In English there are a number of conventions that should be used when writing a formal or business letter. Furthermore, you try to write as simply and as clearly as possible, and not to make the letter longer than necessary. Remember not to use informal language like contractions.

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Sender’s address

The sender's address should contain, on different right-hand aligned, lines, the street, the city and postcode, and the country (only if the letter is to be sent to a different country).
Do not write your name.


Write the date like this:
23 january 2010 or January 23, 2010.
Don’t write 2/1/2010. It might cause confusion.

Recipient’s name

Preferably use Ms when writing to a female recipient

Recipient’s address


You have the following possibilities:
Dear Mr, Mrs, Miss (surname), if you know the person’s name and title.
- Dear Sir or Madam, if you are writing to a person whose name you do not know (The Sales Manager…)
- Dear Sirs, if you are writing to a firm or a department, and not to a specific person.
After the salutation you can write a comma.

Letter text

The first paragraph should be short and state the purpose of the letter- to make an enquiry, complain, request something, etc. In the case of job application letters you can tell the reader where you found the advertisement.
The paragraph or paragraphs in the middle of the letter should contain the relevant information behind the writing of the letter. Most letters in English are not very long, so keep the information to the essentials and concentrate on organising it in a clear and logical manner rather than expanding too much.
The third paragraph of a formal letter should state what action you expect the recipient to take- to refund, send you information, etc.
The last paragraph is meant to encourage further contact.

Complimentary close

The usual one is: I / we look forward to hearing from you


Sincerely, if you used the recipient’s name.
Faithfully, if you didn’t know the recipient’s name.


Elena C.

Sender’s name

Typed out:
Elena Cabeza