Business letters are timeless ways to convey important information to shareholders, notify staff change, and inform prospective clients of new services. The conventional style of writing formal letters is block format. If you have ever written a business letter or received one, you have interacted with the block structure. However, emerging trends in block letter format prompt a new analysis of block structure letters. We delve into the evolving block formats and help you decide which format evokes the best visual effect to evocatively convey important business messages or land you the dream job.
What is a Block Letter Format?
A block letter format is a minimalist letter type that utilizes simple outlines to delineate a message. Block letter format’s text is aligned to the left with single spacing between the lines and double spacing to separate the paragraphs instead of the usual indentations.
Block letter formats, especially the traditional block, have specific punctuation guidelines in the letter’s salutation part. Different block formats stem from the original block format with varied specifications. Some companies and organizations are more lenient when using either of the block letter formats, while others require select block formats. It is essential you understand the different block letter formats that you can use in an official letter.
Why Use a Block Letter Format?
A block letter format is a reserve for official letters. Its minimalist and clear view outline salient information on the first skim. Many human resource managers and other formal letter recipients spend a maximum of an average of 2 minutes on a letter. You should achieve a good visual effect that stipulates your reason for writing. A block letter format is easy to read and looks professional. Whether you are writing to a business or a letter to your school, use a block structure in your letter to communicate effectively.
How to Write a Block Letter
1. Creating the Outline
The initial step to writing a block-structured letter is formatting the margin. Make 1-inch margins on a blank A4 paper or a Microsoft Word document. The margins streamline the document’s alignment.
2. Formatting Addresses and Date
Begin with the sender’s address on the left part of the letter; however, center the letterhead if your letter includes a letterhead. Remember to use 12pt New Times Roman. Follow the sender’s address with the relevant contact number and fax number. Skip two spaces using the return or enter button on your computer, then write the date. You can use the different date formats but ideally use month, date, and year style. Add another double space, then write the recipient address.
After writing the addresses, what follows is the salutation clause. It is good practice to know who you are writing to include the correct title, for example, engineer, doctor, or attorney, rather than the vague Mr./Mrs. Skip a line or a single space and start the salutation with “Dear” followed by the title and name of the recipient, i.e., “Dear Eng. Rey:”
4. Formatting the Body
Skip a line after the salutation and begin the body of the letter. A letter body contains the intention of your letter and any relevant information you wish to convey. Paragraphs are not intended but separated by double spaces. Write your letter succinctly to communicate your message with good visual effect.
5. Finalizing Your Letter
After finishing the body of the letter, skip a single space and insert a closing phrase. “Sincerely” is usually a good closing phrase followed by a comma. Closing phrases take many forms, such as “sincerely yours” “best regards.” After a closing phrase, skip three lines and include your name and title. Sign in the space above your name.
That is the professional way to write an official letter in a block-style format. However, if you have any more document attachments, skip two lines and write “Enclosures.” Indicate the number of enclosures or list them two spaces below your name.
Types of Block Letter Formats
1. Full Block Format
The full block letter format or the traditional block is the most common block letter format. Most companies and official organizations use the full block letter format in letters. Full block letters have the entire text aligned to the left and have closed punctuation requirements. A colon or comma is usually common after the salutation clause. However, you will not require ending punctuation in open punctuation full block letters after the salutation. All enclosures and dates are also left-aligned.
- Content is aligned to the left margin of the page.
- In appearance, it is quite simple. It means that the reader would find it easy to read.
- A typist would also find it easier.
- There is a single line space in the paragraphs.
Sample Full Block Format
Dear Mr. ABC,
My friend and your former employee informed me about a job vacancy of Office Manager at ABC Corporation. I have a five-year experience of Administrative Assistant and it would be a great opportunity to work for your company.
As you can see from my resume that I had been taking the different tasks at XYZ Company. I had been involved in the workflow management of the company.
Thank you for considering my application.
2. Semi-Block Format
Semi block or indented style is similar to a full block style, albeit informal. The beginning of every paragraph is indented five character spaces and paragraphs separated by double space. The text is left-justified, while the date and signoff are similar.
Use semi-block structure with caution. Always check whether the organization you’re writing to accepts semi-block style before jeopardizing your chances of a successful transaction.
- The beginning of the paragraph is indented at five-character spaces. The rest of the paragraph is not indented.
- Sign off and date have a similar alignment.
Sample Semi-Block Format
I hope you are doing great in the new country. I am missing you a lot here. However, I am quite aware of the fact that this opportunity is going to be great for your future. The weather is excellent on your side as well.
I have decided to resign from the current job as I have a great opportunity to apply at XYZ Company. There is a vacancy for the post of administrative assistant and as you know I had been interested in this post since the beginning of my career.
I am fine and my married life is going great.
I am looking forward to seeing you in the summer vacation. Send me a message before coming so that I can make some arrangements. I have planned to have so much fun this summer.
Till next time,
3. Modified Block Format
In a modified block, the entire text is aligned to the left except for the date, signoff, and sender’s address aligned to the right. However, the date and sign are roughly set at the center but offset towards the right of the letter. The paragraphs are not intended, and the spacing is similar to a full block structure spacing.
Most organizations, businesses, and institutions prefer the full block style to the modified and semi-block structures. If you are writing a letter to an organization you have little knowledge about, choosing the safer option of a full-block letter format is better.
- The address of the sender is roughly set at the center of the sheet.
- Date and sign off also have a similar alignment.
Sample Modified Block Format
Thank you so much for informing me about the vacancy at XYZ company. It would be an honor to work for your company. I am applying for the position of administrative assistant. It would be great to have your reference for the said position.
I am taking additional training courses. There is software training, which would be completed in 10 weeks and it would be a great help at my new job.
I am sending my resume for your reference. Feel free to contact me for any further information.
Block Letter Format (Examples)
Full Block Style Business Letter vs. Full Block Style With Open Punctuation
Both styles use a full block structure where the entire text is flushed left, and the paragraphs have no indentation. However, in a business style, you require punctuation after the solution. You will not include ending punctuation in an open punctuation letter after the salutation.
What is the full block letter format?
A full block letter format is a block structure where the entire text is justified left. Instead of paragraph indentations, the paragraphs are separated by double space that you include by striking the return key twice in your computer.
What is a semi-block style?
Semi block style allows indentations in the paragraphs. However, the date and signoff have the same structure.
What is the simplified block?
A simplified block style has paragraph indentations and a single space separating the paragraphs. The address and date are not necessarily centered or left-justified. Also, you will not include a salutation. But you will include the recipient’s name in the first line of the body of the letter.
What is block paragraphing?
Block paragraphing is separating the paragraphs busing double spaces instead of the regular indentations to signify paragraph change.
A full block letter format has no indentation, and the text is justified to the left. Use full block letters when you are unsure of the organization’s letter requirements. A block letter format enhances the visibility of your letter contents. Do not be fanciful with a block letter format.