How to Format a Business Letter in Word
A teacher in a high school or college careers class might ask you to write a business letter in Microsoft Word. To do so, you will need to use proper style and format. Word 2013 is the current version, but if you use an earlier version, such as Word 2007, the major difference is the layout of the Microsoft Word ribbon. Regardless of the version, follow the standard business letter format.
Sender and Recipient Addresses
If you are the sender, type your address one line above the date. Include your street address, city and ZIP code. Don’t include your name. The recipient's address is the location of the person you’re sending the letter to. Include the name and title such as Mr., Miss or Mrs. If a woman prefers Miss or Ms., use what she prefers. If you don’t know her preference, use Ms. Include professional titles such as Dr. For an address in the United States, use the standard U.S. postal format. For an international address, complete the street address and city as you normally would, but type the country name in all caps. The recipient address is one line below your address. Format the recipient address left justified.
Date and Greeting
Unless you're sending the letter a few days after you've typed it, send the letter the day you type it. Use the standard date format of month, day, year -- such as June 1, 2015. Type the month, day and year 2 inches from the top of the page.
Include the name of the person you’re writing to and a personal or professional title. If you’re writing to someone you know -- and you usually address that person by his first name -- use his first name. The salutation in a business letter always uses a colon, not a comma. If you’re not on a first-name basis, type his title and last name. After the greeting, leave a blank line before the body paragraphs.
For standard block and modified block formats, use single space and left justify each paragraph. Leave a blank line between each paragraph. Make your opening courteous and professional. State why you are writing the letter -- such as you are replying to a job posting. Show how your qualifications match the job requirements. Provide examples of your best work. Provide evidence of recognition or awards. Mention recommendations from teachers or previous employers. For example, if you are applying for a position in a veterinarian's office, include any recommendations plus experience you have as a pet sitter to support your interest and qualifications.
Closing and Enclosures
Format the closing at the same vertical point as your date and one line down after the last body paragraph. Only capitalize the first word of your closing and include a comma after the last word. In the example of "Sincerely yours," the word "yours" has a comma after it. Leave four lines between the closing and the sender's name.
Enclosures indicate that you have included other documents in the envelope. Type the word "Enclosures" one line below the closing. You can list the name of each document, if you wish, but it's not mandatory.
If you typed the letter for someone else, indicate this with your initials. The format is uppercase for the initials of the person who requests the letter and lowercase for the typist's initials. For example, if Jane Smith requests that Mike Jones type a letter for her, Mike Jones would format the typist initials like so: JS:mj.
Style and Font
The most common style for business letters is standard block format. For this format, align everything flush left. For modified block format, place the return address, date, closing and signature to the right of the page center. Alternatively, you can format these to be flush with the right margin. In the modified block style, all body paragraphs are left-justified. For semi-block format, indent the first line of each paragraph. Though you might be able to use Ariel, most companies, prefer Times New Roman 12.
Kathryn Esplin, a veteran copy editor, wrote for The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, and copy edited for Addison-Wesley, and several years for IDG. She holds a journalism degree from Medill and a B.A. in English from McGill. A memoir, "Of Things Human, Life, Remarriage, Death" was published in "Blended Families (Social Issues Firsthand)."