Is Your Letter
Business or Personal?

Based on the actions of the almost 50,000 visitors to my Writing Help websites every week, it seems that many people are unsure about which format to use when writing their letters.

There is considerable confusion as to whether they should be formatting their letter as a business letter or a personal letter. In fact, as I have pointed out in previous articles on this blog, many folks are confused as to exactly what a "business letter" is, and what differentiates it from a "personal letter".

This is an important thing to know, since there are different formats/layouts for business and personal letters. Depending on the situation, a letter can be printed on either personal or business stationery.

Following are some guidelines that I suggest you follow when deciding whether to use business format (stationery) or personal format (stationery)…

Use Business Format/Stationery When…
  • You are using the letter to formalize business discussions that you have already had with the intended recipient and the main purpose of your letter is to confirm the substance of those discussions.

  • You are writing on behalf of your organization in your official capacity as a representative or officer of that enterprise.

  • You feel more comfortable using business, rather than personal, stationery to deal with the particular situation at hand.

For letters on Business Stationery, I recommend using Full-Block Style.

Use Personal Format/Stationery When…

  • The letter you are writing is directly related to your personal affairs, and is not connected in any way to your company or organization.

  • You are writing to a colleague in a work situation, but your letter is related to your personal relationship with that person as opposed to your professional relationship. (e.g. condolence letter).

  • You feel more comfortable using personal, rather than business, stationery to deal with the particular situation at hand.
For letters on Personal Stationery, I recommend using Semi-Block Style (modified).

The guidelines above are just that. There are no absolute hard and fast rules on this. Refer to the guidelines and then use the format that you feel most comfortable with in your particular situation.

For samples of the above-noted letter formats, check out this link:

Shaun Fawcett is Webmaster of two of the most visited writing-help websites on the Net and the author of numerous "how-to" books on everyday practical writing. He also writes about how to create and publish books and ebooks. His main "writing tools" site is:

Copyright © All Rights Reserved.
[Home] [Letters] [Resumes] [APA] [SEARCH] [COURSES] [MLA] [Writing] [About] [Contact]