How to Address a Letter – Formal, Cover, and Inquiry Letters.

how to address a letter

Our forefathers knew well how to address a letter. If they wanted to invite someone, they would write a letter. To thank someone or express their condolences, or even to stay in contact with friends and family members, they write letters.

But with the passing time, we have forgotten this beautiful part of expressing ourselves through the art of writing. It is not that we weren’t taught how to address a letter. Writing letters are just as easy as writing up a cheque!

But we have forgotten this art due to the shift we have seen. From reading books with pages to ebooks, from writing a letter to sending emails or text messages – and you know the fact stays a fact and no one can deny it, we have shifted from a real-world to a virtual world or digital world!

A major change towards cyberspace, but that didn’t zero the importance of writing letters.

To know ‘how to address a letter’ and that too in a formal way is still significant whether you are hunting a job, requesting your HR for leaves, or finding a way to interact with the bank manager. So, we thought why not we remind you of the tips to address a formal letter without worrying about your schools’ forgotten lessons!

Hop on with us to know how to address a letter and become a master of writing!

Things You Should Remember Before Writing A Letter

This is the main structure that you should always keep in your mind before writing a formal letter.

Always remember, you have the choice to omit the receivers’ name and address if you are writing an informal letter. You can even sign off informally. Maybe with some inside jokes, or with love instead of writing ‘Yours sincerely.’

It is totally on you how you sign an informal letter, but if you are signing off a formal letter, your way of writing must be formal. To make it more clear, if you are starting the letter or addressing the receiver as ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘With most respectfully.’

Sign off in a formal tone! Like ‘Yours faithfully’ or if you have addressed the reader by his name, then make sure to sign off the letter by ‘Yours sincerely.’

Here, you may think about what to do if you are unaware of the name of the person you are writing a letter to!

It could be anyone, right? Maybe someone, where you are applying for a job or bringing forward a complaint to a company, or maybe you are sending it to the customer service department – NOW WHAT?

Relax – do not worry! You still have many options.

  1. Begin the letter with ‘To whom it may concern.’ No, it is not looking bad. It fits perfectly with what you have been told to do.
  2. If you address any company or the customer service department, just write ‘Head of the company’ or ‘Head of Customer Service’ – then address with ‘Dear Sir,’ and it goes alright with the company.
  3. You can also Google the name of the CEO of that company where you are sending the letter; if the company is big, you can find this information on google. So no need to worry about how to address the reader!

How to Address a Letter – A Formal Letter

Many conventions should be used in English when formatting a formal or business letter in English. Furthermore, you try to write as clearly and as clearly as possible and not make the letter extended than necessary. Remember not to practice informal language like abbreviations.


1) Your Address

The return address should be drafted in the top right-hand edge of the letter.

2) The Location of the Person You are Writing to

The private address should be signed on the left, starting underneath your address.


Many people put the date on different sides of the sheet. It would be best to write this on the left on the line after the address you are writing from. Compose the month as a word.

Salutation or Greeting:

1) Dear Sir or Madam,

If you do not remember the name of the person you are communicating with, use this. It is invariably advisable to try to obtain a name.

2) Dear Mr. James,

If you remember the name, use the title (Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms, Dr, etc.) and the name only. If you are corresponding with a woman and do not comprehend if she practices Mrs or Miss, you can apply Ms, which is for both married and single women.

Ending a letter:

1) Yours faithfully

If you do not know the person’s name, end the letter this way.

2) Yours sincerely

If you know the person’s name, end the letter with this form.

3) Your signature

Sign your title, then print it below the signature. If you believe the person you are corresponding to might not know whether you are male or female, put your name in brackets after your signature.

Content of a Formal Letter

First paragraph

The first paragraph should be brief and state the letter’s purpose- to inquire, request something, complaint, etc.

The paragraph or paragraphs in the letter’s center should contain the appropriate information behind the letter’s writing. Most English letters are not very long, so keep the information essentials and concentrate on organizing it clearly and logically rather than extending too much.

Closing Paragraph

The closing paragraph of a formal letter should say what action you require the recipient to take- send you information, to refund, etc.

How to Address a Letter – A Cover Letter

A covering letter is the one that adds your CV when you are asking for a job. Here is a fairly typical plan for the layout of the paragraphs.

Opening – First Paragraph

Quickly identify yourself and the job you are applying for. Add how you got to know about the vacancy.

Paragraph 2

Give the reasons you are interested in working for the company and why you wish to be considered for that particular post. State your relevant qualifications and experience and your personal characteristics that make you a proper candidate.

Paragraph 3

Notify them that you have enclosed your current CV and add any further information you think could help your case.

Closing Paragraph

Give your availability for an interview, thank them for their consideration, restate your interest and close the letter.

How to Address a Letter – An Inquiry Letter

A letter of inquiry is when you are approaching a company speculatively. That is, you are approaching without their having sponsored or announced a vacancy.

Opening Paragraph

Present yourself briefly and give your understanding of writing. Let them know of the sort of job you are seeking, why you are drawn to the position and how you learned about them.

Paragraph 2

Show why their business in particular interests you, discuss your qualifications and knowledge along with any further details that might get them interested in seeing you.

Paragraph 3

Point to your enclosed CV and draw their attention to any critical points you would like them to focus on in it.

Closing Paragraph

Thank them, explain your availability for an interview, and restate your energy for their company and want to be considered for posts that might as yet be unavailable.

Do NOT Forget To Include Five Things In A Letter.

The five necessary things, if you will not add it in your envelope letter, then your letter will be incomplete. It might not get accepted by the recipient as well. These five mandatories are:

Contact Information.

Do not forget to write your contact information on the top left corner of the envelope. Include your name and address.

A Recipients’ Name.

Know whom you are writing a letter to. The name should be few lines below your contact information but in the center.


If you know the person’s position or title, mention it; otherwise, mention the department’s name.

Name Of The Company.

You must mention the name of the company on the envelope where the recipients work, or else it would look less professional.

Accurate Street Address.

The right address is mandatory. Else you never know who will receive your letter instead.

The simple thing you have to do is, write your correct and complete contact information on the top left corner. If you want to hear back from any company or someone, it is a must to do thing. Mention the date just below your address.

Write the address of the recipient on the top left corner below the date, and now start the letter with a salutation. Your greetings must not be informal if you’re addressing a formal letter. Write whatever you want to talk about, keeping a formal tone throughout the letter, and end it well – the way we have discussed above! And there you go.

Abbreviations Used in Letter Writing

The following abbreviations are widely used in letters:

  • asap = as soon as possible
  • cc = carbon copy (when you send a copy of a letter to more than one person, you use this abbreviation to let them know)
  • enc. = enclosure (when you include other papers with your letter)
  • pp = per procurationem (A Latin phrase meaning that you are signing the letter on somebody else’s behalf; if they are not there to sign it themselves, etc.)
  • ps = postscript (when you want to add something after you’ve finished and signed it)
  • PTO (informal) = please turn over (to make sure that the other person knows the letter continues on the other side of the page)
  • RSVP = please reply


Writing a letter can be difficult, but if you know the right pattern and how to address a letter, everything gets easier. There are many informal formats to write a letter.

Even if you are writing informally, you can ignore how to write the body or address the person, but where it gets the most difficult is when it comes to writing a formal letter, whether you are addressing a business letter or an invitation letter.

If you are willing to make your writing skills better by mastering the art of writing a formal letter, follow the tips and guidance, we have given you above. We are sure you will soon write a perfect letter with absolutely no mistakes – at all!

Happy writing!

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