What Is a Personal Business Letter?

by Gail Marie; Updated September 26, 2017
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A personal business letter is written from an individual to a company or organization. Such a letter can be written for a number of reasons: to resolve a problem like an error on a bill; to request a return or exchange of a product; to praise the good work of an employee; or to ask for a donation of time, money, products or services for a benefit. Whatever the reason, a personal business letter is written on a blank piece of paper, not on letterhead. Consider the following the next time you must write one.

Page Setup

Use 1-inch margins on the top, bottom and sides of your page. If your personal business letter is short, increase the top margin to 2 inches and the sides to 1½ inches. Use an easy-to-read font like Times New Roman, Arial or Cambria at 11- or 12-point font size. Single-space your lines.

Letter Style

If using the block letter style, all lines begin at the left margin. For modified block style, begin the date and closing lines at the center of the page instead of the left margin.

Your Address and the Date

Your address (also called the sender's address) begins on the first line of the page, and all typically abbreviated terms like street, apartment or boulevard should be spelled out (for formality). Don't forget the comma between the name of your city and the two-letter abbreviation of your state. Leave no blank space between the last line of your address and the date, which is the day the letter is completed or sent. Type the month, day and year on the first line, spelling out the month. For example, type "September 27, 2008" instead of "Sept. 27, 2008" or "9/27/08." Don't forget the comma between the date and the year. If you are using the modified block style, begin typing your address in the center of the page instead of the left margin.

Recipient's Name, Company Name and Addresses

Four lines (or 1 inch) below the date, type the recipient's name beginning with "Mr." or "Ms." Use both the first and last names, followed by a comma and the recipient's title (e.g., Manager, Supervisor, Coordinator). On the next line type the company name, followed by the company's address (also called the inside address) using no abbreviations except that of the state.

Salutation

One blank line later, type the salutation using the same name used in the inside address, beginning with "Dear." The salutation in a personal business letter should end with a colon. For example, "Dear Ms. Lucinda Jones:"

Body

In a personal business letter, the body begins on a blank line following the salutation. Single-space and left-justify each paragraph in the body, leaving a blank line between paragraphs. Conciseness is key: Begin with a friendly opening followed by the purpose of the letter. The second paragraph should justify the purpose; provide details like account numbers, invoice numbers, dates of shipments or services, and product or employee names to help your reader and your cause. Provide only pertinent background and supporting information, keeping in mind that your reader is busy. The last paragraph should restate the purpose (from the first paragraph) and if necessary request some type of action.

Closing and Recordkeeping

The closing of your personal business letter should be left justified unless you're using the modified block style, which requires beginning the closing in the center of the page. If your closing is more than one word (for example, "Thank you" or "Sincerely yours") capitalize only first letter of the first word and use a comma after the last word, not a colon as suggested after the salutation. Three blank lines later, type your full name. You may print your letter and physically sign your name between the closing and your typed name if you wish. Personal business letters are recorded communication between you and a business. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep a copy of personal business letters you write. If you're concerned about their arrival via mail, certify them at the post office before sending them so that you know when the company receives your letters.

About the Author

Gail began writing professionally in 2004. Now a full-time proofreader, she has written marketing material for an IT consulting company, edited auditing standards for CPAs and ghostwritten the first draft of a nonfiction Amazon bestseller. Gail holds a Master of Arts in English literature and has taught college-level business communication, composition and American literature.

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