Sample Letter Format

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019 

Today, a printed letter is usually reserved for important professional communications, such as recommendation letters, job cover letters, resignation letters, legal correspondence, and company communications. Since it's a formal mode of communication, you'll want to know how to write a letter that is viewed professionally.

Correct formatting is especially important if you're sending a hard copy to the recipient rather than an email as the letter needs to fit the page and look good.

The following sample letter format illustrates the information you need to include when writing a letter, along with advice on the appropriate font, salutation, spacing, closing, and signature for business correspondence.

Sample Letter Format

Contact Information (Your contact information, unless you are writing on letterhead that includes your contact information already, then you do not need to include it.)
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address

Date

Contact Information (The person or company you are writing to)
Name
Title
Company
Address
City, State Zip Code

Greeting (Salutation Examples)

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name: (Use a formal salutation, not a first name, unless you know the person extremely well. If you do not know the person's gender, you can write out their full name. For instance, "Dear Pat Crody" instead of "Dear Mr. Crody" or "Dear Ms. Crody." Note that the person's name is always followed by a colon (:) in a business letter, and not a comma. If you do not know the recipient’s name, it’s still common and acceptable to use the old-fashioned “To Whom It May Concern:”).

Body of Letter

The first paragraph of your letter should provide an introduction as to why you are writing so that your reason for contacting the person is obvious from the beginning.

Then, in the following paragraphs, provide more information and specific details about your request or the information you are providing.

The last paragraph of your letter should reiterate the reason you are writing and thank the reader for reviewing your request. If appropriate, it should also politely ask for a written response or for the opportunity to arrange a meeting to further discuss your request.

Closing

Best regards, (Closing Examples)

Signature

Handwritten Signature (For a hard copy letter, use blue or black ink to sign the letter)

Typed Signature

Sample Letter

Here is a sample resignation letter using the formatting tips outlined above. You can download the letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see the sample below. Note that in this example, Nicole knows Jason Andrews well enough to use his first name in the salutation.

Screenshot of a sample letter
©TheBalance 2018

Sample Letter (Text Version)

Nicole Thomas
35 Chestnut Street
Dell Village, Wisconsin 54101
555-555-5555
nicole@thomas.com

August 1, 2018

Jason Andrews
Manager
LMK Company
53 Oak Avenue, Ste 5
Dell Village, Wisconsin 54101

Dear Jason,

I’m writing to resign my position as customer service representative, effective August 15, 2018.

I’ve recently decided to go back to school, and my program starts in early September. I’m tendering my resignation now so that I can be as helpful as possible to you during the transition.

I’ve truly enjoyed my time working with you and everyone else on our team at LMK. It’s rare to find a customer service role that offers as much opportunity to grow and learn and such a positive, inspiring team of people to grow and learn with.

I’m particularly grateful for your guidance while I was considering furthering my education. Your support has meant so much to me. 

Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you find and train my replacement.

Thanks, and best wishes,


Nicole Thomas

If you're sending an email letter, here's what to include and how to format your signature.

Tips for Formatting Your Letter

To make sure your letter is viewed professionally, follow these tips below:

  • Your letter should be simple and focused, making the purpose of your letter is clear.
  • Left justify your letter.
  • Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph.
  • Use a plain font like Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, or Verdana. The font size should be 10 or 12 points.
  • Leave a blank line after the salutation and before the closing.
  • Business letters should always be printed on white bond paper rather than on colored paper or personal stationery.

Check for Formatting Errors and Typos

Once you have written your business letter, proofread it and spellcheck on the screen. Then print it out and read it through at least one more time, checking for any errors or typos. This is important as it's often easier to spot errors on a hard copy.

Be on the lookout for formatting errors, such as two paragraphs that don’t have a space in between or lines that are indented incorrectly. Then before putting your letter in an envelope, sign above your typed name using blue or black ink. 

If you are using Microsoft Word or another word processing program to write your letter, there are templates available that can help you format your letter correctly. Here’s more information on free Microsoft Word letter templates

More Letter Writing Information

Knowing how to write business letters is an essential skill so here are several additional articles for you to learn more:

Start with the basics on how to write a business letter using a general format, and review various business letter templates. In addition, you can look at these employment-related business letter examples. Review more details about formatting and take a look at another example of a business letter format.

If you like to learn by looking at examples, there are many types of business letters to choose from, such as cover letters, interview thank you letters, follow-up letters, job acceptance or rejection letters, resignation letters, and appreciation letters. You’ll find all those along with business and employment-related letter samples in this review of letter samples.

Not all business letters are printed out and mailed. If you plan to send an email, review these guidelines for professional emails and letter writing.