Write a Formal Letter in Five Easy Steps

Writing a Formal Letter Is Simple

  1. Write your name, contact information, and date.
  2. Add your recipient’s name and contact information.
  3. Then, move on to the greeting and the body.
  4. End your letter with a complimentary close.
  5. Send your letter.

What Is a Formal Letter?

A formal letter is a letter—or correspondence—written for a professional or academic setting.

Types of formal letters include:

  • Cover letter
  • Inquiry letter
  • Legal letter
  • Letter of intent
  • Reference letter
  • Resignation letter

As you can see, there are several reasons you may find yourself writing a formal letter. If you don’t know how to write one, don’t panic. Below, we’ll go over the five easy steps of writing a formal letter.

How To Write a Formal Letter

Formal letters are easy to write, all you have to do is follow these steps:

1. Write Your Name, Contact Information, and Date.

To start your formal letter, write your name, contact information, and date on the left-hand side of the paper. Skip a line before the date so that it looks like this:

Always start your formal letters with your name, contact information, and date. 

2. Write the Recipient’s Name and Contact Information.

Add another space, and then the recipient’s name and contact information.

In formal letters, there should be a space before and after the date. 

3. Write the Greeting and the Body.

After writing the date and the recipient’s contact information, open with a greeting. Formal letters begin with “Dear” and the name of the person receiving your letter. If you don’t know the name, write the job title or department. Only use “To Whom It May Concern” as a last resort.

The most common formal letter format is block style: single space and left justify each paragraph.

Dear Fiona Fernandez,

Note that the comma comes after the name.

When writing the body of a formal letter, remember to be brief and stick to the point, avoid contractions, and proofread your text. Regardless of what type of formal letter you’re sending, the last thing you want to do is send one riddled with errors.

Quick Tip:

If you want to be certain your writing is free of spelling and grammar mistakes, LanguageTool’s online editor can check your writing as well as offer stylistic improvements and formatting suggestions.

4. End Your Letter With a Complimentary Close, Your Name, and Signature

You’ll want to end your formal letter with a complimentary close. The most common complimentary close for a formal letter is “Sincerely.” Other closes include:

  • Respectfully,
  • Thank you,
  • With appreciation,

The comma comes after the complimentary close, and only the first word is capitalized. After the complimentary close, leave a space for your signature, and then type your name below it.

5. Send Your Letter

You can send your formal letter in multiple ways. One, by folding the letter into a stamped and addressed envelope and sending it in the mail. Or two, by sending it as an attachment in an email. Keep in mind that you may follow these same steps to write the letter as a formal email instead, without including the date and contact information.

How you send your formal letter depends on you and the recipient.

Writing Formal Letters

There’s no way around it. Knowing how to write a formal letter is important. When the time comes, and you find yourself having to write one, just follow these steps to write an excellent formal letter.