Write a formal letter: how to structure a perfect letter

How do you write a formal letter?


Where to put and what to insert on the sheet? Do we need the date? And the signature? What are the elements of a letter? Here are the tips and examples to write a letter.


Knowing how to write a formal letter is a duty. It is not just an extra value for the web writer who knows his work well, but is an indispensable step for your daily life. You must know how to write a letter. Not necessarily on paper, but you must know its basic structure.


Even when writing a letter to your computer, perhaps on Word, you must have a template to follow. A basic scheme that shows you all the points necessary to be identified as such. For example the header, the object, the recipient with the people you want to reach. That is the target.

Why writing a formal letter is a question related to the goal: who do you want to achieve? The risk of delivering an inadequate letter is obvious, the confusion between formal and informal letters risks blowing up all the references. That’s why I want to clarify the topic.


When to write a formal letter


The topics of the post

  • When to write a formal letter
  • Setting a letter and style
  • Sender and recipient in a letter
  • Place and date of writing
  • Object and references
  • Start a letter: opening formula
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing formula for a letter
  • Signature and post scriptum
  • Attachments and initials of the author
  • Formal letter structure, an example
  • Formal letter template in Word
  • Fill out the letter envelope
  • How to write a formal letter

Before addressing the basic topic (how to fill in a formal letter) it is right to clarify what its role is.

When do you use this kind of correspondence? In the event that there is no confidence between the writer and the reader , especially when you want to communicate with a public administration. For example, the composition of the formal letter is essential when you need to write to the mayor, a public body or a company.

In reality this is not the only useful solution. When I write a letter to an address with which I already have relationships but not too developed, or which requires a certain distance, I can think of a semi-formal letter. You can write an informal letter to people you know who have clear relationships with you. That is, without schemes and settings. But at this juncture, attention is elsewhere: how to write a formal letter ? Here’s everything you need to know.

To read: how to write a newspaper article

Setting a letter and style

The setting of a formal letter has a point to follow: clarity. As a consequence you have to write in order to favor the synthesis and the good structure of the text . Without forgetting readability understood as fluid and direct writing. You have to write to get yourself read , without confusing the formal letter with a bureaucratic exercise. This is not the ideal seat, even if you often fall into error.

The reason is simple: often the way you write a formal letter goes into the background to leave room for the pomposity of the form. The rules of effective writing are not respected, but we try to impose the separation of the bureaucracy . A style that creates distance between the writer and the reader. Writing a formal letter means reaching the goal: making oneself understood by respecting the rules.

Sender and recipient in a letter


Sender and addressee are written on the envelope, but on a formal letter they are also inserted on the sheet containing the message. The sender is at the top left : if it is a letterhead you have all the information, otherwise you have to enter the first and last name. Or company name with logo and address.

The recipient is at the bottom, right-aligned, below place and date. Here you must add the name or company name of the person receiving the letter. You can also put more than one recipient and you can add the title , or maybe a more pompous formula (which I do not like) as “to the kind attention of” .

Place and date of writing


Between sender aligned to the left (first element of the letter) and recipient on the right you have to enter place and date of writing. How to write these elements? First the place, then a comma and finally the date that can be written in different ways . The solution dd / mm / yyyy can be fine.

Object and references

In a formal letter, and especially in commercial letters, it may be useful to insert the object. Just as in the email, the structure of a formal letter calls into question simplicity and efficiency. Adding an object , an immediate synthesis of the theme addressed in the body of the letter, means helping the reader to contextualize. Better to announce the content, to immediately understand what you want.

The references can also be entered before the object. That is data that allow you to find a previous postal communication. In this way, reading a formal letter , perhaps commercial, becomes simple and immediate. Always put the reader, the recipient at the center.

Start a letter: opening formula


After the object you have to write. But how do you start a formal letter? With a standard formula that allows the sender to break the ice, to present himself to the attention of the recipient with a polite and reasonable approach. The right attack for a formal letter? Here are some solutions:

  • In response to the previous letter.
  • As agreed.
  • As anticipated by telephone.
  • We hereby inform you that.
  • In reference to your / your request.

All this without forgetting the typical attack of a formal letter , or the use of the formulas egregious or gentile (abbreviated with egr, gent.le, gent.mo or gent.ma) that precede the name of the recipient. The good layout of a formal letter must also consider these passages.

Body of the letter

Here is the content of the message. How to write a formal letter? As already pointed out before you must aim at simplicity and good communication. There is no room for bureaucrats without reason, you have to make yourself understood and not increase the distance between the writer and the reader.

What to avoid in the body of the letter? How to write a formal letter that works? Do not use specialized jargon unless it is requested and understood, away from too long and complex periods, use simple words and short sentences, read the text to correct spelling errors .

Closing formula for a letter

You wrote your business letter, you set an opening and a development. Now you have to close the text so you have to choose a formula that can greet the recipients in the right way. But how do you close a formal letter? There are solutions designed just to give a solution:

  • Yours sincerely.
  • Looking forward to your feedback, best regards.
  • Looking forward to your courteous feedback, best regards.
  • Thank you for your attention, best regards.
  • Friendliness.
  • Thank you in advance for the availability of best regards.

There is no doubt that the closure of a formal letter is an example of a practice that can make the blogger accustomed to concluding with call to action and direct greetings cringe. But I remember that this is a formal letter , an example of communication capable of going beyond particularisms.

Signature and post scriptum


The author’s signature in a formal letter is found at the bottom right after the conclusions. It is characterized by the name and surname of the author, but also by the useful references for possible contacts. Like phone number , physical address and email. This way they know where to find you and can contact you.

Before the post-script was an essential passage because it allowed to add text to the letter. With handwriting it was important to have this solution, but with word processing everything goes into the background. In any case the post scriptum (abbreviated PS) can be taken into consideration to add a section not strictly connected with the theme of the letter.

Attachments and initials of the author


In the lower left corner you can find attachments and initials of the author and of the typist. The attachments are documents already mentioned in the text that give the reader the opportunity to deepen a passage. The initials are below this last point and follow a rule: initials in uppercase of the author, dash, lowercase initials of the typist . Now your formal letter is closed.

Formal letter structure, an example


These are the indispensable elements of a formal letter, but what is the structure of this communication? Here is an example (created with Canva ) that takes into consideration all the points listed, and that shows the basic setting of a letter to be used for official communications.

As you can see from this example of a formal letter there is a basic structure to be respected . It is not difficult to set up a letter for a commercial communication, you just have to insert the listed points respecting an established alternation. Some elements go to the right, others to the left. I recommend: the text must be flagged . That is, everything on the left so that it preserves legibility.