One of the key pieces of advice I include in all of my letter writing kits is that you should always try hard to keep a letter on a single page. In fact, about five years ago I made a post to this blog on that very subject. This article is an update and revision of that initial post that I made on this issue back in 2010.
Regardless of the subject of your letter, you should be able to make your key point(s) on one page. That doesn’t mean that you won’t sometimes have supporting documents as attachments. However, even in cases where attachments are necessary, you should always try to make the covering letter a stand-alone one-pager.
I’m sure you’ve received letters that overflow onto a second page for the sake of a few words or a sentence or two. Such letters tends to look very tacky and unprofessional. So try to avoid doing that when you are writing your own letters – especially business letters.
Nowadays it’s easy to do this. With standard word processing software there are a number of handy little tricks that you can use to help “squeeze” your letter (or other document) onto a single page.
So, here are my “page squeeze tips”, in the order in which I suggest you apply them:
- Move both the left and right margins out about 1/4 in. closer to the edge of the page.
- Move the top and bottom margins out about 1/4 in. closer to the edge of the page.
- Edit out the one or two word “overflows”. Take a good look at your draft letter and see if there are any paragraphs that have an ending sentence that “overflows” onto an additional line for the sake of one or two words. If so, make a minor edit or two in the paragraph to shorten it a little so that it will no longer overflow onto the following line.
- Adjust the line spacing on the page. You can gain considerable space on a page by adjusting the “line spacing” of the text. For example, if the default line spacing is set to “single” at 12 points, try setting it to “exactly” at 12 points if your font size is 12. If that doesn’t do it, try “exactly” at “11 pts”. You might have to experiment a bit to get this one just right.
- Another thing you can do is, try reducing the size of the font size by 1 point, say from 12 to 11 points.
- If your letter still doesn’t “fit” but it is close, there’s one final thing you can try if you are the author of the letter. Go back and edit it one more time. Look for redundant thoughts and phrases, or those that can be combined into one sentence rather than two. Is every word and phrase absolutely essential to your message? You’ll be amazed at the space savings that this final edit process can result in.
Try the above methods in sequence, one-at-a-time, checking each time to see if your latest change has done the trick for you.
I have used these little “page compression tricks” thousands of times, and nobody has ever pulled out their ruler and chastised me for technical inaccuracies.
The important thing is to end up with a “professional looking” letter.
For additional letter writing tips and tricks plus access to dozens of real-life sample letters, click on the following link:
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