Writing a formal letter is intimidating. Writing a formal letter to your boss can feel out-of-this-world scary. Whether it is to request time off or tender your resignation, it is a good skill to learn as you go out into the working world. Keeping a template in mind will help you greatly along the way.

Think About Your Intent

What is your focus here? What do you want your end result to be? Being clear with yourself not only what you want to say but why you need to say it helps when writing to your boss. It’s important to be honest about what you want to convey.

Your Contact Information

In the upper right corner, you should place all of your contact information. It should look like the following:

  • Name
  • Company address.
  • Your direct company phone line.
  • Email address.

This makes it very clear who you are and who your direct supervisor is or your team.

Your Boss’s Contact Information

Directly across from your contact information, place your boss’s contact information in the same format as above, as follows:

  • Name
  • Company address.
  • His direct company phone line.
  • Email address.

Date the Letter

One line below the contact information, date the letter. It should be dated the day you wish to leave it for your boss, not the day you began writing your letter. This also allows for a time- frame for a response.

Open With a Greeting

Directly below the date, place the greeting, “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. [boss’s name] with a comma directly following. Write exactly how your boss prefers to be addressed.

First Paragraph

Begin by summarizing who you are. Whether your company is large or small, identifying yourself is the proper way to do it. Your job title, your exact department and how long you have been with the company. This is also where you want to clearly state the purpose of writing this letter to your boss,for example, “I am writing this letter to request medical leave beginning six weeks from now, from May 15 through June 5.”

Second Paragraph

Here is where you flesh out the statement you made in the above paragraph. Continuing with the example of needing medical leave, you could write something like, “My reason for the medical leave is to have a medically mandated surgery. I have five weeks of paid leave available. May I take my paid leave in full as well as another week of unpaid time off?” It is crucial to use the correct tone in your letter. You never want to come across as demanding, but questioning, and informative. Ultimately, you want your boss to feel you are respecting their position and authority to decide what is allowed. It is also important to add that you are open to speaking about the matter in person, or in whatever way is easiest for them to contact you.

Third Paragraph

Briefly, thank your boss for his time in reading your letter.

Close With Your Signature

Sign-off with a courteous and professional closing. “Best Regards” and “Sincerely” followed by a comma are both good, standard choices. Leave a large space and type your name so when it is printed, you can sign the letter in that space.

Whatever the intent of your formal letter to your boss, make sure to write it well in advance if it is time-sensitive. Whether leaving your company temporarily or tendering your resignation, being prompt and polite is paramount.