How to Start a Formal Letter — An Expert Guide

Formal letters are needed when you have to communicate with an individual or company in an official or professional capacity. To some people, how to start a formal letter seems hard.

What Type of Formal Letter Do You Need?

You should first decide what kind of formal letter you are going to write. Are you going to write a letter to a potential employer? A government agency? Are you making a complaint to a business?

Depending on who you are writing, how to start a formal letter may be different.

When writing to a business, put in the business’s address. Then, two lines below that, write Attention with the full name and title of the recipient.

There should be a formal salutation. In a business letter, include a subject line, such as Re: or Subject: This Month’s Board Meeting.

The other types of letters like a job application, should include your full address in the top left or right corner. This may be either your personal address or the address of your workplace depending on your type of letter you are writing.

Please include other pertinent contact information in your correspondence. Skip a line after your contact information and insert the date here.

You should then include the recipient’s full name and title along with their full address. Put this information on the left side of the letter and start a new line for each new piece of contact information.

Use the most formal version of your recipient’s name. If your recipient has title, be sure to include it.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Starting the Letter

There are different ways you can start a formal letter. You can talk about the last time you met.

Maybe you saw the person you’re writing to at a function. You can start your letter with “I enjoyed spending time with you -I had an excellent time”.

Or, you should explain why you are getting in touch. For example, if you’re writing someone you’ve never met, you should tell them why you are getting in contact.

You should also mention mutual acquaintances, which explain how you might know the reader. For example, “My friend recommended I contact you.”

You may also offer your well-wishes to someone. A nice way to open is to say, “I hope this letter finds you well. “

You can also get straight to the point and tell the person why you are writing them.

With people having so much to read between letters, emails, and texts, it is worthwhile to quickly come to the point of the matter. For example, “I’m writing to ask for a refund.”

To Wrap Up

Starting your letter in any of the ways we’ve suggested would be an excellent start.

Writing a good letter can take a lot of time and effort, but in the end, it is an enjoyable process. You’re communicating in your own words, something that is difficult to do in the digital age.

Make sure when you’ve completed the letter to review your work.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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