Business Letter: Purpose, Process, Format

business letter

Business letters must deal with business matters, such as buying and selling goods or services, entering job contracts, or claiming compensation for damaged goods in transit. Therefore, only the exchange of information related to business in the form of a letter qualifies as a business letter.

What is a Letter?

A letter is a written message addressed to a person or an organization, usually placed in an envelope and sent by post (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary). It is the age-old written communication used to exchange views among people in our civilization.

A letter is the most personal form of presenting individual ideas to others for various purposes. Gracian said, “A letter is a deliberate and written conversation.” Initially, personal messengers carried it.

After the introduction of the postal system, postcards and envelopes were used to send messages through letters. However, a letter is a written message in a specific format addressed to a person or an organization sent through the postal system or a personal messenger.

Meaning of Business Letter

A letter that contains a message related to any business matter is called a business letter. In other words, business letters involve exchanging business information contracts, receiving or paying for goods or money, etc., between two or more business enterprises or organizations. The exchange of letters between businessmen about trade and commerce is known as a business letter.

11 Purposes of Business Letter

Every letter has a purpose, which is the main idea the writer wants to convey. The writer’s objective is achieved through letter communication. Of course, some business letters have more than one purpose. Generally, a letter may have any of the following purposes or a combination of them:

To inform

Business letters are written to inform a businessperson or organization about some issue of business interest by another businessperson or organization. The intention is to establish a business relationship between them to facilitate an exchange of goods or services.

Information exchange is the foundation upon which a sustainable relationship can be built between persons or organizations. Thus, the central purpose of letters is to inform one another about matters of business interest.

To instruct

Giving instructions about the desired way of action to another party is a common purpose of business letters.

Through letters, employees are instructed about the business plan, strategy, courses of action, etc.. It is also used to give instructions about the mode of delivery, packaging, transportation systems, or other related matters to the suppliers of goods or services.

To request

Business letters aim to request people or organizations to follow a particular course of action the writer desires. Business relations are mutually supportive and interdependent relationships.

Therefore, requests are made to establish peer relationships to get the best benefits out of them. Letters carry personal requests to the other party for affecting a change in the organization’s or the person’s behavior.

To inquire

One of the purposes of business letters is to inquire about the products to be purchased, the persons to be appointed, or the firms to be given a credit facility. This inquiry provides basic information to make buying and appointment decisions and assess a firm’s creditworthiness.

To remit

Business letters are used to remit money from one place to another. They contain the details of the remittance and facilitate correct delivery.

To order

Business letters serve the purpose of giving orders to operating people to get the job done on time. Letters are a very popular mechanism to convey orders to subordinates conveniently.

To advise

Business letters carry necessary advice from superiors to working people and from one firm to another. Advice is required to get the desired action from the opposite party. It guides people to perform the job accordingly.

To correct

Managers require frequent communication to correct orders or instructions. Working people also need corrective instructions from superior authorities. Any delay in this respect will cause disruptions in workflow. Letters help managers provide corrective orders to the concerned person or party.

To question

Business letters convey questions to the other party about matters of certain interest. They aim to communicate questions to the other party or person to settle particular points of disagreement between them.

To document

Business letters provide documentation of the communication. The goal of the business letter is to ensure the documentation of the exchange of messages for future reference.

To persuade

Business letters serve the purpose of persuading people. A message is developed to convince a certain person or firm in favor of the sender’s position and is transmitted through letters.

17 Essentials of a Good Business Letter

A good business letter is also a good communication tool. Experts have prescribed the following qualities or essentials of a good business letter:

Definite structure

There is a standard structure of a business letter that is recognized as a conventional format by business people throughout the world. A good business letter should adhere to that structure, making the letter attractive and presentable (the structure is exhibited at the end).

Conciseness

Conciseness is an inevitable quality of every business letter. Executives don’t have time to go through a lengthy letter. A business letter must be concise in content and description for their convenience.

Relevancy

A business letter’s content should focus on one issue and its description. Including any other issue would be irrelevant and jeopardize the purpose of the business letter, making it counterproductive. Thus, a good business letter should concentrate only on relevant matters.

Completeness

A good business letter should be complete in all respects. The reader should not have any questions about the issue of the letter. The business letter would be deemed incomplete if the reader has any questions.

Simplicity

Simplicity is an essential virtue of a good business letter, as the message of the letter will be easily understood with the same encoded meaning. Simplicity means using simple words, simple sentences, and presenting complex things in a simplified manner. It will make the business letter successful.

Clarity

The subject of the business letter must be stated in clear terms. It will make the letter unambiguous and easily understood without any confusion. One should follow the principles of clarity to make the letter clear to its reader.

Common Language

Some terms, words, sentence structures, and styles have common usage in a particular trade or business. A culture may also have such types of words. In a good business letter, one should use this common language to ensure it is understood without any ambiguity.

Courtesy

Courtesy makes interpersonal or inter-firm relationships congenial and favorable to continuing business. Therefore, a good business letter should be courteous to the other party. One should follow the principles of courtesy to make the business letter successful.

Neutrality

Neutrality is the unbiased presentation of facts and figures. This type of presentation makes the business letter more acceptable to the other party, as it does not harm anybody’s attitude. Therefore, a good business letter should have neutrality in its message.

Cordiality

A cordial presentation of a message in a business letter helps develop mutual faith and trust. It also promotes good human relations between the parties, which helps maintain long-term business relationships. Thus, a good business letter should present the encoded ideas very cordially.

Correctness

Mistakes affect the success of a business letter. They create a bad impression in the receiver’s mind about the integrity and commitment of the sender. Therefore, a good business letter should have no mistakes in any form and should be correct in all senses.

Non-superfluity

A good business letter should not have excessive descriptions of an issue that is intended to transmit. All exaggerations are counterproductive and destructive to the purpose of the letter. Thus, a good business letter should be non-superfluous.

Purposeful

The message of the business letter should guide the receiver to the purpose of the letter to get the desired response. The description should be centered on the objective of the letter. Otherwise, it will lose its purpose. Therefore, a good business letter should be purposeful.

Unity

Unity makes the letter consistent and attractive. It means the size of paragraphs, the chronology of the descriptions, the margins of the letter, etc., should have similarities. It will give a pleasant look to the letter. Therefore, a good business letter should have all the qualities of unity.

Capture and Hold Attention

A good business letter should be such that it captures and holds the reader’s attention up to the last part of the letter. The receiver should read it in one breath without any break. It will favor the right understanding of the letter.

Build Confidence and Be Action-Oriented

A good business letter should state the message in a way that develops a sense of confidence in the reader’s mind and motivates them to take immediate action.

Coherence

Coherence refers to the logical order of ideas, thoughts, reasoning, etc. The content of the letter should be arranged in a logical order.

Facts and figures should be consistent with the topic. This will make the letter easy to grasp and understand. Therefore, a good business letter should have coherence in the description of the message.

7 Process of Writing a Letter

A good business letter is also a valuable communication tool. Experts have identified the following qualities or essentials of a good business letter:

Specified Purpose

A business letter should have a clearly defined purpose. To achieve this purpose, every writing effort must follow a systematic approach.

Planning the Letter

Begin every letter-writing endeavor with a well-thought-out plan. Determine the objectives of the letter, predict how the reader will react to your presentation, and evaluate possible reader reactions. Create an outline of the letter’s content.

Gathering Facts

Business letters convey purposeful messages constructed with relevant facts and figures. Ensure that you collect this information from reliable sources and verify its accuracy.

Analyzing and Organizing Information

Organize the gathered information systematically within the letter to serve the message or firm’s objective and elicit a positive response from the recipient. Employ statistical methods if necessary.

Writing the Letter

Remember that a letter is a written form of communication, so adhere to the principles of effective communication. Choose a direct order for favorable situations or an indirect order for unfavorable ones. Incorporate all the qualities or essentials of a good business letter into your writing.

Rewriting the Letter

Review your work, as a second look often leads to improvements. Seek input from relevant individuals and incorporate their feedback into your letter. Consider the overall appearance and approach it from the reader’s perspective. Then, make necessary revisions.

Editing and Presenting the Final Document

This marks the final stage of the letter-writing process. Since the letter will soon be out of your hands, carefully check all spellings, words, sentence structures, and the placement of facts.

Ensure all details are accurate and well-organized. Once satisfied, produce the final printed version of the letter and send it to the recipient.

9 Importance of Business Letter

A business letter is a form of communication exchanged among people in business and between business individuals and their customers or prospective customers. Each business letter has a central purpose and the main idea the writer aims to convey.

This central purpose may include supporting points related to the main goal. Some business letters have more than one purpose. To achieve any of these purposes, letters must capture and retain attention, state the case clearly and concisely, establish confidence, and prompt action.

Given the increasing complexity and competition in today’s business environment, the importance of correspondence has greatly increased. It also reflects the image of the business.

Therefore, Hagar (1987) stated that the business letter is the ambassador of business. Hence, the business letter is important and essential for every business concern. Some of the key aspects of the essentiality of business letters are discussed below:

Establishing rapport

Business letters convey friendly messages and information of mutual benefit. They focus on building mutually beneficial relationships that can be achieved through ongoing business interactions. Therefore, business letters play a vital role in establishing rapport between business individuals and firms.

Conducting trade

Business letters are essential means of exchanging information between buyers and sellers regarding products and trade terms. They facilitate the development of mutual understanding and the formation of contracts between parties. Thus, business letters help facilitate trade in the economy.

Creating demand

Business letters serve as effective vehicles for delivering personal appeals to prospective customers. Direct mail is currently a highly effective promotional tool.

Circular letters also simultaneously disseminate product information and sales appeals to a mass audience. Thus, business letters help create demand for products in the market.

Conducting commerce

Commercial activities are necessary to eliminate barriers to conducting business. Business letters assist commercial firms in establishing contact with other business entities and overcoming obstacles in their operations. Thus, business letters facilitate the efficient conduct of commerce.

Assembling and distributing goods and services

Resources are gathered from various sources for production, and finished goods are distributed to the market through various channels.

Vendors and channel members are selected, appointed, and managed through the exchange of letters. Therefore, business letters manage the entire process of assembling and distributing a firm’s goods and services.

Settling transactions and problems

Business letters are widely used to settle transactions involving the exchange of goods and services between firms. They are also an effective tool for resolving issues by facilitating communication between parties in dispute.

Establishing goodwill/reputation

Business letters are used to establish personal connections with individuals and can effectively employ emotional appeals. This contributes to building goodwill and enhancing the reputation of the organization among the individuals contacted.

Supporting oral communication/contact

Oral communication lacks documentation. To strengthen oral communication and provide a record of it, subsequent business letters are used. Thus, business letters support oral communication, making it both useful and legally recognized.

Expanding the scope of business

Business scope can be expanded through various means of communication, with business letters being a strong and effective method among them. Business diversification, market expansion, and product differentiation can be effectively accomplished using business letters.

9 Advantages of Business Letter

Business letters are the most effective means of communication that establish personal contact with people and increase the market potential of a firm’s products. They offer manifold benefits to every business concern, with a few advantages discussed below:

Pervasive presence

Business letters are a ubiquitous form of communication that can reach every corner of the world, including within the homes of even the most conservative families and their members. They can also access strictly confidential areas within offices. This quality gives letters an advantage over all other forms of communication.

Documentation

Business letters, being written communications, provide records of all messages exchanged between firms.

Business letters serve as legally valid documents of exchanges made between firms. They can be presented as legal evidence in support of any business deal in a court of law and are widely accepted as legal documents.

Established credibility

Business letters are universally accepted documents within the business world, and there is no doubt about their credibility.

Future reference

Business letters, being written legal documents, serve as references for events in the future.

Effective communication

Business letters can convey personal and emotional messages and highlight the direct benefits of a particular transaction for the other party. Therefore, they are the most effective form of communication.

Cost-effectiveness

Business letters require very low costs compared to other communication methods, making them the most cost-effective communication option for any business firm.

Secrecy

Business letters are typically sent in envelopes and addressed to specific individuals, which enhances the confidentiality of the message more effectively than other media.

Reduced need for personal presence

Business letters establish personal contact and relationships without the physical presence of the individuals engaged in communication.

4 Disadvantages of Business Letter

Business letters are a widely used form of communication. However, they have some limitations and cannot be employed in all situations. These limitations are discussed below:

Non-mass communication

Business letters are not as effective as other methods for mass communication to persuade a large audience.

Useless for illiterate people

Illiterate individuals cannot be reached through letters since it is a written form of communication.

Not suitable for all locations

Business letters are transmitted through the postal system, so they cannot be used in areas without postal services.

Inappropriate for many occasions

There are certain business situations where a business letter may not be suitable, such as contracting, public speaking, meetings, investigations, or signing situations, among others.

Difference Between a Business Letter and a Personal Letter

Personal letters and business letters are two different types of letters oriented to two different purposes. There are many differences between the two, which are exhibited below:

Area of DifferenceBusiness LetterPersonal Letter
1. ObjectiveBusiness letter is a communication
to achieve business purpose
Personal letter is a communication to achieve, personal
2. StructureIt has a particular structureIt has no particular structure.
3. PrinciplesIt follows a set of guiding
principles
It does not follow any particular set of principles
4. EnclosureBusiness letter may have enclosure
of documents.
Personal letter does not have any enclosure of documents.
5. StyleIt may follow any of the two styles-direct and indirect styles.It follows only direct style.
6. ScopeIts scope is wide and diversified.Its scope is limited to personal matters only.
7. EmotionIt is emotionally neutral.It is emotionally biased.
8. CopyIt is printed with multiple copies to preserve in files for future reference and to send other relevant persons or offices.No copy is prepared except main one.
9. SalutationIt follows specific salutation for specific situation.It doesn’t have any specific salutation style.
10. ConcentrationA business letters concentrates on one subject only.A personal letter may concentrates on many subjects.

TitleAddressSalutationDear SalutationFormal Salutation
Senator (of the United States)The Honorable (full name), United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510Sir (or Madam)My dear Senator (surname)Senator (surname) or Mr. (or Madam) Senator
M.P (of a State or a Country)The Honorable (full name), The Senate of (State), (capital city and State)__ Sir (or Madam)Dear Senator (or My dear Senator) (surname)Senator (surname) or Mr. (or Madam) Senator
Sister (of a religious order)Sister (religious name plus initials of her order), (address, city, and State)My Dear SisterDear Sister (religious name)Sister (religious name)
Warrant OfficerWarrant Officer (or Chief Warrant Officer)Sir (or Madam) or Dear Sir (or Dear Madam)Dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss) (surname)Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss) (surname)
PopeHis Holiness the Pope, Vatican City, ItalyYour Holiness:Your Holiness (or Most Holy Father)
Naval Officer(title of rank), (full name), (address)Sir (or Madam) or Dear Sir (or Dear Madam)Dear Admiral (or Commodore, Captain, etc.) (surname)Admiral (or Commodore, Captain, etc.) (surname)
Priest (Roman Catholic)The Reverend (full name plus initials of his order), (address, city, and State)Reverend Father.Dear Father (surname):Father (surname) or Father
Prince (or Princess)His (Her) Royal Highness, Prince(ss) (given name)May it please Your Royal Highness:Sir (or Madam):Your Royal Highness
RabbiRabbi (full name plus D.D if applicable)Dear Sir or Dear Rabbi:Dear Rabbi (or Dr.):Rabbi (or Dr.) (surname)
Representative (of the United States Congress)The Honorable (full name), United States House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515Sir (or Madam):My dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss) (surname):Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss) (surname)
Representative (of a State legislature)The Honorable (full name), Member of Assembly (or other name of the legislature), (capital city and State)Sir (or Madam):My dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss) (surname):Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss) (surname)
Doctor (Ph.D., M.D., D.D., etc.)(Ph.D., M.D., D.D., etc.), Dr. (full name), (address, city, and State)P-S‘ My dear Dr (surname) or My Jew Sir (or My dear Madam)Dear Dr (surname):Dr (surname)
Governor (of a State)The Honorable (or in some states His or Her Excellency) (full name), Governor of (State), (capital city and State)Sir (or Madam):Dear Governor (surname):Governor (surname) or Sir (or Madam)
Judge (including Supreme Court)The Honorable (full name), Justice (name of court), (city and State)Sir (or Madam)Dear Judge (surname):Judge (surname)
King (or Queen)His (Her) Most Gracious Majesty, King (Queen) NameMay it please Your Majesty:Initially, Your Majesty, thereafter, Sir (or Madam)
MayorHis (Her) Honor, The Mayor, (city and State)Sir (or Madam)My dear Mr. (or Madam) Mayor: or My dear Mayor, (surname):Mr. (or Madam) Mayor
Minister (Protestant)The Reverend (full name plus D.D. if applicable), (address, city, and State)My dear Sir (or My dear Madam): or Sir (or Madam):Dear Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss or Dr.) (surname)

11 Parts of a Business Letter

A business letter has a specific format with specific parts. The following discussion contains conventional parts of a business letter.

  1. Letterhead
  2. Heading (Date)
  3. Inside Address
  4. Salutation
  5. Subject heading
  6. Reference I-initials
  7. Body of the letter
  8. Complimentary close
  9. Signature
  10. Signature identification
  11. I.E.D Block
  12. I-initials
  13. E-enclosure
  14. D-distribution list

Letterhead

The letterhead contains information related to the name and address of the organization on behalf of which the letter is written or the person writing the letter. It provides the name, telephone number, fax number, email address, telex number, and the firm’s monogram.

[Your Company Logo] (if applicable)
[Your Company Name]
[Company Address]
[City, State ZIP Code]
[Phone Number]
[Fax Number]
[Email Address]
[Website URL] (if applicable)

Heading

The heading refers to the date of writing the letter. The date should always be shown in full, and it is crucial to put the date on every letter. It enables quick reference in the future, aids in prompt action, and facilitates orderly filing. The date includes the day, month, and year. It is written below the address or the letterhead, leaving some space for a better appearance.

The date is typed either starting close to the left margin or ending close to the right margin, depending on the chosen style. In the UK, it is usual to display the date in the order day/month/year, without using commas.

Heading:
[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Company Name]
[Company Address]
[City, State ZIP Code]
[Date]

In this example, you would replace “[Your Name]” with your actual name, “[Your Title]” with your job title, “[Your Company Name] with the name of your company, [Company Address]” with your company’s address, “[City, State ZIP Code]” with your company’s location, and “[Date]” with the current date when the letter is written. The heading provides essential information about the sender and the date of the letter.

Inside Address

The name and address of the recipient should be typed on separate lines, as they would appear on an envelope. This creates a record on the copy, serving to identify the letter for filing purposes. It also assists the outward clerk in addressing the cover with the same information.

The inside address should be written below the date, starting from the left margin, and it can be in either indented or block form. Care should be taken to address the recipient exactly as they sign their letters.

Mr. John Smith
ABC Corporation
123 Main Street
Suite 456
New York, NY 10001

Subject Heading

The subject heading is a one-line mention of the major theme of the letter. It is inevitable in the case of lengthy communication. It may be written after the inside address or just after the salutation along with the left alignment or in the middle of the letter. Write “Subject” or “Sub:”.

Subject: Proposal for Marketing Strategy

In this example, “Proposal for Marketing Strategy” is the subject heading, which provides a clear indication of the main topic or theme of the letter.

Reference

The reference is the identification of the source of the letter. It bears the abbreviated code of the name of the department or section that is writing the letter, the name of the particular file, a number, and the code of the subject matter. The purpose of the reference is to enable replies to be linked with the previous correspondence and also to send replies to these letters to the proper official or department. It helps with quick and easy future references and locating the document as well. Therefore, respondents are requested to mention the reference in their future correspondence or replies.

The reference is written just after the subject heading or in the body of the letter after the salutation, along with the subject heading. It may be written with left alignment or after a space from the left alignment.

Reference: HR/2023/123
File: Employee Benefits
Subject: Request for Vacation Leave Approval

In this example, “HR/2023/123” is the reference, which includes an abbreviated code for the Human Resources department, a year (2023), and a unique identifier (123) for the specific document. This reference helps track and locate the document within the HR department’s records.

Salutation

The salutation is the complimentary greeting with which the writer opens their letter. It is the written equivalent of the conversational “Hello.”

It should be written below the inside address, subject heading, or reference, leaving some space, and should start flush with the left-side margin or along the left margin. Depending upon the style adopted, it may or may not end with a comma.

“Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” for a singular man or woman, and “Dear Sirs” or “Dear Mesdames” for addressing two or more persons, i.e., a firm or an association.

Dear Mr. Smith,

In this example, “Dear Mr. Smith” is the salutation, which is used to address the recipient of the letter.

Body Of The Letter

The body of the letter is the description of the subject matter intended for communication to the letter’s receiver. The body contains (a) the subject and reference, (b) the opening part, (c) the main part, and (d) the closing part of the letter.

The opening part expresses greetings, gratitude, acknowledgment, or a reference to the action of the previous correspondence. It should be attractive and interesting to make the reader go through the entire letter with curiosity and hope.

The main section of the letter contains a clear statement of the subject matter. It should be brief and to the point, written in unambiguous, sincere, simple, and correct words and sentences. The thoughts must be complete and concrete.

The closing part of the letter must be gentle but firm, friendly yet forceful. It should use the “you” address and contain an important statement that provokes the reader to take action.

Complimentary Close

It is customary to end the letter in a polite way by using a complimentary close. The two most common closes are “yours faithfully” (used only with Dear Sir/Sirs/Sir or Madam) and “Yours sincerely” (used with personalized salutations).

Other styles of complementary closes are shown below:

  • Yours truly
  • Sincerely yours
  • Very truly yours
  • Sincerely
  • Respectfully
  • Warmest regards
  • Respectfully yours
  • With warmest regards
  • Cordially
  • Best wishes
  • Best regards
  • With best wishes

Examples:

  • Dear Sir – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Sirs – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Madam – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Sir or Madam – Yours Faithfully
  • Dear Mr. Leighton – Yours sincerely
  • Dear Mrs. Jackson – Yours sincerely
  • Dear Melanie – Yours sincerely
  • Dear John – Yours sincerely

Signature

A signature denotes the confirmation of the writer that the letter belongs to them and that they hold responsibility for the matter expressed in the letter. It is the writer’s assent to the subject matter of the letter and is a practical necessity.

A signature is handwritten and contains a symbol representing the writer. It should be legible clear enough to be easily read. The signature is placed after the complementary close, either on the left-hand side or the right-hand side, depending on the style of the letter.

Signature Identification

The signature of the writer should be identified with an official seal containing the name, designation, department/division/section, and organization. In case of the absence of a seal, all this information should be typed. It provides a clear identity of the letter’s writer to the receiver.

E.D. Block

This block contains the “I” for the initial of the writer or the comparer, the typist, or the person entrusted to do associated tasks related to the letter.

The letter may be attached to some documents, circulated to or distributed among other persons, departments, or organizations, or a copy may be kept in a relevant file. The person performing these tasks will put their initial at this place.

“E” refers to enclosure. The names of the documents attached should be written at the bottom of the letter. This informs the reader about which documents are enclosed with the letter. It also serves as a record that the relevant documents are duly attached if the receiver is missing any document during the handling of the letter.

“D” refers to the distribution list. If the letter is distributed to different persons, departments, or organizations, this is the place to write their names.

2 Formats or Styles of Business Letter

There are two popular styles or formats of writing business letters: one is the British style, and another is the American style.

British Style of Format or Style of Business Letter

Your Name
Your Address
City, Postal Code
Date

Recipient’s Name
Recipient’s Position
Company Name
Company Address
City, Postal Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Recipient’s Last Name,

[Body of the Letter]

Yours faithfully,

[Your Signature]

Your Typed Name (if applicable)

In this format:

  1. Your contact information is placed at the top left corner.
  2. The date is written below your contact information.
  3. The recipient’s contact information is placed below the date, aligned to the left.
  4. The salutation, such as “Dear Mr./Ms. Recipient’s Last Name,” follows.
  5. The body of the letter is written after the salutation.
  6. The complimentary close, such as “Yours faithfully,” is aligned to the left.
  7. You sign your name in the space between the close and your typed name.
  8. Your typed name, if necessary, is placed below your signature.

Remember that British-style formatting often uses “Yours faithfully” when you don’t know the recipient’s name and “Yours sincerely” when you do.

American Style of Format or Style of Business Letter

The American style, the various parts of a letter, and their positions are shown in a specimen letter below. It starts all parts from the left-hand margin.

Your Name
Your Title (if applicable)
Your Company Name (if applicable)
Your Address
City, State ZIP Code
Email Address (optional)
Phone Number (optional)
Date

Recipient’s Name
Recipient’s Title
Company Name
Company Address
City, State ZIP Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Recipient’s Last Name,

[Body of the Letter]

Sincerely,

[Your Signature]

Your Typed Name (if applicable)
Your Title (if applicable)
Enclosure (if applicable)

In this format:

  1. Your contact information is placed at the top left corner. You can include your title, company name, email address, and phone number if relevant.
  2. The date is written below your contact information.
  3. The recipient’s contact information is placed below the date, aligned to the left.
  4. The salutation, such as “Dear Mr./Ms. Recipient’s Last Name,” follows.
  5. The body of the letter is written after the salutation.
  6. The complimentary close, such as “Sincerely,” is aligned to the left.
  7. You sign your name in the space between the close and your typed name.
  8. Your typed name and title, if applicable, are placed below your signature.
  9. If you have enclosed additional documents with the letter, you can mention “Enclosure” or “Enclosures” at the bottom to indicate this.

This American-style format is commonly used for business correspondence in the United States.

4 FAQs About Business Letter

What are the essentials of a Good Business Letter?

A Good Business Letter should have a definite structure, conciseness, relevancy, completeness, simplicity, clarity, common language, courtesy, neutrality, cordiality, correctness, non-superfluity, purposefulness, unity, ability to capture and hold attention, confidence-building, action-oriented nature, and coherence.

What is the difference between a Business Letter and a Personal Letter?

A Business Letter is structured, follows guiding principles, may have enclosures, can follow direct or indirect styles, has a wide scope, and is emotionally neutral.

In contrast, a Personal Letter does not have a specific structure or set principles, does not typically have enclosures, follows only a direct style, has a limited scope, and is emotionally biased.

How does a Business Letter contribute to conducting trade and commerce?

Business Letters facilitate the exchange of information between buyers and sellers regarding products and trade terms, help in forming contracts, and are essential in overcoming obstacles in operations, thereby aiding in the efficient conduct of commerce.

Why is neutrality important in a Business Letter?

Neutrality in a Business Letter refers to the unbiased presentation of facts and figures. It makes the letter more acceptable to the other party as it does not harm anybody’s attitude, thereby contributing to the success of the communication.

Conclusion

A Business Letter is a formal document exchanged between enterprises or organizations for various business-related purposes such as informing, instructing, and requesting. It follows a definite structure and principles, ensuring conciseness, clarity, courtesy, and correctness.

The letter may include several parts, including the letterhead, inside address, salutation, body, and signature. The process of writing such a letter involves specifying the purpose, planning, gathering facts, analyzing information, and revising.

Business Letters offer advantages like legal validity, cost-effectiveness, and effective communication, but they also have limitations like inaccessibility to illiterate people and unsuitability for all locations. They differ from personal letters in structure, style, scope, and emotional tone.

Formal Business Letters use specific forms of address and salutation depending on the recipient’s title.

Neutrality in a Business Letter is crucial as it presents facts unbiasedly, making the letter more acceptable. These letters play a vital role in trade and commerce by facilitating information exchange, forming contracts, and overcoming operational obstacles.