In business writing, block style is the preferred format for all documents including letters, memos, reports, articles, and more. Unfortunately, though, the default settings in Microsoft Word for “normal” are NOT correct for block style. Many folks don’t realize this and fail to make the necessary adjustments. While some readers may not even notice the errors, many people will, and that might show a lack of professionalism or attention to detail on your part. Let’s work through the basics…
Line spacing is actually adjusted in two areas in Microsoft Word. Most folks know the first one: On the HOME tab, in the PARAGRAPH group, click the LINE AND PARAGRAPH SPACING button. Set it to 1.0. The second one is the one most often missed. On the LAYOUT tab, in the PARAGRAPH group, SPACING should be set to 0 pt. both before and after.
To distinguish between parts of the document, one additional blank space should be left. (That means you should hit ENTER on your keyboard twice before starting a new paragraph.)
In block style, nothing is indented or tabbed over. With the exception of the header (which may be centered or right-aligned), all other elements of the document should be left-aligned. To set this one, go to the PARAGRAPH group on the HOME tab, and click the ALIGN LEFT button. Then, remember to never tab in for new paragraphs, and never indent elements like the date or complimentary close.
Margins should be the same on all four sides in block style. They should be set between 0.5″ and 1″ on all sides–never smaller, never bigger.
Font Type and Size
The font type, for the most part, is up to the writer. As long as you choose a font that’s clear and easy to read, most anything goes. Personally, I like to use Calibri in all of my documents. Font size should be between 10 and 12–never smaller, never bigger. Finally, never use more than two font types per document. Generally, you should use just one for documents like memos and letters. For reports, some folks like to use one font type for headings and another for the paragraph text.
That’s it! More of a visual learner? Check out my YouTube video for guided instructions.