How to Format for a Fax

By Leyla Norman

Updated September 26, 2017

No set fax format fits every situation. However, following some general guidelines will help the fax’s recipient locate information quickly on the fax. These guidelines will also ensure that the recipient will not have any problems when the fax comes through and that you will avoid problems when you send it.

Keep your fax under 10 to 12 pages long. Many small-office fax machines cannot handle too many pages at one time. Large faxes also tie up phone lines shared with fax machines. Break up your fax into multiple batches if you have to send more than 10 to 12 pages. Tell the recipient to expect more than one fax from you.

Adjust page margins or font size to help you achieve fewer pages. However, remember that smaller font sizes may not be too easy to read and small margins can look unprofessional, as on a resume. Use at least an 11-point font.

Write faxes in a business-letter format when possible. Margins should be one inch on the left and right sides and one and a half inches on the top and bottom, if possible. Single-space your letter, double spacing between paragraphs. Include a dateline at the top and address blocks for sender and recipient before the salutation. The sender’s address block goes first.

Include a cover page with your fax. The cover page does not have to follow a certain layout format, but it should include both the sender’s and recipient’s contact information, how many pages the fax contains and a subject line stating what the fax is about. Add a few lines for any personal comments regarding the fax, as well. The contact information can include individuals’ and companies' names, department names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. The cover letter should be easy to read so that the recipient can quickly find information on it.

Avoid sending faxes with graphics, if possible. They take too much time to send and receive, and they waste a lot of ink. Also, they generally do not show up too well on faxes because of poor-quality printing.