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Business Letters and Memos: Requirements of a Business Letter

Paper and Page Numbering

Use 8 ½"x11" white unlined paper. If your letter is longer than one page, number the pages beginning with page 2 in the top right margin.


Type single-spaced, on one side of the page only, and double-space between paragraphs. Double-space below the date, the inside address, and the salutation. Double-space between the last line of the letter and the closing, and leave four lines between the closing and the name of the writer. Leave a double space before Enc. or cc: (indicating that you are enclosing materials or are sending a copy to another person).

Left and Right Margins

In the block form, the return address, inside address, salutation, paragraphs, closing, and signature begin at the left margin. The right margin should not be justified but should remain ragged (with lines of unequal length) to avoid gaps in spacing. An alternative and quite common form places the return address and date, the closing, and the signature on the right, beginning approximately five inches from the left side of the paper.

Return Address

If you are not using a business letterhead, give your address as the return address, followed by the date. Do not include your name with the address. (If you are using a business letterhead on which an address is printed, you do not have to give a return address.)

Inside Address

The inside address gives the name, title, and complete address of the person you are writing to. With a word processing program and certain printers, you can use this part of the letter for addressing the envelope.


In the salutation, include the person's name if you know it, with the appropriate title (Dr., Professor, Mr., Ms.) or just the person's title (Dear Sales Manager). If you are writing to a company or institution, use a more general term of address (Dear Sir or Madam) or the name of the company or institution (Dear Gateway 2000). Use a colon after the salutation in a business letter. When a name is unknown, the salutation can be left out completely.

Closing Phrase and Signature

Capitalize only the first word of a closing phrase, such as Yours truly or Sincerely yours. Type your name four lines below the closing phrase (with no Mr. or Ms.). If you have a title (Supervisor, Manager), type it underneath. Between the closing phrase and your typed name, sign your name in ink.

Other Information

Indicate whether you have enclosed materials with the letter (Enc.) and to whom you have sent copies (cc: Ms. Amy Ray). The abbreviation cc: used to refer to carbon copy but now refers to courtesy copy or computer copy. You may, however, use a single c: followed by a name or names, to indicate who besides your addressee is receiving the letter.

The Envelope

Choose an envelope that fits your letter folded horizontally in thirds. Use your computer's addressing capability to place the name, title, and full address of the person you are writing to in the middle of the envelope, and your own name and address in the top left-hand corner. Remember to include ZIP codes.

See also
Basic Features of a Business Letter
Basic Features of a Memo