How to Write in Business Format

by Christina Malcomb; Updated September 26, 2017

Writing in business format is different from other types of writing. Guidelines are more rigid, and the style you write in is usually predetermined. The goal when writing in business style is always to appear professional. Much of the writing you do will be for existing or potential clients, co-workers, or superiors. Some of these documents can influence how well you or your company performs, so following the guidelines is essential.

Step 1

Use block, modified-block or semi-block format when writing a business letter. Block format is most commonly used. In this format everything is left justified and single-spaced, with the exception of a double space between paragraphs.

Step 2

Write your document for the audience. Focus on their needs and interests instead of yours. Think about what the readers need to know and determine the appropriate way to relay the information to those specific readers.

Step 3

Use a formal tone when writing to superiors or clients. Only use an informal tone for memos or emails to co-workers.

Step 4

Accentuate the positive information, and focus on the benefits for the reader. This is especially important when writing a letter that contains a negative message.

Step 5

Write clearly and concisely. You can do this by keeping paragraphs short, by stating important information in the beginning of the document and paragraphs and by using lists when possible. This helps your readers, who are usually pressed for time, find the important information even if they only skim the document.

Step 6

Proofread your document to make sure it is free of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. Any mistakes in your writing can make you appear unprofessional or careless.


  • Generally it is okay to use the words "I" and "you" in a business document. However, use caution when using the word "we," because this turns your words into a reflection on the entire company.

    Always use a colon, not a comma, after the salutation in a business letter.

About the Author

Christina Malcomb graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a concentration in professional writing and editing from West Virginia University. She also minored in communication studies. She has interned at the Center for Literary Computing at WVU.

Photo Credits

  • business image by peter Hires Images from