I have a list of services that I offer to my clients, but that list is always being updated. There are services that I do as a graphic artist like making logos, business cards and custom stickers. Of course, there are also services that I perform that have nothing to do with art. Some of my clientele lack (or don’t want to be bothered) computer skills and hate dealing with simple programs such as Microsoft Word. When this situation arises, I have been asked to produce everything from business cards from a home printer template to business letters. I recently took on a business letter job, and in order to know what to do, I had to remember all the way back to high school typing class!
A common type of letter format is block letter. This format means that all margins are aligned to the left. There is never any indentation on any portion of the letter’s content. Each element in the letter is normally followed by one blank line with a couple of exceptions. I’ve listed them below with a star (*)
What should be included in a block format business letter (in order):
The return address of the person writing the letter
This portion of the letter is normally taken care of if the client has personalized stationery. If they don’t, this is a great time to pitch one of your many creative services!
The date of the letter
Be sure to spell out the entire name of the month and always include the year.
Name, title and address of the recipient
Make sure this information is complete by using Mr., Ms. or Mrs. before their name. Their title should be on the line below their name and their address starting on the line below their title. Make sure to put their city, state and zip code information on the line below their street address.
* This follows the date after three or four blank lines.
Salutation or greeting
The salutation is your greeting and is often followed by a colon or a comma. It is always best to use the name of your recipient in your letter if you know it. It gives a personalized feeling to the letter and shows you’re paying attention to detail. Common greeting phrases are “Dear…”, “Greetings…”, “To whom it may concern…”
* This follows the recipient information after two blank lines.
Body of the letter
* There should be one blank space in between each paragraph.
Valediction or closing
This should include your salutation and your printed name underneath. You can also add your signature for a professional look.
* Your printed name should follow the salutation after three or four blank lines.
This portion lists anything else that should be in the envelope with the letter.
* This follows the closing after two blank lines.
There are other letter formats also. They basically follow this same structure, with a couple of adjustments:
Semi-block: Same as full block except for the first line in each paragraph of the letter body are indented.
Modified block: All text is aligned to the left margin, except for the author’s address, date and closing; and paragraphs are not indented. The author’s address, date and closing are usually indented three inches from the left margin, but can be set anywhere to the right of the middle of the page, as long as all three elements are indented to the same position.
Semi-modified block: Same as modified block, but the first line in each paragraph of the letter body are indented.