The essentials of business correspondence

Learn how to write a business email that can help to improve your image with our simple to use, fill in the blanks business letter template. December 01, 2022 · 9 min read

Knowing how to write a good business letter is an important skill in the corporate world of today.

With an unprofessional business letter format, you and your company’s image may be irreversibly tarnished.

As such, we’ve come up with some tips and tricks for you. Here, you’ll learn:

  • The key forms that business letters can take
  • The secrets to writing polished formal communications
  • The best way to address a firm in your personal letters to companies
  • Useful resources to help you write business correspondence
  • Plus much more!

Without further ado, let us begin!

The key forms of business letters

The traditional medium by which the business letter was sent was via snail mail or post. However, with the advent of speedy internet communication, that is quickly changing.

Gone are the days of snail mail, which is gradually being replaced by electronic mail.

Some of the more commonly used forms of business letters include:

Cover letters

Cover letters are a form of writing correspondence that job applicants will commonly attach to their resumes in their job applications. Although a cover letter isn’t necessary for all job applications, having one can be very useful in showcasing an applicant’s experience in the industry, skills, and why they want the job.

Pick one of our simple to use cover letter templates to craft an awesome cover letter in a hot minute. Fill in the blanks, save, and export in the format you need!

Sales Letters

Another common letter format that is frequently used in the business communications is the sales letter. The objective of such a business letter is to capture the attention of potential customers and convert them to paying clients.

Follow-up Letters

These are commonly used to continue an ongoing correspondence and usually serve as reminders. That being the case, follow-up letters do not typically run too long and usually have an earlier conversation or event referenced in them.

Inquiry Letters

Inquiry letters are used for the purpose of finding out more information about a topic or subject from the letter’s recipient.

Letters of Recommendation

These are typically requested by Human Resource Departments from potential new employees.

Complaint Letters

These letters do exactly what their name implies, which is to formally express displeasure about something.

Adjustment Letters

This type of correspondence is used to reply to complaint letters. They start by recognizing the issues highlighted by the complainant and then apprising the complainant of the measures which have been put in place to address the issues.

Despite the varied objectives of business letters and the wide range of situations in which they can be utilized, all of these letters fundamentally still have a common thread in the way they are formatted.

Pro-Tip
It is always useful to understand the target audience of your letter before you write. This knowledge can help you to ascertain the best style and tone for your letter. For example, a letter addressed to a boss should definitely avoid colloquialisms that may be included in a letter to peers.

The perfect professional letter format

You may be wondering: what is the use of a business letter format?

With a business letter that isn’t well-formatted, the recipient of the letter may end up forming a bad impression of the sender.

An example business letter would ideally include the following.

This particular example is one of an American letter format, a British letter format would have some marginal variations.

  • The date on which the letter was written, aligned to the left, and in a month-day-year format
  • The address of the recipient on the left too
  • The name of the recipient with any relevant salutations
  • Body paragraphs that describe the intent and purpose of the letter
  • Call to action - what the recipient is expected to do upon receipt of the letter
  • The sender’s name and signature
  • Mention of relevant documents which are sent alongside the letter
American and British business letter differenceNo matter what format you end up choosing to use, it is important that what you are trying to convey is understandable and properly presented.

Business correspondence format: How to end one and what salutations to use

How to start a business letter? How exactly should the closing of a business letter be written?

This table here compiles some of the best greetings for different formats of business letters.

Personal Salutation ExamplesGeneral Salutation Examples
Dear Ms. Brown
Dear Mr. Allen
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Taylor
Dear Mr. Morgan and Ms. Jackson
Dear First Name (if you know the person well)
Dear Dr. Simons
Dear Ms. Gordon, Dr. Lloyd, and Ms. Burns (if there are multiple recipients)
Dear Marcus Wright (when you don’t know the gender)
Dear Customer Relations Executive
Dear Customer Relations Team
Dear Recruitment Team Executive
Dear Recruitment Team
Dear Recruitment Team Manager
Dear Sir or Madam
Dear Team
To Whom It May Concern
Pro-Tip
Try not to use the salutations "Mrs." or "Miss" unless you are familiar with the recipient’s marital status.

Using these pointers, your letter should begin with a salutation from the above table.

An example might read:

Dear Mr. Fischer,

I’m writing to thank you for the immense support you provided my team and me during the latest conference...

If your letter is written with a specific department as its audience, it may instead read:

Dear Recruitment Team,

I’m writing to follow up on the recent interview we had...

It’s that simple!

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Let us now move on to how to end the professional letter format.

Closing lines are necessary when writing business letters as they highlight the sincerity of the sender and their gratitude to the recipient.

A sample of a formal business letter format might look something like this:

Business letter closings to useBusiness letter closings to avoid
Regards
Best
Best regards
Kind regards
Sincerely
Sincerely yours
Most sincerely
Yours truly
Respectfully
Respectfully yours
Thank you
Thank you for your consideration
Always
Kisses
Cheers
Warmly
Later
Keep in touch
Love
Take care
XOXO
Talk soon
See ya
Hugs

Once you have included the closing line, put a comma, space, and then your name after it.

Pro-Tip
Refrain from overusing emojis, colloquialisms, exclamation marks, question marks or full capitalizations. Additionally, slang and texting shorthand are better suited for casual correspondence and are not suitable to be used in business letters.

How to craft a personal business email

A personal business email is typically written from a personal standpoint and addressed to a firm or other individuals in any given company.

Here are some scenarios where a personal business letter can be used:

  • From a customer to a firm
  • From a prospective employee to a business
  • From an individual to a government agency or official
  • From an employer to their workers
  • Between colleagues
  • From a charity to a potential patron

The key objectives of personal business letters usually include beginning a correspondence, sending regards, expressing gratitude, obtaining information, or catching up on previous correspondence or events.

To write a professional business letter, a good understanding of its key elements is necessary.

For starters, a good personal business letter should include:

  • Salutation
  • Body paragraphs
  • Closing
  • The sender’s signature

This is a sample of a standard business letter format that can be used for a formal email example:

Dear Jacob:
I am writing to express my gratitude to you for your support during the “London Watch Fest” last month. The logistics support you provided us with was crucial in ensuring that the event ran without a hitch and that all the necessary equipment was in place.

As a token of my appreciation, I would like to offer you and each individual on your team a complimentary watch from our catalog which we will send out to you by post.

Please let me know which model each individual on your team has selected so that we can prepare the watches and have them mailed out by the end of the week. You can reach me either at nigel@twc.com or phone number +440000000000.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or need more information pertaining to our catalog.

Best wishes,
Nigel Williams
nigel@twc.com
+440000000000

The email is not only written in a professional tone but is also direct and clear in conveying its message.

Additionally, the sender also includes their contact details for further correspondence and states what attachment is enclosed at the end of the letter.

Pro-Tip
Always include any relevant contextual knowledge that is required for the recipient to understand your message and take steps in response to it. This is always preferable to assuming that the recipient has the relevant contextual knowledge.

How to address a company in a letter

Having read the slightly informal personal business letter example above, you might be wondering if a letter written to another company must be wholly formal.

Simply put, that isn’t necessarily the case.

In this day and age, slightly informal business writing has become the norm.

This can deliver your message in a more comprehensible manner and increase the readability of your letter.

Adopting an informal tone in your business writing can actually be beneficial if it increases the clarity of your message and gives the recipient a better understanding of what you are conveying.

When you write to a business, you don’t always know who is going to end up receiving and perusing your letter. Thus, a business letter header can be more general in nature.

When writing to another firm, your salutation business letter might look like this:

To whom it may concern,

I’d like to find out more about the products that you currently have in stock...

Your business letter directed to another business should also finish off with a call to action and a suitable closing line.

For example:

I hope to receive a response from you soon.

Thank you for your time,
Marshall
Pro-Tip
Don’t forget to proofread your business letter before sending it out. Put yourself in the intended recipient’s shoes and see if the letter is clear and understandable without having to reread it. Otherwise, it might be beneficial to revise your letter to make it more direct.

Find out more about business correspondence

To find out more about what a business heading is and how to properly address a business letter, here are some resources that may be useful.

Craft your professional cover letter in online builder SweetCV. Register, choose a template for your letter and create it in 10 minutes!
Yuriy Shumak
Article by:
Yuriy Shumak