How to Format a Letter

It’s really important to format your letters correctly. Often this is where you are making a first impression, either about yourself or your services. Our quick guide to formatting a letter is all you need to get your written communications spot-on.

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Block, Modified-Block or Semi-Block

Once you’ve written the words, it’s important to format the shape of the text. There are three mains options: block, modified and semi-block. In block format the main text and other elements are aligned to the left margin; in modified-block the signature/date start at the centre of the page; and in semi-block all elements are again aligned to the left, but each paragraph has a five-space indent. Block is the most formal and common choice, especially for cover letters and business correspondence.

Salutation

Ideally, start a letter with Dear followed by a formal name, such as Mr Smith. If the letter is semi-formal or informal and you are on first name terms with the recipient, by all means use their first name. If you do not know the name and have entered a job title in the recipient’s address, change the salutation to either Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern.

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Recipient’s Address

One of the first things you learn in school is that the recipient’s name and address is placed in the top left corner. Never deviate from this, as it’s standard for all letters, and ensure that the address is justified. Use a person’s name with their title or job title. It’s also practical reason to put address here; it can be seen through a windowed envelope to save on printing. You can buy envelopes with address windows in all sorts of colours. Coloured envelopes such as those available from https://www.colourenvelopes.co.uk/ are a really great choice for helping your letter stand out among a crowd of white ones.

Sign-Off

he sign-off is a personal choice, and whilst some enjoy to use Best Wishes or Many Thanks, these are best reserved for semi-formal letters. Formal letters should be signed off as Yours Sincerely for people you know and Yours Faithfully when you don’t know the name. Just don’t forget to leave a space to sign in pen before your typed-out name.

These basic rules will allow you to easily format a letter that looks professional and clean.