A formal letter is usually written for business purposes, or for corresponding with someone you do not know personally. In a formal letter, it is necessary to keep your writing brief and to the point using a business tone. It is important that you show respect in your letter, and represent yourself in a professional manner.
Business people are often busy and do not have the time to read long, detailed letters. The formal letter offers your information in a concise, easy to read manner so that the recipient can quickly read or scan it in order to grasp the pertinent details.
1. Include your name and address. At the upper left-hand side of the page, include your name, address and contact information.
2. Date. Date your letter two spaces below your return address information.
3. Address the recipient. Two spaces below the date, include the recipient’s address. Include their name, title, and address.
4. Salutation. The salutation should be written as Dear Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms., followed by the recipient’s full name. Try your best to get their name if you do not know it, otherwise use “Dear Sir or Madam”.
5. Body of letter. In beginning your formal letter, the first sentence should summarize the purpose or state the reason for writing. Introduce yourself if the recipient will not recognize your name. The next paragraph or two should offer details or facts that support the purpose or statement you gave for writing in the first sentence. After you have included pertinent information, thank the recipient for their time and consideration in the last paragraph or sentence.
6. Signature. In closing, use “Sincerely”, “Respectfully Yours”, or “Best Regards”. Skip 3 to 4 lines and type your name. Sign your name by hand in the space above your typed signature.
7. Proofread. It is important that you present yourself in a professional manner, so be sure to proofread your formal letter for spelling and grammar errors. Make any changes as necessary.
Sample Formal Letter
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss (Recipient’s Full Name):
In the first paragraph introduce yourself if the recipient does not know you. After this, state the purpose of your letter summarizing why you are writing.
In the next paragraph, include the details or facts that support the statement you made in your opening sentence or paragraph. You can end the letter with this paragraph or include another one if you need more space to include all of the pertinent information, but be as brief and concise as possible. Complete the letter by thanking the recipient for taking the time to read the letter.
Respectfully Yours, /Sincerely,
Write your formal letter using simple, easy-to-read fonts. You want your letter to look professional, so avoid using bold or fancy fonts; use white paper or company letterhead when writing your formal letter.