You may think writing letters is now obsolete. Well, not really. Letters still matter significantly in wide-ranging professional or formal scenarios. Yes, you may not have to send them in physical form. Regardless, digitally, letters are still very much used. For instance, you must still write application letters for many different purposes. There are, of course, other types of notes you can use. One that we shall be majoring on today is the business letter. We must discuss or revisit the tenets of the correct format when writing a business letter.

Overview Of Business Letter Formats

There are several business letter formats. Typically, any business letter format is appropriate in many scenarios. Of course, you always have to check if there are stipulations in place guiding on which form to use. There is the block letter format, the most common. All the contents of the letter will be aligned to the left margin. Lines will be single-spaced, whereas paragraphs will be double-spaced. You may also know the alternative block letter format. It is that one where your address is aligned to the right side; used to be the standard back then. There is also a simplified format. This is one that excludes elements such as the salutation. It may not even follow specific protocols, e.g. text aligned a certain way. These are some of the fundamental business letter formats.

Core Parts Of A Good Business Letter

Certain parts must be included in a business letter. Let us look at them in detail:

Return Or Your Address

This is an important part to include in your business letter. It does not matter that you are sending the business letter via email. What if it gets forwarded by other means to other recipients? That would mean you should always include the return address, no matter the circumstances. There may exceptions to the inclusion of the return address, though. For instance, you may have written the business letter on a template with a letterhead. The letterhead typically constitutes your return address and even more. So it will be enough; otherwise, the return address must be included.


I am preaching to the choir here, but it is essential to emphasise some things. Depending on where you send the business letter, you may need to consider the date format. There may be some contexts where the dd-mm-yyyy format may be inappropriate. This means in some cases, mm-dd-yyyy may be what is appropriate. If unsure, the safe choice would be to write in full, e.g. 10 August 2023. Your date should be when the business letter is sent.

Name And Address Of The Recipient

You must write the recipient’s full name. You can prefix the word by its title if you know it. You can skip that if you do not know to whom to address your letter. For instance, you could say, ‘The Manager’. That is if you see the designation to which you are handling it. Again, it is possible you may not know the address. You can write the name of the organisation, company, or whichever applies. Then, below, without skipping a line, you write their speech.

Greeting Or Salutation

This is the next thing that comes. Prefix whatever you write here with a ‘Dear’. Then, it should be followed by the recipient’s full name if you know it. If not, you can say, Sir, Ma’am, or Sir/Ma’am. That usually applies if you do not know the gender of the recipient. Sometimes, some prefer to settle for ‘To whom it may concern’. Do not sweat this part much, though; it has little material implication.

Subject Line

Then, we come to the subject line. This should be short and precise. Please remember that it is meant to give a rough idea of what the letter is all about. The subject should typically just fit on one line. Yes, it can get to the second line, but that should be the limit. It is akin to a headline so it should be brief,

Letter Body

This is the central part of your business letter. Your body should cover three core aspects: introduction, purpose, and call to action (CTA). This means a paragraph per each aspect. If the goal requires a chunk of words, you can have more than one paragraph. Regardless, remember that your business letter should be a manageable length. Ideally, your entire business letter should fit on one page. That should give you an idea of how big your letter body should be. You can have more than one paragraph if the goal requires a chunk of words; generally, be straightforward and to the point.


I think the closing of your business letter has three elements. The first thing is the closing line where you write something like ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Kind Regards’. You skip a tube and then include your signature – though this may sometimes not be necessary. Then, below you write your full name and designation, where applicable.

That corrects what you need to know about the proper business letter format. The things we discussed are meant to guide you. It does not necessarily have to be complex rules that are cast in stone. There will likely be variations, given the context at play. Plus, there may be times when you are supposed to adhere to set guidelines. Thus, it is always important to consider the circumstances at play. Otherwise, by following all the aspects we discussed today, you can develop a well-written business letter.