Structuring a letter is one of the most difficult parts of writing. The fiddly nature of formatting is hard to learn and complicated to set up. Take the guesswork out of structure by reading about these common letter templates and top apps for writers. You will find yourself much more confident next time you’re expected to write a formal letter.
The Most Popular Formal Letter Templates
These three letter templates are the three most common for letter-writing. We list them in the order that they appear by frequency.
- Block format: The most common form, the block format is all left-justified, with no indentation, including the body, sender’s address, recipient’s address, and closing. You will use single space except for a double space after each paragraph. The block format requires one-inch margins, which is the default on most word processors. It’s important to have a good command of the block format, since you’ll likely use it at least once.
- Modified block format: The modified block is less common, but still used with relative frequency. Like the block, the addresses and the body are left-justified, unindented, and single-spaced. The date and closing, however, are centered. This can be achieved with the tab button or by aligning those lines to the center.
- Semi-block format: The semi-block is less used, but it is best to know it in case you ever have to use it. It is similar to the modified block except that the paragraphs are indented, like an academic paper would be. This may be achieved with the tab button or with the paragraph settings, which on many word processors allow you to indent multiple paragraphs with a few clicks.
Some other things to remember about template include fonts and punctuation. Fonts should always be standard and of a readable size. The typical one is Times New Roman 12 point. However, Arial is also acceptable. Use something readable and conservative.
Punctuation also varies. Generally, you will use a colon (:) after your salutation, such as “Dear Mrs. Bear:” and a comma (,) after your closing, such as “Sincerely,”. However, the alternate format is “open punctuation” style. For this, you will exclude the punctuation after the salutation and closing.
Make sure to check your word processor; many have templates which you can use to auto-format your letter. This will make the process considerably easier.
Help with Formal Letter Formats
Now that you’re more educated about the formatting of formal letters, all that’s left to do is practice! Write a few sample letters that you can use to get the feel for it. As a bonus, you can keep these and base future letters off of them. And if you’re still struggling, it’s always good to ask for help. A few well-chosen words of advice can help you get on the right track.