A business letter is a formal document often sent from one company to another or from a company to its clients, employees, and stakeholders, for example. Business letters are used for professional correspondence between individuals, as well.
Although email has taken over as the most common form of correspondence, printed-out business letters are still used for many important, serious types of correspondence, including reference letters, employment verification, job offers, and more.
Writing an effective, polished business letter can be an easy task, so long as you adhere to the established rules for layout and language.
Realize that your recipient reads a significant amount of correspondence on a regular basis and will favor well-executed letters that are free of typos and grammatical errors.
What to Include in the Letter
Make the purpose of your letter clear through simple and targeted language, keeping the opening paragraph brief. You can start with, “I am writing in reference to…” and from there, communicate only what you need to say.
The subsequent paragraphs should include information that gives your reader a full understanding of your objective(s) but avoid meandering sentences and needlessly long words. Again, keep it concise to sustain their attention.
If your intent is to persuade the recipient in some way, whether it's to invest money, give you a reference, hire you, partner with you, or fix an issue, create a compelling case for your cause.
If, for example, you want the reader to sponsor a charity event, identify any overlap with their company’s philanthropic goals. Convince the reader that helping you would be mutually beneficial, and you will increase your chances of winning their support.
Sections of a Business Letter
Each section of your letter should adhere to the appropriate format, starting with your contact information and that of your recipient’s; salutation; the body of the letter; closing; and finally, your signature.
Your Contact Information
- Your Name
- Your Job Title
- Your Company
- Your Address
- City, State Zip Code
- Your Phone Number
- Your Email Address
- The date you're penning the correspondence
Recipient’s Contact Information
- Their Name
- Their Title
- Their Company
- The Company’s Address
- City, State Zip Code
- Use "To Whom It May Concern," if you’re unsure specifically whom you’re addressing.
- Use the formal salutation “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. [Last Name],” if you do not know the recipient.
- Use “Dear [First Name],” only if you have an informal relationship with the recipient.
- Use single-spaced lines with an added space between each paragraph, after the salutation, and above the closing.
- Left justify your letter (against the left margin).
Keep your closing paragraph to two sentences. Simply reiterate your reason for writing and thank the reader for considering your request. Some good options for your closing include:
- Respectfully yours
- Yours sincerely
If your letter is less formal, consider using:
- All the best
- Thank you
Write your signature just beneath your closing and leave four single spaces between your closing and your typed full name, title, phone number, email address, and any other contact information you want to include. Use the format below:
Your handwritten signature
Typed full name
Make Sure Nothing Was Missed
A good rule of thumb is to proofread your correspondence twice and then have a colleague review it to ensure nothing was missed.
Business Letter Template
You can use this business letter sample as a model and download the template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) for the text version below.
Business Letter Sample (Text Version)
Northern State University
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
March 5, 2020
Acme Graphic & Design
123 Business Rd.
Business City, CA 54321
Dear Mr. Lee,
I would like to invite you to attend our upcoming Liberal Arts department job networking event. The event will be held on the afternoon of May 1, 2020. We wish to provide our graduating seniors with an opportunity to meet business leaders in the area who may be looking for new hires who hold degrees in the Liberal Arts.
The event will be held at the Cox Student Center at Northern State University and will last about two to three hours. If you have an interest in attending or sending a company representative to meet with our students, please let me know at your earliest convenience and I can reserve a table for you.
Thank for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.
(signature hard copy letter)
Liberal Arts Department Chair
Email Signature Example
If you're sending an email letter, your signature will be slightly different. Rather than including your contact information in the heading of the letter, list it below your signature. For example:
Sending an Email Business Letter
First Name Last Name
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
Be clear why you're sending the message. Include the topic you're writing about in the subject line of the email, so the reader is clear as to why you are sending the message.
Tips for Writing a Business Letter
Review letter samples, including cover letters, interview thank you letters, follow-up letters, job acceptance, and rejection letters, resignation letters, appreciation letters, and more business and employment-related letter samples and writing tips.