How to Start a Professional Letter

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Formal letters are part of nearly every profession, no matter what the field. Notices, inquiries, and invitations: they come in all shapes and sizes, but nearly all follow the same format. The beginnings of professional letters are important because they set the tone for your reader. If your letter sounds impersonal or unprofessional, the reader might question the legitimacy of your business or your ability to deal with work-related information within the letter. For the sake of your reader, professional letters should be polite, concise and informative.

Write your address at the top of the letter. Use the business street address, city and zip code. An address will tell your reader where the letter is coming from and to where they can send their own correspondences.

Write the date the letter was written one line below your address. Write the month, date and year (December 24, 1997). The date will inform the reader of when the letter was written.

Write the your reader's address a line below the date. Begin with their name (it's usually proper to add a personal title like Dr. or Mrs.) and add their street address, city and zip code in the lines below. If you're sending the letter in a window envelope, this section will inform the post office of where the letter should be sent.

Begin with a salutation several lines below your reader's address. Begin with "Dear... " and add their full name. Use a personal title to demonstrate respect for the recipient of the letter. Add a colon after the name (Dear Mr. John Smith:)

Tips

  • Use fonts that look professional, like Arial or Times New Roman. Double-space and use 12-point size font.

    Use a letterhead for all correspondences that will include your name and address.

References

About the Author

Matt McKinney has written professionally since 2008. His work has appeared in publications such as "The Knox Student" and "Diminished Capacity," his campus literary journal. McKinney is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing at Knox College.

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