Good, crisp, and professional communication is often at the heart of every successful business project. It’s an art that every professional must master. If you are new to the business world or want to improve your communication standards, you have come to the right article. 

A major part of professional communication happens via business letters. They are used in every context and set the tone for all business transactions within the two parties. Business letters also serve as records for a company to train its employees and refer to older transactions.

You can learn how to write a business letter for every occasion by understanding the structure and the different formats you can leverage. Let’s dive right into it.

What is a business letter? 

A business letter is an official written communication often between organizations or individuals regarding official matters. It’s important to follow the right format, use the right tone, and be straight to the point for clear communication. The language used in business letters must closely reflect your business’ brand identity

Business letters often form a big part of the first impression your organization wants to make on the other so it’s important to get it right.

When to use a business letter?  

Ricks and Gow, author of Business communication: Systems and Applications, say that, “The primary purposes of business letters are to inform, instruct, request, inquire, remit, order, advise, correct and to question.” 

From this statement, you can understand that business letter writing knowledge can come in handy on many occasions. Studies show that effective communication contributes significantly to project success.

Some use-cases for business letters include making a sales pitch, placing orders, making complaints, acknowledging receipt of payments, and submitting business proposals, etc.

Types of business letters

Based on the purpose they serve, business letters are classified into different types. Each of these letters has a unique structure and tone tailored to its specific purpose. Understanding the different types, specific purposes, and the proper way to address a business letter can help individuals and organizations to surpass communication barriers and achieve their objectives.

Cover letters

A cover letter accompanies a package, report, or any other official document. It explains the contents and gives instructions to the recipient on how to handle it. 

Proposal letters

Businesses leverage proposal letters to their partners, peers, and prospective clients to propose a business idea, project, or partnership. These letters aim to convince the recipient to act upon or endorse the business proposal.

Thank you letters

To express gratitude and appreciation to a person or organization for their assistance, support, or services provided, you can write a thank you letter. The tone here is usually courteous and grateful. 

Complaint letters

To effectively convey their dissatisfaction, businesses often take the help of complaint letters. In such instances it’s essential to balance expressing your displeasure and avoiding excessive anger to maintain the air of professionalism. You can also offer suggestions to the recipient on rectifying the situation..


A memo is an internal document/business letter used to communicate essential and sensitive information, announcements, or instructions to employees within an organization. It is an important asset in workplace communication as it has a direct impact on productivity and morale.

Acknowledgment letters

Acknowledgement letters help confirm the receipt of an item or to acknowledge a fact or error highlighted by someone. These letters should include the date of receiving the package or information and express gratitude towards the sender for their contribution.

Response letters

Response letters address a previous letter or inquiry, provide information, or confirm the necessary actions.

Letters of request

You can use these to secure additional information on a matter, request for additional resources to your superior in the organization, or secure a professional favor from someone outside the organization. When writing such letters, it’s important to seek assistance without appearing excessively emotional or desperate. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider the adjectives used in the letter.

Congratulatory letters

Such letters aim to congratulate someone on their achievements, promotions, or other accomplishments. The letter should outline the reason for offering congratulations and highlight any positive feedback.

Parts of a business letter 

Let’s begin by getting familiar with the different parts of a business letter. These parts bring the letter together and help convey a sense of professionalism. Knowing them and using them right makes the business letter much more impactful. 

If you are just starting out with your business, this is a handy list to have. Here are the different components you need to know to master business letter writing:

Heading or letterhead

Essential information about an organization, such as its name, address, contact details, branding, and registration number, is usually found at the top center or right side of a letterhead. 


This reflects the date of writing the letter. However, if you happen to send it out later, you may change it to the date you send the letter. It’s an important part as the date of the letter often forms the basis for filing and organization within a business. 

Inside address

The inside address or the recipient’s address includes the name, address, postal code, and job title of the person, organization name, which the sender is writing to. It’s often written on the left-hand side of the sheet.


The subject is a brief statement that mentions the sender’s reason for writing the letter. You can write it separately after the recipient’s address or incorporate it in the first line of the opening paragraph. 


The greeting is the word used to greet the recipient. It’s also known as the salutation. The type of salutation will depend on the sender’s relationship with the receiver. A formal business letter generally uses salutation words like  “Respected,” or “Sir/Madam.” A comma (,) usually follows the salutation.

Body of the letter

This is the main part of the letter, containing the actual message from the sender. You can divide the body of the letter into three main categories:


The first paragraph of the letter introduces the writer and may reference any previous correspondence. It further establishes the writer’s purpose of writing the letter.

Main section

This can be written in one or two paragraphs. It states the main idea or reason for writing and should be clear, concise, complete, and to the point. 


The letter’s conclusion shows the suggestions or need for action, and the letter’s closing reflects the sender’s expectations from the recipient. It’s best to end your letter with courteous words, like “Thank you,” “Warm regards,” or “I look forward to hearing from you.”

Complimentary close

The complimentary close is a humble way of ending the letter and is written in accordance with the salutation. Commonly used complimentary closes are “Yours faithfully,” “Yours sincerely,” and “Thanks & Regards.”

Signature and writer’s identification

This section includes the signature, name, and designation of the sender, as well as other details such as contact numbers and addresses. The signature is handwritten just above the name of the sender.

Optional components of a business letter

  • Reference number: An essential element of correspondence is the reference number – an identifying figure printed either below or beside the date. Primarily, this allows for replies to be linked with initial messages to form a thread and facilitate timely communication between the parties.
  • Enclosures: Enclosures refer to the documents attached to the letter, such as cheques, drafts, bills, receipts, or invoices. 
  • Copy circulation: Copy circulation or “C.C” comes in handy when the copies of the letter are sent to others besides the intended sender. 
  • PostScript: The postscript OR “P.S” is useful for the sender when they want to add something other than the message in the body of the letter. 

Mastering the different parts of a business letter is essential to crafting effective communication. Applying this knowledge to an appropriate format will help you create professional and polished correspondence. In the next section, we will explore common business letter formats, helping you choose the right one for your specific needs.

Common business letter formats and examples

When it comes to writing a business letter, the format you choose can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the message. Depending on the letter’s purpose and your personal preference, you can choose from several formats such as block format, modified block format, and semi-block format. 

Each format has its own unique features, which can help you achieve your desired tone and level of formality. In this section, we will guide you through the different professional letter formats and help you determine which one is the most suitable for your specific needs. 

So, let’s dive in and explore the business letter formats you can leverage.

Various business letter formats

Block formatting 

Block formatting is the most commonly used formal business letter format. In this format, the entire text is left-aligned with single-spaced paragraphs separated by double spaces between them. There is no indentation at the beginning of the letter or document. The paragraphs are written as blocks, as per the name of the format. 

This style is designed to give the text a professional and clean appearance, making it easy to read and understand. This format is commonly used in law, finance, and similar industries prominently. Here are two such sample business letter format examples for easy reference and understanding:

Block formatting in business letter 

Example 1: A thank you letter
Example 2: A complaint letter

Modified block formatting 

This business letter format is similar to block formatting, but the sender’s address, date, complimentary closing, and signature line are aligned to the right margin. Modified block format is ideal for business letters that are a little informal but also require a professional touch. A few examples include internal memos or letters to colleagues. 

It provides a clean and modern appearance.

Here are two examples of business letter templates in this format:

Modified block formatting in business letter 

Example 1: A business proposal letter


Example 2: A congratulatory letter

Semi-block formatting 

The only difference between this business letter format and modified block formatting is that in semi-block formatting, the first line of each paragraph is indented. The semi-block format is used for less formal business letters, creating a casual tone in the relationship. 

Overall, the semi-block format is ideal for personal business letters or letters of inquiry. Here are two business letter examples in this format for reference:

Semi-block formatting in business letters

Example 1: An acknowledgment letter
Example 2: A response letter

Knowing the different formats will help you make the right choice for your company’s needs. Before you write a business letter, understand the relationship between the sender and receiver, choose the tone you wish to set, and then proceed. 

Knowing the different formats will help you make the right choice for your company’s needs. Before you write a business letter, understand the relationship between the sender and receiver, choose the tone you wish to set, and then proceed. 

How to write a formal business letter 

The overall goal of a business letter is to communicate a clear message in the most professional way possible. This requires attention to detail, proper formatting, correct grammar, and accurate spelling. A well-written business letter can build a positive image for your company and can make communication more effective. 

1.  Create margins.

The first step in writing a business letter is to create margins. The standard margins for a business letter are one inch on all sides.

2. Choose the right font. 

Choosing the right font is essential to make the letter look professional. Some standard  recommended fonts are Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. A size 12 font is standard for formal business letters as it’s easy to read and looks professional. Using a different size may affect the readability and make it look a bit unprofessional. 

3. Pick a format. 

Choose a format for your letter based on the purpose and recipient of the letter. Block format is suitable for formal business letters like cover letters, thank-you letters, and letters of recommendation. Modified block format works for less formal letters like internal memos or letters to colleagues. Semi-block format is good for personal business letters or letters of inquiry.

4. Single-space the text. 

Single-space the text of your letter. Double spacing makes the letter appear longer than it needs to be.

5. Add addresses. 

Include your address and the recipient’s address at the beginning of the letter.

6. Add the date. 

The date is typically written below the heading.

7. Write the body of the letter. 

The body of the letter should include a clear introduction, a well-structured main message, and a professional conclusion. Maintain a respectful and polite tone in your letter’s tone and organization since it determines how people receive your message. 

It’s important to use formal language and avoid contractions or slang. Use punctuation correctly and consistently, including commas, periods, and semicolons.

8. Write a proper closure for the letter

End your letter with a proper closure. To close a formal business letter you can use “Sincerely”. In a letter of appreciation or gratitude use “Thank you to close”. 

9. Sign the letter 

Sign your letter using your full name. If you are sending the letter by email, you can include a digital signature.

Before sending your letter, proofread carefully to make sure all names, places, and dates are correct and error-free. You can also use a checklist to make sure that all elements of the letter are present, such as the date, salutation, complimentary close, and signature. Finally, sign the letter to add an extra layer of professionalism. 

Frequently asked questions about business letter formats

Why should I use a business letter format?

Using a business letter format is important because it helps to make sure that the message is conveyed in a professional and organized manner. The format also helps to make sure that all necessary information is included, such as the date, addresses, and salutation.

What is the best font to use for a business letter?

The best font for a business letter is a clear, legible font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Refrain from using decorative or unusual fonts, as they can be difficult to read and may appear unprofessional.

What are the 5 Cs of business letters?

The 5 Cs of business letters are clarity, conciseness, coherence, completeness, and courtesy. Having these elements in your business letter will make it effective and purposeful.

What should not be present in a business letter?

A business letter shouldn’t contain irrelevant or inappropriate information, such as personal opinions or irrelevant details. Focus the letter on the intended message and to avoid any language that may be offensive or unprofessional.

What is the difference between a formal letter and a business letter?

A formal letter refers to any letter that is used for formal purposes, such as legal matters or official communications. Whereas, a business letter is used in a business setting to communicate important information, such as proposals, inquiries, or acknowledgments.


In conclusion, mastering the professional business letter format is essential for effective communication in the business world. A well-structured business letter conveys information clearly and professionally and presents a positive image of your brand or business. 

Follow these guidelines for well-organized, easy to read, and clear business letters.

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