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Formats for Business Correspondence

     Formats for business memorandums, letters and short reports vary, with several styles within the acceptable range, but many companies have preferred styles. Writers should use a standard style but must discover and adopt the style preferred by their employers.

     One standard format for memos, for letters (with and without letterhead) and for two styles of short reports follows.

MEMORANDUMS (for correspondence within a company)

If a company does not have a standardized form for memorandums, the writer should:

1. Use the following formats:

A. a page size of 8 1/2" by 11" (can be company letterhead)

B. a 1" margin on top, bottom and sides

C. a single-spaced text format, double-spaced between paragraphs

NOTE: In Norton Textra Connect the screen will appear single-spaced but will be double-spaced; the Textra default is double-spacing.

 

2. NOT indent the first line of each paragraph

 

3. Include the following, double-spaced, at the top of the memo at the left margin:

A. DATE:

B. TO:

C. FROM:

D. SUBJECT: (may be omitted, particularly if message is bad news)

 

4. Triple-space between subject line (or FROM: if subject line not included) and start of text

An example of memorandum format follows:

DATE: September 19, 19xx

TO: Jane Doe

FROM: John Smith

SUBJECT: Division promotions

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx....

 

 

 

LETTERS (for correspondence outside of the company)

For formal business letters the writer should:

1. Spell out months and avoid abbreviating years in the dateline

Avoid: 1/26/97

Instead: January 26, 1997

 

2. Use U.S. Post Office Department addresses including the two-letter state abbreviations

Avoid: Peru, Ill. 61354

Instead: Peru, IL 61354

 

3. Use one of the following for a salutation line:

A. A courtesy title and person's last name

(1). Mr. (or Dr.) for men

(2). Ms. (or Dr.) for women—exception: follow woman's preference for Miss or Mrs.

Avoid: Dear Joe (unless addressed to close friend)

Avoid: Dear Joan (unless addressed to close friend)

Instead: Dear Mr. Smith

Instead: Dear Ms. Smith

B. If letter is not addressed to one person, omit the salutation line or use name of department or division of company to avoid sexist language

Avoid: Dear Sir

Avoid: Gentlemen

Avoid: To Whom It May Concern (old-fashioned)

Instead: no salutation line

Instead: Dear Customer Service

 

4. Use one of the following punctuation formats:

A. No punctuation following salutation (Dear Mr. Smith) and complimentary close (Sincerely)

B. A colon (Dear Mr. Smith:) following salutation and a comma following complimentary close (Sincerely,)

 

5. Use the following formats:

A. a page size of 8 1/2" by 11" (can be company letterhead)

B. a 1" margin on top, bottom and sides

C. a single-spaced text format, double-spaced between paragraphs

NOTE: In Norton Textra Connect the screen will appear single-spaced but will be double-spaced; the Textra default is double-spacing.

 

6. NOT add reference initials. Reference initials, placed below the signature block, identify the person who keyboarded the letter if different from the person who signs the letter.

 

 

 

LETTER FORMAT - WITHOUT LETTERHEAD

     One standard letter format is the full block style. The full block is a modern style in which all elements begin at the left margin. For a full block letter keyboarded on plain paper, the writer should match the format illustrated below:

Writer's street address

Writer's city, state abbreviation zip

Date

 

Full name of person receiving letter

Person's job title

Company name

Street Address

City, state abbreviation zip

 

Subject: (optional)

 

Dear Mr. Xxxxxxxxxxxx (or Dear Ms. Xxxxxxxxxxxxx)

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx

xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxx. X xxxxx xxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxx.

 

Sincerely

(writer's signature)

Writer's full name

Title (if needed)

xx (initials of person who keyboarded letter only if not writer)

Enclosures: (if needed, indicate what is enclosed)

Copies: (if needed, indicate who receives copies)

 

 

 

LETTER FORMAT - WITH LETTERHEAD

     For a full block letter keyboarded on company letterhead, the writer should match the format illustrated below. Note that the only difference between letterhead and plain paper is the writer's address.

**(Use IVCC letterhead)***

Date

 

Full name of person receiving letter

Person's job title

Company name

Street Address

City, state abbreviation zip

 

Subject: (optional)

 

Dear Mr. Xxxxxxxxxxxx (or Dear Ms. Xxxxxxxxxxxxx)

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxx.Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
x
xxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. XxXxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

Sincerely

 

(writer's signature)

 

Writer's full name

Title (if needed)

 

xx (initials of person who keyboarded letter only if not writer)

Enclosures: (if needed, indicate what is enclosed)

Copies: (if needed, indicate who receives copies)

 

 

 

SHORT REPORT FORMATS

Informal, short reports staying within the company may be written in memorandum format or may include a title page. Reports going outside of a company should be written with a title page.

For either format the writer should:

1. Use the following formats:

A. a page size of 8 1/2" by 11"

B. a 1" margin on bottom and sides; a 1 or 2" margin on top

C. a single-spaced text format, double-spaced between paragraphs

NOTE: In Norton Textra Connect the screen will appear single-spaced but will be double-spaced; the Textra default is double-spacing.

 

2. NOT indent the first line of each paragraph

 

3. Add headings and sub-headings to identify report content/parts. A variety of styles, including location (centered or left margin) and format (all capitals, bold face underlined) are acceptable, but the headings must be consistent and must differentiate main headings from sub-headings.

 

4. Number pages, except for page one, typically at top right

 

 

 

SHORT REPORT - MEMORANDUM STYLE

DATE: Sept. 9, 19xx

 

TO: Joan Smith

 

FROM: John Wilson

 

SUBJECT: Safety Inspection Report

 

 

Heading

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:

 

1. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

2. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

3. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

Heading

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

 

 

 

SHORT REPORT FORMAT - WITH TITLE PAGE

A title page of a short report typically includes the following items centered on a page:

1. Title of report, in the top third of page

2. Name, title of person for whom report was written, near the center of the page

3. Name, title of writer, in the bottom third of page

4. Date report was submitted, about two inches from the bottom

     The title of a report with a title page is repeated at the top of page one, centered, about two inches down.

     The rest of the format for a short report with a title page is identical to a memomorandum report including the need for headings and single-spacing within paragraphs, double-spacing between.