How to Write a Business Letter: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

by Bridgette Austin; Updated September 26, 2017
Business letters are longer than memos and contain an intro, body and conclusion.

Business letters are used for formal communication in companies and organizations. Unlike casual correspondence written to close acquaintances and relatives, business letters are meant to convey information succinctly and professionally to the recipient. Typically, business correspondence includes an introduction, body and conclusion. Differences between the two letter formats can also be found in punctuation, length, tone and writing style. Moreover, business letters typically require a call to action, or response following receipt of the letter.

Start with basic company or formal letterhead. Make sure your address is included at the top, along with your contact details and company logo if applicable.

Write the date. Place the recipient's address two lines below the date, above the salutation. Include name, formal title, company name and the office address.

Type the salutation two lines below the recipient's address. Address the recipient using “Dear,” followed by the individual’s title and last name. Remember to add a colon rather than a comma after the last name. Use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” if you do not know the recipient’s name or gender.

Begin your intro paragraph after the salutation. Talk about why you are writing the business letter and what you would like to request from the recipient. State your position if presenting an argument. Reference events, meetings or individuals that are familiar or relevant to the reader.

Elaborate on the purpose or main topic of your letter in the body. Provide examples supporting your argument, request or proposal. Give details on product features and benefits, as well as customer testimonials if selling to a client or prospect.

Follow the body with your conclusion. Reiterate your initial request or position. Thank the reader for her time and consideration, and tell her how she can contact you for further questions or information.

End with a complimentary close two lines down from the last sentence of the body. Allot four spaces for your signature and printed name.

Tips

  • Though optional, you can note the purpose of the letter at the very beginning by including a subject line before the salutation. It is also common to add an attention line to clearly indicate the intended recipient.

    Write short and brief sentences. Keep in mind that readers might skim rather than read every word in your letter. Bold text you deem important for the reader. For letters longer than one page, consider grouping paragraphs underneath headings, or organizing content using bullets and numbers.

About the Author

Bridgette is an aspiring yogini, newbie coder and seasoned marketing writer in the higher ed space. She's written hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including, entrepreneurship, K-12 pedagogy and information technology. Bridgette's work has appeared on Connect: IT at NYU, Noodle Pros, QuickBooks Small Business Center, Trails.com and USA Today.

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