A letter is a form of written communication widely used across the world. Different types of letters are used in different situations. For example, formal letters are used for official purposes, whereas informal letters are meant for family and friends.
A business letter is a type of formal letter. It is used for the exchange of information between various business agents, i.e. customers, owners, suppliers, government officials, etc.
Every such type of letter has a set of components common to different styles of business writing. The components are:
1. Origin of the letter – This section includes the name, address and other contact details, such as the phone number and e-mail, of the sender. For the recipient, this is also the return address of the letter.
2. Letter date – It refers to the date on which the letter was written. The date is generally written in the “Begin with the month, use a comma” format (March 5, 2011) or “Begin with the day, no comma” format (5 March 2011).
3. Mailing details of the recipient – This section includes the complete name, address and title of the recipient.
4. Point of reference – If the letter is in response to any specific detail asked by the recipient, then it needs to be mentioned. For example: the bill number or the branch code, etc.
5. Subject of the letter – It is a one-liner indicating the purpose of the letter.
6. Salutation – It includes words for greeting the recipient. For instance, Dear Sir or Madam.
7. Body of the letter – It contains the content of the letter.
8. Complimentary close/complimentary closing – It is a phrase that appears at the end of the letter but before the signature of the sender. It helps in closing the letter in a non-abrupt manner and also shows respect for the recipient of the letter. Some commonly used complimentary closings are ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Yours Sincerely’, and ‘Regards’.
9. Signature of the sender – This section includes the signature and name of the sender. It may also include the designation of the sender.
10. Enclosures – If any additional document or documents is sent with the letter, then their number and title is mentioned in the enclosure section.
11. CC – ‘CC’ means courtesy copies. It is an optional section that includes the list of people and their addresses who will require the copy of the letter along with the enclosures, if any.