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How to format a formal letter?

Posted by Manjusha Filed in Business English

Use 8 ½" by 11" unlined paper to write your formal and business letters. Use 1" margins on all four sides. Letters that are going to be printed on a paper should preferably be written using a serif font like Times Roman (12 point) or Georgia (11 point). Business emails can be written using a sans-serif font like Arial or Verdana. They look better on screen. Use standard-size fonts (12 point) in your emails.

If you are printing the letter, print only on one side of the paper. Before you put it in an envelope, fold it horizontally into thirds.

How to format a formal / business letter?

Business letters can be formatted in several different ways, but the most popular format is the block format. All business letter formats contain the following parts.

1. Return address of the person who writes the letter.

2. The date of the letter.

The date can be written in two different ways. You can begin with the day. In this case, no comma is used. Example: 28 March 2012. Or you can begin with the month. In this case, a comma is used. Example: March 28, 2012.

3. Complete name, title, and address of the recipient.

If you are writing to a man, use the title ‘Mr.’ If you are writing to a married woman use the title ‘Mrs.’ If you don’t know the marital status of a female recipient, it is best to use ‘Ms.’

4. Salutation with a colon.

The most common salutation used in a business letter is ‘Dear’. It should be followed by the title and surname of the person you are writing to. After ‘Dear X’ put a colon. Example: Dear Ms. Smith:

Do not use a title like Mr. together with a first name. (NOT Dear Mr. John Mathews)

Instead, write: Dear John Mathews OR Dear Mr. Mathews.

Leave an empty line after ‘Dear X’ and start again on the left.

5. Body of the letter.

Business people don’t have the time to read long letters, so keep your letter short and to the point. Don’t write more than three or four paragraphs on a page. Use double space in between paragraphs.

6. Closing.

The most common closing used in a business letter is "Sincerely." You can put a comma after ‘Sincerely’, but it isn’t exactly necessary. Press the ‘Enter key’ twice after the closing and type your name. Sign your name in the space above your name.


(Handwritten signature)

Jonathan Wilson

7. Enclosure.

Are you enclosing additional documents (e.g. resume or CV) with your letter? In that case, skip two single lines (press the ‘Enter’ key once) after your typed name and type "Enclosure" or "Enclosures." Use the plural form only if you have more than one document to enclose.

Sample business letter (block format)

1800 MG Street
Andheri, Mumbai

March 28, 2012


Mr. James Albert, Secretary
Department of Physics
Mumbai University
Mumbai 123456

Dear Mr. Albert:

I am writing to inquire about the post graduate degree course in physics offered by the University of Mumbai. I am a graduate in physics. I should be grateful if you would send me information about the regulations for admission to the course. Could you also tell me whether the University arranges accommodation for students?




John Mathews

Cover letter samples and writing tips

How to write a cover letter
Cover letter sample 1
Cover letter sample 2
Resume writing

Formal letter writing resources

Business letter writing tips
How to Write an Apology Letter
Business Apology Letter Sample I
Personal Apology Letter Sample I
Email writing tips
How to write a letter of enquiry
Example of formal letter and envelope
Formal Letter Sample 2
Formal letter sample 3
Formal letter sample 4
Formal letter writing basics
Standard phrases used in formal letters



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