Business Letter Format

Business Letters in General


There used to be a pretty "stiff upper lip" regarding letter formats, styles, paragraphs and indentation etc.
Basically there were four (4) styles:

1) Block (Letter) Style 
   (open punctuation= inga kommatecken, kolon etc)

2) Modified Block Style  (mixed punctuation)

3) Modified Block Style
   (indented paragraphs= indrag varje ny  styckerad)

4) Simplified Letter Style 

  (even left margin, paragraphs, no salutation or complimentary  close, words such as "Subject", "RE:"  etc are omitted and writer's  name, title as well as subject line are all in CAPITALS)



It seems as though Simplified Letter Style has become increasingly popular not only in small-size companies but in general.







Brevhuvud  Letter heading, the letterhead, contains the name of the company with telephone number (-s) and addresses


Referens   Reference, reference letters or other identification or links to previous communication alt. initials of person handling the matter in question


Ärende Subject /Regarding  (förk RE: alt RE)
Ärendetyp, som speglar huvudsakligt innehåll eller typ av skrivelse t ex Förfrågan, Offert, Beställning, Reklamation, Rumsbokning, Mässbesök, Platsansökan, Protokoll etc.
Type of message or letter e.g. Inquiry, Offer, Order, Letter of Complaint, Room Reservation, Visit to Exhibition,  Job Application, Minutes etc.




Datum  The date med eller utan kommatecken, with or without the comma

1) March 30 1944
2) 22 May, 1949  *
3) September 10th   (less good..?)
4) 8th  April     (less good..?)



Använd aldrig "diagonalstrecksdatering" då detta kan skapa oerhörda problem och svår juridisk komplikation eftersom det förekommer två olika principer (standard):

7/5 i USA betyder July 5   (same holds true re. 5.7)

7/5 i Europa betyder May 7    (same holds true re. 7.5)


This is about how to write it, yes. Now when it comes to reading it,  or speaking about the contents of the letter, you always say (pronounce) the definite article and the preposition!

* e.g.   22 May, 1949  is read "May the 22nd" or "the 22nd of May"




This of course has long been considered international standard throughout Sweden,
but somehow not everybody has obeyed by this conception...
In Europe I'd say this works just fine.





Hälsning  Salutation ( : US / , Br )

Gentlemen (predominantly US standard)  & Dear Sir/Dear Sirs (predominantly Br  standard) a formal salutation commonly used in business letters when correspondent is not known or very little known by sender/writer/author.

Once recipient is known to writer you write "Dear Miss, Ms, Mrs, Mr X" etc.
followed by the colon (US) or the comma  (Br). 


1 a : one who communicates with another by letter
  b : one who has regular commercial relations with   another
  c : one who contributes news or commentary to a  publication
  (as a newspaper) or a radio or television  network often from a distant place
  <a war correspondent>
2 : something that corresponds



Avslutningsfras  Complimentary close, Closing, the closing salutation 

Yours faithfully, Faithfully yours is a pretty/rather formal ending and belongs very much to the initial stage of a new business relation, then comes Sincerely yours, Yours sincerely, Yours truly, Truly yours etc.

Just like at meetings, observing or not, complying or not, when a person bows, claps your shoulder, embraces you, holding both your hands, shakes hands, kneels etc. be attentive and alert and don't be bound by some sort of naive attitude reflecting what's been appropriate when growing up in your own home town...





Communicating is very much a matter of adjusting, listening, complying with, coming in contact with, becoming familiar with, adhering by, perceiving, receiving, discovering, reading and understanding a message or a signal, without necessarily ending up in one another's lap!


Be consistent! In connection with the use of abbreviations of all sorts (eg., ie., Encl.,) make sure you are consistent using or not using period/dot/final stop ( . ) throughout the letter.


Remember this: A letter leaving your business office is in the true (real) sense an ambassador of good will!


Don't be afraid of writing in a  natural way if that seems to you as the appropriate way of  writing this letter. Some people are alarmed when a letter seems casual and tend to disregard it as not appropriate or serious enough. Sometimes it might even be confused with being sloppy.  -"Read my lips!" Pay attention to the signals being sent, and stay alert. It's always OK to start out a little formal as long as you're not overdoing it. Don't put your foot in it...



Företag, företagets namn  Company name
T-4-2 ab




Namnunderskrift   Signature 
Cinderella Everlastic

Brevskrivarens namn, skribent, brevets författare 
(textat, maskinskrivet) Cinderella Everlastic
Writer's name, author of the letter, responsible for the letter  
(printed, typed)

Titel, befattning, position  i företaget   Title or position
(VD, Försäljningschef etc/General Manager, CEO, Sales Manager etc)

, "maskinskrivare", sekreterare e.d.
Typist's initials

 Bilaga Enclosure
(Bil förk enl följande: Encl=1 bilaga,  Encls= 2 bilagor eller flera)

   Tips on Writing - Business Letters and Reports - with Formatted Samples


© Swengelsk, KB ®