Professional letter format
What are professional letter formats? Learn more about the several types of business letter formats here and download the samples
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What are common business letter formats?
The three most common formats are:
- Full Block Format
- Modified block format
- Semi-block format
The most common letter is the 'Full Block Format' (Fully block or Block Format). This is the easiest format to use and simplest to set up in your word processing program, such as MS Word. In this format, the entire letter from beginning to the end of the letter, including your contact information, the date, the employer’s contact information, the body of the letter, and the greeting and closing, signature, is all left-justified. Also, in block format, the content on the page is single-spaced, except for a double space between each paragraph (as well as space above and below the date, above and below the salutation and signature).
Using professional business letter formats gives a clean and professional look for your letter. The block format is perfect for a cover letter created to accompany a resume as part of a job application. Keep reading to learn more about block format cover letters and review examples and templates.
Another commonly used letter format is known as the Modified block format, on which the body of the letter and the sender's and recipient's addresses are left justified and single-spaced. The most common layout of a professional business letter is known as Block Format (or ‘Full block’). However, the difference with a Block format, is that in Modified Block format, the date and closing, have a tab to the center point of the letter, and that is where you begin to type. It is more suitable to use this format on less formal occasions.
The last and less commonly used letter style is the Semi-Block format. It is like the modified block style except that each paragraph is indented instead of left-justified. Semi-block letters are like 'Modified block letters', with the exception the paragraphs are indented. Modified semi-block business letters are considered a little less formal than full block letters.
Keep in mind that different organizations have different format requirements for their professional communication. Our examples are merely guiding. If the format matters a lot to the recipient, for example in the Financial or Legal work field, consider consulting a local business writing handbook or do a query on a search engine on the internet, to find more details about the common best practices. if you have any questions or doubt the accuracy of this document for your situation.
Write convincing content
However, the format is very important. The content of a professional letter is even a more critical component of making an impact and of doing a successful business. They introduce your capabilities and expertise and need to do this in a convincing way. Clients or Project owners will often firstly receive your letter or email communication before they decide to set up a meeting. It is essential that your letter reflects your experience and skills as they relate to the question or situation that they (help to) solve.
General suggestions for business letters:
- The first rule of writing is to know your audience, therefore research the company, their situation.
- Ideally on one-page (3-4 paragraphs), 12 pt. font, 2.54cm (1"- .5”) borders.
- Focus on the needs of the company instead of your own needs and wants.
- Your letter needs to contain the right facts, reasons, and examples to support your position.
- Use specific examples and show you are well informed.
- Do not simply restate your brochure or enclosures – expand on it.
- Elaborate on the most important requirements of the business or project.
- Always write in a professional, formal, and passionate manner – no slang or abbreviations.
- Print your cover letter on the same paper as your resume.
- Be sure to have someone proofread your cover letter before sending it.
- Use the same heading as your resume including your contact information.
- You may use a similar business letter for multiple projects or for sales purposes, however, you must be sure you modify all the necessary variables and do not leave wrong references.
- Address business letters to a specific person rather than a department or a generic title. Be sure to spell the name(s) correctly, and with the right gender of the person.
Download this Modified Block Letter format guidelines now for your reference, and learn how to write a professional business letter, what other business formats are out there, such as Full Block Format, Modified Block Format, Semi Block Format, and how to format them the right way for the right occasion.
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