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Basic Letter Writing Format: Four Standard Layouts

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

A letter writing format is a standard layout – a widely-accepted way to organize a letter. Business letters (including cover letters, appeal letters, acceptance letters, and resignation letters) follow one of four basic formats.

Block Format

4 standard letter writing formats with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #ContentWriting #FreelanceWriting

In this layout, set all parts of the letter flush against the left margin of the page: your contact information, date, addressee information, greeting, letter body, closing, handwritten signature, typed signature, and post script. Place a space in between each paragraph of the body.

Modified Block Format (also called Semi-Block Format)

In the modified block format, heading and closing elements of the letter are indented to the right side of the page: your contact information and the date at the top of the letter and the letter closing, the handwritten signature, and typed signature at the end of the letter.

How far should you indent? Technically, that’s up to you. A favorite guideline is to indent to the center of the page. You may choose to indent even further. Whatever you choose, keep in mind these indentation rules:

  • Indent so that heading and closing elements line up
  • Don’t indent so far that individual elements of the content require more than one line
  • Indent so that the letter’s format looks neat and presentable

Other parts of the letter are aligned to the left side of the page: addressee information, the greeting, the letter body, and the post script. Place a space in between each paragraph of the body.

Indented Format

In the indented format (as in the modified block layout) the heading and closing elements are indented to the right half of the page, lining up evenly with one another: your contact information, the date, the closing, signature, and typed signature.  Other elements are aligned flush to the left.

In addition, the first line of each paragraph of the letter body is indented.

Memorandum Format

This format is appropriate for memos and office correspondence. Letter heading elements are placed flush left, labeled and followed by a colon, like this:

Date: insert the letter date
To: insert the addressee’s name. If there is more than one addressee is to receive the letter, list recipients in alphabetical order.
From: insert your name and title, if appropriate.
Re: or Subject: insert the topic or purpose of the letter.

The letter body follows the heading elements. A memorandum letter writing format does not require a closing, handwritten signature, typed signature, or postscript.

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