How to Write a Formal Letter?

How to Write a Formal Letter?

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Rashmi
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Feb 21, 2024 12:15 IST

Discover the key components and format of a formal letter, from salutations to closings. Follow our expert tips and examples to create polished and effective communication for various occasions.

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It may seem strange to know that when information is so immediate and communication channels are mostly digital, people continue to talk about “formal letters”. Strangely, this is a valid and very useful document in the business world and at work since it allows the information to arrive clearly, precisely and professionally. So, let us understand how to write a formal letter.

Content

What is A Formal Letter?

A formal letter is a type of written communication for official purposes, mainly professional, business, academic, or official settings. 

This type of letter uses a formal tone and must follow a certain structure that allows you to communicate the information officially. Formal letters are addressed to the following entities – 

  • Businesses: To inquire, lodge complaints, or seek information.
  • Government Authorities: When dealing with official matters or requesting government services.
  • Academic Institutions: For various purposes, such as admissions, scholarship applications, or academic inquiries.
  • Employers: Job application letters and other formal work-related communication are addressed to employers or HR departments.
  • Clients or Customers: Directed to clients or customers to provide information or address concerns.
  • Officials and Public Figures: For formal communication about public matters or official requests.
  • Professional Colleagues: Addressed to colleagues professionally, such as requesting a recommendation or expressing appreciation.

What is A Formal Letter Used For?

The importance of a formal letter can vary depending on the purpose. Generally, they convey information about an important event, make a request, file a complaint, etc. 

Likewise, a formal letter aims to maintain respect and good manners when dealing with important matters concerning different people. This way, the information reaches the addressee clearly.

Elements of A Formal Letter

Listed below are the major elements of a formal letter – 

Element Description
Sender’s Address The sender’s name, street address, city, state/province, postal/zip code, and country (if applicable) at the top.
Date The full date when the letter is written, including the month, day, and year.
Recipient’s Name The recipient’s name, title (if applicable), company/organization name, street address, city, state/province, and postal/zip code.
Salutation (Greeting) The formal greeting addresses the recipient (e.g., Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name]).
Subject (Optional) A brief statement summarizing the letter’s purpose.
Body The main content of the letter. It is divided into paragraphs conveying the intent/message clearly and concisely.
Closing A polite closing phrase (e.g., Sincerely, Yours faithfully) before the sender’s name.
Signature (If Handwritten) The sender’s signature (handwritten/digital).
Additional Contact Info Any additional contact information, such as email address, phone number, or website (optional).

Formal Letter Format (Example)

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How To Write A Formal Letter? Step-by-Step Process

Formal letter writing in English: 

We are taking an example of a NOC letter provided by the company to one of its employees, enabling them to apply for a vacation visa – 

Write Sender’s Address

At the top of the letter, mention your name, address, city, state/province, postal/zip code, and country (if applicable). This is your sender’s address, and it helps the recipient respond if needed.

Example –

[Your Name]

[Your Job Title]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

[City, State/Province]

[Postal/Zip Code]

[Country]

Mention the Date

The receiver must be clear about the date of its issuance. It usually goes after the header.

Example – [Date]

Start with the Greeting

After the recipient’s address, start the body of the letter with a formal greeting or salutation. 

Example – Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name]” or “To Whom It May Concern.”

Mark the Subject Line

After the greeting, you can include a subject line briefly stating the letter’s purpose. It is not a mandatory step but is recommended.

Example – “Subject: No Objection Certificate (NOC)”

Draft the Main Body

Structure the body of a formal letter into three paragraphs.

Paragraph 1: Purpose of Writing the Letter  

State the purpose of your letter. Be concise and to the point. Mention the reason for writing and any relevant background information. This sets the tone for the rest of the letter.

Example: “I, [Your Name], the undersigned [Your Job Title] at [Company Name], hereby confirm that we have no objections to [Applicant’s Full Name], an employee of our company, travelling to [Destination Country] to attend a business conference from [Dates of Travel].  

Paragraph 2: Explanation and Details 

In the second paragraph, elaborate on the reason for your letter. Provide details, supporting information, or examples to support your statements. Be organized and structured in presenting your information, making it easy for the recipient to understand your points.

Example: “During the aforementioned period, [Applicant’s Full Name] will remain an active employee of [Company Name], and we assure you that they will return to their duties promptly upon completion of the personal trip. The employee will bear the expenses of the travel.

Paragraph 3: Conclusion and Expectations 

In the final paragraph, summarize your key points and conclude the letter. Express any specific expectations or what you hope to achieve from this communication. If you are making a request, state it clearly and politely. Show appreciation for the recipient’s time and consideration.

Example: “We kindly request that you grant [Applicant’s Full Name] the necessary visa to facilitate their travel for this personal trip.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information or clarification.”

Close with Your Signature

The closure must be short and cordial. Simply adding “a greeting” or “kind regards” may be enough. You can include “I look forward to your prompt response” or similar expressions. 

Example – 

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Job Title]

[Company Name]

Here is how the above examples will look when put together.

[Your Name]

[Your Job Title]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

[City, State/Province]

[Postal/Zip Code]

[Country]

[Date]

To whom it may concern,

Subject: No Objection Certificate 

“I, [Your Name], the undersigned [Your Job Title] at [Company Name], hereby confirm that we have no objections to [Applicant’s Full Name], an employee of our company, travelling to [Destination Country] to attend a business conference from [Dates of Travel]. 

During the aforementioned period, [Applicant’s Full Name] will remain an active employee of [Company Name], and we assure you that they will return to their duties promptly upon completing the personal trip. The employee will bear the expenses of the travel.

We request that you grant [Applicant’s Full Name] the necessary visa to facilitate their travel for this trip.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information or clarification.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Job Title]

[Company Name]

Types of Formal Letters 

Depending on the purpose for which they are written, formal letters are of different types:

Cover Letters

They are letters in which the issuer introduces himself, including his work experience and studies, and explains why he wants to be hired by a company or admitted to a university.

Thank You Letters

Thank you letters are the ones in which the sender thanks the receiver for a job, service, and help, among others.

Recommendation Letters

A recommendation letter is a document in which a previous manager/boss assesses and endorses an individual’s qualifications, skills, or character for a particular purpose, such as employment, education, etc.

Letters From Readers

Letters from Readers, as the name suggests, are written by the readers of a newspaper or a magazine to express their opinion about a piece of news or content previously published or about a current issue.

Request Letters

They are letters in which the issuer requests information about something or that the company or organization it addresses considers the issuer to do something.

Apology Letters

Apology letters are when the issuer apologizes for something they have done and takes responsibility for their mistake. Such letters can also be used to clarify why someone will not attend an event or to explain that something could not be fulfilled for reasons of force majeure.

Claim Letters

They are letters written to present a complaint or dissatisfaction with a product or service. In addition, it is often requested that the company solve the problem.

Business Letters

The employees or managers write business letters of a company to a client, another company, a supplier, etc. They aid in closing a deal and requesting information or a product, among other things.

Sales Letters

Sales letters are sent to one or more people to purchase a product or service. These letters describe the product or service’s main features and argue to convince the reader.

Authorization Letters

Authorization letters are written to authorize a person to do something, for example, for a person to represent another in a negotiation or for someone to vote instead of another person.

Is It Mandatory That A Formal Letter To Be Handwritten?

No, writing it in your hand is not mandatory, although it denotes an effort and a detail for the recipient. 

Using a computer to type or print the letter offers several advantages:

  1. Better readability: Typed or printed text is easier to read and understand.
  2. Professionalism: Printed letters appear more professional and polished than handwritten ones, particularly in business and formal settings.
  3. Edit and Review: Typing allows you to edit and revise your letter before finalizing and sending it, helping you to avoid mistakes.
  4. Consistency: A computer ensures consistency in font, size, and formatting.
  5. Faster: Typing is typically faster than handwriting, particularly helpful if you have a time crunch.

Even so, if a handwritten letter is appropriate for a particular occasion or you prefer to write by hand, it can still be a heartfelt and meaningful way to communicate. However, a typed or printed letter is the norm in most formal and professional settings.

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About the Author
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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio