What Is the Standard Format of a Business Letter?

A business letter is typically formatted in a block style on company letterhead, where all elements are single-spaced blocks of text with double-spacing separating them, aligned along the left margin. The elements of a standard business letter, in order, are: the date, the full name and business address of the person to whom the letter is addressed, the salutation, the main content and the closing. Optional elements include notes on enclosures and any names for courtesy copies.

If the author of the letter does not have letterhead, she may type her name and address as the first element of the letter, above the date. This would typically be left-justified in the same font used in the letter, but it may also be centered and written in a different font to imitate letterhead.

In a formal business letter, the salutation greets the person by last name, followed by a colon. Writers should determine the name and gender of the recipient before writing the letter, so as not to have to resort to a salutation such as "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom it May Concern."

The main body of the letter typically begins with a paragraph stating the purpose of the letter, one to three paragraphs providing relevant information, and a final paragraph stating any action required as a result of the letter.

The closing consists of "Sincerely," followed by a comma, a signature, and the name of the person signing, typed below. The writer should leave a four-line space for the signature itself.