Letters of intent are formal documents that are part way between a proposal and a legal contract. They lay out the main details of a business deal or research proposal with the intention of making all parties involved clear about the key points involved. Due to their nature, these letters have a particular structure; so it is important to know how to format a letter of intent.

Step 1.

Open a new file in your word processing software. Enter your name and address on the first three to four lines of the document. Leave a blank line and enter the name and address of the letter's recipient. Leave another blank line and enter the date. Add two more blank lines. Begin the letter proper by addressing it to the recipient by name; such as “Dear Mr Jones.”

Step 2.

Begin the first paragraph by explaining why you are writing. If this is a business letter, mention previous dealings with the company that have led you to the preliminary agreements you have made so far. If this is a college or university letter of intent, briefly explain your background and credentials; such as relevant qualifications and experience.

Step 3.

Start a new paragraph. Detail your proposal, including relevant details on all agreed-upon aspects of the project. This may take up two or more paragraphs, depending on the complexity of the project. For businesses, be sure to lay out in plain language every aspect of the project; from pricing to projected completion or delivery dates. For research proposals, explain what the purpose of the research is and how it will be achieved.

Step 4.

Add a final paragraph. In a business letter of intent, this paragraph is for defining any specialist terms used in the outline of the project and detailing any extra pertinent information, such as an agreed deadline for final terms to be decided on. For research letters, add any extra relevant information to the proposal, such as the name of any tutor or mentor you have already lined up.

Step 5.

Write a final closing line requesting a response to your letter of intent. Add a signing off line, such as “Yours sincerely”. Leave three to four blank lines in which you can sign your name when the letter is printed. Type your name, your qualifications (if necessary). If writing a business letter of intent, add your position in the company underneath your name. Save a copy of the letter for your records.


Because the recipients of these letters of intent are likely to receive many such letters as well as having other business to deal with, it is essential that you stay concise. You should include only those details which are relevant to the project and even then, only include those details which have already been agreed on. Everything else can wait for the follow-up discussions.


Letters of intent exist within the hazy legal realm between offers and actual contracts. Because they are a statement of where negotiations have reached rather than a document detailing a binding agreement, whether any terms in the contract are ultimately binding on either party will be a matter for the courts if the deal later goes sour. Always consult a lawyer before acting in reliance on the terms of a letter of intent.