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How to Write a Formal Letter

There are many rules to follow when writing a formal letter, and here are the most essential.


  • Step 1: Type your address Type your address and telephone number 2 inches from the top of the page, flush left. Do not include your name or title here. It will be included in the closing.
  • Step 2: Type the date Type the date – month, day, and year – one line below your address and telephone number, flush left.
  • Step 3: Type the recipient's address Type the recipient's name, title, and address one line below the date, flush left. Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific individual.
  • Step 4: Type the salutation Type the recipient's personal title and full name in the salutation, one line after the recipient's address, flush left, followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation.
  • TIP: Use the recipient's full name unless you usually refer to the individual by a first name.
  • Step 5: Compose the letter State the purpose of the letter in the first paragraph of the letter's body. In the following paragraphs, use examples to support your main point. In the final paragraph, summarize the purpose of your letter and suggest a suitable course of action. Do not indent the paragraphs; instead, leave an empty line between each one.
  • Step 6: Close the letter Close the letter without indentation, leaving four lines for your signature between the closing and your typed name and title.
  • FACT: The earliest writing appears to have been a way of keeping track of inventory.

You Will Need

  • Typewriter or word processor
  • Your contact information
  • Date
  • Recipient's name
  • title
  • and address
  • Your name and title

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