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Writing for business: the 8 parts of a personal business letter

What is a personal business letter? It is a letter written by an individual and mailed to a company, business, or government agency. It is more formal than a letter or personal note.

There are eight parts to a personal business letter as follows:

  1. Return addressThis is your address, do not include your name, and enter your address, apartment number, if applicable, line 2, your city, state, and zip code, all on one line. Write the full name of the city and state (the official post office abbreviation is also acceptable) and add the zip code. Note: If you are writing the letter on letterhead that already includes the address, this part is not necessary.
  2. Dated: Enter today’s day on the next line. Spell the entire month, comma, date, comma, and year in 4 digits, such as “2011.”
  3. Letter address: This area has who the letter is sent to and their full address. Write the person’s full name on the first line: The street address goes on the next line or two as needed. Enter the full name of the city, the postal abbreviation of the state followed by the zip code.
  4. Greeting: This is a formal greeting. Usually “Dear” followed by formal titles, ie: Mr., Mrs., Miss, Dr., or Reverend. If you are writing to a woman and you don’t know her martial status or what title she prefers “Mrs.” It is acceptable. Follow the title by the full name or just by the last name.
  5. Body: This is the most important part of your letter. Use paragraphs correctly. Be brief and direct so that the recipient quickly knows the purpose of your letter. Provide enough detail, but do not use more words than necessary.
  6. Complementary closure: Use phrases like “Sincerely yours” or “Sincerely yours.” Capitalize the first letter of the first word, lowercase for the second word followed by a comma.
  7. Sender’s name: This is where your name goes, omit four spaces between the complementary closing and your typed name. Use your first and last name.
  8. Enclosures: If you include any documents with the letter, such as a resume, product sample, or other explanatory documents, show that there is an attachment by writing “Attachments” one line below the closing. You can list each attachment by name, this is a good way to make sure the recipient knows exactly what is in the envelope.

These are the parts and order of a personal business letter. It is assumed that you are writing this letter yourself, so you do not need to enter the typist’s initials.

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