How to Write a Formal Letter

The majority of your communications are most likely through social media, text messages or emails. This does not mean there are not occasions when a formal letter is necessary. This includes questioning a legal decision, applying for a job, making travel arrangements and issuing a complaint. No matter why you need to write a formal letter, creating the right impression is extremely important. When you attend a special event or occasion, you dress up. The same concept is necessary for your letter.

A formal letter dresses up your words. To be successful, there ate specific rules and conventions you need to follow. Your letter will determine what the person thinks of you. This is critical if you are applying for a job or addressing a serious concern. There are two different types of styles commonly used for formal letters, AMS or administrative management style and block style. AMS style is recommended for situations requiring directness and internal memos because it is much more succinct.

The format most frequently used for formal letters is block style. For this type of style, you need to include both a salutation and a closing. If you are writing to someone you have already met, are applying for a job or writing to a business, this style is recommended. Your letter can determine the outcome of the situation.

Tips for Writing a Formal Letter

Learning how to write a formal letter means you need to know how to write concisely. The reason you are writing the letter should be explained in the first paragraph. You need to stay on the subject and not branch off into something else. Do not use long words or flowery language. Your letter should get right to the point and be short. Your writing needs to be concise and vigorous with no unnecessary words in your sentences or unnecessary sentences.

Think of your letter as a painting. If there are unnecessary lines and objects, the picture becomes overly complicated and less appealing. Use words that precisely convey what you want to say without going into too much detail. Every word you write should have a distinct purpose.

Think about the words that are necessary and those that can be eliminated. Use a tone that is a little more formal than the speech you use on a daily basis. Do not use any contractions, jargon, vague words or slang in your formal writing.

Words such as nice or good are too vague. Eliminate all contractions including it’s, can’t and I’m and replace them with it is, cannot and I am. Even if you are writing a complaint letter, make certain you are respectful and polite.

If you are uncertain as to what is acceptable, conduct an online search for formal letter examples to get an idea of what your letter should look like. Once you have finished writing, make certain you proofread your letter. Proofreading is important because it gives you the opportunity to carefully check your spelling and grammar.

You can find an online spellchecker on your computer to help with grammar and punctuation. Be aware there are some things a spellchecker will miss so you still need to proofread your letter. If necessary, you can use a dictionary. Make certain everything is correct and your sentences are complete.

If possible, have someone you know proofread your letter after you. This is a good way to find any errors you might have overlooked no matter how many times you read your letter. If there are any errors in your letter the impact you want to make will not be nearly as effective.

Do not forget the importance of a good first impression. A formal letter should be enclosed in a matching envelope and written on high-quality paper. Make certain you spell the name of the recipient correctly and have the right address. Make sure you have signed your letter.

Rules of a Formal Letter

The English language has a lot of conventions that are extremely important when you write and format either a business or formal letter. The words you use should make your writing and intention crystal clear. You need to write your return address in the upper right-hand corner of your formal letter. Write the address of the recipient on the left with the first character directly beneath your address. The date should be written on the right or left of the address line. The month should be spelled out as a word.

Do not underestimate the importance of your greeting or salutation. If you have not met the individual you are writing to address your letter to dear madam or dear sir. If at all possible find out the name of the recipient and make certain it is spelled correctly. Nobody likes to see their name misspelled and it will count against you. If you know the name, include a title such as Ms, Dr, Mr, Miss or Mrs. Only use the surname after the title. If your letter is addressed to a woman and you are uncertain as to whether Miss or Mrs is appropriate, use Ms as your title.

If you are unable to learn the name of the recipient, end your letter with yours faithfully. If you know their name end your letter with yours sincerely. Sign your name at the bottom of your formal letter. Under your signature, clearly print your name. If your name does not indicate gender such as Chris, place brackets after your name with your title inside.

Tone and Purpose

Both your opening sentence and letter should be to the point and precise. You need to use the right tone in your letter. This is as difficult as it is important. Your tone should be both polite and firm. Your goal is to sound businesslike without using any language appearing chatty or casual. Remember the reason you are writing the letter and make certain you have included all of the relevant information to help ensure a response from the recipient.

If your letter is a job application, including a few specific details about yourself is important. Tell the recipient the reasons you are the perfect candidate for the job. If you are writing a formal complaint letter, write a summary of the circumstances leading to your complaint. If necessary, include names, dates and locations. Use a separate paragraph for every point you are making.

Formal Letter Content

The paragraphs in your letter need to follow the following format: keep your first paragraph short, tell the recipient why you are writing them a letter such as making a complaint or an inquiry or requesting something, and place the relevant information in the paragraphs in the middle of your letter. The majority of letters written in English are fairly short. Only include essential information. Make certain your letter is organized in a logical and clear manner.

Resist the temptation to include every detail because you will overexpand your letter. When writing a formal letter, the action you want the recipient to take needs to be stated in the last paragraph. This can be sending you information or asking for a refund. Make certain your language does not appear demanding.


Capitalize My Title is a dynamic title capitalization tool used to make sure your titles or headlines use proper capitalization rules according to various style guides include APA, AP, MLA, and Chicago. It also counts your words and checks for grammar issues.

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