There are basically three types of letters: full block, modified semi-block, and friendly. Below you’ll find examples of each. For information about the grammatical guidelines for writing e-mail correspondences, please see this link.
Full Block Style
With full block style, you keep everything flush against the left margin. Use a colon after the greeting (Dear Mr. Boyardee:) and include the addresses of both parties. Skip one line between all the parts of the letter’s body, including paragraphs. In the heading and closing, you’ll need to skip four lines where indicated in parentheses. Here’s what a block letter looks like:
Lincoln Middle School
1412 W. Smarticus Ave.
Clarksville, TN 37040
Nov. 29, 2012
(skip three lines here and begin typing again on the fourth line down)
c/o ConAgra Foods Inc.
1 Conagra Drive
Omaha, NE 68102
Dear Mr. Boyardee:
My name is Mr. Sanchez, and I teach English at Lincoln Middle School in Clarksville, Tennessee. I’d like to have my students write fan letters to you, but I’m checking first to make sure this address is where we should send our fan mail.
If there is a different address you’d prefer we use, please let me know. You can contact me at the following e-mail address: [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Thank you for your time.
(sign name here, on the three lines skipped between the closing statement and the typed name)
Modified Semi-Block Style
With a modified semi-block letter, use both a sending and receiving address, but follow these guidelines:
- The greeting (Dear Mr. Boyardee:) should be followed by a colon if you want the letter to seem formal.
- Indent the paragraphs in the body of the letter.
- The author’s address, the date, and the closing should be indented halfway across the page.
- In the closing of a business letter (both block and semi-block), sign your name between the typed closing words (like Sincerely,) and the typed (or neatly printed) name.
- Don’t forget to put a comma after the closing statement (like Very truly yours,).
- It’s best to type a business letter (block or semi-block), but if that’s not possible, at least remember to use blue or black ink.
Friendly Letter Style
Friendly letters are sometimes very informal. You’re not required to put your own address or the date on a friendly letter, but it can be helpful to the person who receives the letter. To make your friendly letter look nice you should do the following:
- Include your address, the date, and the closing, halfway across the page.
- Indent your paragraphs.
- Skip one line between all sections of the letter.
- Include a greeting of some kind and follow it with a comma instead of a colon.
- Don’t include the address of the recipient (the person receiving the letter).
- Only write your name one time. A last name isn’t required for friendly letters, if the recipient knows you well (like if you’re writing to a best friend or close relative).
- Friendly letters can be written in fun colors (like red or green), but remember to make it legible. Don’t use a highlighter or silver gel pen; they’re just too hard to read. It’s also okay to type a friendly letter.
Take a look at the friendly letter illustration at the top of this page as a general guide.