What’s a Formal Business Letter & Writing One

Writing a formal business letter doesn’t have to be a tedious process with the right approach.

What is a Formal Business Letter?

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

A business letter is sent from one company to another or from a company to its clients, employees, and stakeholders. Business letters are used to communicate between individuals professionally.

Even though email has become the most common form of correspondence, printed-out business letters are still in use for important types of correspondence. Also, reference letters, employment verification, job offers, and much more.

Understand that your recipient reads frequently and will prefer well-executed letters that are free of typos and grammatical errors.

The tone of a letter can vary depending on the type of business letter. In general, businesses write for sales efforts, dealing with issues and considerations, and building relationships.

Depending on the recipient, their tone may be informative, persuasive, motivational, or promotional. They have a clear objective and purpose since they are targeted toward specific groups or individuals. 

Cases To Use a Formal Business Letter

As mentioned, there are well-defined situations that require a formal business letter. Here are some examples:

Job Offer

Upon receiving a job offer, the hiring manager calls you first. Then they will send you instructions for onboarding and follow up with the job details in writing. This is a classic example of a formal business letter. 


A former coworker or manager agrees to write a letter of recommendation if they already have a good relationship with the employee. When a letter of recommendation is written for you, have them use the business letter format to stand out to your employer. Hiring managers will appreciate the level of professionalism instead of a simple email as a recommendation. 

Letters of Acceptance

Colleges or universities send out acceptance letters to students once they are admitted. 

Verification of Employment

Many organizations may ask you for proof of employment. In these cases, a simple email from your boss will not suffice.

You would need a formal letter written by the Human Resources department of your company. Normally it should only be used to demonstrate employment. It can also include additional information.

Structure of a Business Letter

The structure of a business letter can differ slightly; however, at the very least, it includes this information:

Sender’s and Recipient’s Contact Information

In this heading, contact information for both sender and recipient should be available. Firstly you should write the sender’s information and after that the recipient’s contact information with the date.


Use “Dear” if you are familiar with the recipient. If not, write “To Whom It May Concern”.

The Main Body

This is the main part of your letter. You should justify each paragraph with a single space and left-bound character. You should leave a blank line between each paragraph, no matter how you format it. Also, skip a line between the salutation and the body as well as between the body and the close.

Closing Lines

Common suggestions for formal closings include “Sincerely” or “Yours truly.” Consider using “Cordially” or “Best Regards” for a more personal closing. Whatever you choose, add a comma at the end.


Type your name in the following four lines. Follow that by your title and company name. If you are sending this as a hard copy, sign your name in blue or black ink.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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