Knowing how to format a US business letter is a skill that will serve you well in life. Whether you are contacting companies about a job or soliciting them for sales, your letter is more likely to be read by the right person if it is formatted correctly.
There are two ways to format a business letter for a US company: full block format and modified block format. All of the text is left-aligned in the full block format while a few sections on the modified block format are right-aligned or centered.
While both formats can be used interchangeably in most situations, always use the full block US business letter format if you are not sure which one is best.
Start the letter with your return address
Often the envelope your letter arrives in will be discarded. Putting your address at the top ensures the person has the information they need to respond. On the modified block format, your return address is right-aligned.
Leave a blank space and then enter the date
It should be formatted as month, day, and year as per the dating convention in the US. Do not use “th”, “nd”, or “st” on the date. This is left-aligned for both formats.
Proceed with recipient’s address
After another blank space, enter the recipient’s name and address. Your letter will most likely go to a central place at the company. Putting the recipients mailing details ensures it gets to the right person. This information is left-aligned.
Include reference when necessary
If you are referencing a previous letter or situation, you can put a reference line next. It should begin with “Re:” and be left-aligned on the page. If you use a reference line then omit the subject line.
The salutation or greeting
Try to use the person’s name, particularly if you are applying for a job. However, “Dear Sir/Madam” is acceptable if you don’t know it. This greeting should end with a colon, not a comma, and be left-aligned.
Include subject lines only when there’s no reference
If you did not use a reference earlier in your letter, you can put a subject line. This is left-aligned on the full block US business letter format but centered on the modified block version. The text should be written in all caps.
Write for readability
After the subject lines comes your text. Separate each paragraph with a blank line to enhance readability and adhere to the proper grammar rules. You want people to understand what you are saying.
End with closing
To close the letter, use “Yours Truly” if you did not use the name of the recipient and use “Yours Sincerely” if you did. Leave several blank spaces for your signature and then close with your typed name and job position, if applicable.
The US business letter format is very simple to master and will make all of your correspondence with a company look professional.
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