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an example of parallel structure

Workplace Writing

Formatting a Letter

Generally speaking, two formal styles are recommended for formatting business letters: the full-block and the modified-block styles. The former presents a somewhat stiff and unbalanced appearance, and the latter, which letterhead designers often customize, is more common. Few business letters employ what is called the semi-block style, which is characterized by indented paragraphs that are not separated by line spaces.


Full-Block Style

The full-block style is exemplified by the follow-up letter below. The return address, the letter address or inside address, and the complimentary closing are all flush left. Paragraphs are separated by a line space and are not indented.


Modified Block Style

In the modified-block style, the return address and the complimentary closing are to the right of the center of the letter. Like the full-block style, the paragraphs are separated by a line space and are not indented.


In a variation of this style, the return address is commonly centered, which is usually the case with company letterhead. The company name and address may be positioned in other places as well, including the left margin, or the bottom of the page. The modified-block style is exemplified by the second and third letters below. The second example positions the return address and the complimentary closing to the right of the center, and the third example demonstrates the modified-block style with company letter head.


Sample Letter Formatting

Full-block style

full-block style


Modified-block style one

modified-block one


Modified-block style two

modified block two