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Writting an official letter

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Writting an official letter
March 11, 2019 Wedding Anniversary Wishes 2 comments

Here's a guide to formal letter structure written for English learners with formats for requests, offers of help, and inquiring for information.

We live in a world of technology backed communication. E-mails, texts, etc are most of our preferred modes of communication. However, letters still have a major use and importance in our society. Especially formal letters written to authorities or professional contacts, because they generally stay on record. Let us learn the correct format and language of formal letters.

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Formal Letters

A formal letter is one written in a formal and ceremonious language and follows a certain stipulated format. Such letters are written for official purposes to authorities, dignitaries, colleagues, seniors, etc and not to personal contacts, friends or family. A number of conventions must be adhered to while drafting formal letters. So let us take a look at a sample format of a formal letter.

Format of a Formal Letter

As we said earlier, a formal letter must follow certain rules and conventions. Such a format helps in relaying the information in a professional way. It must be remembered that there are various such formats for formal letters that people follow. The one explained here is the one most commonly used for formal communication these days.

Learn more about Paragraph Writing.

Sender’s Address

The sender’s address is usually put on the top right-hand corner of the page. The address should be complete and accurate in case the recipient of the letter wishes to get in touch with the sender for further communication.

Date

The sender’s address is followed by the date just below it, i.e. on the right side of the page. This is the date on which the letter is being written. It is important in formal letters as they are often kept on record.

Receiver’s Address

After leaving some space we print the receiver’s address on the left side of the page. Whether to write “To” above the address depends on the writer’s preference. Make sure you write the official title/name/position etc of the receiver, as the first line of the address.

Greeting

This is where you greet the person you are addressing the letter to. Bear in mind that it is a formal letter, so the greeting must be respectful and not too personal. The general greetings used in formal letters are “Sir” or “Madam”. If you know the name of the person the salutation may also be “Mr. XYZ” or “Ms. ABC”. But remember you cannot address them only by their first name. It must be the full name or only their last name.

Subject

After the salutation/greeting comes the subject of the letter. In the centre of the line write ‘Subject” followed by a colon. Then we sum up the purpose of writing the letter in one line. This helps the receiver focus on the subject of the letter in one glance.

Body of the Letter

This is the main content of the letter. It is either divided into three paras or two paras if the letter is briefer. The purpose of the letter should be made clear in the first paragraph itself. The tone of the content should be formal. Do not use any flowery language. Another point to keep in mind is that the letter should be concise and to the point. And always be respectful and considerate in your language, no matter the subject of your letter.

Improve your Story Writing Skills from this Story Writing Guide.

Closing the Letter

At the end of your letter, we write a complimentary losing. The words “Yours Faithfully” or “Yours Sincerely” are printed on the right side of the paper. Generally, we use the later if the writer knows the name of the person.

Signature

Here finally you sign your name. And then write your name in block letters beneath the signature. This is how the recipient will know who is sending the letter.

Learn more about the different types of formal letter formats with samples.

Solved Question for You

Q: Write a letter to the editor of a daily newspaper complaining about the construction work on your road in the middle of monsoon season causing inconveniences to the people of your locality.

Ans: A sample of such a formal letter may be as follows,

 

D- 1801, Neptune Society,

DS Marg, Lower Parel,

Mumbai 400 008.

11th June 2018.

To,

The Editor-in-Chief,

Hindustan Times,

Main Street,

Mumbai 400 001.

Sir,

Subject: Construction work in our locality during monsoon season causing us difficulties.

Through the medium of your esteemed and respected daily, I wish to inform the municipal authorities of the difficulties the residents of my locality are facing due to the construction and repair work currently happening in our area. Monsoon season has started a few days ago and is compounding our problems.

The repair work has been ongoing for five weeks now and is falling way behind schedule. And now with the current weather conditions, we are having persistent problems of water logging and flooding in our area. Another worry is about the accidents that may occur due to the debris lying around the road. Diseases caused due to waterlogging are another one of our concerns.

Therefore I wish to draw the attention of the concerned authorities with the help of your newspaper. Hopefully, you will be able to help us in drawing their attention and resolving this matter at the earliest.

Thanking You,

Your Sincerely,

**signature**

[Mr. XYZ]

An official letter is any written correspondence whose purpose is to communicate an official concern. Official letters are also known as formal.

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writting an official letter

How to Format a US Business Letter

By Ali Hale

Whatever you do – whether you’re a student, employed in an office job, or working as a freelancer – I can guarantee that at some point in your life, you’ll need to sit down and write a formal business letter.

It might be to a customer, to an employer with a job that you want, or to apply for university funding. Perhaps it’ll even be to a literary agent or publisher who just might take on your undiscovered novel. Of course, you’ll want the letter to be well-written – but almost as important is knowing how to format it correctly. This article is about US business letter format (for UK readers, don’t worry, I’ll be writing a follow-up one for you.)

The main formats for business letters in the US are called full block format and modified block format.

  • Full block format means that all the elements of the letter are left-justified so that the start of each line is at the left-hand margin. This is the more formal style, so use it if you’re unsure which to go for.
  • Modified block format means that some elements of the letter are shifted over to the right. Nowadays, this style is appropriate in most contexts.

Here’s a full block format letter

And a modified block format one:

Let’s break those down into the main elements, in top-to-bottom order:

Your Address

Your address, also known as the “return address”, should come first. (Note that this applies when using standard plain paper. If you have letter headed paper, you should omit this.)

123 Acacia Avenue
Newtown
Anywhere
AN 98765

Your return address should be positioned:

  • On the left-hand side if you’re using full block format
  • On the right-hand side (tab across, rather than right-aligning) if you’re using modified block format

Why put your address? Even if the recipient has your details in their address book, you want it to be as hassle-free as possible for them to reply – you’re likely to receive a speedier response.

The Date

Directly beneath your address, put the date on which the letter was written:

May 15, 2008

To avoid any confusion, especially if you are writing to a business abroad, it is best to put the date in word rather than number form, and you should omit the “th”.

The date should be positioned on the left-hand side, for full block format and for modified block format

Why put the date? It’s standard practice to include the date on which the letter was written. Correspondence is often filed in date order. It makes it much easier for the recipient to send a timely reply, and easier for you to chase up an answer if necessary. Eg. “In my letter of May 15…”

Reference Line

I’ve not included this on the diagram as guidance varies on where it should be placed. You may include a reference line, starting with “Re:” This is often used when corresponding with large companies, or when applying for a job. The reference line can either appear beneath the date, OR beneath the recipient’s address.

If you use a reference line, you should usually omit the subject line (see below).

The reference line should be left-aligned for both full and modified block formats. Different types of letters will require different types of subject and reference lines, so choose the one that’s most appropriate to your case.

Why put a reference line? You should use a reference line if the recipient has requested specific information, such as a job number or invoice number, or if you’re replying to a letter. This makes it easier for the recipient to get a speedy response to you.

Recipient’s Name and Address

Beneath this, you should put the name and address of the person you’re writing to, just as it would appear on the envelope. If you’re using a window envelope, this should be aligned on the page to show through the window – but even if it won’t be visible until the letter is opened, it should still be included.

The recipient’s name and address should be positioned on the left-hand side, for both formats.

Why put their address? If you’re writing to someone in an office, it probably won’t be them who opens the post. An administrator is likely to do so – and letters may be separated from their envelopes at this stage. Particularly if there are multiple departments within one building, or if you are starting your letter “Dear Bob”, a name and address ensures your letter reaches the correct recipient.

The Greeting

After their address, you should leave a line’s space then put “Dear Mr Jones”, “Dear Bob” or “Dear Sir/Madam” as appropriate. Follow this with a colon.

The greeting, sometimes called the “salutation”, should always be left-aligned.

Why put a greeting? Business letters are a formal type of writing, and it’s considered polite to start with a greeting. Although you can get away with starting emails “Hi” or “Hello”, letters follow more conservative conventions.

The Subject

Optionally, you may wish to include a subject for your letter. This is becoming more common, perhaps as people have become used to the subject lines of emails. If you do put a subject line, it should be in uppercase, directly below the “Dear name:”

The subject (if you include one) should be left-aligned for full block format, but can be either left aligned or centred for modified block format.

Why put the subject? It’s a good idea to include a subject so that the recipient can see at a glance what the letter refers to. Try to be succinct but include as much information as possible, eg. “Funding application from Joe Bloggs, candidate 222-456”.

The Text of Your Letter

Now, finally, you can write the main body of your letter. Your text should have:

  • Single-spacing between lines
  • A blank line (NOT an indent) before each new paragraph

(And, of course, you should conform to all the usual rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling: for example, ensuring that you start each sentence with a capital letter, and finish with a full stop.)

Why leave blank lines? In the business world, it’s standard practise to put a blank line between paragraphs. This helps to break up the text on the page and make it more readable.

The Closing

After the body of text, your letter should end with an appropriate closing phrase and a comma. The safest option is “Yours faithfully” (when you don’t know the name of the person to whom you are writing, ie. when you began “Dear Sir/Madam”) or “Yours sincerely” (when you do know their name). If you are already acquainted with the recipient, it may be appropriate to use a phrase such as “Best regards”, “With warmest regards”, or “Kind regards”.

The closing should be:

  • Left-aligned for full block format
  • On the right (tab across so it matches up with your address) for modified block format

Why use these phrases? Although “Yours sincerely” and “Yours faithfully” might sound archaic, they are time-honoured ways to close a formal letter.

Your Name and Signature

Put several blank lines after the “Yours sincerely,” or “Yours faithfully,” then type your name. You can optionally put your job title and company name on the line beneath this.

Joe Bloggs
Marketing Director, BizSolutions

Your name and signature should be:

  • Left-aligned for full block format
  • On the right (tab across so it matches up with your address) for modified block format

Why leave a blank space? The blank space is so that, when you’ve printed the letter, you can sign it with your name. This is taken as proof that the letter really is from the person whose name is typed at the bottom. Sometimes, another person may sign the letter on your behalf. If this is the case, they should put the letters “p.p.” before their name, which stands for the Latin per procurationem meaning “by agency”.

Business letter tone

It’s very important that you choose the right voice and tone when writing your business letter. Using the correct format but choosing an improper type of language might affect your desired outcome. Here’s what the guys from thebalancecareers.com wrote about this:

Make the purpose of your letter clear through simple and targeted language, keeping the opening paragraph brief. You can start with, “I am writing in reference to…” and from there, communicate only what you need to say.

The subsequent paragraphs should include information that gives your reader a full understanding of your objective(s) but avoid meandering sentences and needlessly long words. Again, keep it concise to sustain their attention.

Enjoy writing your letters, and use the examples above to help you with the formatting if you do get stuck.

Your Step by Step Recap

Formatting a business letter correctly might seem a bit daunting, especially if you’ve never or rarely written this type of letter before – perhaps you’re applying for a job for the first time, for instance, and writing a covering letter.

Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered, so you can use it as a handy checklist:

Step #1: Decide Whether You’re Using “Full Block Format” or “Modified Block Format”.

Try not to mix-and-match between these. Remember, full block format (with everything left-justified) is the more formal of the two styles – but these days, modified block format (with some elements shifted over to the right) is fine for most contexts.

Step #2: Include Your Address

Your address should go on the left for full block format and on the right for modified block format. Don’t right-justify the text – tab across.

Step #3: Include the Date

The date should go directly after your address, and should be left-justified whatever format you’re using. Write it like this: “May 15, 2008”.

Step #4: Potentially Include a Reference Line

If you’re corresponding with a large company or if you’ve been asked to include a specific reference number in your letter, type “Re:” then the reference line. If you’re using a reference line, omit the subject line.

Step #5: Include the Recipient’s Name and Address

This should be left-justified, whatever format you use. It’s important to include their full name as well as the address in case the letter becomes separated from the envelope (which it usually will in a large office). If you’re using a window envelope, make sure the recipient’s name and address are positioned to appear within the window.

Step #6: Include the Greeting

The greeting, sometimes called the salutation, should be followed by a colon. (E.g. “Dear Mr Jones:”) It should always be left-justified.

Step #7: Consider Including a Subject Line

The subject line is optional, but it’s become increasingly common practice. Your subject line should show the recipient, at a glance, what your letter is about. It can be left-justified or centered in modified block format.

Step #8: Write the Letter Itself

The text of your letter itself should be left-justified (in all formats) and single-spaced. You should put a blank line between paragraphs, rather than indenting them. Write in an appropriate business-like tone.

Step #9: Add an Appropriate Closing

Close your letter with a phrase like “Yours sincerely” (a safe formal option) or “Best regards” (a good option for someone who you already know). Follow this with a comma.

Step #10: Add Your Name

Leave a blank space for your signature, then type your name at the end of the letter. If appropriate, you can put your job title and company name on the line beneath your name.

US Business Letter Quiz

Select the correct answer for each of these questions about business letters.

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Formal Letters

writting an official letter

By Marina Pantcheva

Salutation

The salutation is an important part of a letter. The choice of the right salutation depends on whether you know the person you are writing to and how formal your relationship is.

Very formal (for official business letters)
To Whom It May Concern:Use only when you do not know to whom you must address the letter, for example, when writing to an institution.
Dear Sir/Madam,Use when writing to a position without having a named contact.
Dear Mr Smith,Use when you have a named male contact.
Dear Ms Smith,Use when you have a named female contact; do not use the old-fashioned Mrs.
Dear Dr Smith,Use when writing to a named doctor.
Dear Prof Smith,Use when writing to a named professor.
Dear Xu Li,Type the whole name when you are unsure of the recipient’s gender.
Less formal but still professional (business letters)
Dear colleagues,Use when writing to a group of people.
Dear Mary,Use when writing to a named female.
Dear John,Use when writing to a named male.
 Informal (personal letters)

These salutations should be used with people you are close to, as they might offend others.

Hello guys,Use when writing to a group of people you know very well.
Hi,Use when writing to one or more people you know very well.
  •  There should be a comma after the salutation and a colon after “To Whom It May Concern”.
  • No full stop is needed after Mr, Ms, and Dr.
  • The form Mrs is outdated.
  • Avoid the exclamation (!) in salutations.

Starting your letter

There two ways in which business letters usually start: they make reference to a previous contact, for example, phone conversation, meeting, previous mail correspondence; or they are the first contact with the recipient.

Making reference to previous contact

I am (we are writing) regarding

  • your inquiry about …
  • our phone conversation …

In reply to your request …
Thank you for contacting us.

Contacting the recipient for the first time

I am (we are) writing to

  • inform you that …
  • confirm …
  • enquire about …
  • complain about …

I am contacting you for the following reason.
I recently heard about … and would like to …

Making a request

We would appreciate it if you would …
I would be grateful if you could …
Could you please send me …
Could you possibly tell us …
It would be helpful if you could send us …

Giving good news

We are pleased to announce that …
I am delighted to inform you that …

Giving bad news

We regret to inform you that …
 I’m afraid it would not be possible to …
Unfortunately we are unable to …
After careful consideration we have decided …

Ending your letter

Enclosures

Please find enclosed (for letters)
Please find attached (for emails)

Offering future assistance

If you require more information, please let us know.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any further assistance.

Referring to future contact

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
We are looking forward to meeting you on 21 January/in Tromsø.
We would appreciate your reply at your earliest convenience.

Closing

The closing salutation must match the opening salutation and the overall tone of the letter. Choose one of the following closing lines depending on the formality of the salutation.

Very formal
Your sincerely,
Sincerely yours,
Respectfully,
Use when you’ve started with Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern.
Sincerely,Use when you’ve started with Dear + name.
 Less formal but still professional
Kind regards,
Warm regards,
Regards,
not too formal but businesslike
Best wishes,even less formal
 Informal
Best,
Hugs,
Cheers,
Use with friends and colleagues you feel close to.

 

In an age of email and instant communication, learn how to write a formal letter correctly and when to send one, to avoid offending anyone.

Formal Letter Example

writting an official letter

• Letter of Enquiry

Format of Formal Letter: Collecting Information

Points To Remember: 
– Start with brief introduction about yourself
– Try including the name of concerned organization (if possible)
– Mention on point details about the area of inquiry
– Include deadlines by which you need the information

Example:

Ajmer Road,
Jaipur – 26

October 13, 20xx

The Director
ABC Classes
Ajmer− 25

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Enquiry about GMAT Coaching Classes.

This is with reference to your advertisement in the ‘The Times of India’ for GMAT Coaching classes. I have cleared my engineering with Computer Science as the main subject. I am interested in joining your institute for the coaching classes.

Kindly let me know about the procedure of applying for the qualifying criteria and exam date (if any). I would also like to enquire about the duration of the concerned coaching programme, the duration and the number of classes per week along with the available mode of classes. It would be great if you could share the information about the fees payable and the study materials.

I would like to enroll as soon as possible. An early response will be highly appreciated.

Thanking you.

With kind regards
XYZ

• Order Letter

Format of Formal Letter: Booking Orders.

Points To Remember:
– Details of the order must be stated clearly including complete information like the quantity of the goods, model number (if available), etc.
– Mention proper information related to the shipping like the mode of shipping, shipping location and the desired date for the goods to be shipped must be clearly stated.
– Payment Related inquiries must also be stated clearly including the mode of payment, date of payment or terms and conditions regarding payment.

Example:

Ajmer Road,
Jaipur – 26

October 13, 20xx

The Manager
Epitome Furniture
Ajmer− 25

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Order for furniture.

As per our telephonic conversation, on behalf of our company I would like to place an order for the supply of the following set of furniture.

Model No. Name of the Item Quantity
2356 Sofa 25
4568 Coffee Table 12
1256 Table 34
8907 Chairs 68

According to our last discussion, we are sending a demand draft of Rs. 50,000 as advance payment for this order. The rest will be paid at the time of delivery. Kindly ship the above order at the above-mentioned address.

Kindly adhere to the terms of the agreement. We hope to receive the order in four working days.

Thanking You.

Yours truly
XYZ
HR

• Letter of Complaint

Format of Formal Letter: Registering Complaints

Points To Remember:
– Use polite yet assertive words regarding complaint issue
– Mention the complaint in detail
– Specify the action you need to be taken
– Provide order information including the date of arrival, order number, or the details of the previous complaint (if any)
– Specify the expected response time
– Attach a copy or a specimen of the invoice or any other receipt

Example:

Ajmer Road,
Jaipur – 26

October 13, 20xx

The Manager
Epitome Furniture
Ajmer− 25

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Complaint against Order No. ET098654.

This is with reference to the Order No. ET098654 place on Oct 4, 20xx. The order consists of office stationary and business cards. As per the agreement, we were hoping to receive the order latest by Oct 8, 20xx. First of all the order did not reach in time. Also, the quality of the papers is questionable and the design of the business cards is not matching with the selected one.

We have faced a lot of inconvenience due to this.

Kindly ensure that the order will be replaced latest by Oct 20, 20xx, failing which payment will be stopped or the order will be cancelled from our end. I request you to look into the matter and do the needful as soon as possible.

Thanking you.

Yours truly
XYZ
General Manager

• Reply to a Letter of Complaint

Format of Formal Letter: Reply to the Letter of Complaint

Points To Remember:
– Apologize for the error from your side
– Mention the course of actions you will take for the concerned issues and the time required to do so
– Assure the customer for no more future grievances and troubles
– Be very clear and specific about every detail

Example:

Ajmer Road,
Jaipur – 26

October 13, 20xx

The Manager
PrintFine
Delhi− 25

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Reply to the complaint against Order No. AB93646.

This is with reference to your Order No. AB93646 which you placed with our company on Oct 5, 20xx.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. Right now we are facing problems with supply from the manufacturer’s end.

We ensure that we will replace the order latest by Oct 20, 20xx also such issues will not occur in future again. We would appreciate your support on this matter.

Thanking You.

Yours Truly
QPR
Manager

• Promotion Letter

Format of Formal Letter: Promotion of new developments and up-gradation.

Points To Remember:
– Use clear, error free sentences expressing definite terms
– Proper use of punctuation and correct spelling
– Avoid slang, fancy terminologies of jargon
– Clearly discuss the promotion
– Avoid using abbreviations

Example:

Ajmer Road,
Jaipur – 26

October 13, 20xx

The Manager
PrintFine
Delhi− 25

Dear Sir,

Sub.: New Branch at HJ Colony.

We are glad to announce the grand opening of a new branch of our company in QPR Colony, Delhi on Dec 05, 20xx.

You have been a valuable client to us. We are extremely delighted to inform you that this branch is also fully efficient. We have worked to make ourselves more efficient and provide you with better quality solutions. We are dedicated to providing you with the best service that you deserve.

We would be very happy to have you as our guest in our branch and encourage you to share your feedback about our products.

Looking forward to your visit to our new branch.

Thanking you.

Yours truly
XYZ
HR

• Sales Letters

Format of Formal Letter: Sale Intention.

Points To Remember:
– The language must be formal
– Avoid slang and use of abbreviations
– The content must be clear, concise and understandable
– Pay attention towards the targeted audience
– Provide proper details, features, uses of a newly launched product

Example:

Ajmer Road,
Jaipur – 26

October 13, 20xx

The Manager
AutoBoss
Delhi− 25

Dear Sir,

Sub.: New scheme of an automobile loan.

It provides us with immense pleasure to inform you that we have launched a new scheme for an automobile loan. As a respectable and trusted client, we are providing you with the details of this scheme.

The rate of interest of this loan is comparatively lower to the schemes of other banks. The bank also provides an opportunity to buy or sell any of the automobiles.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries regarding the same. This service is fast and free and we will provide you with the service within 24 hours.

Looking forward to hear from your side.

Thanking you.

With regards,
KLM
Bank Manager

• Recovery Letters

Format of Formal Letter: Collect money from a client or a customer

Points To Remember:
– The language of the remainder must be polite
– The detailed information and the reasons must be clear and understandable by the client
– The language should be formal
– Provide the detail of legal action in case of non-payment of further delay in clearing the dues

Example:

Ajmer Road,
Jaipur – 26

October 13, 20xx

The Manager
AutoBoss
Delhi− 25

Dear Sir,

Sub.: Reminder for paying dues.

This is to remind you that your organization has taken a loan of Rs. 2 crores on June 18, 20xx. As per the agreement and loan guidelines, on completion of one and a half year, you were required to pay back 80% of the principal amount with the due interest.

Since now we have received just 50% of the principal amount. As the payment is due since long, we would appreciate if you could make the full amount deposit at the earliest.

I request you to kindly look into the matter within the next six working days. In case of failure of payment, strict legal action will be taken. Kindly acknowledge the matter.

Thanking You.

Yours Sincerely
FMG
Manager

However, letters still have a major use and importance in our society. Especially formal letters written to authorities or professional contacts, because they.

writting an official letter
Written by Doushura
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