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How to write a formal letter

How to write a formal letter

Theresa Chiechi @ The Balance 2020

Today, a printed letter is usually reserved for important professional communications, such as recommendation letters, job cover letters, resignation letters, legal correspondence, and company communications. Since a letter is a formal mode of communication, you’ll want to know how to write one that is professional.

Correct formatting is especially important if you’re sending a hard copy to the recipient rather than an email because the letter needs to fit the page and look good.

The following sample letter format illustrates the information you need to include when writing a letter, along with advice on the appropriate font, salutation, spacing, closing, and signature for business correspondence.

Sample Letter Format

Contact Information (Include your contact information unless you are writing on letterhead that already includes it.)
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address

Date

Contact Information (The person or company you are writing to)
Name
Title
Company
Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Use a formal salutation, not a first name, unless you know the person well. If you do not know the person’s gender, you can write out their full name. For instance, “Dear Pat Crody” instead of “Dear Mr. Crody” or “Dear Ms. Crody.” If you do not know the recipient’s name, it’s still common and acceptable to use the old-fashioned “To Whom It May Concern.”

Body of Letter

  • The first paragraph of your letter should provide an introduction as to why you are writing so that your reason for contacting the person is obvious from the beginning.
  • Then, in the following paragraphs, provide specific details about your request or the information you are providing.
  • The last paragraph of your letter should reiterate the reason you are writing and thank the reader for reviewing your request. If appropriate, it should also politely ask for a written response or for the opportunity to arrange a meeting to further discuss your request.

Closing

Signature

Handwritten Signature (For a hard copy letter, use black or blue ink to sign the letter.)

Typed Signature

Letter Template to Download

Here is a sample letter that you can download (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or you can see the text below. Note that in this example, Nicole knows Jason Andrews well enough to use his first name in the salutation.

How to write a formal letter

Professional Letter Example

Nicole Thomas
35 Chestnut Street
Dell Village, Wisconsin 54101
555-555-5555
[email protected]

Jason Andrews
Manager
LMK Company
53 Oak Avenue, Ste 5
Dell Village, Wisconsin 54101

I’m writing to resign from my position as customer service representative, effective August 14, 2020.

I’ve recently decided to go back to school, and my program starts in early September. I’m tendering my resignation now so that I can be as helpful as possible to you during the transition.

I’ve truly enjoyed my time working with you and everyone else on our team at LMK. It’s rare to find a customer service role that offers as much opportunity to grow and learn, as well as such a positive, inspiring team of people to grow and learn with.

I’m particularly grateful for your guidance while I was considering furthering my education. Your support has meant so much to me.

Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you find and train my replacement.

Thanks, and best wishes,

Nicole Thomas (signature hard copy letter)

Tips for Formatting Your Letter

To make sure your letter looks professional, follow these tips:

  • Your letter should be simple and focused; make the purpose of your letter clear.
  • Left justify your letter.
  • Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph.
  • Use a plain font such as Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, or Verdana. The font size should be 10 or 12 points.
  • Leave a blank line after the salutation and before the closing.
  • Business letters should always be printed on white bond paper rather than on colored paper or personal stationery.
  • If you’re sending an email letter, here’s what to include and how to format your signature.

Check for Formatting Errors and Typos

Once you have written your business letter, proofread it and spellcheck it on the screen. Then print it out and read it through at least one more time, checking for any errors or typos. This is important as it’s often easier to spot errors on a hard copy.

Reading it out loud is a good way to catch a mistake.

Be on the lookout for formatting errors, such as two paragraphs that don’t have a space in between them or lines that are indented incorrectly. Then, before putting your letter in an envelope, sign above your typed name using black or blue ink.

If you are using Microsoft Word or another word processing program to write your letter, there are templates available that can help you format your letter correctly. Here’s more information on free Microsoft Word letter templates.

More Letter Writing Information

Knowing how to write business letters is an essential skill, so here are several additional articles for you to learn more:

Start With the Basics

Start with the basics on how to write a business letter using a general format, and review various business letter templates. In addition, you can look at these employment-related business letter examples. Review more details about formatting and take a look at another example of a business letter format.

Review Examples

If you like to learn by looking at examples, there are many types of business letters to choose from, such as cover letters, interview thank-you letters, follow-up letters, job acceptance or rejection letters, resignation letters, and appreciation letters. You’ll find all those along with samples of business and employment-related letters in this review of letter samples.

Send an Email Business Message

Not all business letters are printed out and mailed. If you plan to send an email, review these guidelines for professional emails and letter writing.

How to write a formal letter

Image by Ashley Nicole DeLeon © The Balance 2019

A business letter is a formal document often sent from one company to another or from a company to its clients, employees, and stakeholders, for example. Business letters are used for professional correspondence between individuals, as well.

Although email has taken over as the most common form of correspondence, printed-out business letters are still used for many important, serious types of correspondence, including reference letters, employment verification, job offers, and more.

Writing an effective, polished business letter can be an easy task, so long as you adhere to the established rules for layout and language.

Realize that your recipient reads a significant amount of correspondence on a regular basis and will favor well-executed letters that are free of typos and grammatical errors.

What to Include in the Letter

Make the purpose of your letter clear through simple and targeted language, keeping the opening paragraph brief. You can start with, “I am writing in reference to…” and from there, communicate only what you need to say.

The subsequent paragraphs should include information that gives your reader a full understanding of your objective(s) but avoid meandering sentences and needlessly long words. Again, keep it concise to sustain their attention.

If your intent is to persuade the recipient in some way, whether it’s to invest money, give you a reference, hire you, partner with you, or fix an issue, create a compelling case for your cause.

If, for example, you want the reader to sponsor a charity event, identify any overlap with their company’s philanthropic goals. Convince the reader that helping you would be mutually beneficial, and you will increase your chances of winning their support.

Sections of a Business Letter

Each section of your letter should adhere to the appropriate format, starting with your contact information and that of your recipient’s; salutation; the body of the letter; closing; and finally, your signature.

Your Contact Information

  • Your Name
  • Your Job Title
  • Your Company
  • Your Address
  • City, State Zip Code
  • Your Phone Number
  • Your Email Address

The Date

  • The date you’re penning the correspondence

Recipient’s Contact Information

  • Their Name
  • Their Title
  • Their Company
  • The Company’s Address
  • City, State Zip Code

The Salutation

  • Use “To Whom It May Concern,” if you’re unsure specifically whom you’re addressing.
  • Use the formal salutation “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. [Last Name],” if you do not know the recipient.
  • Use “Dear [First Name],” only if you have an informal relationship with the recipient.

The Body

  • Use single-spaced lines with an added space between each paragraph, after the salutation, and above the closing.
  • Left justify your letter (against the left margin).

Closing Salutation

Keep your closing paragraph to two sentences. Simply reiterate your reason for writing and thank the reader for considering your request. Some good options for your closing include:

  • Respectfully yours
  • Yours sincerely
  • Cordially
  • Respectfully

If your letter is less formal, consider using:

  • All the best
  • Best
  • Thank you
  • Regards

Your Signature

Write your signature just beneath your closing and leave four single spaces between your closing and your typed full name, title, phone number, email address, and any other contact information you want to include. Use the format below:

Your handwritten signature

Typed full name
Title

Make Sure Nothing Was Missed

A good rule of thumb is to proofread your correspondence twice and then have a colleague review it to ensure nothing was missed.

Business Letter Template

You can use this business letter sample as a model and download the template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) for the text version below.

How to write a formal letter

Business Letter Sample (Text Version)

Linda Lau
Northern State University
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
555-555-5555
[email protected]

Oscar Lee
Managing Editor
Acme Graphic & Design
123 Business Rd.
Business City, CA 54321

I would like to invite you to attend our upcoming Liberal Arts department job networking event. The event will be held on the afternoon of May 1, 2020. We wish to provide our graduating seniors with an opportunity to meet business leaders in the area who may be looking for new hires who hold degrees in the Liberal Arts.

The event will be held at the Cox Student Center at Northern State University and will last about two to three hours. If you have an interest in attending or sending a company representative to meet with our students, please let me know at your earliest convenience and I can reserve a table for you.

Thank for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.

(signature hard copy letter)

Linda Lau
Liberal Arts Department Chair

Email Signature Example

If you’re sending an email letter, your signature will be slightly different. Rather than including your contact information in the heading of the letter, list it below your signature. For example:

Sending an Email Business Letter

First Name Last Name
Title
Your Address
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address

Be clear why you’re sending the message. Include the topic you’re writing about in the subject line of the email, so the reader is clear as to why you are sending the message.

Tips for Writing a Business Letter

Review letter samples, including cover letters, interview thank you letters, follow-up letters, job acceptance, and rejection letters, resignation letters, appreciation letters, and more business and employment-related letter samples and writing tips.

How to write a formal letter

Formal Letter Format For School: Formal Letter for School is a letter that is written by a student or a parent to the school for communicating any information. In a formal letter for school, a person (student or guardian) may request for permission, address his/her issues, and can also suggest something.

A letter to school from the student/parent will be carefully considered by the officials of the school. So, before addressing something to the school officials, students and parents must be aware of the formal letter format for school and the rules to be followed while writing a letter to the school.

So, in this article, we will provide you with detailed information regarding formal letter format for school and rules to be followed while writing a formal letter for school. Read on to know everything about formal letter format for school.

Formal Letter Format For School

Before writing a formal letter for school, one must be aware of the rules to be followed while writing the letter. Some of the key points to remember while writing a formal letter to school are listed below:

  1. Don’t use flowery language,
  2. Don’t use abbreviations and slang language,
  3. The letter must be precise and the message should be direct,
  4. Always include the subject line,
  5. Always follow the formal letter format for school.

Formal Letter Format For School

The formal letter format for school is as follows:

1. Sender’s Details/Address: The sender’s details should be displayed on the top of the page. The sender’s address should include all the detailed information about the sender, such as name, address, and contact details.

2. Date: Followed by the sender’s details the date should be mentioned. The sender should mention the date on which the letter is written.

3. Receiver’s Details/Address: Here you should mention the address of the receiver. As you’re writing a formal letter for school officials (principal, teacher, HOD, etc.), you should mention the name/position of the receiver followed by the address of the school.

4. Subject Of The Formal Letter: Followed by the receiver’s details, you must include the subject line. Basically, this subject line talks about the purpose of the letter.

5. Salutation: You should greet the person to whom you are writing the letter. As you are writing a formal letter, the greeting should not be too personal.

6.Body Of The Letter: Basically, the body of the letter is divided into 3 parts which are as under:

  1. Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself and the purpose of writing this letter.
  2. Paragraph 2: Now explain the reason in detail.
  3. Paragraph 3: Conclude the letter. This section must say what you’re expecting or the solution.

7. Complimentary Closing: Now conclude the letter with complementary closing like yours sincerely, yours faithfully, etc.

8. Signature: Below the complementary message, write your name followed by your signature and designation.

Formal Letter Format For School: Structure Of A Formal Letter

The structure of a formal letter for school is as follows:

Formal Letter Format For School

Sender Address:
[Name] [Class you belong to] [Name of the school] [Addresss of the school]

Receivers Address:
[Prinipal/Teacher/HOD] [School Name] [School Address]

Subject:
[Subject: Name the request/complaint]

Salutation:
[Dear sir, Respected Class Teacher, etc.]

Body of the Letter:
Paragraph 1 [introduce yourself and state the purpose of letter ] Paragraph 2 [Here start writing detailed information, in case if you’re taking leave or interested in participating for any of the events conducted by the school, mention the purpose and brief your reason] Paragraph 3 – [Now conclude your letter that is write what you are expecting ]

Complimentary Closing:
[Now end the letter with – your’s sincerely, faithfully, thankfully]

Signature:
[Name followed by Signature]

Formal Letter Format For School: Sample Letter

Imagine there is a girl named Varsha who wants to write a letter to her class teacher asking permission to remain absent from school for 2 days on account of her sister’s marriage.

Now let us see how to write a formal letter to your teacher or school.

Sample Formal Letter For School

Varsha
ABC School,
6th Sector, 7th Road,
Banglore-500001

23rd January 2019

Class Teacher
VI-B Section,
ABC School,
6th Sector, 7th Road,
Banglore-500001

Subject: Application for leave for two days.

I am Varsha from Class VI-B and I am writing this letter to inform you that I will remain absent for the next 2 days on account of my sister’s marriage.

My sister’s wedding ceremony will begin from 24th Jan to 25th January 2019 and as a younger sister, my presence at the wedding ceremony is unavoidable. As a sister, I have so many duties to be carried out in wedding and also, I am responsible to look after the arrangements for the wedding ceremony.

So, I kindly request you to grant me 2 days holiday that is on 24th and 25th of January. The wedding card is attached herewith for your perusal.

Yours Sincerely,
Varsha
[Signature]

Now you are provided with all the necessary information regarding Formal Letter Format for School. Formal letters are often asked in school exams and other competitive exams. So, one must practice writing formal letters on a wide variety of subjects. This will help not only in exams but also in real life.

If you are studying in school, you can use Embibe to solve Class 8, 9 & 10 practice questions for Science and Maths. You can view solutions for every question. These will help you to improve your problem-solving abilities and improve your score in various exams.

We hope this detailed article on Formal Letter Format for School helps you. If you have any doubt, reach out to us through the comment section below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

How to write a formal letter

Formal English letters are quickly being replaced by email. However, the formal letter structure you learn can still be applied to business emails and other formal emails. Follow these structure tips to write effective formal business letters and emails.

A Purpose for Each Paragraph

First Paragraph: The first paragraph of formal letters should include an introduction to the purpose of the letter. It’s common to first thank someone or to introduce yourself.

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me last week. I’d like to follow up on our conversation and have a few questions for you.

Body Paragraphs: The second and following paragraphs should provide the main information of the letter, and build on the main purpose in the introductory first paragraph.

Our project is moving forward as scheduled. We’d like to develop a training program for staff at the new locations. To this end, we have decided to rent out space in the local business exhibition center. New staff will be trained by our experts in personnel for three days. In this way, we’ll be able to meet demand from the first day.

Final Paragraph: The final paragraph should shortly summarize the intent of the formal letter and end with some call to action.

Thank you for your consideration of my suggestions. I look forward to an opportunity to discuss this matter further.

Formal Letter Details

Open with an expression of formal address, such as:

Dear Mr, Ms (Mrs, Miss) – if you know the name of the person you are writing to. Use Dear Sir / Madam if you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, or To Whom it May Concern

Always use Ms for women unless you are specifically requested to use Mrs or Miss.

Beginning Your Letter

First, provide a reason for writing. If you are beginning correspondence with someone about something or asking for information, begin by providing a reason for writing:

  • I am writing to inform you about .
  • I am writing to ask/inquire about .
  • I am writing to ask about information for small businesses.
  • I am writing to inform you that we have not yet received payment for .

Frequently, formal letters are written to express thanks. This is especially true when writing in response to an inquiry of some kind or when writing to express appreciation for a job interview, a reference, or other professional assistance you have received.

Here are some useful phrases of gratitude:

  • Thank you for your letter of (date) inquiring about .
  • We would like to thank you for your letter of (date) asking for / requesting information about .
  • In response to your letter of (date), we would like to thank you for your interest in .
  • I would like to thank you for your letter of January 22nd requesting information about our new line of lawnmowers.
  • In response to your letter of October 23, 1997, we would like to thank you for your interest in our new line of products.

Use the following phrases when asking for assistance:

  • I would be grateful if you could + verb
  • Would you mind + verb + ing
  • Would it be too much to ask that .
  • I would be grateful if you could send me a brochure.
  • Would you mind telephoning me during the next week?
  • Would it be too much to ask that our payment be postponed for two weeks?

The following phrases are used to offer help:

  • I would be happy to + verb
  • We would be pleased to + verb
  • I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
  • We would be pleased to assist you in finding a new location.

Enclosing Documents

In some formal letters, you will need to include documents or other information. Use the following phrases to draw attention to any enclosed documents you might have included.

  • Enclosed please find + noun
  • Enclosed you will find . + noun
  • We enclose . + noun
  • Enclosed you will find a copy of our brochure.
  • Enclosed please find a copy of our brochure.
  • We enclose a brochure.

Note: if you are writing a formal email, use the phase: Attached please find / Attached you will find.

Closing Remarks

Always finish a formal letter with some call to action or reference to a future outcome you desire. Some of the options include:

A referral to a future meeting:

  • I look forward to meeting / seeing you
  • I look forward to meeting you next week.

An offer of further help

  • Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding this matter.
  • If you need any further assistance please contact me.

A Formal Sign Off

Sign the letter with one of the following phrases:

  • Yours faithfully,
  • Yours sincerely,
  • Best wishes.
  • Best regards.

Make sure to sign your letter by hand followed by your typed name.

Block Format

Formal letters written in block format place everything on the left-hand side of the page. Place your address or your company’s address at the top of the letter on the left (or use your company’s letterhead) followed by the address of the person and/or company you are writing to, all placed on the left side of the page. Hit the key return a number of times and use the date.

Standard Format

In formal letters written in standard format place your address or your company’s address at the top of the letter on the right. Place the address of the person and/or company you are writing on the left side of the page. Place the date on the right-hand side of the page in alignment with your address.

How to write a formal letter

With the development of new technologies, our language is suffering numerous attacks, specially when it comes to formal use of language. We have to distinguish what moments to use more formal and serious language than the kind we generally use to communicate with others. Generally, for job reasons such as writing a job application letter, and sometimes personal reasons, we’re obliged to do so. However, as this kind of language is not something we often use, it can be hard to use it. For this reason, at oneHOWTO we explain how to write a formal letter in English. There’s also an example of a formal letter if you click on it.

Writing well is something we should always do, independently on the kind of message we want to send. If our letter must be formal, we have to take an even closer look to our spelling, grammar and syntax.

We must begin with a correct heading in which the name and details of the receiver are indicated, as well as the position the person occupies if you’re addressing a company or government department. It is also advisable to make a small reference to the subject you’d like to write about in the letter. If you click on the picture above, you’ll find an example of a formal letter.

How to write a formal letter

The initial greeting has to be exclusive for the person to whom we’re writing, as well as correct and formal. This will be followed by colon and the body of the text will start to develop on the next line.

I am writing to you regarding .

In the first paragraph of the letter you’ll need to indicate the reason for it, or why you’re writing. It will be necessary to give arguments to justify our opinion.

I believe that doing . is a mistake due to . as a study on this subject reflects.

The second paragraph, written apart from the first, must indicate what solutions we need or hope to have to confront our problem or worry that has motivated us to write the letter. You should write in clear and precise language for this kind of circumstances.

This is why I would like to suggest .

In my opinion the best option to solve this problem is to .

Last, we need to write a formal farewell, saying thank you for the person’s attention and for the time dedicated. This farewell will be followed by our signature and our position, so they can identify us.

How to write a formal letter

While the thought of writing a letter to the person who holds the highest elected office in the United States might seem a bit overwhelming at first thought, it’s something that anyone can do. As a matter of fact, there is an Office of Presidential Correspondence that is responsible for receiving and replying to letters and other correspondence submitted to the president by constituents. You can use the printable template here to help you get started drafting a letter of your own.

Printable Template for Writing a Letter to the President

For a shortcut to formatting your letter to the president, download this customizable printable letter that’s already addressed and formatted in a way that makes it easy for you to fill in your contact information and content. Just click the image below and the template will open as a PDF file that you can edit, save, and print. Adjust the text in the body of the message so that it’s specific to the cause or issue that you want to share with the president.

How to write a formal letter

Where to Send a Letter to the President

According to WhiteHouse.gov, letters to the president should be addressed as follows:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Formatting Your Letter to the President

When drafting a letter to the president, please keep these formatting guidelines in mind.

  • Letters to the president should be submitted on standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
  • Typing is preferred. If, for some reason, you opt to send a handwritten letter, be sure to use ink (rather than pencil or another writing instrument) and ensure that it is neat and legible.
  • The greeting should specify either “Dear President [Last Name],” or “Dear [Mr. or Ms.] President,”
  • As a letter to the president is a formal document, so it’s best to use a standard business letter format.
  • Write a draft of your letter, then proofread carefully to ensure that it conveys your intended meaning and is free from errors.

Other Options for Presidential Correspondence

Writing a letter isn’t the only way to send correspondence to the president of the United States. It’s also possible to submit an email or place a phone call, both of which will also be directed to the Office of Presidential Correspondence.

Email

The White House has an email submission form that can be used for this purpose; you can find it at WhiteHouse.gov/contact. The body of the message in the printable letter above may be helpful to you for drafting the text of your email; just edit it as needed to convey your message and copy into the email form.

  • You’ll need to include your contact information along with the message you are sending.
  • The form is pre-set to opt-in those who send messages to receive periodic updates from the White House via email. If you do not wish to receive such updates, you’ll need to uncheck the box at the bottom of the form before submitting.

Telephone

If you’d prefer to call the Office of Presidential Correspondence, you may do so using the following telephone numbers.

  • Comments: 202-456-1111 or for TTY/TTD, call 202-456-6213
  • Switchboard: 202-456-1414
  • Visitors Office: 202-456-6213 (TTY/TTD capable)

How to write a formal letter

In this article, you will learn how to write informal letters in English with the help of sample opening and closing sentences and a sample letter. By the time you’re finished, you will know how to properly format the address, date, and signature of an informal letter, as well as what to write in between your greeting and signature.

What Is the Difference Between Informal and Formal Letters?

Informal Letter

An informal letter is a letter that is written in a personal fashion. You can write them to relatives or friends, but also to anyone with whom you have a non-professional relationship, although this doesn’t exclude business partners or workers with whom you’re friendly. There are different ways to carry out this type of letter depending on which country you’re in. This article will address the English/American way.

We’ll discuss the following elements:

  • Address
  • Date
  • Opening
  • Body
  • Closing
  • Signature

Formal Letter

The formal letter, on the other hand, is written in a professional tone using carefully chosen and polite language for an official purpose. Unlike the informal letter, there is nothing friendly or quirky about this type of letter, which must adhere to a strict format.

Format of an Informal Letter

How to write a formal letter

Use this image as a guide when formatting your informal letter.

How Do You Start an Informal Letter?

Address

Your personal address should be the first thing you write on your letter. It should be located at the top right corner of the page, since you do not always know if someone has your address if they want to reply. Remember also to fill in your country of residence if you are sending the letter abroad.

Format

  • Number and street name
  • City, state and postal code
  • Country

Example

1000 S. Grand Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90015

Date

The date is usually located below your own address. The most common way to write the date includes the month, day and year. Sometimes, only the month and day are sufficient. In English, the names of months are always capitalized, but there are some differences in formatting between American English and British English. See the table below for examples of each.

22nd November 2011

November 22nd, 2011

22 November 2011

November 22, 2011

How Do You Write an Informal Letter?

A informal letter can be written in nearly any way you choose, but there are a few organizational guidelines you can follow if you are unsure of what to write or how to format your letter. The perfect informal letter consists of three sections:

  1. Opening
  2. Body text
  3. Closing

There is one final part of an informal letter that doesn’t need listed here: the signature, which consists of no more than a farewell remark and your name. Learn about each of the three main parts of an informal letter below.

Opening

The first step is addressing your reader. But how do you address someone in English?

This is fairly straightforward and is usually not as important as it would be with a business or formal letter. There are still a few things that you should know in terms of addressing someone properly in an informal latter.

First, British English does not employ the use of a period after abbreviated titles, but American English does.

  • Mr Johnson (British English)
  • Mr. Johnson (American English)

Secondly, if you are sending a letter to a married woman, the correct abbreviation is “Mrs,” and if you are sending an letter to a non-married woman, the correct abbreviation is “Ms.”

  • Mrs. Johnson is the wife of Mr. Johnson
  • Ms. Johnson and her fiancé will be married this summer

Choosing whether or not to use a title depends on how well you know the person to which the letter is addressed. If you are on very friendly terms, simply use their first name. The way in which you greet your reader is up to you. The examples below showcase some common greetings.

  • Dear Richard,
  • Richard,
  • Hi Richard,

Be sure to never forget the comma after the name.

Examples of Opening Sentences

Finally, you’ve reached the part of the letter where you begin to write. Here, let your imagination run free. If you need some ideas to get started, some sample opening sentences are included below. Your opening should be casual and not as stiff as it would be if you were writing a professional or formal letter.

  • How are you?
  • How have you been?
  • How is life treating you?
  • How are the kids?
  • I hope you are doing well.
  • I hope you, Mike, and the kids are having a great time in (location).

The contents of your letter should be written in a personal and friendly tone. However, it’s important to adjust your use of language to the person you are writing to. A good way of assessing how you should write is to think about how you would interact with the person you are writing to in real life. Also, keep in mind that the people of England and America are fond of exchanging social niceties.

For example, they like asking a few polite questions “How are you?” or “How was your holiday?” In general, they are not as direct as most Europeans.

Subjects to Include in the Body

  • State your reason for writing
  • Expand on what you mentioned in the first paragraph
  • Ask about the person you are writing to
  • Make some concluding remarks
  • Invite the person to write back

Closing

The closing is where you summarize your letter and say goodbye to the reader. The examples below offer some ideas of what to write in the closing section of your informal letter.

Examples of Closing Sentences

  • I am looking forward to seeing you.
  • I can’t wait to see you soon.
  • I can’t wait to hear from you.
  • I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
  • I hope to hear from you soon.
  • See you soon.
  • Send my love to.
  • I hope you are doing well.
  • Give my regards to.

Signature

In terms of signing off, the choice is yours and you have a lot of freedom here. Below are some commonly used sign-offs that maintain a friendly, informal tone. After you’ve chosen one that fits the overall tone of your letter, simply sign your name.

Examples of Signatures

  • Best wishes,
  • Best,
  • Kindly,
  • Kind regards,
  • Best regards,
  • Lots of love,
  • Love,

Business Letter Format

Block Format: Business Letter
Below is the block format of a business letter. If emailing a business letter, you’d omit the heading (return address, date, and inside address) of the letter and start with the salutation ( 4 )

Date (Month Day, Year) 2

Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. Full name of recipient. 3
Title/Position of Recipient.
Company Name
Recipient’s Address Line 1
Recipient’s Address Line 2

Dear Ms./Mrs./Mr. Last Name: 4

Subject: Title of Subject 5

Body Paragraph 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Complimentary Close (Sincerely. ), 7

Your Name (Printed) 9
Your Title

Enclosures (2) 10
Typist’s Initials 11

With all business letters, use 1″ margins on all four sides.

1 Your Address
The return address of the sender so the recipient can easily find out where to send a reply to. Skip a line between your address and the date. (Not needed if the letter is printed on paper with the company letterhead already on it.)

2 Date
Put the date on which the letter was written in the format Month Day Year i.e. August 30, 2003. Skip a line between the date and the inside address (some people skip 3 or 4 lines after the date).

3 Inside Address
The address of the person you are writing to along with the name of the recipient, their title and company name, if you are not sure who the letter should be addressed to either leave it blank, but try to put in a title, i.e. “Director of Human Resources”. Skip a line between the date and the salutation.

4 Salutation
Dear Ms./Mrs./Mr. Last Name:, Dear Director of Department Name: or To Whom It May Concern: if recipient’s name is unknown. Note that there is a colon after the salutation. Skip a line between the salutation and the subject line or body.

5 Subject Line (optional)
Makes it easier for the recipient to find out what the letter is about. Skip a line between the subject line and the body.

6 Body
The body is where you write the content of the letter; the paragraphs should be single spaced with a skipped line between each paragraph. Skip a line between the end of the body and the closing.

7 Complimentary Close
Let’s the reader know that you are finished with your letter; usually ends with Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Thank you, and so on. Note that there is a comma after the end of the closing and only the first word in the closing is capitalized. Skip 3-4 lines between the closing and the printed name, so that there is room for the signature.

8 Signature
Your signature will go in this section, usually signed in black or blue ink with a pen.

9 Printed Name
The printed version of your name, and if desired you can put your title or position on the line underneath it. Skip a line between the printed name and the enclosure.

10 Enclosure
If letter contains other document other than the letter itself your letter will include the word “Enclosure.” If there is more than one you would type, “Enclosures (#)” with the # being the number of other documents enclosed, not including the letter itself.

11 Reference Initials
If someone other than yourself typed the letter you will include your initials in capital letters followed by the typist’s initials in lower case in the following format; AG/gs or AG:gs.

Index

How to write a formal letter

  • Introduction
  • FREE Guide
  • Writing Service
  • Templates

Introduction

Formal letter writing is undoubtably one of the most challenging types of letter format. When putting it together, often you are addressing a person or organisation with whom you are not familiar and the quality of your content, including spelling and grammar will be strongly scrutinised. In general what you put together will have one of the following purposes:

  • Make a complaint
  • Request something
  • Make an enquiry

If you are looking for information on specifically on writing cover letters then please visit our specific Cover Letters section. Additionally if you are looking to put your CV together then check out this CV template which will get you off to a great start.

How we can help you

We offer three tools to help you; our Free Guide, our Writing Service and our Templates.

Letter Format FREE Guide

This letter format guide and template will show you exactly how to write a formal letter using examples and of the correct layout.

Quicklinks

  • Layout
  • Writing conventions
  • Content
  • Application of techniques

Layout

The example formal letter below details the general layout that it should conform to. Each aspect is detailed more fully below the image.

How to write a formal letter

Conventions

There are a number of conventions that should be adhered to and it is important that the overall structure is as clear and concise as possible and that you avoid the use of colloquialisms (informal language).

Addresses:

1) Your Address
Your address should be displayed in the top right-hand section. This will enable the person that you are writing to, to reply.

2) The Address of the person you are writing to
This address should be displayed beneath your address on the left-hand side, remember to include the name of the person that you are writing to (if known).

This should be displayed on the right-hand side of the page on the line beneath your address and should be written in full format:

e.g. 1st January 2001

Salutation & Greeting:

1) Dear Sirs,
If you do not know the name of the person that you are writing to, use the greeting “Dear Sirs,”. In some circumstances it is useful to find a name, especially if you are making a request as this will show that you have done your homework and you are more likely to receive a response.

2) Dear Mr Jones,
If you know the name, use one of the following titles:

Mr – for a male
Mrs – for a married female
Miss – for an unmarried female
Ms – for a female whose status is unknown or would prefer to remain anonymous
Dr – for a person with the status of a doctor

This should be followed by the surname only (not the first name).

Concluding:

1) Yours faithfully,
If you do not know the name of the person, conclude with “Yours faithfully,”.

2) Yours sincerely,
If you know the name of the person, conclude with “Yours sincerely,”.

3) Your signature
Sign your name, then print it underneath the signature. If it is potentially unclear what your title would be then include this in brackets next to your printed name.

Content

In modern society there is a trend to use a shorthand writing style, for instance replacing the word “you” with “u” or replacing the word “weekend” with “wkend”, there are many other examples. This casual approach and informal writing style can easily be transferred, sometimes subconsciously, when a more formal style is required.

Introductory Paragraph

The introductory paragraph should be concise and should clearly state the purpose, whether it is to lodge a complaint, make an enquiry or to request something.

Main Body

The main body should clearly state the points that you want to make. As a general rule it is a good idea to keep this as to the point as possible to ensure that the recipient remains engaged. A longer main body may be more appropriate when making a complaint as you may require to add more detail in order to convey the importance of what you are putting across.

Concluding Paragraph

The concluding paragraph should outline what action you would like the recipient to take: to make a refund, to send you information etc.

Application

Complaint

A letter of complaint is sent to an individual or organisation in response to receiving poor service or a product that is not fit for purpose. An example of a letter of complaint would be a one sent to a tour operator who has provided a bad service while you have been on holiday. This does not necessarily need to be concise as it is important that you detail your arguments and points as much as possible.

Enquiry

A letter of enquiry makes an approach to an individual or organisation either speculatively or in response to printed public domain material whereby you are requesting some information. An example of a letter of enquiry would be one sent to a company requesting a copy of their catalogue or brochure. By their very nature these are short and to the point, it is usually beneficial to include other methods of contact in case the company needs to get in touch with you via other means.

Request

A letter of request is similar to when you make an enquiry but specifically asks an individual or organisation to take an action. An example of a letter of request would be one sent to request sponsorship for a charity activity. It is important to stress the importance of being clear and concise with this format as the recipient must remain engaged and interested in what you have to say.

Writing Service

We have a great deal of experience with formal letter writing and as such are able to offer a great value service. If you feel that after reading our free guide that you would still like some assistance with putting it together then please contact us.

Templates

We are able to offer templates to suit all formats. Our formal or business letter templates are completely free and are the ideal solution to enable you to easily put together your own formal letter.

Informal vs Formal Video