Six Professional Parts of a Formal Letter

What are the parts of a formal letter? What Is…

What are the parts of a formal letter?

What Is a Formal Letter?

A formal letter is a written communication between two or more people, usually one with authority and the other as a subordinate.

A formal letter seeks to obtain a response from the person or entity to which it is addressed. This type of letter is a business communication composed and written in a formal manner.

It conveys a serious tone for business environments. Everything from the punctuation to the font choice is meant to reflect a sense of professionalism.

A white paper and brown envelope placed on a silky fabric
Photo by Kate Macate on Unsplash

Understand the Six Parts of a Formal Letter

Writing a formal letter is necessary to get your point across from academics to business.

Anyone working in or entering the workplace should know proper formal letter etiquette because it is imperative for many industries. But what is a formal letter, and what exactly should you include in a formal letter?

We have broken down the six parts of a formal letter to share what they are and what they contain.

Heading

The heading should always include the sender’s identity and address. It is written on the top left-hand corner of the margin and should consist of the sender’s full name, title, address, and date.

Skip a line between your contact information and the date when drafting your letter heading. Simply write the date when the letter is written. The most commonly used format is like May 16, 2022. Always include all four digits of the year and do not abbreviate the month.

If the letter is printed on letterhead that includes the address, you don’t need to include a return address. Letterhead is a company logo that appears in the top center of business documents associated with a corporation, government agency, or other organization.

Recipient’s Address

This is the address where you should send your letter. Provide adequate information so that it reaches its destination without a problem. There should be an extra line between the date and the recipient’s address on the left margin. When a conventional envelope is folded into thirds, the address should be visible from the outside.

Make sure to include the name of the person you’re writing the formal letter to and have their name prefix. To ensure that they receive the letter, double-check the spelling of their name and address.

Salutation

The salutation sets the professional tone of your letter. Based on the circumstances, different salutations or greetings are appropriate. If the person you’re writing the letter to is known to you, begin with the salutation “Dear” followed by their title and name.

For example, “Dear Mr. Smith.” When the recipient’s name is not known, you can use the greeting “To Whom It May Concern.” Use a colon, not a comma, when punctuating the salutation of a business letter. Leave a line after the greeting.

Body

The body of a letter is the most extended section and is typically separated into an introduction, main content, and summation. The introductory first paragraph includes the states the purpose of the letter.

And the main content or the following paragraph delivers all relevant details and does not have any length restrictions. The final paragraph summarizes the information supplied, reaffirms the letter’s purpose, and either provides instructions or a request for follow-up correspondence.

Remember that the body of the letter should communicate your point clearly and professionally. You can either choose a block format or an indented format to set the alignment of the body. Regardless of the format, always leave a line between paragraphs. Maintain a professional tone with your language and punctuation, and be as brief as possible.

The Complimentary Close

The complimentary closing is usually a short word or phrase. It informs the reader that they have come to the conclusion of the letter.

Most business letters end with a “Sincerely” closing remark to maintain a professional tone. “Cordially,” “best wishes,” and “best regards” are among the others. The formality of the complimenting closure varies depending on the relationship between the sender and the recipient.

Align the closing to the left if you chose the block format for the body. However, when using an indented format, the first word of your closure should be centered.

Signature

The signature is usually typed after the sender’s name and title and aligned below the complimentary close when sending the letter through email.

When a letter is mailed or hand-delivered, there should be enough space below the closing and the typed name of the sender. This space is for the written signature of the sender.

To Wrap Up

A formal letter of instruction is an official request for help, assistance, or information. It can be addressed to anyone — a friend, a business associate, a colleague, or a customer.

It is typically formal in its language and presentation and includes six distinct sections. Formatting a letter to get the proper attention will help you communicate your point better to its recipient.

Six Professional Parts of a Formal Letter

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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