The Writer's Handbook
Business Letters: Indented Form
Use the links below to view examples of business letter format.
For further information about letters see Writing Cover Letters.
5 Hill Street Madison, Wisconsin 53700 15 March 2005 Ms. Helen Jones President Jones, Jones & Jones 123 International Lane Boston, Massachusetts 01234 Dear Ms. Jones: Ah, business letter format--there are block formats, and indented formats, and modified block formats . . . and who knows what others. To simplify matters, we're demonstrating the indented format on this page, one of the two most common formats. For authoritative advice about all the variations, we highly recommend The Gregg Reference Manual, 9th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), a great reference tool for workplace communications. There seems to be no consensus about such fine points as whether to skip a line after your return address and before the date: some guidelines suggest that you do; others do not. Let's hope that your business letter succeeds no matter which choice you make! If you are using the indented form, place your address at the top, with the left edge of the address aligned with the center of the page. Skip a line and type the date so that it lines up underneath your address. Type the inside address and salutation flush left; the salutation should be followed by a colon. For formal letters, avoid abbreviations. Indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch. Skip lines between paragraphs. Instead of placing the closing and signature lines flush left, type them in the center, even with the address and date above, as illustrated here. Now doesn't that look professional? Sincerely, John Doe