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Writing a business letter: tips and templates

Regardless of whether you are sending a sales letter, a thank you note, an offer or a reminder - your business letters are always a calling card for your company. With them you demonstrate how professional and customer-oriented the company works and communicates. Both the content and the layout play a decisive role.

Some questions remain to be answered: How do I design a business letter? Which mandatory information belong in? How do I formulate convincingly? We give tips on how to write a business letter and show sample templates ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Writing a business letter: design according to DIN 5008

In Germany, norms and regulations are popular, as is the case with the design of a business letter. DIN 5008 regulates the structure and design of your letter.

First of all, the DIN standard regulates the framework for such a standard letter. This standard was updated some time ago, so that some spacing and formats have also changed. This is the current version:

Business letter margins

This starts, for example, with the margins of a typically portrait-format A4 letter. The following dimensions and widths apply to them:

  • Top margin: 4.5 cm
  • Side margin below: 2.5 cm
  • Left margin: 2.5 cm
  • Right margin: 2 cm (at least 1.5 cm)

Business letter font size and font

The font size in the business letter is 12 points. If you have a lot of text, you can reduce the letters to 11 points so that the cover letter still fits on one page, but under no circumstances should it be smaller than that to ensure that your letter remains legible without any problems - and with a magnifying glass .

However, a certain font is not prescribed in DIN 5008, Arial or Times New Roman have established themselves as common types. The font you choose can also affect the font size. Print out a sample copy of your business letter to see how the font will look in the intended size.

Business letter headed

Classically, the first thing the reader will look at is the letterhead, since it is right at the top of your business letter. This makes it an important figurehead and eye-catcher that should be designed professionally.

  • Your own address is in the top left as standard, but right-justified or centered is now also permitted. The first three lines are intended for your name, address and telephone number. You can also add your email address here.
  • The recipient address follows three lines below. This is a maximum of 8.5 centimeters wide. The reason for this are standardized viewing windows in DIN C6 envelopes.
  • In total, however, the contact details must not exceed around nine lines or 4.5 centimeters.
  • The place and date are usually right-aligned and with a blank line space below the address field. However, some companies also position the date in a different position. The place is only mentioned here if it differs from the place of residence (which is seldom the case).

Business letter subject line

After the letterhead, the reader usually goes straight to the subject line to get an overview of what the letter is about. In your business letters, you should be particularly concise about the content of the letter. However, here too there are certain principles that you should adhere to:

  • The subject begins two lines below the date if it is in the normal position.
  • The subject line may or may not be bold.
  • It can be emphasized using a larger font (13 to 14 points).
  • The subject can be longer than one line, but should not exceed two lines.
  • The word “Subject” has no place in the subject line.

Business letter salutation

Now the actual content of your business letter begins and the salutation can already influence how it affects the reader. There are countless ways to address a customer, business partner or employee, but there are also some formal points to consider.

  • There are exactly two blank lines between the subject and salutation.
  • Again, there is only one blank line between the salutation and the cover letter.
  • The neutral salutation is "Dear Sir or Madam, ..." However, it is advisable to name the recipient personally and by surname when applying. This underlines your preparations. When it comes to customer relationships, too, the name is an essential part of the salutation to show appreciation.

Business letter text area

Of course, there cannot be any specific guidelines for the content of your business letter that you should adhere to. Here you score above all with error-free sentences and a clear structure. It is also advisable not to just start writing on it, but to divide your own text into sections. This not only makes it easier for the reader to understand, but also ensures that the typeface is clear.

Business letter greeting formula

The greeting forms the end of your business letter and, in other words, the farewell to the reader. After you have wished well, for example, or noted that you are looking forward to feedback, your business letter ends with a few short words. The classic is a simple "best regards", but it can be a bit more personal depending on the occasion.

  • There is exactly one blank line between the cover letter and the greeting.
  • There are three lines between the greeting and the signature - the space for your signature.
  • After that, any attachments are mentioned.

Write a business letter: The mandatory information

When it comes to mandatory information, a distinction is made between whether your company is in the commercial register or not. Your business letter must contain the following information if you are entered in the commercial register:

  • Company name and legal form
  • In addition, the commercial register number and the register court belong in the letter.
  • If your company is a limited liability company (GmbH), the managing directors and the chairman of the supervisory board (first and last name) must be named.
  • If it is a stock corporation (AG), you must give the first and last names of the members of the board. The chairman of the board is to be identified. The chairman of the supervisory board must also be named.

Your business letter must contain the following information if you are NOT entered in the commercial register:

  • First and last name of the owner.
  • Business address
  • In the case of companies under civil law, this must be named as an addition or the abbreviation GbR and the shareholders must be listed.

Tips for the business letter

After so much information that characterizes a formally correct business letter, the question still remains: How do you write a good business letter that catches the reader's attention positively, conveys the most important content, does not seem boring and, in the best case, leads to a quick response or reaction from Leads written to? We have collected ten tips to help you write not only a professional, but also a successful business letter.

Be brief.

Remember, your reader's attention is limited. Therefore, you should get straight to the point. As a rule, your business letter should not exceed one A4 page. Use short main clauses rather than long nested clauses.

Choose a meaningful subject line.

The subject is an important point for the reader. Therefore, he should find a brief summary of the content in it. You should not use the word subject, but describe in a concise and concrete sentence what it is about. When creating an offer, you could write, for example, "Your request from DD.MM.YYYY."

First, state the most important things.

As early as the first or second sentence, it should be clear to the recipient why you are contacting them. He won't want to wait much longer. If he does not understand the reason for your contact, you will lose his attention and he will not read to the end.

Pay attention to a personal salutation.

“Dear Sir or Madam” - that is the standard letter salutation and, purely formally, you won't go wrong with it. However, such a form of address also appears impersonal, cold and distant: Who are these ladies and gentlemen? In short: such an address lacks a good soul. To find out which salutation is the right one for your letter, you should ask yourself two questions: Do you know the name of the recipient? How well do sender and recipient know each other? If your answers are “no” and “not at all”, you will automatically choose “Dear Sir or Madam”. If you know the name of the recipient, but the reason for your letter is official, it is advisable to use the combination "Dear Ms. / Mr. XY". If the interaction is already more familiar, “Hello” or “Dear” are also a good choice.

Put your recipient at the center.

In particular, when you make an offer or present your service in your business letter, you should be careful to write in a customer-oriented manner. Before creating the letter, ask yourself: Who is the recipient? What is he interested in? What added value can you offer him? When writing, use the word "you" instead of "we". It is better to write “You will receive free advice from us” instead of “We offer you free advice”.

Avoid outdated wording.

Salutation such as "Dear Ms. / Mr. XY" or "Dear Ms. / Mr. XY" are no longer used today. This makes your letter look artificial. The same applies to a "Yours faithfully ..." But phrases such as "hereby" or "with this letter" also make your letter distant and impersonal.

Be positive.

Instead of “Unfortunately we cannot deliver the product to you”, it is better to formulate the statement as follows: “We have noted your request and will take care of the fastest possible procurement of the desired product”. With the second formulation, your business letter will appear much more professional, positive and customer-oriented.

Offer a contact option.

At the end of your letter, you should give the recipient the opportunity to contact you if they have any questions. At this point you round off your letter. The last sentence gives you the opportunity to say thank you or ask for a specific action (for example an answer by a certain date or a callback).

Choose a modern greeting.

There are many good alternatives to the usual "best regards". A looser variant is to write, for example, “With best regards”. Or you can choose an original greeting that is tailored to your company, for example “With culinary greetings” for gastronomy or “With sporty greetings” for sporting goods and fitness centers. The greeting at the end is usually well remembered and should therefore be chosen with care.

Make use of the postscript.

The PS offers you the option of integrating an addition at the end of the letter. Here you can, for example, refer to a current offer or to your website - and be sure that every reader will be aware of it, because a PS always catches the eye.

Writing business letters: templates for inspiration

To show you what a business letter can look like, we have provided two free templates for you to download as PDF. These are designed differently and only show a few possibilities of a classic business letter. However, it is important that the identity of your company is also visible in your business letters.

➠ Business letter, thank you letter
➠ Business letter offer

[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]