In this world of high-speed connections to everything and text messaging condensed to 140 characters per message, formality is falling by the wayside and business rules are changing. However, formatting a letter that is being written by or to a business is still one thing that has not changed. It is still expected that when a letter is written to a business, it should use accepted business format.
Block Formatting or Indented Formatting
There are two acceptable ways to format a business letter. One is block formatting, in which each line of text starts at the left-hand margin and the space between each paragraph is double-spaced. If using word processing software, it can be set to either flush left, or justified. Never center paragraphs in a business letter. The second type of acceptable formatting is when the first line of each paragraph is indented.
The Header of a Business Letter
The top portion of a business letter should be the identifying information. If the letter is written on company letterhead, this is identification enough, but if it is typed on plain paper, the writer should type the name and address of her business or organization at the top center of the page: name on the top line, street address on the next line and city, state and zip on the third line. A phone number is optional but recommended.
Date, Inside Address and Salutation
A few lines under the heading, the letter should be started by entering the date that the letter is being sent. Drop down two lines and enter the name of the person to whom the letter is being written. On the next line type in his title. On the next line type in the company name, followed by the company address on the next few lines. Drop down two lines again and type in the salutation such as "Dear Ms. Smith:" Always end the salutation with a colon.
The Body and Closing of a Business Letter
Drop down two lines and begin typing the body of the letter. Format the letter in either block format or indented format and double space between each paragraph. When the letter is finished, close with a complimentary closing such as "Sincerely" followed by a comma. Drop down four lines to allow room for your signature and type your full name and under that, your title, if applicable. Two lines under this, In the lower left-hand side, is where the initials of the one who is typing the letter belong, if the typist is not the one signing the letter. If you are typing a letter for your boss you would put her initials in all capitals, then a colon and your initials in lowercase letters.