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Use the correct Business Letter Format

Why it is important to use the correct business letter format?

Because the way a business letter looks immediately gives the reader their first impression even before they read it. The quality of the paper, letterhead design, the margins, spacing and more all have something to say about the organization. A weakness in any of these elements can detract from the effectiveness of the message, even though it is expertly written.

The following table provides the elements of the business letter format.

The Paper There are different kinds of paper. I recommend using the 20lb for normal use and 32lb for important letters like resume cover letters and thank you letters.
Color White is the standard and should usually be used. Light tints (grey, blue, green, etc) are also becoming popular. Do not use any strong colour unless you know it is acceptable to the reader.
Size To me only the Letter or A4 are the only acceptable sizes. There are other sizes but I don’t recommend it unless you are in the creative field.
Layout In a business letter format, there are many layouts; the three most popular are the semi-blocked, blocked and full-blocked. Whatever layout you wish to use, it doesn’t really matter. As for me, I prefer the full-blocked simply because it is easier to type on the computer.  
Margins Left and Right 1 Inch Top and Bottom 1 ½ Inch
Spacing Most letters are single spaced. Use double space for short letters. Leave one blank line between paragraphs, 2 Blank lines before the complementary close (i.e. Sincerely) and 3 to 4 lines for the signature.
Salutation Always use the name of the individual if you know it. Dear Amy: (personal friend or close business associate) Dear Mrs. Rider: Dear Miss Spears: Dear Ms. Tyler: (use Ms. If you don’t know the marital status or the preference) Dear Mr. Farnham: Dear Dr. Doom: Dear Sir Elton John: If you don’t know the name of the individual, address it to the individual’s title in the company and then use dear Sir or Madam: Here is an example: Head of Human Resource ABC Company 123 Sesame Street Dear Sir or Madam: But please only use this if you really cannot find out the name of the person. Most companies will tell you who the person is. All it takes is a phone call. If you are addressing to an organization and not an individual, then use the following: Ladies and Gentlemen: And if you want to highlight the letter to an individual(s) in the organization, use the attention line as follows: Attention: Miss J. Fonda, CEO and Mr. M. Jackson, CFO Ladies and Gentlemen: If you are addressing officials, it requires a more formal format. See Addressing Business Letters for Officials for more information. EDUCATION Dean, College or University Dean (name) (name of college or university) Dear Dean (name): President, College or University Mr. (name) President (name of college or university) Dear President (name): President, College or University (with a Doctorate) (Name) (Abbreviation for degree) President (name of college or university) Dear Dr. (name): Professor, College or University Professor (name) (name of college or university) Dear Professor (name): Professor, College or University (with a Doctorate) (name) (abbreviation for degree) (name of college or university) Dear Dr. (name):
Complimentary close For a normal business letter format, I prefer to use Regards, Sincerely, and Sincerely yours. Other acceptable formal business letter close includes Cordially, Cordially yours, Very sincerely yours, Very cordially yours, Yours very truly, Very truly yours and if the person is of high stature, Respectfully yours.
Subject Line Sometimes to speed up the handling of your mail, it may be wise to use a subject line. Dear Mr. M. Jackson: Subject: Order No. 456-9A6
Signature Do use a title (Mr., Miss, Ms) to indicate your preference and you gender and give you First and Last Name. Example: Sincerely,
  Ms. Tony Braxton

The following are some examples of letters:
Free Business Letter in the correct Business Letter Format.
Sample Business Letter on Company Letter Head in the correct Business Letter Format.
Business Letter Sample in the correct Business Letter Format.
Example of business letter
Business Letter of Introduction
Example of business letter for project update

Although this page is about business letter format and this site is about writing business letters, I think it is prudent to talk about other types of written business correspondence. This will include the fax, memos and e-mails. Knowing when to use each type of correspondence is just as (if not more) important as the content itself. For example, you don't send a memo to congratulate someone.

The Fax
The facsimile machine has dramatically changed the pace of business communications in the past 10 years. Some say it is a blessing and some say it's a curse. Either way, knowing the proper use of this communication tool will help you improve your business image.

The fax cover page
Often, fax transmissions are received in a common area and then forwarded to the proper recipient. The fax cover page is used to route your communication to the correct person and to ensure all the pages are received.

Here is a sample of a fax cover page

Follow these guidelines when using the fax

  1. Use the fax only when the communication needs immediate attention
  2. In addition to the cover page, format the message in either the memo or business letter format.
  3. Do not send documents in which the appearance is important.
  4. Avoid dark areas such as graphics. It slows down transmission time and the recipient printed fax may be moist from the heavy application of ink.
  5. Use simple, legible type for your fax. Arial, Courier and Times New Roman all transmit clearly. Use at least an 11-point in size.
  6. Avoid handwritten notes. They often don't transmit well.

The Memo

The memo is short for memorandum. It is used for short reminders, quick announcements or concise pieces of information. When using the memo format, don't communicate something of vital importance. Use the business letter format instead. Memo tends to be given less attention than a business letter written on the company letterhead. Memos should not be used for communications to people outside the company.

There is no rule for the format of the memo. Pick one and make it a standard for your company. The vital information in a memo are the date, the recipient, the sender and the subject matter.

The following is an example:



The e-Mail
Since you are on the internet reading this site, I would assume that you know what e-mail is and you probably have one or more e-mail account. The e-mail has replaced many functions of the business letter. Here are some tips on writing effective e-mail.

  1. Format: Do use the format provided by the software properly. Include the e-mail you are sending to on the proper column. To is for the individuals the letter is directed to, cc for those you want to have a copy and bcc to those you want to have a copy but don't want people to know they are in the list. And do fill in the subject line. Begin the e-mail with the salutation.
  2. Contents: As with the business letter, keep it brief. All the business letter essentials apply to the e-mail as well.
  3. Links: If you are referring to a web site, do provide a link.
  4. Don't use ALL CAPS: In the real world, all caps mean that you are stressing a point. However when online, all caps means that you are YELLING! Bold the word or put asterisks around it to stress the word.
  5. Don't get too informal: The tendency when it comes to e-mail is to write less formally, just remember, you are still writing a business letter only via e-mail.
  6. Don't use emoticons and acronyms: There are two reasons for this, first, while many net-savvy users are familiar with it, there are still a lot of people who don't understand what the symbols mean. Secondly, you are still writing a business letter, emoticons and acronyms are just too informal. Imagine a letter that reads like this:
    WTG Imagine my =:O when I heard your good news. IMHO you earned the promotion. ;-)

So there you have it, I have given you the elements of a correct Business Letter Format. Some of these elements are flexible, so always make your own judgement when selecting your Business Letter Format.


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 996

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