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Although there have been other effective modes of communication in the recent years, letter writing is still one of the most widely used means of communication. Specially in the corporate world, there is no substitute to letter writing or mailing. Electronic mails (e-mails) are widely used for communication today. But, mails are as formal as handwritten letters. So, it is essential to know how to write a formal letter effectively. Writing a formal letter is often considered as an intimidating task by people. However, a basic knowledge of rules and a little bit of practice helps to write an effective formal letter.

Letter Template

Sometimes, you face certain situations where you may have to write a letter to an unknown recipient. Such a letter is known as 'to whom it may concern letter', as the phrase is used as a salutation. This is the right way to address a letter if you wish to avoid mistaking the identity of the recipient. The following 'to whom it may concern letter' samples will help you overcome the challenging task of writing this type of letter.

Following is a list of all essentials parts of a formal letter. You can write a letter effectively just by including these parts of letter in a proper sequence.
  • Sender's Address (In case the letter is not written on a letterhead)
  • Date (With month and year)
  • 'To Whom it May Concern'
  • Name of the Recipient's Organization
  • Recipient's Address
  • Salutation (In this case, you will have to use 'Dear Sir or Madam')
  • Body of the Letter (Divided into suitable paragraphs)
  • Closing Salutation
  • Signature
If the sender's address is not mentioned at the top, it can be included below the signature. This standard template should be followed strictly when writing a formal letter. Although the body of the letter can vary according to the subject of the letter; the layout and the flow should remain the same.

Sender's Name
Name of the Organization
Sender's Address

Date

To Whom It May Concern
Name of Recipient's Organization
Address

Reference/Subject
: Here the purpose of the letter is mentioned in brief. (In a line or two)

Dear Sir/Madam,
I, (sender's name), am writing this letter, to / for........
(You should introduce yourself in the opening paragraph of the letter so as to make the reader familiar)

Paragraphs 2, 3: Include the purpose of the letter, your intentions or demands or requests or complaints, or the main subject of the letter. You should make sure that you are precise, clear and to the point.

Closing Lines: The sender is expected to thank the recipient. The sender can also add his contact number, e-mail ID for further communication.

Sincerely,
(Signature and name)

Letter Samples

Sample # 1

The following is a reference or a recommendation letter from a former employer, recommending an employee to be considered for a new position.

Sender's name
Name of the Organization
Sender's Address

Date

To Whom It May Concern
Name of Recipient's Organization
Address

Reference/Subject: Recommendation for Ms. Diana Smith

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing this reference letter at the request of Ms. Diana Smith. I confirm that Ms. Smith was employed at our organization from (date) to (date).

I have known Ms. Smith in my capacity as a Manager at (name of organization). I have found her to be honest and reliable. She has an excellent command on her language. She was a devoted employee, and her performance at the organization was excellent.

I highly recommend Ms. Smith for employment. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
(Signature and name)

Sample # 2

Following is a complaint letter sent to a company to complain about a damaged product.

Date

To whom it may concern,

I have been a devoted customer of your company for the past (number) of years. I am writing to complain about the unsatisfactory service that I received last week.

I ordered a (name of product, serial and model number) from (name of store/website) on (date). The product delivered to me is not working properly. Despite being brand new, it has (mention the problem).

I regret to mention that the quality of the product is nowhere near to what I had expected from your company. I am very disappointed.

I expect that this is dealt with as early as possible.

Sincerely,
(Signature and name)

Sometimes the phrase, 'to whomsoever it may concern' can also be used. In case you are writing a letter on a company letterhead paper, then it is also essential to mention your designation or job title.

The letter format mentioned above is the standard American letter writing format. In case you are using the British style of letter writing, you should mention the sender's address to the top right hand corner. In that case, only the sender's address is mentioned, and not the name. The rest of the letter format is similar to that mentioned above.

Lastly, you should remember that writing a formal letter is not difficult if you understand and follow the basic rules and the format of the letter. Also, a bit of practice will definitely make you perfect. Good luck!