Create a formal business letter

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You are going to create a formal business letter to illustrate some of the simple concepts used when presenting text.

Take a look at the sample letter below:

Letter.jpg

  • Open a new file in your Word processing program. This is where you will create your letter.
  • Save the file with a name that is easy to remember, such as Letter.

Address

Look at the address in the top right-hand corner of the letter. It lines up correctly on the left-hand side (left alignment).

Letterleftalign.jpg

Don't be tempted to use right align, which is incorrect and looks very odd!

Ralign.jpg

  • Left align your address, using the key on your keyboard marked TAB. Look at the Tabs page and you will see how to do this. Tabbing is far more accurate (and quicker) than using the space bar. You can use the address from the letter above if you want, or you can make up your own address.
  • Now take a quick look at the Business Letters page. This page shows you how to lay out the whole letter and tells you how many lines or spaces to leave between each feature.

Date

The next feature to add into your letter is the date. Notice that on the various examples of letter you have seen so far, the date is in different places on the page. All these positions are fine.

  • Choose where you want your date to go (you may need to use the tab key to line it up under the address).
  • Leave the required number of line spaces.
  • Insert your date by clicking on Insert in the menu at the top of the page.
  • You can set a format for the date, add the time if you want, and also set the date to automatically update. This last option is useful if you want to create a document to be sent out some time in the future (e.g. when mailmerging).

Salutation (or greeting)

By the way, before you start sending letters to Mr John Smith, he is made-up person and there is no street in Folkestone called The Glades, so don't bother signing him up for junk mail on the Internet!

One thing you will notice is that in both the addresses and after "Dear Mr Smith" (the salutation), there is no punctuation (such as commas or full-stops). It is pretty much accepted that, in today's business world, there is no need to punctuate addresses and salutations, and you will find that many letters don't do so.

  • Use the required line spacing and add in your salutation. You can use the one in the sample letter, or create your own.

Reference(s)

Next comes a reference (if required), such as an order number. It is useful to make any reference stand out on the page using text formatting such as bold or italics.

Other, not so good, options might be to underline the reference (often associated with hyperlinks on web pages, so this could cause confusion) or to make the text a different colour (text colour). (For this to be effective, the letter would have to be emailed or printed on a colour printer.)

  • Choose how you want to display your reference; use the required line spacing (Business Letters) and type it in.

Main body of the letter

Now we come to the main body of the letter. Take a look at the following image of the sample letter text:

Fullyjustified400.jpg

Spot the difference? The text in this version has been justified. It lines up neatly on both the left and the right of the page.

Fullyjustifiedicon.jpg

Justified or left-aligned text is used for the main body of a letter. Right-aligned or centred should not be used - they just don't look right. Try them out - you'll see what we mean.

The other difference between the original sample letter at the top of the page and the justified version is the use of bullet points to list the kit that is to be ordered. Bullet points or numbering make it easier to read a list of items, rather than putting them into one long sentence.

  • Time for you to type the main body of your letter, remembering the required line spacing. *You can copy and paste text from the sample letter, or you can invent your own. *Take a look at editing your writing to make sure that you are typing your text as efficiently as possible.*You can also vary the font size and font type that you use.*Remember to use text formatting, to justify or left-align your text. *You also need to create a list, using bullet points or numbering.

Signature

It is common practice to type the full name and position of the person sending the letter underneath their signature.

Many businesses automate or copy signatures, but a genuinely signed letter often gets far better results.

  • So, finish off your letter (using the correct line spacing) with yours faithfully or yours sincerely, depending on the salutation you have used (see Business letters).

Headers and Footers

  • Create your own header and/or footer on your letter. (You could, for example, use your name, which should always be on any piece of work you do.)
  • Whilst you are using the header and footer menu, you could also experiment with some of the other features, such as numbering pages or inserting file names.