Part of adulting involves some not-so-exciting-but-very-important stuff, like figuring out how to use budget worksheets, calculating how much of your income should go to rent, and learning how to format a business letter.
Learning to format a business letter (which is basically a formal letter) is one of those things you really do have to know how to do as an adult, because chances are you’ll find yourself writing one — whether it’s a cover letter, recommendation letter, reference letter, resignation letter, or even a formal e-mail message — in the near future.
Luckily, with the internet at your fingertips, you can find tons of sample professional letter formats to help guide you.
Of course, salutation and opening of any formal letter is key. You need to keep this in mind when you’re writing your note because you want to make a good first impression on your reader.
But your letter closing is equally if not more important. Here's why:
- A business letter closing is a place where you want to reiterate your request or your intent (in other words, what was the purpose of writing your letter?)
- Your letter closing — and we’re not just talking about the word “sincerely” — is your chance to make a final impression on your reader, whether it’s a hiring manager reading your cover letter or it’s someone on admissions staff at a school where your former student, for whom you’ve written a recommendation letter, is applying.
Maybe you’ve simply written a job application email and attached your cover letter. While an e-mail message might seem like an informal letter (and don’t get us wrong, sometimes it is) — if you’re applying for a job, you better have a good business letter closing even in the electronic aspect of your application.
Your letter closing will, of course, depend on the intent of your message. But no matter what the subject of your letter or email is, one thing is always true: you want to conclude on a clear, concise note — and one that suggests next steps, such as coordinating a phone call or interview.
Below are some templates that will help you visualize and understand different ways to close a formal letter.
Sample 1: Cover Letter
First and last name
17 Example Street, Binghamton, NY 13905
Your phone number • [email protected]
May 20, 2017
Direct contact's first and last name
City, State + Zip
I am very excited to submit my application to work with you as a copywriter for travel and luxury hospitality brands. With a breadth of experiences in travel journalism and luxury marketing, I am confident that I will be an invaluable asset to _____________.
I started my editorial career as an employee of _______ where I developed our editorial voice, produced daily posts and long-form trend analysis, launched several products including a weekly podcast and video interview series, and represented the brand at conferences and in media.
________ then handpicked me for a new leadership role that crossed the lines between print and digital as well as worked with the marketing team on new multimedia projects.
After four years with my head down, focusing on covering and analyzing the business of travel, I spent a year interacting with the industry in a whole new way — planning, booking and overseeing domestic and international trips for a family of luxury travelers from Manhattan. This involved conversations with 5-star hotel properties and travel agencies, negotiations with private jet providers, and group reservations at Michelin-star restaurants.
This would have little bearing on this role had I not previously written about the business of travel. I viewed all experiences through the lens of a content creator, which is to say with a keen eye for the service, marketing and business considerations behind every interaction.
Throughout my editorial career, I’ve also worked with luxury brands whose ethos I admired to assist them in crafting their brand story and better communicating with customers.
I conceptualized and launched a digital platform for a high-end food service, consulted with digital creative agencies, and launched a multimedia platform empowering girls to own ambition for ______.
As you can see, the closing, or last paragraph in the sample cover letter above, builds on what was established in the earlier paragraphs of the letter by moving toward some ideas for next steps.
Sample 2: Reference Letter for a New Job
Your phone number
Your email address
Date (type out the date in full: “January 1, 2017” as opposed to “1/1/17”)
Recipient company name
Recipient address (or company address)
To Whom it May Concern: (Format this similarly to a business letter. If you do know the recipient’s name and it’s not a general letter, you could say “To Ms. Smith” or “To Mr. Smith;” however, gender-neutral salutations are increasingly becoming best practice. Either way, be sure to end with a colon and not a comma.)
It is with pleasure that I recommend (candidate’s name) for the position of X (if known) within your company. While working for (your company name) from 20XX-20XX, (candidate’s name) truly proved herself to be an asset, and it is with no hesitancy that after X amount of time knowing (candidate’s name), and as a longtime professional
within this field myself, I enthusiastically recommend them for this role.
(Note: Paragraph 1, above, should explain how you know the person you’re writing the letter of reference for, how long you have known them, and why you are qualified to make this recommendation.)
During her time as a (previous title) at our company, (candidate’s name) repeatedly demonstrated her value in XYZ ways. As a take-charge person, not only did she excel at taking the lead on X projects, but she did so with a positive attitude that truly made her an asset to the team. Her contributions of XYZ were indispensable to our success, and she added to our overall value in XYZ ways.
(Note: Paragraph 2, above, should go into detail about the qualifications and achievements of the person asked you to write a reference letter. What made them so great to work with? What value can they offer to the recipient of this letter? Be specific, and use more than one paragraph if necessary. This is the most crucial part of the employment reference letter, after all! Ask for a copy of your colleague’s resume or cover letter, if possible; these can be helpful reference tools in formulating your praise.)
In short, I can assure you that (candidate’s name) would make a truly valuable contribution to your team thanks to their XYZ skills/qualities, and I recommend them to you without reservation. Thanks so much, and if you need any further information from me, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
(Note: Paragraph 3 of the recommendation letter, above, can be short, as it simply reiterates the candidate’s most standout qualities. Think of it as a sort of summary.)
Paragraph 3, which begins “In short,” is the portion of this sample letter that you need to pay most attention to if you’re crafting a compelling letter closing. You’ll notice that it’s not long — by definition, a concluding message shouldn’t be introducing a ton of new information; rather, it should be concisely and persuasively reiterating what’s already been outlined above.
You'll notice that the formats of different kinds of business letters (like cover letters) and letter closings don't differ too significantly, but they do have one thing in common: their goal is to sell to the reader by concluding with a persuasive and compelling message.
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I believe my unique editorial experience and unbridled passion for travel, and the companies that make truly luxurious trips possible, would greatly contribute to ____________’s creation of high-quality branding, marketing, and social content.
I’d love the opportunity to speak with your further via a phone call or video chat to learn more about the role and how I can best contribute. I've attached my resume and am eager to send a sample piece crafted for a luxury hotel within the next week if you're interested. Kindly let me know if you have any questions at all.
All my best,