How to Write a Letter

Know how to write a letter, whether it is business or personal, is a skill everyone needs. Following is information on the proper format of business letters, a cover letter for your resume and tips on writing personal letters.

Tips on Writing a Letter

What to Include

  • Know your audience. Only use technical terms or jargon if you are sure the reader will understand.
  • A good letter will be clear and to the point. Do not write two pages if one will do and leave out unnecessary details.
  • Remain professional and do not include any threats or slander in your letter, even if you are writing a complaint letter or a resignation.


The basic format works for any kind of business letter.

  • On the upper left-hand side, you put your address (two lines), skip a line, and put the date.
  • Skip between one and four lines, put the recipient’s name, title, and address of the company.
  • Skip another line before the salutation. The salutation should say “Dear” followed with their name, position (like Director of Resources) and name, or To Whom It May Concern: and follow with a colon.
  • Skip a line and begin the letter.
  • When finished, skip a line before the closing.
  • The closing is usually “Sincerely” or “Thank you” followed with a comma and three to four lines.
  • Type your name, skip a line, and type “Enclosure” if there are any. If there is more than one, put how many there are in parenthesis after the word.
  • If someone else typed the letter, your initials are capitalized and the typist’s initials follow in lower case, separated by a slash or colon.

Cover Letters

To learn how to write a letter to accompany your resume, you need to know to use the standard business format.

  • The letter should have three paragraphs and should be one page long.
  • The first paragraph explains why you are writing, what position you want, and why you want it.
  • The second tells why you are the best person for the job and summarizes your skills and experience.
  • The last sentence mentions again the position you want and briefly summarizes the paragraph.
  • The closing paragraph mentions your resume and asks for an interview. You need to be strong and upbeat in this paragraph so the reader will want to interview you. Thank the person for his time and include contact information.

Whether your cover letter is formal or informal in style, you should use the same format.

Personal Letters

It is also important for everyone to know how to write a letter of a personal nature.

Personal letters are not as formal as business letters and can be hand-written or typed.

  • Your address and date will be in the upper right-hand corner of the paper.
  • The closing and signature will also be on the right hand side.
  • The first line of each paragraph in the body of the letter is indented.
  • Your street address is on the first line, with the town, state, and zip on the second line.
  • The third line contains the date.
  • Skip a line before the salutation. This can be informal, since this is a personal letter, and put a comma after it.
  • The paragraphs in the body of the letter are single spaced and have a skipped line between them. The first paragraph is usually an introduction and a summary of the reason you are writing. The next paragraphs(s) go into more detail, and the closing paragraph summarizes. You may want to thank them or ask questions.
  • The closing comes after two skipped lines, can also be informal, and ends with a comma.

If you want to add a P.S. or P.P.S. to your personal letter just skip a line and start the P.S. on the left hand side of the paper.

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