Business Letter-Principles,Nature,Functions,Essential Qualities,Elements of Structure,Forms of Layout,Style of Presentation

Forms of Layout


For making a favourable initial impression it is necessary to choose good quality paper.The first page of a business letter is typed on letterhead stationary,which shows company information printed at the top.Subsequent pages of a business letter and all pages of a personal business letter are typed on good quality plain paper.Most letters are typed on standard size stationary,81/2 by 11 inches.Generally white paper is the standard colour for practically any type of business organization.Some firms use tinted paper to suit their activity.

2. Margins

Margins in a letter give a neat appearance and add to its attractiveness.Generally leave an inch and a half or two inches on the left hand and at the top (if there is no letterhead),one to one and a half inches on the right and at the bottom.

3. Typing

Most business letters are saves time and gives tidy appearance to the letter.

4. Punctuation

There are three recognized styles of punctuation for the parts of  a letter-open punctuation,closed punctuation and mixed punctuation.

i. Closed punctuation

In conventional punctuation the period follows the date line,the end line of inside address and the signature,while all preceding lines in the inside address,salutation,complimentary close are set off by commas.

For Example:

Date                             : 11 April,2007

Inside Address           : Dr. M.L. Kapoor


XYZ University,


Himachal Pradesh

Salutation                    : Dear Sharma,

Complimentary Close: Yours Sincerely.

ii. Open Punctuation

As the name indicates,no punctuation marks are used in any part of the letter except in the body in which the usual punctuation marks are omitted.

iii. Mixed Punctuation

In it a comma is used after the date line,street name(if any),the salutation,and a complimentary close and a period follows the last line of the inside address.

Of all the three styles mixed punctuation style is most common.

Styles of Presentation

There are several styles which are used for writing business letters but certain forms are widely used in today’s correspondence.

1. The Block Style

2. The Semi-Block Style

3. The Complete Block Style

4. The Indented Style

1. The Block Style

In this style of layout the date line, complementary signature,name of the writer,his designation etc. everything is aligned with the right margin.All others like reference number,inside address,salutation,enclosures are aligned with the left margin.It uses the open form of punctuation what is to say no punctuation marks are necessary except in the body of the letter.

2. Semi-Block Style

This form is a compromise between the block form and indented.It employs the block form with open punctuation.It differs from the block form only in the five to ten spaces or paragraphs.It combines the advantages of the block form and indented form.The block form makes for fast typing and paragraphs indention makes for ease in reading.The combination produces an attractive appearance that pleases some business firms.

3. Full-Block Form/Complete Block style

Another variation of the block form is the complete or full block.In this form,all the parts of a letter begin from the left margin.All lines of all the parts like date,salutation,subject etc. flush with the left margins.It is easier to type since the typist does not have to adjust different margins for different parts of letter.This form concentrates too much on the left margin and sometimes the margin appears to be crowded and unbalanced.

4. Indented Form

It is perhaps one of the oldest forms of a business letter.In this form,each new element is indented two to four spaces.In this form generally closed punctuation is used.Naturally the indented form requires more time for typing because of the layout.

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