This handout is also available online at the George Mason University Writing Center web site:
Writing Business Letters
A good business letter is brief, straightforward, and polite. If possible, it should be
limited to one single-spaced typewritten page. Because it is so brief, a business letter is often
judged on small, but important, things: format, grammar, punctuation, openings and closings. A
business letter is not the place to try out fancy fonts or experimental writing styles.
There are two main styles of business letters:
Full block style: Align all elements on the left margin.
Modified block style: Down the middle of the page, align the return address, date, closing,
signature, and typed name; align other elements on the left page margin.
Below are the elements of a standard business letter and their functions:
Your address (or the address of the company you represent). If you are using preprinted
stationary, there is no need to retype the information.
Leave two blank lines after the return address. Always spell out the month and include the day, a
comma, and the year.
Leave two blank lines after the date. Then type the address of the person or company to whom
you are writing.
Type Dear, followed by the person's name. End the line with a colon. If you don’t know the
name of the person, use a title instead (i.e., Dear Editor, Dear Madam).
Align your message on the left margin. Skip a line before starting a new paragraph, but do not
indent the paragraph's first line. Make sure that each paragraph is clear and concise.
Leave two lines of space after your last body paragraph, then use a conventional closing,
followed by a comma (i.e., Sincerely, Sincerely Yours, Respectfully).
Your signature should appear below your closing. Unless you have established a personal
relationship with the person you are writing, use both your first and last name.