Business letters often require enclosures, which are additional pages that are not part of the letter but are attached to it, usually because the information they contain is referred to in the body of the letter.
A business letter is a written representation of the sender. Professional business letters make a good impression, while poorly crafted letters indicate that the sender is unprofessional and often call into question whether the sender is a viable business associate. Business letters use formal language and block format with no indents. Include sections for the heading, salutation, body, signature line and a designation of the number of enclosures at the bottom.
1. First Lines
Type the heading just beneath the letterhead logo. The heading consists of the date, name and address of the sender, and a reference if desired. Space down two to three lines below the lowest portion of the letterhead, and at the left margin type the current day's date, spelled out rather than abbreviated. Press “return” twice to skip a line, then write out the first and last name of the sender with company title.
On the next line, write out the name of the company even though the letter is drafted on letterhead. Press “return” and use the next few lines to write out the company address of the location where the sender typically works.
2. The Reference Line (Optional)
A reference indicates what the letter is about and is helpful to the reader when the letter is discussing something documented, such as an account with a designated number. If a reference is desired, press “return” three times to skip two lines and type “Re.:” which is the abbreviation for “regarding,” followed by a period and a colon. Press the space bar twice to skip a space and type an account number or any other number the letter is in reference to. It is also permissible to use an incomplete sentence to indicate what the letter refers to, such as “Telephone conversation of July 8, 2017.”
3. The Salutation
Enter the salutation two lines down from the reference line, taking care to address the reader formally, such as “Dear Mr. Clayton” or “Dear Ms. Jones.”
4. Referring to Enclosures
Refer to the letter's enclosures and/or the information referenced in the reference line at the beginning of the letter's body to get straight to the point of the communication.
For example: “Please find enclosed copies of the June and July 2010 account statements for the above-referenced account,” or “Please find enclosed copies of the June and July 2010 account statements for account number 1234 as previously discussed in the above-referenced conversation."
5. The Letter Body
Draft the rest of the letter's body by telling the reader why the enclosures are attached and what the reader is supposed to do with them. Usually the sender is sending the enclosures because they were requested or because the sender needs the reader to use them to solve a problem. Either way, explain to the reader what he is supposed to do with the enclosures. Short-letter bodies are one paragraph. If two or more separate thoughts are included in the body, break each thought into its own paragraph with a line between each.
6. Closing the Letter
Skip one line and type “Sincerely” followed by a comma, or some other professional indication that the sender is bringing the letter to a close. Space down at least four lines and type the sender's full name. Sign the letter in ink between the “sincerely” and the typed name.
Type “Enclosure” two lines down from the typed named below the signature for one attachment, or “Enclosures (2)” for two enclosures. If there are more than two enclosures, type the appropriate number in the parenthesis.
About the Author
An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.
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Make a great impression with a properly formatted cover letter
A properly formatted cover letter attached to your resume is a great way to show a prospective employer that you are interested in the job being offered—a cover letter may even give you a valuable advantage over other candidates.
Whether you fill out an official application provided by the employer or you are asked to send in a resume, we recommend taking the time to write a cover letter.
Remember, in addition to your resume, a cover letter is the first impression that a prospective employer will have of you—make it a good one!
Take time to present yourself professionally on paper
It is generally good practice to use a standard business letter format. Remaining within the one-page maximum, your letter should be printed on basic, white, letter-size paper and typed in a business-style font such as Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial, usually in an 11- or 12-point size. Regardless of the industry in which you seek employment, we suggest avoiding fancy colors or lettering, as this may appear unprofessional.
Remember that you want to encourage the prospective employer to review your resume with the mindset that you are a professional; you do not want him or her to be deterred by an overly casual approach.
How to format a cover letter
When you are formatting your cover letter, remember that you must include a header, an introduction, the body, and a closing. These sections can be separated into individual paragraphs. Looking at cover letter examples can sometimes help in the process of creating a properly formatted cover letter.
At the top of the letter, include your name and complete mailing address; leave some space, then add the recipient's name, title (if any), and complete mailing address. Add the current date as a separate line.
123 Spruce Avenue
Anytown, MI 12345
John Smith, Human Resources Manager
456 Maple Way
Anytown, MI 67890
23 June 2009
Following this, include a reference section (for example, RE: technical position at ABC Company). You may also wish to indicate by what means your letter was delivered, i.e., Via Fax, In Person, etc., again on a separate line.
Next, add your opening salutation; for example:
Dear Mr. Choi:
Dear Hiring Managers:
Please note that a full colon is placed after the name or title and not a comma, which is used only in casual writing.
This section should briefly indicate the position for which you are applying; here, you can also thank the employer for an earlier conversation you may have had with him or her regarding the position or indicate how you heard about the position (i.e., from a website, a newspaper ad, etc.).
Here, you will list your qualifications, experience, and any specific points of note, such as availability. You should also highlight your skills and characteristics as they pertain to the position. This part of the cover letter is all about showing the employer what you have to offer and why you're the right candidate for the job. Learn more about what to include in your letter with How to Write a Letter, an ebook available now on Amazon.
In the closing of your cover letter, thank the employer for his or her time in reviewing your application. You should also mention that you look forward to discussing the position in more detail with the employer in the near future. Ask him or her to "contact you at the number (or numbers) listed below," which will be placed after your signature at the bottom of the page.
The closing also includes the final salutation, which can be written as follows:
Note that in each case, a comma follows the final salutation. After the closing salutation, double-space and type your name. If you will be printing and mailing this letter, leave four lines between the final salutation and your typed name, which will give you room to sign your name. On the next line under your typed name, type your phone number(s), since you mentioned in your closing for him or her to contact you at the number(s) shown below.
It's important to provide a notation at the end of your cover letter stating there are additional documents in the envelope for the employer to review (i.e., your resume). The way to make this notation is as follows:
- Double-space after your contact phone number(s) and type the abbreviation Encl. (for one enclosure) or Encls. (for more than one). This section can also designate who else is receiving a copy of this letter and enclosures. This is done by double-spacing and typing cc: File, or cc: Human Resources, if applicable. This should be the final item on the page.
Here is an example of how the closing salutation would appear with all of the above included after it:
Home phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
Cell phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
cc: Human Resources
From format to content
Formatting a cover letter is not always easy, but with these helpful hints and tips you'll definitely make a memorable first impression. Keep in mind that nothing screams unprofessionalism like a nicely formatted cover letter that is filled with spelling and grammar errors. To ensure your resume and cover letter are error-free, submit them to our resume editors.
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Writing a great resume is your first step in securing a job. The confusing part about resumes is that there are several different types to choose from: functional, chronological, combination, targeted, and mini are just some of the available resume formats. In this article, we’re going to discuss the chronological resume—what it is, and how to write one.
Following our previous look at resume writing, we now look at how to format a resume.
After weeks of searching, you’ve finally found it: a job posting that suits your skills and interests perfectly. Clinching an interview is vital when it comes to finding employment, so why take a risk? Follow our editor's advice and submit a cover letter along with your resume or application.
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