First, make sure that you spell the recipient's name correctly. You should also confirm the gender and proper title. Use Ms. for women and Mr. for men. Use Mrs. if you are 100% sure that a woman is married. Under less formal circumstances, or after a long period of correspondence it may be acceptable to address a person by his or her first name. You could write “Dear Margaret Edwards” and skip the courtesy title. When you don't know the name of a person and cannot find this information out you may write “To Whom It May Concern”. It is standard to use a comma (colon in North America) after the salutation. Here are some common ways to address the recipient:
Dear Mr. Powell, Dear Ms. Mackenzie, Dear Frederick Hanson: Dear Sir, Dear Sirs, Dear Valued Customer, Dear Sir or Madam:
In most types of business letter it is common to use a friendly greeting in the first sentence of the letter. Here are some examples:
Thank you for your kind letter of January 5th.
I came across an ad for your company in The Star today.
It was a pleasure meeting you at the conference this month.
We are pleased to tell you….
I appreciate your patience in waiting for a response.
After your short opening, state the main point (subject) of your letter in one or two sentences:
I'm writing to enquire about...
I'm interested in the job opening posted on your company website.
We'd like to invite you to a member’s only luncheon on April 5th.
Use a few short paragraphs to go into greater detail about your main point. If one paragraph is all you need, don't write an extra paragraph just to make your letter look longer. If you are including sensitive material, such as rejecting an offer or informing an employee of a layoff period, embed this sentence in the second paragraph rather than opening with it. Here are some common ways to express unpleasant facts:
We regret to inform you...
It is with great sadness that we...
After careful consideration we have decided...
We have always been happy with the quality of your products….
Your last paragraph should include requests, reminders, and notes on enclosures. If necessary, your contact information should also be in this paragraph. Here are some common phrases used when closing a business letter:
I look forward to...
Do not hesitate to contact us……
Please respond at your earliest convenience.
I should also remind you that the next board meeting is on February 5th.
For further details...
If you require more information...
Thank you for taking this into consideration.
I appreciate any feedback you may have.
Enclosed you will find...
Feel free to contact me by phone or email.
The most common complimentary close accepted in the US and UK is “Sincerely”. Use a comma between the closing and your handwritten name (or typed in an email):
Respectfully yours, (very formal)
Yours faithfully, (UK for business letters that begin with Dear Sir, Dear Sirs, Dear Madam, Dear Sir or Madam)
Very truly yours, (polite and neutral for the US)
All the best,
Leave four blank lines after the complimentary close to sign your name. Sign your name between the complimentary close and your printed name.