Full block format is used for formal business letters. This format is characterized by the fact that every line starts at the left margin. None of the lines of type are centered, or on the right. The only exception is in the case of a pre-printed company letterhead. Full block format would be a great format to use if you were to write a letter of resignation, a professional thank you letter, a letter of recommendation, or perhaps resume a cover sheet.
Here is an explanation of each line in the letter:
- Return Address: If your stationery has a letterhead, skip this. Otherwise, type your name, address and optionally, phone number. These days, it's common to also include an email address.
- Date: Type the date of your letter two to six lines below the letterhead. Three are standard. If there is no letterhead, type it where shown.
- Reference Line: If the recipient specifically requests
information, such as a job reference or invoice number, type it on one or
two lines, immediately below the Date (2). If you're replying to a
letter, refer to it here. For example,
- Re: Job # 625-01
- Re: Your letter dated 1/1/200x.
- Inside Address: Type the name and address of the person and/or company to whom you're sending the letter, three to eight lines below the last component you typed. Four lines are standard. If you type an Attention Line (7), skip the person's name here. Do the same on the envelope.
- Attention Line: Type the name of the person to whom you're sending the letter. If you type the person's name in the Inside Address (6), skip this. Do the same on the envelope.
- Salutation: Type the
recipient's name here. Type Mr. or Ms. [Last Name] to show respect, but
don't guess spelling or gender. Some common salutations are
- Dear Sir:
- Dear Sir or Madam:
- Dear [Full Name]:
- To Whom it May Concern:
- Subject Line: Type the
gist of your letter in all uppercase characters, either flush left or
centered. Be concise on one line. If you type a Reference Line (3),
consider if you really need this line. While it's not really necessary for
most employment-related letters, examples are below.
- SUBJECT: RESIGNATION
- LETTER OF REFERENCE
- JOB INQUIRY
- Body: Type two spaces between sentences. Keep it brief and to the point.
- Complimentary Close:
What you type here depends on the tone and degree of formality. For
- Respectfully yours (very formal)
- Sincerely (typical, less formal)
- Very truly yours (polite, neutral)
- Cordially yours (friendly, informal)
- Signature Block: Leave
four blank lines after the Complimentary Close (11) to sign your
name. Sign your name exactly as you type it below your signature. Title is
optional depending on relevancy and degree of formality. Examples are
- John Doe, Manager
- P. Smith
Director, Technical Support
- R. T. Jones - Sr. Field Engineer
- Readability of a business letter body depends on the chosen font. The generally accepted font is Times New Roman, size 12, although other fonts such as Arial may be used.
- Try to keep your letters to one page, if your letter requires more than one page all of the salutation and signature items would go on the second page at the end of the letter.
- How many blank lines you add between lines that require more than one, depends on how much space is available on the page.
- The same goes for margins. One and one-half inch (108 points) for short letters and one inch (72 points) for longer letters are standard. If there is a letterhead, its position determines the top margin on page 1.
- If you do not type one of the more formal components, do not leave space for them. For example, if you do not type the Reference Line (3), Special Mailing Notations (4) and On-Arrival Notations (5), type the Inside Address (6) four lines below the Date (2).
Business Letter Templates
Viderity offers a large collection of business letters written by business professionals to help you achieve your desired message when writing business letters. The letters will give you and your company a professional image. View our Business Letters Kit.