Typically used to refer to the format used for business letters and memos, normal block style uses no indentation at the start of paragraphs. All text aligns to the left margin (flush left). Block styles uses a line of space between paragraphs. Block style can also refer to any flush left (and fully justified) alignment and it's a term used in some Web Design software for styling text.
Block Style in Desktop PublishingIn formally typeset material using block style formatting, space between paragraphs is achieved using space before/after controls in the paragraph formatting or paragraph styles for that document. Even modern word processing software is able to use paragraph formatting for control of paragraph spacing.
"Desktop publishing software and modern word processors use paragraph formatting to more precisely control spacing between paragraphs. But old habits die hard. One sign of a beginner in desktop publishing is the use of hard returns between paragraphs." -- Desktop Publishing Rule #2: Don't Use Double Hard Returns After a Paragraph
In formal business writing paragraph spacing and indented paragraphs are sometimes combined (see the modified full block style, below) but in typeset material it is generally recommended to use either indents or space between paragraphs but not both methods of paragraph spacing to break up text.
Block Style in Business Writing
There are two primary styles of block style formatting used in business writing. Some modified or semi-block styles will use indented paragraphs for the body of the letter.
- Full block style aligns everything including address, salutation, closing, and signature along the left margin. Semi-block is the same but with indented paragraphs.
Full Block Business Letter Components and sample letters.
- Modified block style aligns salutation and body of the letter along the left margin but the return address (unless it is part of the letterhead), date, and closing elements are all indented a uniform amount from the left margin (more or less to the center of the page). Modified semi-block is the same but with indented paragraphs.
Modified Block Business Letter Components and sample letters and Modified Semi-Block Business Letter Components and sample letters (indented paragraphs).
In The Proper Business Letter Format additional alternative formats include semi-block, alternative block, and simplified.
Common Formats give samples that include various block style formats for formal or informal business and personal letters and memos.