In this age of instant communication, formatting a letter properly is often forgotten in favour of expediency. Yet even with so many other informal options of communication a letter remains the most appropriate formal method for a great many business matters.
There are myriad rules for formatting a business letter. The questionnaire below touches on just a few of these guidelines. Answer "yes" or "no" to each question and then total up the number of "yes" answers. Match this total to the explanations at the end to determine if you format business letters correctly.
1. Do you include your name, title or business name and address in your business letters? 2. Do you write out the date underneath your mailing address? 3. Do you include the name, title or business name and address of the recipient? 4. Do you use a formal salutation ("Dear Mrs. Smythe,") in your business letters? 5. Do you leave a blank line between the addresses, date and salutation? 6. Do you single space the body of your business letters? 7. Do you leave a blank line between paragraphs rather than indenting? 8. Do you use a formal closing ("Yours sincerely,") in your business letters? 9.Do you leave several blank lines between your closing and your typed name? 10. Do you use the blank space between your closing and typed name for your signature? 11. Do you left align your business letters? 12. Do you use a readable font such as Times New Roman for your business letters?
Yes to 1 - 4 QuestionsIf you answered "yes" to between zero and four questions then you most likely do not format business letters correctly. Check with a colleague at your company to find out if there are any templates you can use as guides to formatting different kinds of business letters, and don't forget to refer to your company's style guide to answer other questions of writing style and language usage. If you don't have these resources at your disposal then word processing programmes might have a generic template you could use as a basis for a business letter and the many examples on this site should help you on your way as well.
Yes to 5 - 8 QuestionsIf you answered "yes" to between five and eight questions then you might format business letters correctly. You seem to follow some formatting guidelines but not others. Review the questions to which you answered "no" and make it a priority to implement these rules in your next business letter. Once you have a few letters formatted correctly you can begin to amass your own private collection of templates to work from in the future. In the mean time, use the examples on this site to help you get a feel for properly formatted business letters on a variety of different topics.
Yes to 9 or More QuestionsIf you answered "yes" to nine or more questions then you most likely format business letters correctly. There are very few guidelines you don't follow when it comes to formatting your business communications and these might be due to specific circumstances, such as leaving out your mailing address if you are printing your letter on formal company letterhead which already contains a return address. In fact, your letters are probably already great examples of proper formatting so you might consider creating a number of templates and/or a style guide for your company if you think this could help your colleagues. Just make sure that you have the proper permission to do so before you begin such an undertaking. The examples on this site should help you format any number of different business letters.