Self-Editing Tip #8: Letter Format

23 Jul

Business Letter Format—For this one, it’s easier to show and tell simultaneously. Below you’ll find a mock business letter with instructions in bold print.


Your Address (You don’t need your name here because it is in your closing) Press Enter/Return once

Your Address Cont.  Press Enter/Return twice


Date- Press Enter/Return twice


Contact Name- Press Enter/Return once

Contact Address- Press Enter/Return once

Contact Address Cont. – Press Enter/Return 4 times




Salutation: (“Dear Sir or Madam” is considered outdated and in many instances, “To whom it may concern,” is seen as too formal, sterile, or general. Whenever possible, use the Ms., Mr., Dr., or whatever other title the person may have and the full name of the contact in your salutation. “Dear Mr…” or “Dear Ms…” is ok. When gender cannot be ascertained by the name, use the name only. It is better to leave it off completely than to offend in error. Also, this name has to be the same name you addressed the letter to above your salutation. Make note of the colon, NOT A COMMA, after your salutation.)Press Enter/Return 2 times


Body of Letter (Single-spaced and left justified) Press Enter/Return 2 times


Second Paragraph if needed


Third Paragraph if needed and so on (Notice that these paragraphs have one space between each and are not indented at the beginning. In many types of letters, especially query letters, cover letters, and other correspondence where you’re asking for something, it’s nice to include something like “Thank you for your time and consideration,” at the end of your last paragraph, right before your salutation.) Press Enter/Return 4 times  




Closing, (A COMMA follows the closing when a colon follows the salutation. The salutation needs to fit purpose of letter in terms of formality, goal for your letter, status of your contact vs. your status. Some examples include: Sincerely, With gratitude, Graciously, Respectfully. When the closing is more than one word, only the first word is capitalized like, “With gratitude.”) Press Enter/Return 4 times




Name (4 spaces left between closing and typed name is for you to sign your name by hand when you print it before mailing. For electronic letters, the four spaces are only necessary if you have scanned in your by-hand signature for placement there.)Press Enter/Return 2 times


Enclosures (This is an optional and sometimes not-needed space in a business letter. If you are sending additional documents in the same envelope with this letter, like a resume or transcripts, you would write the word Enclosures one line below your typed name. If there are many enclosures, you may type the names of those documents under the word “Enclosures.” It helps to ensure that all necessary documents are noticed.)


This is the end of the mock business letter. For even more detail on business letters and formatting of many other documents, I highly recommend the Purdue OWL website.

One Response to “Self-Editing Tip #8: Letter Format”


  1. The Correct Punctuation for Salutations that Begin with “Hi” or “Hello” | Stories of The Wandering Feet & Mind - April 14, 2014

    […] Self-Editing Tip #8 ( […]

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