If you’re writing a formal letter, say for a job application, you need to get it right. An improperly set out letter creates a negative impression and may even damage your chances of getting that job. The tips on how to write a letter below will ensure your letter is laid out correctly.

Important Parts of a Letter

When laying out a formal letter you need to focus on 6 areas:

  • Your address.
  • The recipient’s address (who you’re sending the letter to).
  • The date.
  • The salutation.
  • The closing.
  • Your signature/name.

Your Address

Place this in the upper right-hand corner of the letter in the form of:

  • Street number and street name
  • Suburb
  • City
  • Post Code
  • Country (only if sending the letter overseas)
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Email address (optional)

Note: do not put your name at the top of the address.

Recipient’s Address

Place this in the upper left-hand corner of the letter, but start it a little below (2 or 3 lines) the first line of your own address. If you wish you may include the name of the person you’re writing to, their job title or department, and company name at the top of this address.

Note: do not include the recipient’s phone number or email address.


The date should be placed on the right-hand side of the letter, in line with your address but at least one line lower than the last line of the recipient’s address.



If you know the name of the person you’re writing to the salutation should be in the form of:

Dear/ Title/ Name e.g. Dear Mr. Smith

Note: in a formal letter it is preferable not to use the recipient’s first name.

If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to use “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” instead. If you don’t know the sex of the person you can use “Dear Sir or Madam”.

The Closing

The closing finishes off your letter and should be placed below the text of your letter on the left-hand side.

If you have used a person’s name in your salutation close your letter with “Yours sincerely”.

If you have used Dear Sir or Dear Madam, close the letter with “Yours faithfully”.


Formal letters must be signed with your name on the bottom left of the page. Print your name below your signature.

Correct Letter Layout


When writing a formal letter there are a number of acceptable layout variations and you may have your own preferences. The letter writing tips above, however, will give you a letter that is acceptable in most formal situations. An example of this layout can be seen below.


Now that you know how to properly write a letter, you’ll be able to look professional the next time you apply for a job or put through a business proposal.

How to Write a Letter, 3.8 out of 5 based on 42 ratings

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  1. brooklyn retimana says:


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    Rating: 3.8/5 (60 votes cast)
  2. berneets says:

    sorry but this does not tell me how to set out a letter

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    Rating: 2.4/5 (96 votes cast)
  3. Hayley! says:

    Haha I noticed that they have sent the letter to “Smith and Sons” and my parents work there LOL. This page was useful to me as I am writing a formal letter and I used this website to help me set it correctly.

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    Rating: 3.8/5 (51 votes cast)
  4. Dec singh says:


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  5. josh says:

    I found this very useful and would certainly recommend it to others

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    Rating: 4.3/5 (3 votes cast)
  6. Tony says:

    it’s good, but one thing could be better: What to write in the lines in which you wrote X (we can’t spam our letters with X after all)
    From what I found out it seems like you put it as short as possible, first state why you are writing, then explain it further, then write that you want to hear an answer or what you want from the recipent. Taken from http://www.usingenglish.com/resources/letter-writing.php#
    It’s not specially to NZ though so I might be wrong

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  7. Belinda says:

    Learn how to write concise, well worded letters that are set out correctly. Where in the letter should you write your name and address?

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    Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes cast)
  8. S Kleen says:

    helpful tips..still i am curious about what how a formal letter should start??say i’m writing it for a job application, can can i make sure the HR reads it till the end and calls me??i believe essay writers call it a hook – so how should i write this hook??

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  9. wexpim says:

    u know all of these tips are helpful, but can you give us some written example for better understanding?

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