1. Know when to write a formal letter. Write a formal letter when addressing someone you only know in a professional capacity. This includes letters written to government departments or businesses, instead of a known individual.
2. Write your address and today's date at the top of the page.
3. Write your name and address at the top of the page, on the left. If you are writing a business letter, use the company name and address instead, or just write on company letterhead. Either way, skip two lines and write today's date.3. Write the name and address of the recipient. Unless you're writing an email, skip another two lines and write the contact information for the person you're writing to.
4. Write the salutation. Skip a line again, then greet the recipient with "Dear" followed by their name. You may use the last name, or the full name (first and last), but never the first name alone. Include an abbreviated professional title if applicable.
5. Write the letter. Formal letters should open with a clear statement of purpose. Do not use contractions (write are not instead of aren't), and phrase questions formally (Would you be interested in...? instead of Do you want to...?). Proofread the letter for spelling and grammar when finished, or ask a friend to help you.
6. Use a complimentary close. A complimentary close ends your letter on a good note and establishes a connection with the recipient. Make two hard returns after the last paragraph of the letter, then write the complimentary close.
7. Fold the letter (optional). If you're sending a letter through the post, fold it into thirds. Bring the bottom of the sheet up so that it's two-thirds of the way up the page, and crease. Then fold down the top portion so that the crease matches up with the bottom of the paper. Folding the letter this way ensures that it will fit into most envelopes.
8. Address the envelope (optional). Find the center of the envelope, both lengthwise and widthwise.
9. Write your return address on the envelope (optional). If the US Postal Service cannot deliver your letter for any reason, it will send the letter back to the return address at no extra charge. Write it as you would the address of the recipient (listed above); the only change is that you might wish to simply list your last name instead of your full name.