Parts of a Business Letter: Examples of the 7 Components

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 20, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

At some point of your professional career, you may need to write a formal business letter to send or request information to an individual, organization, agency or client. While the majority of business communications these days are virtually conducted or done over the phone, business letters remain an important method of professional correspondence in some industries.

Traditional business letters have a specific format that allows recipients to easily comprehend the information you want to convey. These parts include your contact information and theirs, as well as the body of your letter.

In this article, we’ll outline each of the seven key parts of a business letter with examples so you can easily craft your own when the time comes.

Business Letter Format
Image description

Business Letter Format

  1. Date

  2. Name and address

  3. Greeting

  4. Opening paragraph

  5. Closing paragraph

  6. Complimentary close and signature

Business letter components

Regardless of where you are in your career or what field you are in, knowing how to format a business letter is vital. You should use business letters when mailing documents to a government agency, filing formal requests, sending professional documents or designing a cover letter. A professional business letter format typically includes seven key elements. Here's what you should include in every business letter:

1. Letter heading

The letter heading, typically found in the upper left-hand corner of the page, introduces you to the recipient and includes important contextual information such as your name, return address, phone number, email and date. Only include the information your audience needs. When writing your letter heading, skip a line between your contact information and the date. Skip another line, then include your recipient’s contact information. Skip another line, then begin your letter. For example:

Alicia Washington
Offices of Burbank & Brooks
105 Burbank St.
a.washington@email.com

June 21, 2021

Ms. Riley Jones
River Tech
90991 River Tech Dr. Ste 1

Dear Ms. Jones,
...

You don't have to include a return address if the letter is printed on letterhead that includes the address. The letterhead is a company logo that is usually at the top center of business documents that are connected to a company, government agency or other organization.

Related: How to Write a Professional Email

2. Recipient address

Leave an extra line between the date and the receiver's address, and it should be on the left margin. You should include the name of the person you are sending the business letter to, including their name prefix. Make sure their name is spelled correctly and the address is as complete as possible to be sure they receive the letter. The address should show in a standard envelope window when the paper is folded into thirds.

3. Subject

The subject should be short and direct, clearly representing to the recipient what your letter is about. If you have a reference number, such as a claim number, case number or reference number, you should include it on this line. The subject does not have to be written as a complete sentence.

Related: How To Write an Email Subject Line That Gets Responses

Your subject might also start with "RE:" to show that you are writing in response to or regarding a previous conversation or request. For example, a subject line might read "RE: Claim Number 129523 - Filing Documents and Policy Information." This allows the reader to find your claim and lets them know what to expect in the rest of the business letter.

4. Greeting

The greeting should be formal and polite. It is best to start with a professional salutation like "Dear," and the person's prefix if you know it. For example, you would not write "Dear Taylor Spenser" if you know they're a doctor. In that case, you would write "Dear Dr. Spenser." Avoid using gendered prefixes if possible—use the person's name instead. For example, "Dear Taylor Spenser," instead of "Dear Mr. Spenser."

If you do not know who will be receiving your letter directly, you should use other references such as their title, team, organization or job duty. For example, "Dear HR Manager," "Dear HR Department" or "Dear Company Recruiter." If possible, avoid using "To Whom It May Concern," as it may come across impersonal or outdated.

Related: Professional Email Salutations That Work (Plus 7 to Avoid)

5. Body

The body is where you write the details of your business letter. Start with a short introduction explaining why you are writing them. The introduction should be one or two sentences and should have the most important details. The rest of the body includes the details of your letter.

The body should be focused on why you are writing and should be as direct and polite as possible. Separate each left-aligned paragraph by skipping a space. End the body with a two-sentence wrap-up paragraph to clarify why you are writing and to thank them for their consideration. Be sure that the closing paragraph is suitable for the tone of the letter. A good wrap-up paragraph might look like, "Thank you for updating my claim and looking into the circumstances. I look forward to hearing from you soon."

Related: How To Write Good Letters (With Formal and Informal Examples)

6. Complimentary close

Always end a business letter with a professional closing. Some examples are "Sincerely," "Best regards" and "Thank you." You should have your closing on its own line, with the first letter capitalized and a comma at the end.

Read more: 22 Business Letter Closing Examples

7. Signature

Leave two to four lines between the closing line and typing your name so that you can sign the business letter. Your name should be your first, middle initial (if you have one) and your last name. Include any appropriate suffixes to your name, such as MA or MD. If you are writing for a business or organization, you should include your position immediately below your typed name. Once you print the business letter, sign your name immediately above your typed name in blue or black ink.

Related: Letter of Introduction: Overview and Examples

Business letter best practices

Here are some other things to keep in mind as you write your business letter:

Document format

Business letters are designed so that the return address and recipient's address will appear in the windows of a standard nine-inch envelope. You should print your business letter on unlined 8.5" x 11" paper and have one-inch margins on all sides. Make sure to proofread your business letter several times to catch any possible spelling or grammar mistakes. You should use a standard font like Times New Roman.

Each section should be separated by skipping a line, and everything should be aligned to the left. Business letters can be as long as you need them to be, so you don't need to get everything you need to say onto one page.

Related: Tips for Writing a Two-Page Business Letter

Enclosures

If you are mailing any other documents with the business letter, you can make the reader aware of what else is included by typing "Enclosures" or including the names of the documents under the "Enclosures" heading. This should be separated by skipping a line under your typed name and should be left-aligned, in line with the date and address headers.

Related: How To Format a Letter With an Attachment

Other formats

Some organizations might use slightly different formatting, such as indenting the paragraphs in the body of your letter or using a specific font. If your organization uses a different template, you should follow it so that any business correspondence from the organization is uniform and consistent.

Multiple recipients

If you're sending your business letter to several people, print one for each of them and have it mailed directly to them. Be sure to change the recipient's name and address and greeting each time you print the letter. You should also include "CC:" and the names of the other people receiving a copy of the letter so that everyone you send the letter to knows who else has a copy.

Related: How To Write a Letter to Multiple People (With Examples)

Writing to a group

If you are writing to a group, like a board of directors or a stakeholder meeting, you should write one letter addressed to the group and mailed to their official address. Your greeting should also address the whole group. For example, a group greeting might be "Dear Willow Park Homeowners Association."

Related: 45 Different Email Greetings To Use at Work

Business letter template

Here's a business letter template that you can use as a guide when you need to create one of your own:

[Name]
[Company name]
[Street address]
[City, state and zip code]
[Phone number]
[Fax number]
[Email address]

[Date]

[Recipient's name]
[Company name]
[Street address]
[City, state and zip code]

[Subject]

Dear [Recipient's name]:

[Body paragraph 1]

[Body paragraph 2]

[Closing paragraph]

Sincerely,

[Your name and suffixes]
[Position in company]
[Your company name]

[Enclosures]

Related: Templates for Business Letters (With Tips and Examples)

Business letter examples

Here's an example of a business letter, including proper formatting and correct word usage:

Ms. Eliza Stockton
1351 Weeping Willow Lane
Memphis, TN 37501
555-555-5555
estockton@email.com

Oct. 16, 2019

Ms. Juanita Rodriguez
Greene Insurance Agency
3516 Main St.
Greensboro, NC 27401

RE: Claim 96792-01

Dear Ms. Rodriguez:

I am writing to request several documents regarding claim 96792-01. I need a copy of the complete terms of the insurance policy, the results of the follow-up examination and the most current payment records.

I am concerned that at least one appointment was incorrectly billed, which has led to my account becoming delinquent. As we go forward with my treatment, I want to have a firm understanding of what my insurance policy covers. I also want to know which doctors and medical facilities are considered in-network.

You may either send the documents by post or email. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Eliza Stockton


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