Formal Letter Format

The formal letter format is also sometimes referred to as the business letter. Business letters are more formal than personal letters in a number of different ways:

  • They usually address matters of importance.
  • They are sent to people in senior and influential positions.
  • The tone is businesslike, respectful and courteous.
  • The subject matter is structured logically and is clear and to the point.
  • No postscripts, slang words or condensed date formats are used.
  • They can be fully blocked or indented. Most companies have however adopted the fully blocked layout.
The formal letter format is often used when applying for an academic program or a job, filing a complaint, confirming an agreement or simply expressing your opinion in a coherent manner. To ensure the effectiveness of formal letters, you must be aware of the correct format. Refer to the formal letter format tips below.

Formal Letter Format


The heading contains the sender’s contact address as well as the date. You can also include your contact number or E-mail address, although this is not strictly a requirement. Remember to place the heading in the top left-hand corner of the page and use the block format throughout the entire letter.

                123 Oakwood Ave.

                Minneapolis, MN 55401


                September 1, 2011

Inside Address

The inside address should consist of the name, title and address of the recipient. This is placed four lines below the heading if the letter encoded through a word processor, or one line below the heading if handwritten. In cases when you cannot specify the name of the recipient, just include his or her title.

                Atty. Daniel Barns


                Barns and Associates

                171 Pleasant Street SE ·

     Minneapolis, MN 55455


The salutation is placed one line after the inside address. The most common format of a salutation includes a simple greeting as well as the formal title and last name of the recipient, punctuated with a colon.

                Dear Atty. Barns:

Opening Paragraph

Skip one line after the salutation and begin writing the first paragraph of your formal letter. Declare your purpose in the first paragraph and remember to keep it short. It is always best to use brief, logical paragraphs to state your business.

This letter serves as a confirmation that you have agreed to act as my legal aid and representation in a lawsuit filed against my previous employer, ABC Company.

Main Body

The succeeding paragraphs or the main body of the formal letter should contain specific, supporting details. Take note that each paragraph should be separated with a space.

Pursuant to our retainer agreement, you will be billed at hourly rate of $500, to be paid accumulatively on a monthly basis. In return, you will represent my interests and work to bring about a favourable conclusion in this case.

Closing Paragraph

In the last paragraph, express what action would you like the recipient to do as a result of the letter. End by expressing your gratitude.

I would appreciate receiving weekly reports of your progress in settling this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your assistance.


Skip one line after the last paragraph and write the closing remark. Only the first word is capitalised, and you may or may not add a comma after.

                Sincerely yours,


Print your name four lines after the closing remark and sign directly above it. If you're writing as a representative of an organization or a company, you can also include your title below your printed name.

                [signature here]

     Lou Jacobs


By implementing the proper formal letter format, all your written correspondence will be professional and effective.


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Formal Letter

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Fully Blocked Layout

Layout of a business letter. >>>>> GO

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