Mail Letter Format

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May 25, 2023

In 2020, the number of letters sent through post offices worldwide totaled close to 263 billion.

This figure indicates that sending letter mail is still an integral part of communication, especially for professional or business purposes, despite the existence of electronic means like email or online chat tools.

If you’re writing a letter to send to a post office, how do you write the proper mail letter format? What about formatting a professional or a business letter? 

How do you address a letter? What are the following steps to send it through the mail?

This article explains how to write and correctly format letters, including professional and business letters. Discussions include instructions on how to address recipients in the letter and send your mail.

While more and more people send and receive messages online, some types of correspondence must still be sent through traditional mail. 

When writing mail, you must know the proper letter format, especially when mailing to a business or professional. Then, when you’re ready to send that mail, FindPostOffice.org provides a convenient way to search for a post office near you whether you are from California, New York, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Alaska, Hawaii, and other states.

How to Design a Mail Letter Template

When designing a mail template for a letter, you can use U.S.-sized letters with a unique format to meet regional standards.

While the letter format can differ depending on the purpose, letters usually have standard sections like the letterhead, address, and signature.

For example, the sender’s address is always at the upper left-hand corner, below the letterhead, and above the recipient’s address.

Understand Your Target Recipients

The mail letter format can have slight differences based on where you’re sending your letter and the purpose of the mailing.

For instance, the standard mail size in the U.S. is 8.5” x 11” (215.9mm x 279.4mm). Meanwhile, people in the United Kingdom typically use A4 paper measuring 8.27” x 11.69” (210mm x 297mm). So research your recipient beforehand to avoid incorrect formatting.

Define the Purpose of Your Letter

Knowing why you’re writing the letter can help you choose the appropriate mail letter format based on the tone, paper, and visuals.

So if you’re writing a letter for promotional purposes, your recipient may appreciate it more if it uses fancy paper and includes themed graphic designs versus one that has a formal tone and is written on plain paper.

How to Address a Letter: Mr., Ms., Dr., or Mrs.

When addressing your recipient, it’s appropriate to use Mr. when writing to a man and Ms. for a woman, regardless of marital status. 

Ms. has a more professional tone to it. Experienced writers consider Miss or Mrs. as outdated.

If you’re uncertain of your recipient’s gender, use their first and last name and a gender-neutral greeting. For example, you can write “Dear John Doe.”

When writing to a medical doctor or someone with a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), use Dr. to address them. Alternatively, you can use “Professor” to address a university or college faculty member.

Letter Greeting Examples

Examples of letter greetings appropriate for business- and work-related correspondence include the following:

  • Dear Mr. Jackson
  • Dear Ms. Bennet
  • Dear Pen Rowan
  • Dear Dr. Martin
  • Dear Professor Xavier

Follow your greeting with a comma or colon. Afterward, use a line break and begin your first paragraph. For example:

Dear Mr. Jones,

I am writing this letter to…

How to Format a Professional Letter

When formatting a professional letter, you must address it to the person you’re writing to, and you must have a professional greeting and closing.

Each paragraph in your letter’s body must have a specific topic or purpose. You must also include an explanation of why you’re writing.

In your letter’s last paragraph, thank the person you’re writing to for acknowledging your request.

Also, ensure that your contact information has your full name, address, email, and phone number. This way, your recipient can easily connect with you.

Letter Format Examples for Business and Work

Whether you’re writing employment or business correspondence, you must use the appropriate letter format for your letters or emails.

This appropriateness includes using the correct formatting for your addresses, writing styles, and spacing. 

For example, when sending an email, you must ensure that you format your subject line correctly so your recipient will immediately know its purpose.

Letter Format Examples

The following are sample professional letter formats, including cover letters, business letters, reference letters, “thank you” letters, and letters for various other employment-related scenarios.

Professional Business Letter Format

When writing a business letter, you must include the following components in this order:

  • Sender’s contact information
  • Date
  • Recipient’s contact details
  • Salutation or greeting
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Your signature
  • Your printed name or typed signature

Keep your letter short. One page with two or three paragraphs is sufficient, with enough room at the bottom for your signature.

Use a simple font like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman and a 12-point font size to make your letter easy to read.

Left-align your letter and keep it single-spaced, but leave a space between paragraphs and before and after the contact details and closing.

Business Email Message Format

When sending an email for business purposes or job applications, you must format each message section correctly. For example, emails with no subject line can easily get lost in your recipient’s inbox.

To write a business email, format each section as follows:

  • Subject line: Write a short description, usually a few words, of what you’re writing
  • Greeting: Start the message with a professional greeting
  • The message body: Briefly explain why you’re writing
  • Closing: End your email with a professional closing
  • Signature: Include your full name, address, phone number, and email address so your reader can get in touch with you

Letter of Interest Format

A letter of interest explains why you’re interested in the company and why your skills and experience can be an asset to the organization.

When writing the letter, it should follow this format:

  • Your contact details
  • Date
  • Company contact details
  • Salutation or greeting
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Signature

Mention in your first paragraph what you can offer the company and why you’ll be an excellent hire. 

Use the second and third paragraphs to state your achievements in previous roles. In your last paragraph, request a meeting with the company to discuss your employment opportunities.

Include your resume with your letter of interest so the employer can evaluate your work history, educational background, and other qualifications.

Cover Letter Format

When applying for a job, you must write your cover letter following a typical business letter’s basic format with the following sections:

  • Your contact details
  • Date
  • Employer’s contact details
  • Salutation or greeting
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Your signature (for printed letters)
  • Your printed name or typed signature

Your letter’s body should include what job you’re applying for and why you think you’re qualified for that position. Close your letter by thanking the employer for their time.

Left-align your letter and use easy-to-read fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana.

Thank You Letter Format

When writing a thank you letter after a job interview, consider restating why you’re interested in the position, how you can contribute significantly, and why you think you’re qualified.

If you’re sending an email, write your name and “thank you” in the subject line. Other than that detail, format your thank you letter in this order:

  • Your contact details
  • Date
  • Employer contact details
  • Salutation or greeting
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Your signature (for printed letters)
  • Your printed name or typed signature

In the first paragraph, thank your interviewer for their time with you. In the following paragraph, mention the qualifications that make you an excellent job candidate.

Conclude your letter by thanking the interviewer again and stating that you’re looking forward to hearing from the company soon.

Reference Letter Format

A reference letter provides information on who you are and your relationship with the person you’re recommending. The letter also explains their specific skills and why they’re qualified.

A reference letter includes the following elements:

  • Salutation or greeting
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Your signature (for printed letters)
  • Your printed name or typed signature

The letter’s first paragraph describes how you know the person and your qualifications to recommend them. 

The following paragraph explains what the person can offer, their qualifications, and why you endorse them. 

In the following paragraph, say that you’re highly recommending the individual. Include your email address and phone number in your last paragraph and the return address or signature section.

Job Acceptance Letter Format

Consider writing a formal job acceptance letter confirming the employment details. Your letter should include the following sections:

  • Your contact details
  • Date
  • Salutation or greeting
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Your signature (for printed letters)
  • Your printed name or typed signature

State your thanks and appreciation in your first paragraph, followed by your acceptance of the offer. 

Next, state the employment terms like salary, benefits, and other negotiated items with the employer. End your letter confirming your start date.

Resignation Letter Format

A resignation letter should be factual and brief. There’s no need to include more information aside from the fact that you’re resigning and the date your resignation will take effect.

You can include information like your appreciation for the career opportunities, the reason for leaving, and an offer of help while transitioning out of your job.

To write a resignation letter, include the following sections in this sequence:

  • Your contact details
  • Date
  • Employer’s contact details
  • Salutation or greeting
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Your signature (for printed letters)
  • Your printed name or typed signature

Direct Mail Examples for Business Communications

The block style and semi-block style are two commonly used business letter formats. Examples are as follows:

Letter Example Mail Format for Block Style Letter

The following is an example of the block format:

456 New Road St.
New York, NY 10001
(111) 222-3456
22 December 2022

Ms. Rachel Bindy
Letter Mail Corp.
101 Old Street Ave.
Columbus, OH 43004

Dear Ms. Bindy,

I am writing this letter regarding an undelivered package with invoice number LM1848473P scheduled to be delivered to my address on 18 December 2022. Please get in touch with our office to discuss further details on how to resolve this issue.

(Signature)
Randy Ross
Accounts Supervisor

Semi-Block Style Letter Format to Mail

The following example demonstrates the semi-block format:

Randy Ross

22 December 2022

Packages Inc.
Martin Smith
123 Lane Avenue
Malibu, CA 90265

Dear Mr. Smith:

We are pleased to offer you a 30% discount for selected items purchased from any of our stores.

We provide a wide selection of office equipment and furniture for your business needs, such as:

  • Computer tables
  • Office chairs
  • Desktops, laptops, and printers
  • Network devices
  • Filing cabinets


Best regards,

(Signature)
Randy Ross

How to Address an Envelope

You will usually encounter two addresses on the envelope: the sender’s and the recipient’s addresses. 

The sender’s address isn’t required but is recommended. When the mail fails to arrive at the recipient, the sender’s address, also called the return address, allows the post office to send the mail back to you.

Address your envelope using the following guidelines:

  • Place the return address in the envelope’s top left corner
  • Write your recipient’s address on the envelope’s center
  • Affix the stamp in the top right corner of the envelope

How to Write the Sender’s (Return) Address

If you’re the sender, you must write the return address on the envelope this way:

  • Write your full name
  • Write your address on the next line
  • Write your city, state, and ZIP code on the last line

How to Write the Recipient’s Address

When writing informal letters, you must follow the return address format for the recipient’s address.

  • When sending to someone at a specific business, you must write their company name on the first line
  • On the following line, write “c/o” or “ATTN:” followed by the recipient’s name
  • If the letter isn’t for a specific business, write the person’s name on the first line instead
  • Write the recipient’s street address, city, state, and ZIP code on the next two lines

Addressing a Package

To address a package, write the address on the broadest face of the package and parallel to the longest edge.

Format the recipient’s address as follows:

  • Recipient’s name
  • Business name, if applicable
  • Street address with house or apartment number
  • City, state, and ZIP code
  • Country

How to Format Military Addresses (APO, FPO, DPO)

Military addresses usually have a similar format as regular addresses, except military addresses don’t use city and state names.

Instead, the city name will be either APO (Air or Army Post Office), FPO (Fleet Post Office), or DPO (Diplomatic Post Office).

For the state, the address will use AA (Armed Forces America), AP (Armed Forces Pacific), or AE (Armed Forces Europe), depending on the recipient’s duty station.

The ZIP code stays the same, but you’ll need to add a four-number code required for delivery.

How to Write an International Shipping Address

To send a letter to a non-military overseas address, use the same format as a regular address but with the recipient’s country name on the last line instead.

Some countries vary in where they place their ZIP code in the address, so do some research to determine the correct address format.

How to Find the “ZIP+4” Code

Some addresses require an extra four-number code with the ZIP code. The USPS (United States Postal Service) website has a ZIP code lookup tool for finding the ZIP+4 code.

How Many Stamps Should You Use?

Use Forever stamps for a standard one-ounce (oz) letter shipped anywhere in America. You can use them regardless of changes in future stamp prices.

Use additional ounce stamps on your mail for every extra ounce over one. Two-ounce stamps are also available.

Finding a Contact Person

The best way to find the contact person’s name is to ask. You can call the company’s main number and ask the receptionist for the HR (human resources) manager’s name and contact information.

Sample Letter With a Contact Person

A sample letter format with a contact person is as follows:

Randy Ross
100 New Road St.
New York, NY 10001
(111) 222-3456

22 December 2022

Martin Smith
Accounts Supervisor
Packages Inc.
200 Lane Avenue
Malibu, CA 90265

Dear Mr. Smith,

Please see the attached price quotations for bulk orders based on your requested items.

For further inquiries, contact us anytime at (111) 222-3456.

Sincerely,

(Signature)
Randy Ross

When You Don’t Have a Contact Person

If you are sending a cover letter but don’t know the contact person, you can use any of the following general salutations:

  • To whom it may concern
  • Dear HR Manager
  • Dear Sir or Madam

Using “Dear Sir or Madam” may sound outdated, so be careful when using this greeting.

Afterward, add a colon after the general salutation.

Sample Letter Without a Contact Person

For letters without a contact person, below is a sample format:

Randy Ross
100 New Road St.
New York, NY 10001
(111) 222-3456

December 22, 2022

Dear Accounts Manager,

Regarding your inquiry about the shipping status of your ordered item with receipt number 1003846, our courier shipped it on December 21, 2022. Your item should arrive at your address within three to five business days.

Sincerely,

(Signature)
Randy Ross

Professional Communication Skills

Having the skill to write and address business or professional letters in the correct format isn’t limited to job searches. When employed, you’ll likely need to write letters requiring properly formatted correspondence using formal salutations and addresses.

Send Mail: Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these steps when sending mail through USPS:

Step 1: Choose an Envelope or Postcard

Use envelopes to send flat, flexible items like letters, checks, cards, and other paper articles. You can send a 1-oz mail to anywhere in the U.S. using one $0.60 First-Class Mail Forever stamp.

Step 2: Address Your Mail

Write the return or sender address in the top left corner of the envelope and the delivery or recipient address in the bottom center.

For postcards, you can write the recipient’s address in the space provided, usually on the same side where you place the stamp and write the message.

Address Format Tips

  • Write using a permanent marker or pen
  • Write the addresses in print and capital letters
  • Do not include periods or commas
  • Include the ZIP+4 code when possible

Step 3: Calculate and Apply Postage

Purchase a First-Class Mail Forever stamp for $0.60 and place it in the envelope’s upper right corner.

A standard postcard stamp costs $0.44, while stamps for large or square postcards cost more. Affix the stamp in the space near the delivery address.

Heavier or bigger letters and additional services will require you to pay more.

Step 4: Send Your Mail

After providing the correct address and postage on your envelope or postcard, you can send your mail by:

References

  1. Number of letters distributed worldwide from 2011 to 2020
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1206602/letter-post-traffic-worldwide/
  2. How to Send a Letter or Postcard: Domestic
    https://www.usps.com/ship/letters.htm