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How do you write an English business letter?

“Formal business communication” made easy in English

Do you need the correct components of an “English letter” for international business communication? Even with English professionals, formal mistakes and inappropriate expressions can easliy creep in. Read how to avoid them here with 4 simple steps!

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1. “English business letter “: The right structure

  • Letter heading/Address of sender (without name)
  • Name and address of recipient
  • Date:
    • If the letter has no letter heading, the date is at the same height as the first line of the recipient’s address.
    • The address ends two lines above the date
  • Greeting: comma after greeting?
    • For business letters in British English, you usually do not enter a comma after the greeting – even if a comma is occasionally set (especially in private letters).
    • Letters written in American English receive a colon after the greeting. (“Dear Sir:”)
  • Subject line: Unlike in Germany, the subject comes after the greeting!
  • Main part of the letter: Always start with capitalization!
  • Closing: comma after the closing!
  • Signature
  • Name and job title
  • Attachments

2. Writing Style

  • Business letters are usually written very formally. Avoid abbreviations like “I’ll …”, “I’m …” or “it’s …”! Do not fall into a too loose writing style.
  • Use verbs in the active instead of the passive. This makes your letter more dynamic.
  • Avoid long sentences or filler words like “finally”, “eventually”, “as long as”, “for example”, “all the same”, “above all”, “first of all” or “after all”. A straightforward letter expresses your statement best!

3. Write the beginning and end correctly

Recipient Greeting Closing
A foreign company /person
  • Dear Sir/Madam (BE/AE)
  • Dear Sir or Madam (BE/AE)
  • To whom it may concern (AE)
  • Yours faithfully (BE)
  • Yours truly (AE)
  • Truly yours (AE)
A woman with an unknown name
  • Dear Madam (BE/AE)
  • Yours faithfully (BE)
  • Yours truly (AE)
  • Truly yours (AE)
A man with an unknown name
  • Dear Sir (BE/AE)
  • Yours faithfully (BE)
  • Yours truly (AE)
  • Truly yours (AE)
A person whose name is known
  • Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Fisher (BE/AE)
  • Yours sincerely (BE)
  • Very truly yours (AE)
  • Sincerely (yours) (AE)
Someone you know personally
  • Dear Ann/John (BE/AE)
  • (With) Best wishes (BE/AE)
  • Yours (BE)
  • Love (BE)
  • All the best (AE)
  • Kindest/Best regards (AE

4. Useful Expressions

  • „With reference to your letter of the 15th of this month, …”
  • „It was very kind of you to agree…”
  • „As I mentioned in my last letter to you…”
  • „Thank you for taking the time to…”
  • „Regarding the question of…”
  • „I will arrange for my secretary to forward the minutes to you for your approval.”
  • „I am enclosing a copy of our latest proposal.”

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