Writing eTips
March 2006   
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Types of Writing, Part III

Business Letters: Document Design

     When you write a business letter, your goal is to get it read. Content, of course, is the most important part of the letter; however, if the look is not professional, your message could be dismissed. Here are some hints to make your letter look as professional and important as the message you are sending.

Choose a clear font.

     An unusual font may seem trendy and cool, but it can be extremely annoying to a busy reader trying to wade through a stack of mail. In addition, avoid overuse of italics or boldface, and be judicious about using color for emphasis. Keep type size readable—usually between 10 and 12 points, depending on the font used.

  • A serif type such as this looks formal.
  • A sans serif type such as this is clean and modern.

Select your paper carefully.

     Avoid brightly colored paper—your letter could be mistaken for advertising.  Stick with a standard size (8 1/2 by 11-inch), a traditional weight (20- to 24-pound), and a conservative color (white or off-white). Use letterhead for the first page, then plain paper of the same color, type, and weight for subsequent pages.

Use white space effectively.

     Keep margins of 1 to 1 1/2 inches on all sides. Do not indent paragraphs, but skip a space between them, and leave a ragged edge on the right. If your letter looks too crowded, consider trimming your message or continuing on another page so that there is plenty of white space. However, strive to keep a business letter to one page, if possible. Avoid having only one or two sentences on a second page.

Monitor your print quality.

     Print a clean copy with a good-quality printer and avoid handwritten changes.

The preceding tips are from
Write for Business:
A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating

Now available for purchase at upwritepress.com

March is a good month to . . .

  • Share any upcoming educational opportunities with employers and coworkers.
  • Check for trade shows that could be helpful for you and your business.
  • Stay up to date on changing technology, especially as it relates to your department's needs.

In the April Issue: Letterhead Design

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