Formal Letter Writing in English – Definition, Types, Format and Writing Samples

One who works in the corporate sector should know about format letters. A formal letter is a type of letter in which a certain degree of formality and seriousness is maintained. It is one of the required things that everyone should know if he/she is involved in an academic or work context.

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How to Write a Formal Letter: Definition, Types, Format, Examples, Writing Tips

What is a Formal Letter In English? Definition?

A formal Letter is a type of letter which is written in a specific format. It is also known as a Business letter or professional letter. A formal letter addressed to (or received from) public or private institutions or organisations, academic, political, or business environments. It is used to discuss some official news or updates into the organisation or any professional work. Formal letters have strict rules and specific format. It uses formal language because it seeks to express the information clearly and precisely for some type of authority. In addition, there is a predetermined format that must be met in this type of document and that allows the formality of the communication to be maintained. If you are interested in learning how to write a formal letter, you should continue reading this note. 

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The objective of formal letters is wide and varies. It is highly focused on making your letter like a request. What makes them recognizable are the following characteristics-

  • It shows formal treatment for the recipient person. It contains the form of address like Mr. / Mrs., Mr. / Mrs., Dr. / Dra., etc.
  • The “I” form of words is not used in formal letters. If used, then very carefully. In addition, avoid vulgar and colloquial words.
  • As per the rules, a formal letter contains the subject of an explanation of the letter
  • All information expressed is relevant.

Types of Formal Letter

There are types of formal letters which are frequently used as per the need like-

  • Business letter
  • order letter
  • sales letter
  • Letter of complaint
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Resignation letter
  • Letter of dismissal
  • Receipt letter
  • Letter of Authorization and many more.

Suggested read:

How to Write an Acknowledgement Letter: Tips and Examples for Projects and Dissertations

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Format of Formal Letter

To write a formal letter in English, there is a predetermined format. Here is the basic format for writing formal letters in English.

Header: The formal letter starts with the header. It contains a series of information that is located at the top. 

  • The name and surname of the recipient are starting of the formal letter like Mr. Vijay Sharma. In addition, you can also enter the position or position that he occupies in the organisation like Principal, manager, etc.  If the letter is not addressed to any specific person, the name of the department or division is put in its place.
  • Now, the address of the recipient or name of the institution, company, organisation, etc.
  • Date and Place, where your letter was written and date of writing the letter.

Greeting: Now, write a greeting for the recipient in just one line. The greeting should be courteous and formal (Dear Dr. Aditya Jain, Dear Mr. Rayance Jatt, etc.). Greetings end with a comma.

Subject: Subject is the reason or explanation of the formal letter in just 1-2 sentences. It is mandatory in the formal letter. 

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Body: It is the longest part of the letter, and it introduces and develops the matter. A writer can write every detail in the body part. It contains the purpose of the letter. 

Closing Statement: The closing sentence is the concluding part of the letter. The closing is paired with the salutation written at the beginning of the letter. The salutation and closing used for each letter situation are more or less fixed, so please refer to the example sentences summarised in the next section.

Signature: The signature conveys to the recipient who the author (or sender) of said letter is. This form can be complemented by including a telephone number, an email address or even the position held by the signatory.

Formal letter template

[Your Name]

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[Your Address]

[Your email address]

[Your phone number]

[Date]

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[Recipient’s Name]

[Recipient’s Title and Position if applicable]

[Recipient’s Company if applicable]

[Recipient’s Address]

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Dear [Recipient’s Name],

[Subject]

[Body Paragraph]

[Closing statement]

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[Sender’s Name]

[Sender’s Signature]

Example of Formal Letter Writing

In the following example, you can refer to writing a formal letter as per the subject-

Sample 1: formal letter of request

Dr John, Professor of Ancient History

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National University of the Mumbai

Mumbai, 04/10/2024

Dear Professor Dr. John,

I am contacting you to request a review of my exam for the subject History, taken on 03/12/2024.

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The reason for this request is to indicate that I am not satisfied with the grade received, since in the last question (“Develop the theme of the Medical Wars”), you rated it with a 2 out of 4. I think I answered without notable errors and that I developed it according to the knowledge acquired in class.

For this reason, I request that this exam be reviewed, especially the aforementioned question to verify any possible errors in the correction.

Without further ado, receive cordial greetings,

Rohit Verma

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Sample 2: A formal complaint letter

Customer Service Department

Wowmax Appliances

Delhi

01/20/2023

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Dear Misters:

The reason for this letter is to present a claim regarding order 12345 made on January 10 of this year.

This order was placed through their online store, and I purchased a SONTI brand microwave, model 5000 HF, grey colour. Yesterday, January 19, my order arrived, but the microwave, of the same model, was white.

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Therefore, I demand the collection of the microwave sent and that the requested model (mentioned above) be delivered within five days. Otherwise, I will be forced to take legal action.

I await your response.

Receive a warm greeting,

Mohit Sharma

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