How to Write an Official Letter (With Tips and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

During your career, you may write a professional letter to your colleagues, clients or network connections. In the workplace, some letters are more casual, while others require an official format. Understanding the format of various official letters and steps to write them can help you communicate effectively in the workplace. In this article, we explain how to write an official letter, provide samples and outline letter formatting tips.

Related: How to Write a Job Application Letter (With Example)

How to write an official letter

If you're learning how to write an official letter, these are the steps you can follow:

1. Choose the right font and margins

The right font and margins make your letter easy to read for your recipient. Write your official letters in simple fonts like Verdana, Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri with 12-point size. That gives your document an appealing, clean look. Then set margins at one inch on each side of the letter.

2. Create a heading

In most official letters, the heading follows a block format and gets placed on the top left section of a page. It includes your address, date but not your name. It's acceptable to include an email and telephone details in the heading.

3. Write a salutation

It's important to write a formal salutation that consists of the phrase, Dear, followed by their title and first name. The salutation on email may be the same as that on postal mail. Sometimes you may include, To whom it may concern, when you're unsure of the receiver's name and title.

Read more: Salutation Examples for Letters

4. Write an interesting introduction

An official letter has three parts, the introduction, the main body and conclusion. An interesting introduction may prompt the reader to read the rest of the message, and a captivating official letter may elicit a reply from the receiver. Remember to make the sentences short and succinct.

5. Mention the included enclosures

Enclosures are additional supporting documents that accompany your official letter. If you've any documents you want to attach to your letter, it's crucial to inform the reader at the end of your letter. Include the word enclosure or the short form encl.

6. Proofread and make corrections

Proofreading involves re-reading the letter several times to correct grammatical mistakes and other errors. You can use proofreading software or even ask a colleague to offer their opinion. A second proofreader may have a different perspective that improves the official letter.

7. Send the letter

You can send the letter via postal or electronic mail, depending on which medium is effective. Before sending, you may take time to double-check whether the details are accurate. You may want to check the receiving address carefully. If you're sending it through email, make sure to use the correct file format. For example, some companies prefer receiving PDF documents only. If the company has different requirements, consider checking your file before attaching it to ensure the format looks correct as an attachment.

Sample letter features

Here are some features to include in an official letter:

Your contact information and date

This is where you write:

  • your name

  • your address

  • your postal code

  • your phone number

  • your email address

  • date you're writing the letter

Contact details of the recipient

Add details of the recipient, including:

  • name of the recipient

  • title

  • company

  • address

  • postal code

Salutation

Greet the person you're addressing. For example, you can do so by writing Dear Mr/Miss. Make sure you include their last name, not their first name, unless you know them well. If you're unaware of the recipient's name, you can write To whom it may concern or Dear Sir/Madam. You can also use their full name. For example, you may write Dear Patel Osman.

Body of the letter

The body of your letter is the part that carries your message. Make this part clear and direct so that your reader can easily read and comprehend. To promote clarity, deliver your information in paragraphs.

The first paragraph starts with an introduction and the reason for contacting the reader. That makes your intentions known to the reader from the start. Each additional paragraph may just be emphasising the message. In your last paragraph, thank the reader for taking the time to read your letter. Here, you can also politely ask for feedback or to meet up for further engagements. Keep your sentences succinct.

Closing remarks

The correct ending leaves the reader with a good impression of you. Your relationship with the person you're writing to can guide you in picking the proper closing for your letter. Pick a professional, formal closing if you don't have a personal relationship with the person you address your letter to. You can write more casually if you're addressing a colleague or someone you know. Here are examples of common closing remarks you may include in a formal letter:

  • sincerely

  • regards

  • thank you

Signature

You may use black or blue ink for hand-copy letters to sign this area, then have your name below the signature. Don't forget to include the word enclosure below your name if you've attached supporting documents to your letter. Once you've finished writing your letter, the next step is to check for errors and make the necessary edits.

Related: How to Draft an Email Introduction to a Client (With Template)

Official letter formatting tips

These formatting tips can help you make the letter more appealing:

  • Use a plain font of 12 point size in black ink.

  • Leave some space between paragraphs.

  • Keep your letter simple and focused.

  • Leave some space after greetings and before the closing.

  • Use white bond paper to print official letters.

Related: Common Cover Letter Types and Templates

Types of official letters

The message you want to convey determines the type of letter to write. Here are some common types of official letters:

  • Resignation letter: An employee sends a resignation letter to the employer to inform them of the intention to leave their job. The purpose of that letter is to have the employer prepared to seek a replacement.

  • Recommendation letter: A third party supporting the candidature of a person who has applied for a particular position writes the recommendation letter. For example, your former employer writing to a prospective employer to validate your suitability.

  • Cover letters: Candidates write a cover letter when applying for jobs, education programme or grants programme. A personal profile usually accompanies this type of letter.

  • Letter of interest: If a person is interested in working for a particular company, they may write a letter expressing their interest in the company when an opportunity arises.

  • Complaint letters: People usually write letters of complaint to express dissatisfaction with a product or service. For example, it was a common pre-social media era practice for a client to write to a company to tell them they're displeased with their services.

  • Professional, thank you note: If you wish to thank someone or an organisational for something they have done, you can write them a letter. It's a type of letter written to express gratitude.

Related: How to Write a Personalised Appreciation Letter

Official letter template

Here's a template you can use to help you write your letter:

[Your name]
[Your address]
[Your phone number]
[Your email]

[Company name]
[Company address]

[Current date]

[Recipients' name]
[Recipient's job title]

Dear [Recipient's name],

I am writing to [describe your reason for writing.]

[Elaborate on your point or reason.]

[Conclude by thanking the recipient and discussing any necessary next steps.]

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Official letter example

Here's an example of an official resignation letter to help you understand how you can write one:

Mr. Malcolm Tan
Blk 30 Mandalay Road
#11-27 Mandalay Towers
Singapore 3111211
+65 6502 0068
malcomtan@email.com

January 20, 2022

Mayfair Logistics
11 Eunos Road 1 #08-29
Singapore 111108

Benjamin Pereira
Human resources manager

Dear Mr Pereira,

I am writing to resign from Mayfair Logistics as the front office manager, effective one month from today.

I have been looking forward to furthering my studies, and I recently got a scholarship. My programme starts in two months and I would like to help facilitate a smooth transition.

I appreciate the enlightening time I spent working at Mayfair Logistics. Through the experience, I became confident and felt supported and motivated. Now, I wish to spend more time with the family as we welcome our newborn. I want to spend the remaining time completing my unfinished tasks and handling whatever else you might need me to do before I leave. I would also like to help with training my replacement.

Thank you for your unfailing support and for taking the time to read this letter. If you would like us to have further discussions, I'm happy to talk to you.

Sincerely,

Malcolm Tan

The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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