Formal business communication is on company letterhead and typically contains the writer's signature below the closing salutation. The format for this type of business communication is straightforward; however, a letter that requires the signatures of more than one person must be composed and formatted in a slightly different way to explain why the letter contains multiple signatures and to provide space for more than one signature.
Traditional Block Format
Business correspondence should be in traditional block format, meaning the date is two line spaces below the letterhead; the addressee's name and mailing address are two line spaces below the date; a subject line is two line spaces below the addressee's information and finally, two line spaces below the subject line is the greeting. Acceptable greetings for formal business correspondence are "Dear Ms. Smith," "Dear Mr. Jones," "Gentlemen," or simply, "Greetings." The final example is useful when your letter is for multiple addressees of mixed genders. Traditional block format means the paragraphs are not indented with each line flush with the left margin.
Reason for Multiple Signatures
While the person to whom you address your correspondence may already know why there are multiple signers, it's wise to briefly reiterate the reason in the body of your letter. Instances, where a letter might require multiple signatures, include communicating an action that requires authorization from more than one person or expressing the collective views of several people who support the message your letter conveys. For example, you could write, "On behalf of ABC Company's executive leadership team, this letter sets out the consensus we reached after discussing your written request to hire additional human resources staff." In the first paragraph of the letter, state the reason for your communication, and the reason why the letter contains multiple signatures. The following paragraphs of your letter are, of course, flush with the left margin.
Closing Salutation and Signature Blocks
The closing salutation should be one that's appropriate for a formal business letter, such as "Very truly yours," "Respectfully," or "Best regards." The closing salutation begins two line spaces below the final paragraph.
If you have just two signers, skip down four line spaces which are enough space for a written signature, and type the first signer's name flush with the left margin. On the line below the signer's name, type their position or title. Skip another four line spaces for the second signer's name and position or title. The name and title of the person who ranks higher in the organization should be the first signature block.
If you have three signers, skip down four line spaces and type Signer 1's name flush with the left margin. Tab over and type the name of Signer 2; tab over again and type the name of Signer 3. Skip down one line space and type Signer 1's position or title, tab over and do the same for the Signer 2 and Signer 3 so their titles are directly under their typewritten names.
For four signers, skip down four line spaces and type Signer 1's name flush with the left margin. Tab over to the middle of the page and type Signer 2's name; skip down to the next line and type the position or title of Signer 1 and Signer 2 directly under their names. Skip down another four line spaces and repeat the format for Signer 3 and Signer 4.
Circulate Your Draft
Because you are composing a letter on behalf of more than one person, it's a good practice to circulate the draft before you request their signatures. Tell them you welcome their input and send the draft via email or by visiting each person individually. When everyone agrees on the content and delivery of the letter's message, prepare the final version and let everyone know that you will personally circulate it for their signatures.
- Two signatures can also appear side-by-side. To do this, type the first signature with left margins and the second signature with center margins. The closing should still be placed at the left margin.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.