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The opportunity to write a formal business letter seems to happen less frequently in this technology-laden world. Drafting an email for business correspondence has become a staple in corporate America, but knowing how to write a formal business letter is a great attribute. Formal business letters are used frequently by companies and individuals to obtain information, submit disapprovals, provide praise, or express a poignant opinion.
How to Write a Formal Business Letter
There are several reasons that you may need to draft a formal business letter. Business correspondences, letters to clients or employees, submitting opinions to business decision makers, are among the most popular.
Watch your voice: The trick to writing a formal business letter it to control your tone. You want to come across confident, courteous, and sincere. Finding that balance can be a little tricky.
State connections: If you have a business or personal relationship with the reader, it’s a good idea to establish that right away. In your next paragraph or two, you can make your statement, and discuss supporting examples.
Get to the point: Explain what you seek as quickly as possible, given the context of the letter, situation, and relationship between you and the reader.
Be appreciative, but don’t forget your purpose: Your last paragraph should contain a call to action, and thank the reader for their time.
How to Format a Formal Business Letter
Formal business letters follow the same content structure, but can look different depending on the indentation choice of the author. The most popular format for business letters is “block style,” where the copy is left justified. All text should be single spaced, and final copy should be printed onto professional letterhead if applicable.
Regardless of format, a formal business letter should include the following:
1. A heading: The heading consists of your address and date. You do not have to add a telephone or email address, but it’s acceptable to do so. The heading goes in the top left-hand corner of the page.
2. Inside address: The inside address includes the name and address of the person to whom you are writing. This address is placed four lines below the heading.
3. Salutation: One line below the inside address is your salutation, followed by the person’s name and then followed by a colon.
4. Body: Skip one line below the salutation and begin typing the body of the letter. Be succinct and clear in the body. The tone of a formal business letter is much different than that of an email. It’s a good idea to avoid slang or contractions.
5. Closing and signature: Skip one line after the last paragraph and place your closing which can include a call to action. Then, skip four lines and type your name. Your handwritten signature will go in between.
Common Formal Business Letter Mistakes
Too casual: You wouldn’t wear jeans to the prom, and when it comes to business writing, a formal business letter is equal to the big dance. Your formal business letter is not an email or text, and should be used to convey an important, professional idea.
Misspellings: After taking so much time to craft your letter, punctuation and grammar errors can create a negative impression and devalue your statement or ideas. Have someone proofread your letter before it is sent.
Lingo: Use active words to hold your reader’s attention. If you’re using industry jargon or buzzwords to state facts or opinions, you may not be taken seriously.
You’ve Written Your Formal Business Letter. Now What?
If you have taken the time to craft a well-intended formal business letter, you can expect some type of feedback, especially if your call to action requests the reader to make contact with you. To learn more about formal business letters, view our online templates.