How to write a Formal Thank You Letter

A Thank you letter is written to express appreciation for kind, generous deeds. It can be written to a close friend, a mere acquaintance, or a business partner.


I believe that they can be placed in two categories. They can either be informal or formal.

In this article, we will discuss the later.

To learn how to write an informal letter of thanks, go to this article:

Write an informal letter of gratitude

Now, what exactly do we mean by formal letters of gratitude? As you may have already discerned, we are talking about expressing gratitude in formal situations. What are these situations? Here are the common ones:

  • Extending appreciation after a job interview
  • Thanking another organization for help rendered
  • Thanking customers for supporting a business
  • Thanking a guest for a speech given during a board meeting
  • Thinking your boss for a promotion, or any other consideration

Of course, the list goes on. There are a number of other formal situations in which you may find it incumbent to write a letter of such a nature.  

Stay tuned for articles that will specifically discuss these and more situations.

I am calling them formal letters, these, because you are writing to people you hardly know, an organization, or a business partner. In short, you are writing for what I would call business reasons. Even if you are not writing for business reasons, you will find that you are writing to an agency or an individual with whom you are hardly acquainted. As a result, your tone will have to be formal.

Some people will advise you that all thank you letters are formal, but I’d disagree. If you are writing to a close friend, you can’t help but sound informal. In fact, sounding too formal will not sound like you at all! So, these letters can be categorized as informal or formal.

So how should you go about writing the letter of gratitude?  

The following are the guidelines you should keep in mind:

  1. The language should be formal and polite. Avoid slang or exaggerations. Be sincere. Do not try to win the favour of, say, your prospective employer, by using sweet talk.
  1. Get to the point. Mention in your very first paragraph what you are thankful for. Your first paragraph should be more or less a summary of what you are so appreciative about. For example, if you are thanking your prospective employer for a good interview, you could say:

    I am truly grateful for affording me the opportunity to meet with you. I enjoyed the constructive discussion we had about the position of Lab Technician in the Computer Department of your Institution.

    Or if you are writing a thank you note to your boss after a promotion, you could say:

    Thank you very much for promoting me to the position of Chief Accountant. I feel extremely thrilled and honoured to serve the company under this capacity.

  1. Choose the format that suits your circumstances. When it comes to choosing the format of your letter, keep two things in mind: your audience and your objective. Generally speaking, it is good for your letter to be typed out for the obvious reason that it gives a certain authority to your words that a handwritten letter can’t. However, in some cases, sending a typed letter or email may be counterproductive. For example, some employers prefer handwritten letters so that they can see whether the person they want to employ can actually write!
  1. Keep your letter of an appropriate length. Thank you letters are usually a page or less. Remember, in the business world, no one has time to read pages and pages of letters. So be brief and straight to the point. Make it your aim not to say too much. If you tend to be too wordy, you might end up being a liar.
  1. Thank you letters provide a platform to market yourself. If you are writing a thank you letter as a follow up to an interview, you can use it to further market yourself. You can add certain things that might not have been mentioned in the interview. Here is an example:

    I neglected to mention during the interview that many companies have in the recent past hired me to design websites for them. Most of them, if not all, were very pleasant with what I accomplished. I am certain that these skills will be of great benefit to the institution once I am employed.

  1. Endeavour to create Relationships. Generally speaking, thank you letters are an effort to create relationships, or an effort to maintain good relationships, which are pertinent in the business world.

    For example, when you thank customers for their support by sending them a letter, you are endeavouring to maintain the good relationship that exists between you. When a customer feels appreciated in this manner, they are more inclined to keep on working with you. You may also use the letter to promote other services you offer that your customer might be interested in.

    If you are thanking an employer for a good interview, creating a relationship might include giving her contact details that she might use to get in touch with you at an appropriate time.


With these few guide lines in mind, you will be able to write a very good formal thank you letter. But I will not leave you empty handed, so I leave you with a sample. In this sample, an individual has just been offered a job, and he has taken the time to thank his employer for the job offer.  

formal thank you letter sample

Note the following about this letter:

  • He mentioned that he is very grateful for the job offer in the very first paragraph
  • The body is very brief and straight to the point.
  • He reassures the employer that she made the right choice in employing him.


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