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How to address a business letter

Updated November 21, 2016

If you are writing a business letter, you must start off correctly. As you know, a business letter is much different than a note to your best friend or a thank you card to a co-worker. You need to address it to the correct person and in the proper way. Writing this type of letter comes with specific rules.

Put your return address as the first thing in the address section of your business letter. This can go at the top like a header you would find on most business stationary. You can also start your return address just right of the centre of the page. Make sure you include your phone number and e-mail address.

Place the date next. Spell out the month instead of using an abbreviation. The date starts at the left margin of the page. Leave two blank lines between your return address and the date.

Address the company next. Find out the name of the person you need to address the letter to. If at all possible, do not address the letter as "To Whom It May Concern" or "Editor." Find out if the person is male or female. Many names are neutral such as Kelly, Taylor or Carter. Do not use "Mrs." or "Miss" in your address. For men, use "Mr." For women, use "Ms."

Skip two to four lines after the date, depending on the length of your letter (If possible, fit your letter on one page). Type the name of the person to whom you are writing the letter. On the next line, put his or her title such as president, chief financial officer or human resources director, followed by the name of the company and the street address.

Write your greeting for your business letter. Use "Dear" and "Mr." or "Ms." with the person's last name, such as "Dear Mr. Smith." Put a colon after the name.

Tip

A simple phone call to a receptionist or administrative assistant can save you from addressing your letter to "To whom it may concern" or using "Mr." when the human resources director is a female. Do not ask to speak directly to the person to whom you are writing. Just explain to the person who answers the phone that you are wanting to write a letter and need a little more information.

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