Basic Letter Writing Format Guide

Whether you are a stay at home mom, college student or a top executive at a company, a time will come when you will need to know the basic letter writing format. I am confident you will need to write a letter to someone.

Don't think you need to know this?

Here are just a few reasons you may need to know how to write a letter:

  • To make a request (raise, speed bumps on your street, etc.)
  • To file a complaint (noisy neighbor, etc.)
  • Required by your job
  • To say thank you
  • To ask for help
  • To document concerns
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Get a job (cover letter)
  • Quit a job
  • and so many more reasons...

So believe it or not, we all have to write letters! Just when we thought old-fashioned letters were out! :)

The way your format a letter is extremely important for others to take your message seriously, so here are a few tips on letter writing formatting.

Letter Writing Format Instructions:

The following points are listed in the order that they should appear on a letter.

  • Sender's Address: Many times people who are writing for their company, already have letterhead that has the senders address on it. Click here for business letter writing tips. Others will have to type this themselves.This is written at the top of the page; some people write it after the closing.
  • Date: The date the letter was written is written out like: July 25, 2014. You only write out the month in words and use numbers to write out the day and the year, but you should already know this if you know how to write numbers.
  • Sender's Address: The senders address is also referred to as the recipient's or inside address, and this refers to the person you are sending the letter to. It is always best to write to a specific individual when possible. If you do not know the persons name, try finding it. If impossible, omit it. When writing a person's name be sure to use a personal title such as: Miss, Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr. If you are unsure, again, try to find out. For a women, when in doubt, use Ms. After the persons name, write out the name of the company and then the address to where you are sending the letter.
  • Greeting/Salutation: Use the same name that you used for the sender's address. Make sure to include a title. If you know a person, it is okay to address them by just their first name: Dear Sara. However, in all other cases, use the full name of the person, with their title followed by a colon (Ms. Lisa Smith:). Again, if you are not sure of the persons name, it is okay to write "To Whom It May Concern."
  • Body Message: Here include the text of your letter. Each paragraph is NOT indented like that of an essay. Paragraphs are distinguished by spaces between one paragraph and the next. The format for business letter writing is a little different here in terms of how the information is presented, so be sure to review business letter writing.
  • Closing: End with Thank you, Sincerely, Respectfully, or something similar. Please note that there is note that you leave four lines before the signature line.
  • Signature: Sign your name in blue or black ink and type your name underneath.
  • Enclosures: If you will be sending any documents along with your letter, such as pictures, a resume, etc., you must indicate this by typing Enclosures one line below the closing.

A Note About Letter Writing Format:

When writing letters, it is important to use a font that is clear and easily readable to others. The standard font that is accepted and often used is Times New Roman, size 12. Other fonts can be used also such as Arial and Verdana. However, be careful that the size is not too big or too small. You do not want your readers to struggle reading your letter.

The most important thing is to make sure your message gets across. You do not want your readers to get frustrated because your letter writing format is off. Believe me many employers look at cover letters and toss those that look like they are poorly written. Don't let this happen to you.

Review some business letter writing tips, and click here to see a sample letter.

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