Interactive Business Letter Writing
This resource is organized in
the order in which you should write a business letter,
starting with the sender's address if the letter is not
written on letterhead. When writing business letters, you
must pay special attention to the format and font used. The
most common layout of a business letter is known as block
format. Using this format, the entire letter is left
justified and single spaced except for a double space
Another widely utilized format is known as modified block format. In this type, the body of the letter and the sender's and recipient's addresses are left justified and single-spaced. However, for the date and closing, tab to the center point and begin to type. The final, and least used, style is semi-block. It is much like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead of left justified. Keep in mind that different organizations have different format requirements for their professional communication. While the examples provided by the OWL contain common elements for the basic business letter the format of your business letter may need to be flexible to reflect variables like letterheads and templates. Our examples are merely guides.
If your computer is equipped with Microsoft Office 2000, the Letter Wizard can be used to take much of the guesswork out of formatting business letters. To access the Letter Wizard, click on the Tools menu and then choose Letter Wizard. The Wizard will present the three styles mentioned here and input the date, sender address and recipient address into the selected format. Letter Wizard should only be used if you have a basic understand of how to write a business letter. Its templates are not applicable in every setting. Therefore, you should consult a business writing handbook if you have any questions or doubt the accuracy of the Letter Wizard.
Another important factor in the readability of a letter is the font. The generally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used. When choosing a font, always consider your audience. If you are writing to a conservative company, you may want to use Times New Roman. However, if you are writing to a more liberal company, you have a little more freedom when choosing fonts.
Punctuation after the salutation and closing - use a colon after the salutation and a comma after the closing. In some circumstances, you may also use a less common format, known as open punctuation. For this style, punctuation is excluded after the salutation and the closing.