Five Major Parts of a Business Letter
Writing a professional business letter can help you and your company make a good first impression with colleagues and clients. It can also save you time and money by properly communicating your messages throughout your professional transactions. Learning to write a proper business letter is an investment in your professional future.
Heading and Inside Address
The heading reveals the identity of the sender, and the inside address tells the reader to whom the letter is addressed. The heading should begin from the top of the left margin and should include the sender's title, full name, address, and the date. You can also include a telephone and/or fax number. Skip a line, then list the recipient's title, full name, and address. When a standard business letter is folded, this spacing allows the inside address to be viewed from the outside of the envelope.
The greeting introduces your letter's professional tone. Business letters typically skip a line from the inside address and begin their salutation with "Dear" and follow with the recipient's title and last name. First names are optional, but should be included in place of the title if the recipient's name is gender neutral (ex: Rory, Leslie, etc.). Skip a line after your greeting.
The body expresses your message in a clear and professional manner. You may choose to adhere to a block format, with all of the text aligned to the left, or an indented format, with each paragraph indented 10 spaces. Always skip a line between paragraphs regardless of which format you choose. Keep your language and punctuation professional and be as concise as possible.
The closing is typically a short, one word ending that tells your reader that they have reached the end of the letter. Most business letters close with "Sincerely" in order to maintain a professional tone. If you chose the block format for your body, the closing will be aligned to the left. If you chose an indented format, the first word of your closing should be centered.
The signature should be aligned directly under the closing and reiterate the identity of the sender. The term "By direction" can be included on a second line to indicate that the letter was authorized through a higher authority than the person signing the letter. You can also use a second line to include a job title or the name of the associated company.
Lindsey Rineheart began writing professionally in 2009. Her work has been featured in local and regional publications like "Luna Negra" and "Scene Magazine." She graduated from Kent State University in 2008 with bachelor's degrees in English and creative writing.