caution before making a joke.

6 Be courteous. Even if you are writing with a complaint or concern, you can be courteous. Consider the recipient's
position and offer to do whatever you can, within reason, to be accommodating and helpful.
For example, a discourteous complaint might read: I think your sunglasses suck and I am never buying them
again. A courteous complaint might read: I am disappointed with the construction of your sunglasses, and I
plan to take my business elsewhere in the future.

7 Use second page letterhead for additional pages. Most business letters should be concise enough to be one
page in length only. But if you have something lengthier, such as a contract or legal findings, you may need
additional pages. Use second page letterhead, which usually has an abbreviated address and is made of the same
type of paper as the first page letterhead.[8]
Include the page number on the second and subsequent pages, at the top of the page. You may also want to
include the recipients name and the date.[9]

8 Wrap it up. In the last paragraph, summarize your points and clearly outline either your planned course of action
or what you expect from the recipient. Note that the recipient may contact you with questions or concerns, and say
thank you for his or her attention to the letter/matter at hand.

Closing the Letter

1 Choose a closing. The closing, like the salutation, is an indicator of respect and formality. "Yours sincerely" or
"Sincerely" is generally a safe bet; also consider "Cordially," "Respectfully," "Regards" and "Yours Truly." Slightly
less formal but still professional closings include "All the best, Best wishes," "Warm regards," and "Thank you." Use a
comma after your closing.

2 Sign the letter. Leave about four lines empty for your signature. Sign the letter after you've printed it, or, if you're
sending it via email, scan an image of your signature and affix it to this part of the letter. Blue or black ink is
If you are signing the letter on someones behalf, write pp: before your signature. This stands for per
procurationem, which means by agency or on behalf of.[10]

3 Include your typed name and contact information. Beneath your signature, type your name, title, phone
number, email address and any other applicable means of contact. Give each piece of information its own line.

4 Add the typists initials. If someone other than the writer typed up the letter, you should add this persons initials
below the signature block. Sometimes, the letter writers initials are also included. Then it is clear who worked on
this letter.
For example, if you include just the typists initials, write them in lowercase: mj
If you include the writers initials, put these in uppercase with the typists initials in lowercase: RW:mj. Some
styles add a slash between the two sets of initials: RW/mj.

5 Make note of enclosures. If you've enclosed additional documents for the recipient to review, note this a few
lines beneath your contact info by noting the number and type of documents. For example, write: "Enclosures (2):
resume, brochure."[11]
You can also abbreviate Enclosures by writing Encl. or Enc.

6 Add additional recipients names. If you are sending a copy of the letter to another person, you should include
this on the letter. This is noted by typing cc: below the Enclosures line, which stands for courtesy copy, along
with the persons name and title (cc used to indicate carbon copy when letters were typed on carbon copy paper).

For example, write: cc: Mary Smith, Vice President of Marketing

If you are adding more than one name, align the second name underneath the first name, but without the cc:

Finalizing the Letter

1 Edit the letter. Presentation is a key element of being professional. Make sure that the recipient will easily be
able to see you as capable and in charge by editing your letter for errors. Run spell check on your word processor, but
also give the letter a thorough read before you send it.
Ask yourself whether the letter is clear and concise. Are any paragraphs more than three or four sentences
long? If so, determine whether you can eliminate unnecessary statements.
If the letter is extremely important, you might want to have a friend or colleague look it over. Sometimes a
second pair of eyes can help you catch errors or awkward wording you may not have noticed.

2 Dont staple your letter. If you have multiple pages, staples are generally avoided. If you want to ensure that the
papers stay in order, then use a paperclip at the top left corner.

3 Post the letter. If you're sending the letter via post, use a business envelope. If available, use one with the
company logo printed on it. Neatly print your return address and the recipient's address. Fold the letter into third
parts, such that the recipient will first unfold the top flap, then the bottom flap. Make sure you affix sufficient postage,
and send it off.
If you feel like your handwriting is messy and doesn't match your professional persona, type the addresses in
your word processor and run the envelope through your printer.
If the letter is extremely important and/or time-sensitive, consider having it delivered by courier.
If you want to email the letter, convert the letter in HTML or save it as a PDF to preserve formatting. It is better,
however, to send the physical letter.

Community Q&A

How do I respond to complaints about poor customer service?

Thank the person for their feedback (it will make him or her feel important) and apologize for the service. Promise that
wikiHow Contributor it won't happen again, and that you will strive to do better. If possible, offer to fix the person's issue, or ask what sort
of resolution he or she is looking for.
Not Helpful 9 Helpful 35

How do I actually type a business letter from the start -- do I have to format it?

The best way to do it would be to use Microsoft Word or another word processor with built-in templates. You can then
wikiHow Contributor select the business template and customize it to fit the business.
Not Helpful 18 Helpful 34

Where do I put the "cc:?"

Use this order: Your signature Your title (if any) Your contact information (if any) Enclosure (if any) : CC:
wikiHow Contributor
Not Helpful 15 Helpful 15


Use a quality pen to sign the letter.

Be prompt. If you cannot respond fully in less than a week, tell the recipient so and note when he or she can expect a
response from you.
Emphasize the positive. Talk about what you can do, not what you can't. For example, if a product is out of stock, don't tell
the customer you are unable to fill the order; instead, tell them the product is very popular and you have sold out. Then tell
them when you can get the order to them.
If you're writing a complex letter, consider writing an outline first.
List out the topics you want to cover. Do not worry about the order.
For each topic, list keywords, examples, arguments and facts.
Review each topic in your outline for relevance to your aim and audience.
Cut out anything that's not relevant.
Sort the information into the best order for your reader.


Don't employ too much flattery. A genuine compliment is acceptable, but going overboard will indicate that you have to
rely on flattery, not competence, to do your job.
Don't be too blunt and forceful in your tone. Remember, you're trying to improve or start a professional relationship with a
business letter.

Sources and Citations


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