the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

Business Letter Formats

There are certain standards for formatting a business letter, though some variations are acceptable (for example between European and North American business letters). Here are some basic guidelines:

Formatting Business Letters

Block format is the most common format used in business today. With this format, nothing is centred. The sender's address, the recipient's address, the date and all new paragraphs begin at the left margin, like this:

Wicked Wax Co. Ltd
22 Charlton Way
London, SE10 8QY

SENDER'S ADDRESS
may be printed company logo and address
11th January, 2016

DATE
Ms. Maggie Jones
Angel Cosmetics Inc.
110 East 25th Street
New York, NY, 10021
USA

RECIPIENT'S ADDRESS
Your ref: 123
Our ref: abc



RECIPIENT'S REFERENCE (IF ANY)
SENDER'S REFERENCE (IF ANY)
Dear Ms. Jones,

SALUTATION
Forthcoming Exhibition       

SUBJECT
First paragraph...

Second para...

Third para...

BODY OF LETTER
Yours sincerely,

CLOSING
Morris Howard

SIGNATURE (HAND-WRITTEN)
Morris Howard,
President

NAME (TYPED),
TITLE
cc: Brian Waldorf

COPY TO
Enc: catalogue ENCLOSURE

This are other, slightly different ways of formatting a business letter, where for example paragraphs are indented or the date is typed on the right hand side. You can see examples of these in the sample letters.

Formatting Envelopes for Business Letters

It is best to type an envelope for a business letter. Most word document programs contain an envelope labelling function to help you. All you need to do is indicate the size of envelope you are using and type the correct information in the appropriate fields, for example:


Postage
stamp
Ms. Maggie Jones
Angel Cosmetics Inc.
110 East 25th Street
New York
NY 10021
USA

Formatting Business Memos

Memos are short internal business letters, sent to other staff within the same company. A memo (or memorandum) may also be posted somewhere inside a company for all to see. Memos are becoming less common as electronic mail becomes more common. In contrast to letters, memos do not usually contain salutations or closings, and may be typed or hand-written. The text portion of the memo is generally in block format. Memos should include "From", "To", "Date", "Subject" and the message itself, like this:

Company logo

MEMORANDUM

From: [name or initials]


To: [name or initials]


Date:


Subject: [short description]


Message starts here...
  • often
  • with
  • bullet
  • points

Formatting Business Email

When using email in business, most of the guidelines for standard formatting in business letters apply. Here are a few differences: