Typing Business Letters
All formal letter formats contain the same basic elements. These are the Letterhead or Originating Address (your address), Date, Inside Address (address of the recipient), Salutation, Body of the Letter, Complimentary Close, and Reference. The illustration below shows the position of each of these elements.
November 20, 2000
V.P. New AccountsChroma Copier
15724 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 94216
Re: “XL-1000” service contract
As per our conversation of Tuesday, November 17, here is the completed service contract for our new” XL-1000” copier. We have decided to purchase the three-year contract instead of the standard one-year service guarantee. A check for the $375 total is enclosed.
Your assistant, Jerry Kershin, telephoned yesterday and went over some of the specifics of the contract. It is my understanding from him that we must provide insurance protecting our office staff as well as your company in the event of damage to or destruction of the leased equipment. For your reference, our insurance company is Travelstone Inc., located here in Los Angeles.
Thank you for the extra time and consideration you have taken in handling our account. We look forward to a long and fruitful association with Chroma Copiers.
400 SUNDANCE BLVD. • LOS GATOS, CALIFORNIA 94947 • PHONE 319.378.7319
- The Letterhead or Originating Address
Many people use preprinted letterhead stationary for both business and personal use. For business use, your name, company address, and telephone number are usually included. For personal use, many people simply use their names, but your home address may be added as well. This information is located at the top of the first page of your stationery, and usually takes up about two inches of space. The letterhead may be centered, or flush left or right depending on letter style (we discuss this later). If you are using blank stationery for business with no preprinted letterhead, then type your address and telephone at the top of the page. You may either center it or place it flush to one side. Do not type your name; save that for the Complimentary Close.
- The Date
Type the date below the letterhead. Depending on the letter style you choose it can be flush to one side or centered. Whatever the case, the following rules apply:
a. The date is typed two lines below the letterhead.
b. The name of the month is typed in full.
c. A comma separates the day of the month from the year, for example, January 12, 2005.
- The Inside Address
Type the address in full, including the name and title of the person to whom you are writing. Make this address similar to the one on the envelope. The title may be placed on the same line as the person’s name, such as:
Lorena Samson, Chair
Or on the next line:
If the company address takes up more than two or three lines, you might want to put the title and name on the same line. However if Lorena’s title were long, such as “Assistant Manager Product Storage, Retrieval and Development, Section II-IA,” you might want to separate things out to keep the address neat. The point is to keep everything clear and easy to read. For example:
Lorena Samson Assistant Manager,
Product Storage, Retrieval
and Development, Section II-IA
The company address goes under the company name. If it is too long, follow the same example as with the title:
The Great Midwestern, Atlantic
and Pacific Insurance Cartel, Inc.
The street address is typed below the name and title. Again, type what is going to be on the envelope. Here are a few guidelines:
a. Use numbers for all buildings except the number One (as in “One Broderbund Plaza”).
b. Use numbers for streets, avenues, and so on above the number 10.
c. Write out directions such as North or South; abbreviate city directions such as Northeast to NE.
Type the city, state, and zip code beneath the street address. Learn and use the zip code abbreviations for the names of the states.
Sometimes an “attention” or “re” line exists below the last address line and before the salutation. This directs your letter to one specific person or department, or declares what the letter is about. Upon completing the last address line, insert one blank line and press Enter or Return. Now type your “attention” or “re” line flush, indented, or centered and press Enter or Return. Insert one blank line and press Enter or Return. Type the salutation.
Here is an example of each:
Bank of America
6900 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Re: Updated deposit procedure
Bank of America
6900 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Attn: Accounts Receivable
- The Salutation
If you know the person to whom you are writing, the salutation generally begins “Dear...” and if you know the person well you may use his or her first name. If you do not know the person, you might put “Dear Mr. or Ms.” with a name or perhaps a generic “Dear Sir or Madam” without a name at all. In any event, be courteous and do not assume any familiarity.
The Body of the Letter
Organize your letter into paragraphs and type it single-spaced. Depending on its style (discussed later), the first line of each paragraph is either indented five spaces or flush left. Always double space between paragraphs.
The Complimentary Close
The words you choose to close your letter reflect the impression you want to leave with the reader. “Regards,” “Very truly yours,” and “Sincerely” are the usual endings, but you may choose another closing with which you are more comfortable. When in doubt stick with something more formal.
Following the closing skip four lines and type your name, or the name of the person who has written and is signing the letter.
- The Reference
References are typed several lines down from the signature, depending on space available. They may tell the addressee who wrote and then who typed the letter. In this example, Sam Bronson typed a letter for his employer, Lorena Samson:
References can indicate enclosures (attached pages) in a letter. There are three ways of stating this enclosure:
Enc. Enc. (5) Enclosure
They can also designate who received copies of your letter.
c.c.: Jack Remme
Postscripts may replace a reference.
P.S. Your immediate reply is urgently awaited, Lorena.