How Do You Start a Formal Letter?

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Formal letters are typically written to make requests, state complaints or ask for information. Proper formatting of a formal letter makes a statement that the writer is professional and should be taken seriously.

  1. Write the date

    Write the date out, using the full name of the month without using any abbreviations. The date may go on either the right or left side of the letter. Allow a double space between the date and what follows.

  2. Write the address

    Place your address first, flush with the left margin, then the recipient's full address. Each element of the address should be placed on its own line. If you are using letterhead, it is not necessary to repeat your address. Allow a double space afterward.

  3. Write the salutation, and begin the body

    Address your letter to the recipient using "Dear," his formal title and last name. For example, a formal letter should start "Dear Mr. Smith" rather than "Dear Bob." For formal letters, follow this salutation with a colon and a space. Then, state the purpose of the letter clearly in the first sentence.