Formal Letter Example: You may only have one chance. If this fails to make impact you might miss out on an excellent opportunity

| April 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

These days the formal letter is used on the occasions when we want to make maximum impact. The arrival of Email has revolutionized our written communication patterns and it is becoming less and less common to write letters.  Therefore the few letters that you will write will probably be very important ones, such as covering letters for job applications, covering letters for questionnaires or surveys which are part of your research, or a letter of complaint to the Chief Executive of your Health body, for example, regarding service you consider your Hospital did not give you after that operation you had.

It is very important, therefore, that your formal letters have the desired effect on the reader. In order to achieve this, they should be:

  • in the correct format
  • short and to the point
  • relevant
  • free of any grammatical or spelling mistakes
  • polite – even if you are making a complaint
  • well presented

There are certain conventions that your reader will expect you to follow; if you don’t, you will create a bad impression.

If you are replying to a letter, note how that letter has been formatted and expressed. Using that style as a model will get you half way to delivering your message, as the reader won’t be struggling to understand what you are trying to communicate in your formal letter.

If you are replying to a letter which had a reference on it, you should repeat this
on your letter, probably on the same line as the date, or on the Subject line. This will enable the reader to identify at once your area of interest, and give an immediate clue as to what information you want to convey to them .

The content of your letter should be as short as possible, divided into short, clear

Below we have given you an example of a formal letter in the standard format. Use this as a framework for your own individual circumstances, while making the right impact with your formal letter.

With your formal letter you are making a major move towards a more successful future

Be careful with the presentation, the tone, the spelling and the grammar. Your formal letter

Your address, but not your name, usually goes in the top right hand corner. You may also include your telephone number or email address.

You should always address the letter to a particular person if at all possible. Call the company and ask for the name of the Chief Executive, for example, or the name of the Manager.

If you don’t have a specific name, always put the title of a management person you consider will be relevant to your case.

The salutation at the beginning of the letter depends on whether or not you have the
name of the person.

If you don’t know the name of the person, it is now most common to begin with “Dear Sir/Madam”

It is common now to put the subject of the letter directly below the salutation. This
would be in bold or underlined. The purpose is to immediately give the reader an idea of what the letter is about before reading it, so that they can pass your letter on to a more appropriate person if necessary.

Be concise and relevant: Get straight to the point and stick to it.

The person you are writing to may be inundated with letters and if yours is lengthy there is every possibility it won’t be read. A senior executive only has a few seconds to devote to your letter, and letters should take seconds rather than minutes to read.

You want to hit this person between the eyes with some fact which will make you stand out from all the other letters. Don’t include any unnecessary information. Although you should draw attention to anything you have done in which they will be particularly interested, such as awards you may have received, don’t repeat too much information which may already be included in your CV.

Use the right tone of language for your formal letter

Don’t rush the letter; many mistakes occur because of this. Allow plenty of time for checking, and if necessary, for rewriting. Your future may well be decided by the professionalism of this formal letter.

Mistakes will create a very bad impression, will lessen the effect of what you are saying and in the case of a job application letter, could well also ruin your chances. Use the spellchecker if you’re using a computer. Then read it over carefully, because the spell checker will not pick up words that are used incorrectly.

Create a closing paragraph that communicates an action you expect the recipient to take, such as sending you information, contacting you for an interview or providing you with a refund.

To end the letter, you would normally write “Yours sincerely”, or “Sincerely” if you have started the letter with the name of the person, or “Yours faithfully” if you have started with
something like “Dear Sir”.

  • Avoid everyday, colloquial language; slang or jargon
  • avoid contractions (I’m; it’s; don’t; etc)
  • avoid emotive, subjective language (terrible, rubbish etc)
  •  avoid vague words such as nice, good, get etc
  •  always be polite and respectful, even if complaining.
  • Instead of “Please send me”, you could express this more formally as “I would be grateful if / or I would appreciate it if you could send me” …

The complete example of our Formal Letter
This is what your completed letter will look like –

123 Fox Crescent
Ontario WN1 567

Mr D Thomas
Chief Executive
Natwest Bank plc
110 Oxford Street
Ontario NW3 486

29 June 2012

Dear Mr Thomas OR
Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to apply for the Public Relations Manager role, as advertised in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday 28 June. I consider that I am ideally qualified for this job, particularly as I have worked in the banking industry for 10 years, and have an in- depth understanding of its functions and market objectives.
I received an industry award for the 2010 Annual Report I was responsible for producing for Barclays Bank and the Marketing and Promotional material I provided in 2011 has been credited with increasing the sales of two major bank products by 30%.

I am a confident user of Microsoft Office 2000 and routinely provide reports and analysis for the Board on Excel spreadsheets. I am also very practiced at giving Powerpoint presentations, or preparing presentations for management to deliver.

As you can see from my CV, I have a wide-ranging background in the industry. This gives me a real advantage in being able to relate to every division in the corporation. I would appreciate the opportunity of an interview with you, to discuss further my qualifications for this position.
I look forward to hearing from you.


David Johnson

More ideas for making a positive impact with your formal letter

  • Barclays have provided me with a very supportive reference that I am sure you will appreciate.  I have enclosed this for your information.
  • I am involved in community activities, and organized a football event recently, with our local bank staff playing a veteran bank team. This was attended by several hundred staff, friends and relatives.

Download This Letter Example

Category: Business Letters Format Examples

About the Author ()

Melanie Walters is a writer and editor for several businesses both online and offline. Her experience with writing business letters and marketing materials has helped her understand exactly what works in written communication for businesses. In the 10 years she's been writing, Melanie has amassed a large collection of letter examples that she gladly shares with you here on Letter Example

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