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Proper Letter Format

What is the Proper Letter Format for Business and Friendly Letters?

It's quite confusing if you don't fully understand the need and patterns for writing letters. Between formal and informal letters, it's easy to get a few rules mixed up. Here's some help...
Arjun Kulkarni
Last Updated: Oct 06, 2017
While writing a letter, the format is supposed to be very important. Why so? Because, the format helps give a sequence to the contents, and somehow becomes easier to understand from the point of view of the reader. And since the whole point of the letter is to communicate something to the person who is being addressed, it is pretty important that the reader feels that the contents of the letter are in a coherent format. Now, we all know that letters come in two broad categories―business letters and friendly letters.
Business Letter
  • Addresser Details: The addresser's details are given so that the reader knows who is sending the letter and who the reply is to be sent to.
  • Addressee Details: The second is the details of the person to whom the letter is being sent. The addressee's details, as well as the addresser's details include the name, address, contact number, and email ID.
  • Salutation: The salutation gives the name of the person to whom the letter is addressed to. Usually, the name of the person is preceded by the word 'respected'. If the name is not known, the title of the person being addressed to is given, like 'The Manager'. If nothing is known, then 'Respected Sir/Madam' will suffice.
  • Subject Line: The next part is the subject line. The subject line lets the reader know what the rest of the letter is all about.
  • Content: The content in a business letter can be all included in one paragraph, while the proper cover letter format might even demand up to 4 paragraphs, depending on what and how much you intend to write.
  • Signing Off: The end of the letter is respectfully signed off with the words 'Yours Faithfully,' followed by your full name and designation, if it is relevant.
Friendly Letter
  • Addresser Details: The addresser's details are given first, in case the reader wants to reply to the letter. These will include the name, address, contact number, and email ID of the sender.
  • Salutation: Of course there is no need to respectfully address someone in a friendly letter. So, the salutation is quite simply 'Dear Someone'.
  • Content: The content of the letter has three to four paragraphs, depending on what the writer wants to tell the reader. There is really no upper or lower limit for the word or paragraph count in such a letter.
  • Sign Off: You can sign off by simply writing your name or 'Yours Truly,' before your name.
As you can see, a letter format is really very simple, and makes it really convenient for the reader to read, understand, and respond to the letter as well.