How To Address a Business Letter Professionally

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Addressing a business letter is a critical aspect of writing professional correspondence. It provides a good first impression and sets the tone for the rest of your message. Understanding how to address a business letter properly is an essential skill for your career. In this article, we explore how to address a business letter adequately and explain the necessary information you must include to help you build stronger and more effective professional relationships.

What is a business letter?

A business letter is a formal document sent to a company or individual as a means of professional correspondence. Business letters are an essential aspect of your professional life, as most organizations use them to relay and receive important information regarding their business and operations. While printed forms of business letters are becoming less popular with the convenience of email, several important forms of correspondence are still sent via post. You can also choose to write a formal business letter and attach it to an email for faster communication.

Read more: Writing a Business Letter: Format and Example

How to address a business letter

A formal business letter contains several vital pieces of information. Below are essential elements to include when addressing one:

1. Include a header

Addressing a business letter starts with an appropriate heading at the top left side of the page, followed by a professional salutation. A typical heading for a business letter includes:

  • Your full name

  • Your city and province

  • The best phone number to reach you

  • Your email address

  • Date you wrote the letter

  • Contact's full name (if available)

  • Contact's title

  • Company name

  • Company address

Example:

Tammy Callen
2720 Glover Road,
British Columbia, V3V 4V4
604-807-6010
tammy.callen@email.com

June 20, 2021

Theodore Jensen
Head of Finance
Zamorra Consulting
1234 Parkdale Avenue,
Hamilton, Ontario, K2K 2K2

2. Add a salutation

In formal business letters, the salutation is often short and professional. There are several types of salutations based on the unique situation and who you're addressing, including:

When using a standard formal salutation

A typical formal salutation usually begins with “Dear,” followed by the title of the recipient and the recipient's last name. You may then end the salutation with a colon or a comma. For example:

  • Dear Mr. Lucas:

  • Dear Professor Lucas,

When you're unsure of the recipient's marital status

For men, "Mr." is appropriate in any case. When writing to a female correspondent and you are unsure of the marital status, it is best to use “Ms.” or remove the pronoun completely. For example, you could use:

  • Dear Leslie Lucas,

  • Dear Ms. Lucas,

When you're addressing two or more recipients

When sending a letter to two recipients, address the letter to both recipients in alphabetical order, or simply address the company. When writing to more than two or three recipients, use the company, department, or team name. For example:

  • Dear Mr. Johnson and Ms. Lucas,

  • Dear Wavewood:

  • Dear Wavewood Finance Team,

When you're unsure of the recipient's name

In instances where you do not know the recipient's name, do some research to find it through social media or by calling the organization to ask. If you still can't find the recipient's personal information, it's acceptable to address the letter using formats such as:

  • Dear Hiring Manager,

  • To Whom It May Concern,

  • Dear [Company Name] Team Member,

These are suitable alternatives only when you can't find more personalized information.

Read more: When to Use the Phrase “To Whom It May Concern”

3. Include a closing salutation

Ensure that you keep your closing paragraph short, a maximum of two sentences. Reiterate your purpose for writing, followed by a simple call to action and a closing phrase before your signature. Examples of call-to-action sentences include:

  • I look forward to your response.

  • We eagerly await your feedback.

  • Please keep me informed.

The most professional closing phrase is “Sincerely,” however, you may also choose to use phrases like:

  • Regards,

  • Cordially,

  • Best,

  • Respectfully,

  • Yours truly,

  • All the best,

  • Thank you,

  • Regards,

4. Finish with your signature

Your signature comes just beneath the closing salutation. Leave four single spaces between your closing salutation and your typed name, title, and any other contact information you want to include.

Use the format below:

[I look forward to your quick response,]

[Sincerely,]

[Your handwritten signature]

[Typed full name]

[Title]

Proofread your correspondence more than once or have a colleague review it to ensure it is error-free.

Read more: How to End a Letter

Why knowing how to send a business letter is important

Sending a business letter remains one of the most accepted forms of formal correspondence. Understanding the simple rules to adhere to when addressing a business letter is a great way to build and foster great professional relationships. Most organizations and corporate professionals receive a significant amount of correspondence regularly. So, your business letters must be well written and free of grammatical errors to make a positive impression.

How do you know if a business letter is informal or formal?

Before sending a business letter, you can conduct sufficient research into the company or the recipient. You can then make an educated decision on which form of writing style is best for the goal you are seeking to achieve. Business letters typically require a specific style of writing, which depends on whether your business letter is formal or informal. Here's what to consider for each:

Formal business letters

  • Proposal for a business partnership

  • Request for business information

  • Inquiry to purchase goods or services

  • Cover letter for an employment application

  • Application for work leave

Informal business letters

  • Application for a position with a uniquely casual company

  • Correspondence with a company you already have a friendly working relationship

  • Informal requests such as sending a holiday greeting card or a gift

What does a business letter contain?

A business letter typically includes three essential sections.

  1. Introduction: ensure that you begin your letter with the primary purpose of sending it. Keep your opening paragraph brief and straightforward by utilizing natural and clear language to communicate what you are trying to say. You can begin with, “I am writing in reference to….”

  2. Body: the following paragraphs after your introduction provide the recipient with a full scope of the purpose of your letter. Ensure that you use simple and concise sentences when delivering your message to sustain your recipient's interest throughout the content.

  3. Conclusion: the final part of your business letter is the conclusion. In this section, conclude by showing appreciation to your recipient for their time. Also, ensure that you end your letter with the appropriate closing salutation, typically “Yours sincerely” or “Respectfully," is appropriate in any case.

How to address the envelope

How you address the heading and the letter envelope determines the tone of your letter. It is vital for you to address the envelope correctly so it reaches the right person or department. The envelope is also an excellent opportunity for you to make a great first impression on the receiver before they read the content of your letter. Here's how to address a business letter envelope correctly:

1. Begin with your contact information

Write your contact information clearly in the top left corner of the envelope. Your contact information acts as a means to aid mail return if they cannot deliver your letter. It also provides the recipient with insight into who you are and from where you're sending the letter. Your contact information includes:

  • Your name

  • Your title

  • Your mailing address

  • Your company's name

2. Add the recipient's information

When addressing a letter to a specific person within a company, your envelope address includes:

  • The recipient's full name

  • The recipient's title

  • The company name

  • The company mailing address

When addressing the letter to an entire department or section of business, the address includes:

  • The company name

  • The word “Attention” or its abbreviated form “Attn” followed by a colon and then the department name (ex., “Attention: Finance Department”)

  • The company mailing address

Example of a formal business letter

Here's an example of a formal business letter:

Tammy Callen
2720 Glover Road,
British Columbia, V3A 4P6
604-777-6666
tammy.callen@email.com

June 20, 2021

Theodore Jensen
Head of Finance
Zamorra Consulting
3196 Parkdale Avenue,
Hawkesbury, Ontario, A1A 1A1

Dear Mr. Jensen,

I want to notify you of an accounting error discovered in our last sent quarter sales report. Our team carried out an independent audit on June 17, 2021, where we found similar discrepancies spanning the last three years.

We also noticed that the total sum remitted to our account for this period has been slightly less than what our sales figures currently show. Kindly inform us, at your earliest convenience, of a suitable date to schedule a meeting between both teams for a full-scale account reconciliation action.

I look forward to your quick response

Sincerely,

Tammy Callen

Senior Sales Manager

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