How to write a business letter

Business letters are written for several different reasons. Whether you are a student or a professional, you will need to write business letters from time to time.

Businessmen are busy. They won't have the time or patience to read long winding letters. So keep your letter brief and to the point. Include only relevant details, but make sure that your letter has all the necessary information.

If you are writing a letter to seek some information, clearly state what information you want. If you are replying to a letter include all the information the recipient has asked for.

Business letters usually follow some general guidelines. Here is an overview of them.

Put your own address at the top right corner of the page. Leave an empty line and then write the date exactly below the address. In letters written on paper which has the address ready-printed at the top of the page, the date may be put on the left.

In formal and business letters put the name and address of the person you are writing to on the left side of the page, starting on the same level as the date or slightly below.

Begin the letter on the left. The commonest way of addressing people in a business letter is by title and surname. Example: Dear Mr Mathews / Dear Ms Sullivan

If you don't know the name of the person you are writing to, use a salutation like Dear Sir, Dear Sirs, Dear Sir of Madam or Dear Madam.

After Dear X, put a comma or nothing at all. In American English, it is common to put a colon after the salutation.

Leave an empty line after Dear X and start again on the left. Do not indent paragraphs.

Start the body of the letter by clearly stating the reason for your writing. (Example: I am writing to tell you that we are interested in ...)

If you want the recipient to write back to you, include an expressions like 'Looking forward to hearing from you' or 'We would very much appreciate a reply.'

Close the letter with a thank you.

Formal letters usually finish with 'Yours sincerely'

It is common to put a closing formula before 'Yours sincerely'. Common expressions are: With best wishes and With kind regards.

Sign with your full name, but don't include any title.

Sections in this article

Acceptance letter sample
Business letter writing tips
How to Write an Apology Letter
Business Apology Letter Sample I
Personal Apology Letter Sample I
Email writing tips
Resume writing
How to write a cover letter
How to write a letter of enquiry
Standard phrases used in formal letters

Formal letter writing

Address and date
Body of the letter
Subscription or leave-taking
The Tone and Language of a Letter
Personal Letter Writing Tips
Example of formal letter and envelope
Formal Letter Sample 2

Sections in this article

Exclamations exercise
Exclamations: common errors
Common mistakes with pronouns - Part 2
Common errors with adjectives - part 1
Common errors with adjectives - part 2

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