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

Updated 26 September 2023

When it comes to professional or business communications, most people prefer to use a formal letter. These letters typically follow a specific structure and almost always begin with an address at the top. Learning how to address a formal letter can help you write an effective and professional document throughout your career. In this article, we explain how to address a letter, when you need to address one and share a template and example to help you write your own letter.

When is it important to address a letter?

It is important to address a letter when you are writing business correspondence. If you are writing an informal letter or email, you can use a casual greeting, such as "Hi" or "Dear" to address the recipient. However, when sending a formal letter, following a standard structure can help you show your professionalism and make sure that the intended recipient receives the document. Here are some situations where you might want to use a formal address:

  • When accepting a new job: When you formally accept a new position, your acceptance letter should include a formal address.

  • When writing a cover letter: If you are sending a cover letter for a new position, you may use a formal structure and address.

  • When thanking someone formally: Depending on your company's culture and preferences, you might send a formal thank you during your career to show gratitude to another professional.

  • When making an inquiry: If you are writing on behalf of your business, you might write a formal inquiry letter asking for more information about a company's products or services.

  • When writing a formal apology: If you want to formally apologise to a team member or manager, you may use a formal apology letter format.

  • When promoting a sale: Some businesses use sales letters to promote their goods and services. If you work in a sales role, you may write this type of letter.

  • When writing an internal business letter: Some companies use a formal letter structure for important internal communications, such as offering a promotion, recommending a colleague for a new role or inviting a speaker to an event. If you work in a leadership role, you might write these letters frequently, depending on your industry.

  • When making a formal claim or request: When making a formal claim, for insurance or reimbursement, you may want to use a formal letter structure.

Read more: How To Write a Formal Letter

How to address a letter

Here are the steps you can take to address a formal letter:

1. Put your contact information at the top

In a formal letter, it is standard to place your contact information at the top of the document. This can tell the recipient who you are and where the letter is coming from. This also lets them know how to contact you if they decide to reply. In the upper left-hand corner of the letter, write your full name. If you are writing to a company personally and not as part of your current job, you may include your personal phone number and email address so the recipient can contact you back easily.

If you are writing from your company or on behalf of your business, you can include the company name below your full name. Follow it with the business's address. You may also include your job title, company phone number and email if applicable. For example, if you send a sales letter on behalf of your company, you can include your position at the company, the company's name and the address so a customer or vendor can contact you at your office.

Related: How To Write a Job Offer Acceptance Letter (With Samples)

2. Include the date

After writing your information, you can skip one line and place the full date, including the month, day and year. Spell out the month and include the full year. For example, you might write, "July 26, 2021." A full date lets the recipient know when you sent the letter and allows them to give you a timely reply.

3. Find the recipient's information

Under the address, you can add the recipient's name and information. If you do not have this information, consider following one of these tips:

  • Check the company website. If you know the recipient's title, you can check their company website to find their name or address. For example, if you want to write a letter to the director of marketing at a certain company, you may find their name on the company website.

  • Ask around. If you are sending a letter to a client or colleague, your team members may know the contact details of your recipient. You can also consider asking your professional network for the recipient's contact information.

  • Call the company. Consider calling the company and asking for the recipient's professional contact information. If you want to reply to a job post or inquire about availability, you may ask for the name of the company's hiring manager.

4. Write the recipient's name and address

By including the recipient's name and address, you can help ensure your letter makes it to the right person. This is especially important if you send the letter to an office address. If someone else accidentally receives the letter, they can give it to the correct person.

Below the date, skip one line and include the recipient's full name and professional title or degree. For example, "Arjun Reddy, PhD" or "Dr Arjun Reddy." Below the recipient's name, you can include their company name on a second line and the company's address.

Related: An In-Depth Guide to Professionalism

5. Include a salutation

A salutation shows you respect your recipient, and it is a common practice for business correspondence. Skip one line after the recipient's name and contact information and include a salutation. The salutation you include depends on your relationship with the recipient. For example, if the letter is less formal, such as if you are thanking a colleague, you can include "Hi." For formal letters, the standard salutation is "Dear" followed by the recipient's last name and a colon or comma. It is best to stay with "Dear" unless you know that the company or recipient prefers or more conversational tone.

It is also common to include a title such as "Mr" or "Ms” before the recipient's last name. You can also use "Sir," "Madam" or "Dear Sir or Madam." Other titles you can use include "Doctor" or "Professor." For example, your salutation could read, "Dear Professor Patel," followed by a comma or colon.

Related: How To Correctly Utilise the Salutation 'To Whom It May Concern'

6. Verify the information is correct

Before continuing with the letter's body copy, review the way you addressed the letter, and check for any spelling and grammar errors. Make sure all dates, titles and addresses are correct. This helps to ensure your letter reaches the right destination. It also ensures the recipient has the right information to contact you.

Related: Different Forms of Business Letters (With Examples)

Letter address template

Here is a template showing you how to address a formal letter:

[Your full name]
[Your job title, if applicable]
[Your company's name, if applicable]
[Your company's address, if applicable]
[Your email address]
[Your phone number]


[Recipient's name]
[Recipient's job title]
[Recipient's company name]
[Recipient's company's address]


Related: How To Write A Professional Business Loan Application Letter

Example addresses

Here are some example letters for different situations you can reference to help you address your own formal letter:

Personal example

When an individual sends a personal formal letter to a business, such as when they accept a job or send a cover letter, they may send it from their personal email. In this situation, it is appropriate to include your phone number and email so the recipient can contact you. You can leave out the information about your current company and job title unless you want the recipient to contact you at your current workplace. Here is an example you can reference when sending a personal formal letter to a business or professional:

Diya Kaur

July 21, 2021

Ms Fatima Dhar
Edge Technologies
123 Main Road
Kalyan Nagar, Bengaluru 560087

Dear Ms Dhar,

Company example

When sending a formal letter from your company, such as when writing a sales letter, inquiry or other business notice, you may include your job title, company name and company address to let the recipient know what your role is and how they can contact you. You may also include your work email and phone number. Here is an example that uses this format:

Veer Devi
Strategised Software Solutions
111 Park Street
Kundalahalli Bengaluru 560037
11111-2222 ext. 123

July 29, 2021

Dr Ananya Singh
Research Labs United
Research manager
999 Mall Road
Whitefield, Bengaluru 560048

Dear Dr Singh,

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