This format is just a guide. Variations and customizations are common. Want to download this sample without the graphics? Click Download Samples here or in the menu below.
Return Address: If your stationery has a letterhead, skip this. Otherwise, type your name, address and optionally, phone number, five spaces to the right of center or flush with the right margin. Five spaces to the right of center is common. These days, it's also common to include an email address.
Date: Type the date five spaces to the right of center or flush with the right margin, two to six lines below the letterhead. Five spaces to the right of center and three lines below the letterhead are common. If there is no letterhead, type it where shown.
Reference Line: If the recipient specifically requests information, such as a job reference or invoice number, type it on one or two lines, immediately below and aligned with the Date (2). If you're replying to a letter, refer to it here. For example,
Special Mailing Notations: Type in all uppercase characters, if appropriate. Examples include
On-Arrival Notations: Type in all uppercase characters, if appropriate. You might want to include a notation on private correspondence, such as a resignation letter. Include the same on the envelope. Examples are
Inside Address: Type the name and address of the person and/or company to whom you're sending the letter, three to eight lines below the last component you typed. Four lines are standard. If you type an Attention Line (7), skip the person's name here. Do the same on the envelope.
Attention Line: Type the name of the person to whom you're sending the letter. If you type the person's name in the Inside Address (6), skip this. Do the same on the envelope.
Salutation: Type the recipient's name here. Type Mr. or Ms. [Last Name] to show respect, but don't guess spelling or gender. Some common salutations are
Subject Line: Type the gist of your letter in all uppercase characters. Be concise on one line. If you type a Reference Line (3), consider if you really need this line. While it's not really necessary for most employment-related letters, examples are below.
Body: Indent the first sentence in paragraphs five spaces. Type two spaces between sentences. Keep it brief and to the point.
Complimentary Close: Type this aligned with the Date (2). What you type here depends on the tone and degree of formality. For example,
Signature Block: Align this block with the Complimentary Close (11). Leave four blank lines to sign your name. Sign it exactly the same as you typed it below your signature. Title is optional depending on relevancy and degree of formality. Examples are
Identification Initials: If someone typed the letter for you, he or she would typically include three of your initials in all uppercase characters, then two of his or hers in all lowercase characters. If you typed your own letter, just skip it since your name is already in the Signature Block (12). Common styles are below.
Enclosure Notation: This line tells the reader to look in the envelope for more. Type the singular for only one enclosure, plural for more. If you don't enclose anything, skip it. Common styles are below.
cc: Stands for courtesy copies (formerly carbon copies). List the names of people to whom you distribute copies, in alphabetical order. If addresses would be useful to the recipient of the letter, include them. If you don't copy your letter to anyone, skip it.
Replace the text in brackets [ ] with the component indicated. Don't type the brackets.
Try to keep your letters to one page, but see page 2 of this sample if you need continuation pages.
How many blank lines you add between lines that require more than one, depends on how much space is available on the page.
The same goes for margins. One and one-half inch (108 points) for short letters and one inch (72 points) for longer letters are standard. If there is a letterhead, its position determines the top margin on page 1.
If you don't type one of the more formal components, don't leave space for them. For example, if you don't type the Reference Line (3), Special Mailing Notations (4) and On-Arrival Notations (5), type the Inside Address (6) four lines below the Date (2).
Go to Page 2 of this example.
Sample Business and Employment Letters
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Letter format source: Webster's Secretarial Handbook, Second Edition
Copyright © 2000, J. Steven Niznik. All Rights Reserved.