The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
Business Letters: Indented Form

Indented Form

                                          5 Hill Street
                                          Madison, Wisconsin 53700
                                          15 March 2005

     Ms. Helen Jones
     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


                                          John Doe