Business Letter Format

Jodee Redmond
How To Write A Business Letter
Style is one aspect of how to write a business letter.

Which business letter format should you use? It will depend on whether you are composing a letter on your own or on behalf of your employer.

When you work for a company, that business is likely to have a preference for a certain business letter style for letters sent out. In fact, in some cases, a template is used to prepare correspondence. That ensures all letters have a uniform appearance. However, if you are writing your own business letter, you have three formats to choose from.

Three Format Choices for Business Letters

The three business letter format choices are:

  • Block Style
  • Modified Block Style
  • Semi Block Format

Block Style

Setting up a block style letter is quite simple, since every line starts flush with the left margin. The following sample shows how to set it up:

Your Address

(leave four spaces)

The Date

(leave two spaces)

Inside address followed by a double space.

(double space)

The salutation, followed by two returns.

The body of the letter follows. Once you have finished, leave a couple of lines blank and type in the complimentary closing (Sincerely, Yours truly, etc.).

You will need to leave a space for the signature. Four returns should be enough, but you can add an extra one if necessary.

If you are typing the letter for someone else's signature, add your initials under the the space left for the person's signature. An enclosure notation may added, as well.

Modified Block Style

To set up a modified block style letter, some parts stay at the left margin, and others are centered. The guidelines involved are as follows:

Your Address (left justified)

(leave four spaces)

The Date (centered)

(leave two spaces)

Inside address is left justified.

(double space)

The salutation is also positioned at the left margin.

The body of the letter goes here. Paragraphs are not indented.

The complimentary close (centered)

(Leave Space for the Signature)

The Sender's name is centered as well.

Typist's initials are placed at the left margin.

Any copy or enclosure notations are placed directly underneath the initials.

Semi Block Format

With a semi block letter format, more parts of the letter are indented, as follows:

The Return Address is Indented

(Leave a couple of lines blank)

Date is Positioned under the Return Address

The addressee's name and address are positioned at the left margin.

(Leave a couple of lines blank)

The salutation is placed directly underneath, aligned with the left margin.

If you use a subject line in the letter, it is also flush with the left margin.

The initial line of each paragraph within the body of the letter should be indented. Five or ten spaces is usually sufficient.

Complimentary Closing is indented

The Sender's name appears directly under the complementary closing.

Typist's initials are placed at the left margin

Enclosure notation follows directly underneath

Which Business Letter Format to Use?

If you are looking for the easiest letter format to use, the block format is the one for you. All the components that make up the business letter are positioned flush with the left margin and you don't need to stop to think about centering or indenting any portion of the letter.

Some people prefer one of the other commonly-used business letter styles. No style is right or wrong, unless the company you work for expects employees to use a specific format. If you have a style template available, it makes it easy to position the parts of your letter at the appropriate points without question. Ultimately, if the letter you write is for your business, the style you choose will depend on your personal preferences, since each of the above formats are appropriate for business use.

Business Letter Format