Understanding and Writing Effective Business Letters – Student Workbook

Business Letter Example – Student Workbook

Many students struggle to understand the proper format and style of a business letter. This step-by-step lesson plan teaches students how to write an effective letter by using examples, templates and activities.

Begin with a formal salutation that includes the recipient’s title and last name. If you don’t know their title, use their first name and a colon (Dear Jordan). Single-space the entire document and include margins of one-inch on all sides.

1. Introduction

Whether writing to an editor to urge action on a local issue or to the company CEO about a product problem, students need to know how to communicate a concern in a business letter format. Using the template shared here, students can practice identifying the six main parts of a block-style formal letter: return address; inside address; date; salutation; body; and closing. They can also review the formatting (margins and spacing, block format) and professional tone of a business letter.

To start, the teacher can share the template with the class and discuss the purpose of a business letter. Then, students can use a bubble map to identify the different types of letters they may need to write in the future: congratulatory letters, request letters, complaint letters, letters of recommendation, follow-up letters, or college admission letters. During this discussion, the teacher should remind the class that it is important to use respectful language when addressing someone in a business letter.

2. Body

Whether students are writing to a company about a product or to their local City Council about an eyesore, using a formal business letter format lends credibility and legitimacy to their position, request, or opinion. Using proper spelling and grammar also helps students communicate in a professional manner.

Use a professional font style (Times New Roman or Helvetica) and size. It is important that the font is easy to read for your audience.

Salutation: Address the recipient by their title and last name, or first name if you know it. Avoid generic greetings such as “Dear Sir” or “To Whom It May Concern.”

If the sender isn’t using letterhead, include the address at the top of the letter, one line before the date. If the letter is to be mailed, leave two lines for your signature and mailing information. If you are sending the letter to a third party, add a BCC line for the names of those included in the correspondence.

3. Conclusion

Whether urging a company to provide a discount for a product or telling the mayor to get rid of a neighborhood eyesore, using a formal business letter format lends credibility to the sender’s request, position or opinion. The composition in this student workbook urges the governor to take action on a bill, but with a few word changes, the same composition could also be addressed to a city council member or the local newspaper editor.

This assessment test tests a high school student’s understanding of the block-formatted business letter format. It includes multiple choice, true-false and fill in the blank questions. An answer key is included. The test reviews return and inside addresses; spacing; and what to include in the introduction, body and conclusion of a business letter.

4. Signature

A business letter should always include a handwritten signature, not a stamp or computerized one. After the closing, skip four lines to leave room for the signature.

Close the letter with a formal, appropriate closing like “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” or “Cordially.” If you are sending enclosed documents, indicate this by including the words “Enclosures” below the signature line.

As with any type of writing, business letters require precise formatting for clarity and readability. Whether you are asking the company president to approve a grant application or writing to your city councilman about a neighborhood eyesore, proper business letter format lends credibility to your message. Make sure your letter is left-aligned and single-spaced to maintain readability. Use a clean, easy-to-read font for maximum visibility, and ensure the margins are about 1 inch. The example in this lesson uses Times New Roman and size 12. This format is standard for most professional correspondence, but you may have unique formatting requirements based on your employer.

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