How To Write A Formal Letter

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 September 2022 | Published 12 June 2021

Updated 17 September 2022

Published 12 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you require to write a formal letter, it is very important to first consider who the recipient of the letter is and then properly format it. It is of great use to understand when to write a formal letter because it can shape the recipient's perception of you and affect your working relationship with them in the future. A formal letter is a formal mode of communication and writing it properly ensures your words are professional, understandable and well-received by the recipient. In this article, we talk about when to write a formal letter, what are various types of formal letters and how to write your own by sharing a formal letter format.

Related: 5 Steps for Great Business Writing (With Tips)

When To Use A Formal Letter Format?

A formal letter is written for official purposes and if you require to send any business communication which needs to be professional, it is best to use formal letter format. A formal letter is typically written to authorities, dignitaries, office colleagues and business associates and not to personal acquaintances like friends and family members.

If you are still not clear whether to write a formal or an informal letter to someone, think about how would you interact with the recipient in person. This can help you decide whether writing a formal letter would be appropriate or you require to write it in a more casual way.

Related: Business Letter Format and Example

Types Of Formal Letters

There are various types of formal letters depending on their purpose. Here are some examples:

  1. Business letter: Business letters are typically written to serve a business purpose. The purpose of a business letter can be anything ranging from recommending a person for a particular job to inviting a guest for an event or conference.

  2. Sales letter: A sales letter aims to promote the company's product and increase its sales in the market. It gives out information on the company's product and states how the product solves customer's problem. It is typically followed by a call for action from the customer's side.

  3. Acceptance letter: Acceptance letters are formal letters which are used to accept any job offer, resignation or any other formality.

  4. Inquiry letter: An inquiry letter is typically used when you want to make some kind of query regarding any product or service. A similar letter to this is the response letter to this inquiry.

  5. Making a claim letter: Claim letter is used when you are dissatisfied with any product or service, and you want reimbursement for the same. You can mention what you did not like in the product and how you want the company to reimburse you.

  6. Cover letter: A cover letter is a formal letter which you can send to hiring managers in case you are looking out for a job. This letter can be sent along with your resume, and it typically includes all your qualifications and explains how you can be a good fit for a particular role you are applying to.

  7. Apology letter: Apology letter is written when you have made a mistake, and you want to confess it to your manager or your supervisor.

  8. Thank You letter: A thank you letter is an expression of gratitude for someone's time and efforts. You can send a thank you letter to people who have helped you in getting interview calls, have referred you to any company or have guided you in your career.

Related: How to Write a Professional Thank You Letter

How To Write A Formal Letter?

To write an appropriate formal letter, you would require to follow certain guidelines and include certain elements throughout. Following a proper format in a formal letter would help you to make it more effective and might also help the recipient in understanding the letter better. Follow the below steps while writing a formal letter:

1. Write your name and contact information

Write your or your company's name on the top left-hand corner of the letter. Also, do not forget to include your address below the name. Make sure that the address mentioned is accurate as the recipient would be contacting you on this address in case he needs to.

2. Mention the date

Mention the date on which you are writing the letter just below your address. This date is important as it would work as an official record.

3. Write the recipient's name and contact information

Write the recipient's name and contact information below the date. Make sure you include the recipient's official title, such as Mr., Mrs, Miss or Ms. with their name as the first line of the address. After this, write their job title, name of their company and their address. If case you do not have their contact information, you can go on their website for assistance.

4. Include Salutation

This is where you greet the recipient of the letter. As this is a formal letter, make sure that your salutation is formal and not personal. If you do not know the name of the recipient, you can consider using “Sir” or “Madam”. If you know the name of the person the salutation may also be “Mr. ABC” or “Ms. XYZ”. In case you are using the name of the recipient, make sure you are either using their full name or last name only and not just their first name.

5. Write the subject line of the letter

This is the place where you mention the purpose of writing the letter. The subject line of the letter requires to be very crisp and clear and has to be written in all caps. This helps the recipient in getting the purpose of the letter in just one glance.

6. Write body of the letter

Next, include the body of the letter. This is the main content of the letter and is generally two or three paragraphs long. The first paragraph of your letter requires to provide the introduction and the reason of writing the letter so that the recipient is clear of the purpose. In the subsequent paragraphs, you can include more details which you think are relevant and are necessary for the recipient to know. Last paragraph requires to be a closing paragraph where you again mention why you wrote this letter and how you want to proceed. This can include a call to action, such as "I look forward to hearing from you" or "Please contact me at your earliest convenience."

7. Include a sign-off

In a sign-off, you can include a closing like "Yours faithfully", "Yours Sincerely" or "Best" followed by your signature and printed name. You can also include your title, phone number and email address after your name. If you are enclosing any other document with this letter, add the word "Enclosure" below this followed by a colon and the name of the document, such as a resume.

8. Proofread your letter

Lastly, it is important to proofread your letter. Make sure that it makes sense to the recipient and is free from any spelling or grammatical errors. You can read it for a couple of times and look for any inconsistencies and formatting mistakes.

Related: How To Address a Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide With Examples

Tips For Writing A Formal Letter

While writing a formal letter, there are a few things that are required to be kept in mind to ensure the quality of the letter. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Be clear and concise. Be clear about the purpose of your letter since the beginning and make it to the point

  • Use the correct tone. Make sure that the tone of the letter is positive and formal. You are required to be polite and respectful in your language while writing a formal letter.

  • Use the proper format. Formal letter requires to include all the necessary elements discussed above in the article like recipient's name, address, your signature and more.

  • Proofread. After you are done writing your letter, make sure you proofread it a couple of times to make sure that it is free of any formatting or language errors.

Related: 10 Tips To Improve Your Writing Skills

Formal Letter Sample

Here is an example of a formal letter:

Karan Aggarwal
111 Aviator Building
Whitefield, Bengaluru 560048

May. 10, 2021

Mrs. Priya Jain
Eduventure Corporation
123 MG Road
Kalyan Nagar, Bengaluru 560087

Dear Mrs. Jain,


I am writing to express my interest in the Java Developer position at Eduventure Corporation. I was excited to see the job posting on your company's careers page, and I believe I would be a great fit for the role. I would love to hear about the role in more detail.

While I was studying at IIT Madras, I took several courses to enhance my programming skills, specifically in Java. Since graduating, I have held roles as a Java developer where I have been able to use my in-depth knowledge of programming to build some of the most sophisticated software in the industry. I sincerely believe that my aptitude skills combined with my programming knowledge would be of great value to your company.

I have enclosed my resume, which details my prior experience and accomplishments in programming. I am confident that my skills and passion for this industry would be a great fit for Eduventure Corporation. I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about this exciting opportunity.

Yours sincerely,
Karan Aggarwal [your signature for a hard copy letter)
Karan Aggarwal

Enclosure: Resume


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Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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