How to write a formal letter or email in English


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Here, we will explain to you how to write a formal letter or email in English, together with some tips on how to write fluently and communicate appropriately with other branches or international companies in business settings.

One of the biggest challenges that students of English and business people in general face, is writing a formal letter or email in English.

Although it is a common task when preparing Cambridge exams, when we have to apply what we have learned out of the confines of the classroom, we have doubts and we are afraid of not writing appropriately.

Below we will refresh how to write a formal letter or email, so that you can find and build confidence in your writing ability in English.

Tips for writing formal letter or emails in English

First of all, consider the degree of formality you should write in. When we used to write on paper, letters were very formal. Nowadays, technology is opening a wide range of possibilities with our target readers. In this case, we will focus on the formal style, a critical element of how business writing is conducted today.


If you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, use:

Dear Sir or Madam,

To Whom It May Concern (a quién corresponda)


Before you begin writing, think about how you will structure the content and organise your ideas.

These are the basic parts of a formal letter or email in English:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body text
  3. Conclusion


The opening of a formal letter or email requires the sender to introduce themselves: “My name is…”. Then, you should go on by saying who you are writing to or what you are responding to. Use expressions like these:

  • I am writing with regard to…
  • I am emailing in reference to
  • In replay to your email, I…
  • I am contacting you to…
  • I would like…
  • We are writing in connection with…
  • In response to your former email…
  • We are interested in… and would like to know…
  • We carefully considered your proposal and…

As you can see, in the heading of an email you should not use the present simple but the present continuous.

Body text

In order to explain what you have to say, keep it short and stick to simple grammar forms; do not use rhetorical flourishes or complex forms because it will make it harder to figure out what you want or need from them, and it might give yourself away.

Connectors and appropriate vocabulary can be very useful. Resort to online dictionaries if necessary.

Some of these set phrases can be of much help.

  • We are able to confirm that…
  • Just a note to say…
  • Please, could you…
  • This is an urgent matter…


In the conclusion, you should thank them for their attention with expressions such as:

  • Thank you for your help.
  • I look forward to hearing from you.
  • Thanks in advance.
  • Let me know if you need anything else.
  • If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.


These are the most common closings to be used in a formal letter or email:

  • Yours sincerely,
  • Respectfully,
  • Yours cordially,
  • Yours faithfully,
  • We recommend you write your full name, your position, the name of the company you are working in, and other contact details such as a phone number or a website.

Other style tips:

  1. Be careful! The subject line is important, too. Get to the point, use a short and accurate one.
  2. Avoid contractions in formal writings.
  3. Always stick to the same font.
  4. Do not write in all caps.
  5. Do not use text abbreviations.
  6. Avoid emoticons.
  7. Formal letters/emails should be organized in no longer than five-line paragraphs.

Finally, proofread the text several times. The importance of English in the business world is obvious and we should avoid, as far as possible, making mistakes.

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