5 Samples of Effective Professional Letters

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writing a letter

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When you’re writing a formal business letter, keep in mind that if there is ever a time to be meticulous in your editing, this is it. Business letters have the ability to help you land that dream role or get that promotion you definitely deserve.
But to write a letter like this is easier said than done — especially when the bulk of your day-to-day communication probably consists of some combination of 140-character messages, emojis and Instagram stories.
If you feel like you could brush up on your formal letter-writing skills, you’re far from alone. But before you give up and start inserting Bitmojis in place of your signature, take a look at these sample business letter templates. They’ll hook you up with the kind of wording and layout you need to use to come off as a polished professional.

What is a professional letter?

First, of course, it's important to understand what exactly a professional letter is. A professional letter is just what it sounds like: a letter written and sent for a professional purpose. Examples include:
  • Cover letter
  • Job application email
  • Resignation letter
  • Recommendation letter
  • Bereavement leave letter
  • Reference letter
  • Sales letter
  • Order letter
  • Complaint letters
  • Thank you email
It’s particularly important to pay attention to the format or template you use in these kinds of letters. If you’re reaching out to an interviewer about a job or career prospect, or even if you’re resigning from a job, you want to make an exceptional impression on your reader.

How do you format a business letter?

In short, a general format to follow is this:
  1. Your Contact Information
  2. Date
  3. Their Contact Information
  4. Greeting (Salutation Examples)
  5. Closing
  6. Signature

In all cases, you should left justify your letter and use a simple typeface, such as Times New Roman. This is not the place to experiment with crazy colors or fonts.

Professional letter templates

1. General business letter sample

This type of letter is used for general purposes — communication between a business and a client, for example.

Your name

Your address

Your phone number

Your email address

(include extra line of space here)

Date (type out the date in full: “January 1, 2017” as opposed to “1/1/17”)

(include extra line of space here)

Recipient’s name

Recipient’s title

Recipient company name

Recipient’s address (or company address)

(include extra line of space here)

Dear Ms. Smith: (use a formal greeting unless you have a personal, close relationship with the recipient. Be sure to include a colon rather than a comma after the recipient’s name)

Write your letter in this format (left justified) using a simple font (Times New Roman or Arial are good examples of plain font styles) in size 10 or 12 points. In your introductory paragraph, get right to the point by explaining the purpose of your letter.

Your letter should be single-spaced, but make sure you leave an extra line of space between each paragraph. Keep your letter as brief and concise as possible. Each subsequent paragraph should go into detail about the intent behind your letter, whether it’s an explanation, request, or both.

Your final paragraph should clarify the main point of your letter, and if you’re asking for something, make sure your request is clear as you conclude your message. You should also be gracious here: thank the recipient for taking the time to read your note and consider your request.


(Leave an extra blank space here so you can add a handwritten signature)

Your name (typed)

Your title (if applicable)

Your company name (if applicable)

2. Cover letter sample

You want your cover letter to stand out, so it’s important to begin with a direct opening and to be concise (your resume lists a lot of details; choose only the most important ones for your cover letter!)
Here’s an example of a compelling letter that will catch your reader’s attention and show off your skills:

Your Contact Information


Employer's Contact Information

Dear Ms. XXX (or “Dear Hiring Manager” if you do not have the recipient’s name):

I was so excited to hear about the XXX position at Fairygodboss because as an XXX major, I spend a lot of time thinking about unconscious bias, gender roles, and diversity efforts in the workforce. Specifically, I'm interested in Fairygodboss because there's so much potential to alter women's career paths and happiness. Transparency is so important, and this mission aligns with my view of an ideal world.

I'm great at bringing 0 to X. In my last role, I owned and launched three major public-private partnerships ($XXXM each): XXXX, XXXX, XXXX. In each city, these hubs were a one-stop shop for all the tech and startup information. It was my job to understand each city's startup ecosystem and communicate and convey the information externally.

As the sole non-developer, I worked on both strategy and execution, specifically on the cross section of content, user acquisition, marketing, business development, community, and product.

My resume is attached, and I’m happy to send over any additional information you might need. Thank you for your consideration!


Your handwritten name

Your full name typed

3. Professional email sample 

This is used for several purposes — for instance, it's the email you might send a hire manager when applying for a job.

If you’re about to send a job application email, that means you’ve actually gotten a hold of the email address for the hire manager or recruiter of a job you’d like. But how do you actually stand out while still coming off as professional?

Here’s an example of what you might write:

Dear Ms. XXX (or “Dear Sir or Madam” if you do not have the recipient’s name):

High fives for describing the perfect fit for the Director of XXX role as someone who would be able to break someone out of a 3rd-world prison. My friends and past colleagues have described me as the person they'd want to be stuck within a zombie/alien attack.

I’m currently working at XXX, where I XXXX. As I’m looking to make my next move, this position caught my attention because it perfectly blends my passion for XXX with my interest and experience in XXX.

I’ve attached my cover letter and resume, which detail my background, interests and why I think I’d be a great fit for this position.

Let me know if you’d like me to send over any additional information!


Your name

4. Resignation letter sample

It's good practice to submit a resignation letter leaving a paper trail when you resign from your employer.

Company Name

Company Address

Attn: [Your supervisor’s/boss’ name]

Dear XXX,

Please accept this letter as my formal resignation. As of [date 2 weeks from the dated letter], I will be vacating the role of Marketing Manager at Company XYZ.”

I have learned so much over the past X years at XYZ, and I am so grateful for the opportunities and support you’ve provided. I appreciate that you helped me hone my skills in XXX and I will miss working with you on XXX. I’m confident that my time here has prepared me well for what’s ahead.

I’m committed to making sure this transition goes as smoothly as possible. Within the next two weeks, I will make sure to complete XXX, and I am happy to assist in finding and training a replacement if that would be helpful. Please let me know if I can do anything else to ensure that this process is as seamless as possible.

I wish you and Company XYZ the best of luck in the future, and I look forward to staying in touch.


(Leave an extra blank space here so you can add a handwritten signature)

Your full name (typed)

5. Reference letter/recommendation letter sample

When you’re writing a recommendation letter, take the time to provide thorough documentation of your time spent with the person who’s asked you to author the letter.
Get the details from the person who’s requested the letter so that you have a good understanding of their desired outcome and why they’d be a good fit for the job/company in which they’re interested.
Your letter should be formatted similarly to the above-referenced business letters, and here’s an example of what you might write in the body:

It is with great pleasure that I recommend Lily Smith for the marketing manager role at XXX. Lily has worked in marketing at [insert your company name] for more than two years, during which she’s been promoted twice. She consistently demonstrates her abilities and her enthusiasm; she’s succeeded in implementing a YYY system within our department that led to ZZZ. I’m confident that she’d be an excellent fit for the marketing manager position on your team; she would add value by bringing [this, this and that] to the table.

While the above is a brief example, you should elaborate on any details you can provide about the applicant's specific accomplishments and positive qualities.

Fairygodboss is the largest online career community for women focused on helping women achieve their career goals.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice on writing professional business letters? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!