Business Letters

1. Heading (or) Letterhead

Many business houses use their unique letterhead (Heading) which can be used to write your business letters. When you use the letterhead of the company in which you are working, your letter carry authenticity. The Letterhead of the company is unique for each company. The emblem of your company might have been printed there in that letterhead. Few situations might arise in which you could not write your business letters in the letterhead of your company. Or your company may not have its letterhead. In such situations, it is better to include your address in the heading according to the style you follow. There are many styles of business letters. You have to choose one of your taste. Although adding the name of your company is not must, it is better to add it in your address.

The Letterhead with the name of the sender, designation of the sender and the name of the company :

Clinton M.N.,
Marketing Manager,
Infosys Tech.,
1762, Jalan Bandar,
Narimon Point,
Mumbai – 400012
Phone : 022 56267322
FAX : 022 56267323

The Letterhead only with the name of the sender :

Clinton M.N.,
1762, Jalan Bandar,
Narimon Point,
Mumbai – 400012
Phone : 022 56267322
FAX : 022 56267323

Both are acceptable. Choose the one which appeals to you the most.

2. Reference (or) File Number

This reference number of the business letter (file number of the business letter) is useful to refer to the previous letters which are related to the current letter. The recipient will refer those old letters for relevant matters. Although this is not necessary, adding the reference number is advisable in many cases. Adequate space might have been provided for this reference number in the letterhead. Depending upon the layout of the business letter that you are adopting, you should add the reference number in the appropriate space provided for it. So, all these things make it simple to simply type the reference number.

3. Date of The Letter

Date of The Letter should be mentioned in every letter. Either the left-hand side or the right-hand side can be used to add the date of the letter. Both sides are acceptable. But writing the date on the left-hand side of the letterhead is mostly practised among the business people. The date can be written in various formats. The formats which are widely used are…

12 January 2010
12th January 2010
12 Jan 2010
12th Jan 2010

The last four formats are quite confusing, because they are not followed in USA where the date is written in either one of the first formats.


These four formats are widely used in UK, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries.

12 January 2010
12th January 2010

These formats are commonly used in USA.

So, it is up to you to use the appropriate format keeping in mind where your receiver is located.

4. Private and Confidential


Type these words on the left-hand side just above the Recipient’s Address in capital fonts as written above. This means that the letter should be opened and read only by the addressee. That means that this letter contains some important and confidential matter which others should not read. By typing these words, I make it clear that others have no business with the letter.

And do not forget to type or write these words on the envelope so that the person who happens to take the letter will not open the letter.

In case, you do not put any confidential matter in your letter, you need not use these words either inside or outside the letter.

5. Recipient’s Address (Style of Address)

The Style of Address is the address of the person to whom you are writing the letter. His/her name, his/her title (if relevant), the name and the address of the company in which he/she is working should be included in this address. The style of address is also called Inside Address or Recipient’s Address or TO Address.

This address should be written in the left-hand side of the letterhead.

Mr. Hendry Hun,
Financial Manager,
Petrotech Company Ltd.,
762 : Jalan Madhir,
90812 Kuala Lumpur.

Before writing this, you should choose the correct form of writing your letter. The postal code of the town in which the recipient is should be added. You should be aware of the different ways of writing the postal codes which are used in different countries. By adding the correct form of the postal codes, you will make an impressive letter. Few countries use short forms for their states or counties or territories. You should add the same form of abbreviations so as to make your letter informed of what is the custom there.

A letter without the correct postal codes is treated shoddily. You should fold your letter in such a way that the address of the receiver should appear in the window of the envelope which you use.

While using the title of the person, do not use Esq. This should never be used in front of Mr. Mrs. Dr. and Miss.

You can write Mr. Hendry Hun, Dr. Hendry Hun or Hendry Hun Esq.

You should not write Mr. Hendry Hun Esq.

If that person is a surgeon, then he/she should be referred to as Mr. not as Dr.

Esq. should not be used together with Mr. Mrs. Dr. and Miss.

Use Miss. Mrs. or Madam when addressing woman. These days women prefer to be addressed with Ms.

Messrs. should be used for addressing a partnership company unless the name of the business begins with THE or the title of the person.

Messrs. S.T. Raman & Bros.,
The One-Stop Music Stores,
Sir Ronald Stevens & Co.,

Messrs. should never be used for limited companies.

Chennai Textiles Pvt. Ltd.,
OHM Wools Pvt. Ltd.,

6. Attention Line

The attention line is used to indicate that the letter is supposed to be ready for any particular person or particular department.

Attention : Head of Marketing

This indicates that you do not know the name of the head of the marketing team and that the letter should be directed to the head of marketing.

Attention : Peter Hun – Marketing Department

This indicates that you know the name of the addressee, but not his/her designation. In that case, you should use the attention option. That means that the letter should be routed to the person Peter Hun who is in the marketing Department.

But these days this attention option is used to note that the core matter of the letters is for Mr. Peter Hun although the letter is addressed to the Head of the Marketing Department.

This option is used to draw the attention of the addressee to the core issue.

7. Salutation

Salutation is the formal way of addressing the person to whom you are writing the letter. This is used in all letters including social letters.

Here are the few typical examples of salutations.
Dear Sir,

Dear Madam Nancy,

Dear John Hun,

Dear Charri Vane,

Dear Mr. Ravi,

Dear Miss. Jothi,

Dear Mrs. Rajangam,

Dear Ms Leena,




Ladies and Gentlemen,

To whom it may concern

Dear Subscriber,

Dear Dealer,

Dear Member,
In case you do not know the gender of the person to whom you are writing your letter, it is better to use the full name of the person.
Dear John Hun,

Dear Charri Vane,
The way in which you write the salutation will decide the way in which you will write the complimentary closing.

8. Subject of The Letter

You need not write the subject of the letter, in case your letter is so short. This is not a compulsory issue. But now a day, business letters are written with this. This should be written just below the salutation line. Normally this is types and underlines. You can type this either at the left-hand side or at the center. This is to indicate what is there in the letter. Just the most concise form of the letter should be mentioned here.

The subject of the letter becomes must when the letter is lengthy one.

9. Body of The Letter

Body of The Letter is the central part of the letter. That is why this is called body of the letter. This part fulfils the purpose of the letter. The main purpose of your letter may be acknowledgement, acceptance, order, command, apology, appreciation, congratulation, demand, felicitation, inquiry, request, reply, reminder, complaint, recognition, proposal, resignation, thanking, warning and welcome.

Be concise, clear and up to the point. Never beat around the bush. The person to whom you are writing this letter may not have time to read your letter, if you write a lengthy letter. In order to make your letter effective, make your letter as short as possible.

In case the subject matter of the letter happens to be lengthy, break it into few short paragraphs. Lengthy paragraphs are hard to read. Short ones are easier for reading.

If possible, complete your letter within one page. In case, the letter demands more than one page, the new page should be begun with a new paragraph. A new page with only one or two sentence may look awkward for the addressee.

Use P.T.O. (please Turn Over) or Continued in next page at the bottom of the previous page to indicate there is another page as the continuation of this page. The next page should start with -Page 2 - to indicate that this is the second page of the number.

In case there are more pages in your letter, each page should be numbered.

10. Complimentary Closing

Complimentary Closing depends upon the formality of the salutation that you used in the letter.

Dear Sir : Yours Faithfully

Dear Madam : Yours Faithfully

Dear Mr. : Yours Sincerely or Yours Truly

Dear Mrs. : Yours Sincerely or Yours Truly

Dear Miss. : Yours Sincerely or Yours Truly

Dear Ms. : Yours Sincerely or Yours Truly

Although these types of expressions of complimentary closings are required, business world is not following these strictly these days.

The normal complimentary closings are :


Very Truly Yours,

Yours Very Truly,


Yours Sincerely,

Yours Cordially,


Yours Faithfully,


The closings should be typed at the left-hand side just below the body of the letter.

In few cases, it is used at the center of the letter just below the body of the letter.

11 & 12. Signature & Name and Designation

Signature and Designation of the person who writes the letter should be added in the right place meant for it. The letter should be signed by the person who writes that letter. Then only the letter will be treated lawfully and authentically. A letter without the signature of the person who writes the letters will be names as anonymous letter.

There should be adequate space between the complimentary closing and the name and the designation of the person who is writing the letter. The space should be enough to sign.

After the introduction of computer, business world has started to produce computer generated letters in bulk. Those computer generated letters will not get the signature and the designation of the person who writes those letters. But that statement will be there in those letters. This practice is adopted to save the time of signing the letters individually and of checking those letters for spelling correctness. In that case, the same letter can be sent to various persons (addressees) after changing the name and the address of the recipient.

This new practise is also accepted these days.

13. Postscript

You may think some other matters after the letter is written. In such situations, the postscript option can be used to add the new matter just below the signature. This implies that there are few more points you want to add to the letter.

After the introduction of computer, this option is left behind.

14. Enclosures

Enclosures are used to support the core matter of the letter. Any additional information can be provided in separate sheets. Those sheets should be enclosed.

Just below the postscript, you should write Enc. or Encl. or Enclosure to indicate that there are enclosures attached with that letter.

Enc. (3)

Encl. (3)

Enclosure (3)

This indication means that there are three enclosures attached with the current letter.

15. Typist’s Name and Initials

The Initials of Typist can be added. In case there are many typists in a company, the typist’s initials are required to verify who types the letter. The typist’s initials should be added or types just below the enclosures. In the case of the computer generated letters, typist’s initials are not compulsory.

  • How to Write Business Letters?
  • Layouts of Business Letters
  • Heading
  • Date
  • File Number of The Business Letter

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