Components of a Business Letter

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  • 0:01 Writing a Business Letter
  • 1:57 The Opening
  • 3:35 The Body
  • 3:58 The Ending
  • 4:48 Lesson Summary
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Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Expert Contributor
Joseph Shinn

Joe has a PhD in Economics from Temple University and has been teaching college-level courses for 10 years.

After viewing this lesson, you should be able to write a formal business letter that you can use to write official letters to businesses. This is also the type of letter you will write when you are sending out your resume to businesses.

Writing a Business Letter

In this lesson, you will learn how to write a formal business letter. A business letter is a formal letter used to communicate with a specific individual or group. It is called a business letter because most of these specific individuals and groups usually belong to a business.

Why should you learn how to write a business letter? Writing business letters is a very important skill to have because business letters are also used to communicate your desire for a job. When you send your resume to businesses, you will usually also include a cover letter that needs to be typed up as a business letter.

So, let's begin.

Here is an example of a business letter.

business letter

As you can see, everything is written so that it is aligned to the left. The paragraphs are not indented. All the margins should be set at one inch. And yes, the business letter is almost always typed up. The font size should be set at 12 pt., and the font type should be a formal one, such as Times New Roman or Arial.

There are six parts to the business letter: the heading, the recipient's address, the salutation, the message, the closing, and the signature. We will discuss the heading, recipient's address, and the salutation in the opening section. We will discuss the message in the body section and finish with the closing and signature in the ending section.

The Opening

The opening of your business letter is made up of three parts. It includes the heading, which includes the writer's address and the date, the recipient's address, and the salutation.

For the heading, you include your own address in the U.S. Post Office format with your street name on one line and your city, state, and zip code on the next line. Then, skip a line between your address and the date. Next, write the date formally with the month written out followed by the day, a comma, and then the year in four digits. Skip another line after the heading.

Next, include the recipient's address. Use a proper salutation of the person if at all possible, whether it is Dr., Mr., Ms., Mrs., or Miss. If you are not sure of the salutation, you can use the person's full name along with his or her official title. Include the street address, city, and state in the U.S. Post Office format. If the address is an international one, write the country in all capital letters on the line directly underneath the address. Skip another line after the recipient's address.

Now, include the salutation. The salutation begins with 'Dear' along with the recipient's name. Include the same Dr., Mr., Ms., Mrs., or Miss that you used in the recipient's address. Unless you're on a first name basis with this person, use their last name only. If you don't know how to address them, then include their first and last name. End the salutation with a colon and then skip another line between this salutation and your message.

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Additional Activities

Identifying the Parts of a Business Letter

There are six parts of a business letter:

  1. Heading
  2. Recipient's address
  3. Salutation
  4. Message
  5. Closing
  6. Signature

Identify which part(s) of a business letter are being described in the descriptions below. (Note: Some answers could include multiple parts.)

  • Which part of the letter includes the date and the address of the sender?
  • Which part of the letter includes the purpose of the letter?
  • What parts of the business letter are contained in the ending?
  • "To Whom it May Concern" is an example of which of which part of a business letter?
  • Which part of the letter might include instructions that you want the recipient to follow?
  • What parts of the business letter are contained in the opening?
  • Which two parts of a business letter will include an address?
  • Which part of a business letter might include words like sincerely, thank you, or some other formal saying?
  • Which parts of the business letter are contained in the body of the letter?

Writing a Business Letter

For this activity, you need to write a business letter. This letter can be on any topic of your choosing that would be appropriate for a business letter but should include all of the different parts of a business letter.

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