Apology Letter Format – Formal Letter Examples

Formal Letter of Apology

Introduction | Apology Letter Format

Apology Letter (Apology Letter Format) carry a lot of weight and can start a mature and to-the-point conversation with the recipient. It can be used to make requests, address grievances, and apologize for situations that might have been caused by the writer, making it the writer’s fault. Letter Writing has been around for centuries. From being a mode of communication only used by noblemen and royal families to relay communications between each other using runners, to using pigeons to relay correspondence between two parties situated far apart, to today where millions of letters and packages are sent daily via the postal service and the millions of emails, people send each other daily. Letter writing has evolved to become a means of communication daily.

Writing emails as well takes an incredible amount of influence from the art of writing letters. While email addresses may have replaced real-life addresses, letters still play an important role in communication. A handwritten letter nowadays carries much more sentimental and emotional value than what it carried before the invention of email, which enabled people to converse with each other formally and informally with extreme ease and no delay between the communication being sent and it being received by the recipient. However, letter-writing skills remain a vital part of English writing skills. One must master to enable the writer to communicate with whoever is necessary using the right tone and salutations. Here is how to write a letter apologizing to someone’s parents.

Choosing the Tone:

The very first thing you must consider when writing a letter is the tone of the letter itself. There are two types of letters you can write according to the tone you want to convey yourself, formal letters and informal letters. The tone of the letter also depends on the relation of the writer to the recipient. If the writer is on a first-name basis with the recipient and has a good relationship with them, then the tone can be more informal, but if the writer barley knows the recipient or if the recipient is someone in the professional world and has a higher post than you then the tone has to be formal since you wish to convey your point while still being respectful of the chain of command or the hierarchy. 

  • Formal Letters: 

Formal letters are usually used when writing to government officials or any organization to talk about grievances or suggest changes to a certain system or way of doing things. A formal letter is used when the writer is not really on a first-name basis with the recipient or when the writer wishes to write to someone of higher stature than the writer commanding respect. Formal letters are also used when writing to a boss or anyone in a professional capacity since when talking about business or creating a first impression on a potential client, the writer cannot afford to be casual and relaxed in his or her writing style. The letter needs to be concise, precise, and respectful at the same time. This does not mean just pandering to the recipient but actually getting your point across or making your problems known while not coming across as preachy or unprofessional. Some examples of whom formal letters can be written to are Headmaster, Teachers, Boss, The municipal body, your local representative, co-workers, or even parents.

  • Informal Letters:

Informal letters are exactly the opposite of informal letters. These letters are more casual and usually written to people close to the writer and have a good relationship with them. Informal letters can be longer and more descriptive in detail. An informal letter can be written to friends, your significant other, your parents, relatives, even coworkers you are close to, old friends from school and college, and even fellow parents if they are in the same social circle as you. 

Writing the Letter:

Looking at the two types and definitions of letters and how they can be written, you need to figure out what type of letter you need to write based on the intended recipient and the type of letter you need to write. Since this is an apology letter to parents, the letter choice will be a formal letter. In any case, if it’s a formal or even an informal letter, the letter needs to start with the senders and the receiver’s address. The sender’s address is required so that first and foremost, the recipient can read who the letter is from without opening the letter itself, and if the letter cannot be sent for some reason, it will be returned to the sender by the post office.

This can happen due to entering the wrong address of the recipient, failing to put postal stamps, or not paying extra postage if your letter exceeds the USPS automated mail sorting system’s dimensions. This is why getting the addresses right is crucial and is the first part of writing a letter. If this part is done incorrectly, your letter will never reach the recipient in the first place, making a point of writing the letter useless. Here is an example showing you how to write the senders and the receiver’s address.

Aman Shah,

601, XYZ Building,

Street Name,

City, State/Province – Postal Code.

[email protected] (or phone no.)

13th January 2021.

John Kreese (Recipient name)

409, Building Name,

Street Name,

City, State/Province – Postal Code.

[email protected] (or phone no.)

As you can see in the above example, the sender’s address is always written first and is always on the top right-hand side of the letter/envelope. The senders’ address needs to be first. It must contain the sender’s name, building name, street name, city, and state from where the sender is, followed by some contact details, which may be either an email id or the senders’ phone number so that the postal office or the recipient knows how to reach out and connect with the sender if required. After writing your (senders) address, the date on which the letter was written also needs to be mentioned.

The recipient’s address always comes after the sender’s address. It is always to the letter’s extreme right after leaving two lines of space between the sender’s address and adding the recipient’s address after those two lines. The format of writing the recipient’s and senders’ address is pretty much the same except that the date is not mentioned in the recipient’s address because that only needs to be mentioned once while writing the sender’s address.

Subject Line:

After writing the address, the subject line must be mentioned. This subject line must explain the letter’s reason and summarize the situation in no more than one sentence. The subject line is supposed to be short and to the point, clearly explaining the core reason for writing a letter. A formal letter is not supposed to beat around the bush and must be short and sweet, staying to the point and mentioning all relevant facts. A formal letter is not supposed to beat around the bush and ask the person about their health and well-being, which would most certainly be done if the letter was informal. Some examples of subject lines are:

  • If you are writing to ask for help with the building’s maintenance to the society chairman:  Subject: Requesting assistance with society maintenance.
  • If you are writing to complain regarding students bullying your child to the headmaster of a school: Subject: Complaint regarding regular school bullying.
  • If you are writing to apologize for your child misbehaving in school: Subject: Apologizing for my child and his school behavior.
  • If you are a child writing apologizing to the parents for your negligence: Apologizing for my negligence in class.

As you can see in the examples, the subject line needs to be short and sweet. The subject line must also begin with “Subject:” followed by the subject to not confuse the reader and keep the letter simple for them to read, making the content easier to understand and help you get your point across to the intended recipient.

Salutations:

The subject line is then followed by a salutation, addressing the recipient and the reader, which helps grab their attention and lets the reader know that the message has started and directed to them. The salutation is also a means to show respect to someone older than you or to address someone who is of a similar age group in a capacity that is not very informative but is not very formal as well. If you do not know a person well, it is always good to use the Respected XYZ salutation. The salutation is followed by a comma, leading the reader to the beginning of the letter. Some examples of salutations are:

  • Dear Sir,
  • Respected Sir,
  • Dear Ma’am,
  • Respected Ma’am,
  • Dear Mr. Kreese,

In these examples, you can see that it is okay to use dear followed by either sir or madam if you are of a similar age group to the recipient. If you have met the recipient and know them but still have to write a letter requesting something from them, complaining about something to them, or apologizing to them for some reason, you can use dear followed by their name, but instead of using their first name, you must use their last name preceded by either Mr, Ms or Mrs. This ensures that while it shows your familiarity with that person, you don’t make the letter too informal by using their first name as well. Using dear to address them brings in some informality but using their last name with their preceding prefix makes sure to balance it out, keeping the letter formal while still letting the reader know that the writer considers them a close aide. Respected is the best salutation to use when you do not know the recipient or have never met them or if the recipient is older than yourself. 

Introduction:

In introducing the letter, you must introduce yourself and how you are related to the writer. This relation may be that of a tenant in a society, or a student at school, or in our case, let’s assume the writer is a teacher writing to a student’s parents apologizing for forgetting about their child’s allergy, which caused him to have an allergy reaction in class. In that case, the subject line would be “Apologizing for my negligence regarding your child’s allergy” followed by the salutation Dear Mr.Kreese since you would want the parents to feel like you know them but still wish to keep things professional and apologize to them for the incident in school. The introduction then follows where you must mention how you are affiliated to the child, which is his homeroom teacher. The introduction must then once again mention the purpose of you writing this letter and take responsibility. The introduction must not be very long and ideally must be kept as short as possible, not exceeding more than 5-6 lines. An example of an introduction is as follows:

Subject: Apologizing for my Negligence as a Fellow Classmate.

Dear Sir,

My name is Aman Shah, and I am in the same class as your son Aaron studying in class 2-A at St. Peters. I am writing this letter to you to apologize regarding the incident on the 10th of January. My negligence led to your son consuming a peanut chocolate bar and having an allergic reaction.

You can see how the subject line gives a short description of what the letter contains in the above example. The subject line lets the reader know that the writer, in this case, Aman, wishes to apologize for his negligence as a classmate. This is then followed by the salutation, which alerts the reader and grabs his attention. Using Dear Sir lets them know that Aman respects them and, due to the age gap, respectfully uses the Dear Sir salutation and is also sorry enough to write a formal letter to apologize in earnest. The introductory paragraph then starts with a man giving a small introduction so that if they do not remember his name would still recognize him as a classmate of their son. The introduction is only one line long and mentions their son’s name and class and lets them know that the writer is writing this letter for something that happened to their son. The next line further elaborates on the subject line. It gives some more context, which is the negligence to ensure no peanuts are consumed by Aaron, which happened to cause him to have an allergic reaction, which the classmate believes to be due to his negligence. The introduction starts with the letter and makes sure to set the pace for the rest of the letter. 

Body:

The next part of the letter is the body of the letter. The body is the longest part of the letter and can be twice the size of the introduction. The body of the letter is the main part where the main content is written. The letter’s body is used to elaborate on a problem and speak on it in more detail. It is also used to express grievances and, in our case, accept responsibility. The body can be significantly bigger than the introduction, but it is important not to make the letter extra-long and stray away from the point. The body, no matter how long, must always stay to the point. The letter’s body is the most important as it is used to talk about problems, give advice, make proposals for solutions, take responsibility for actions, and apologize. An example of the body of the letter continuing with the subject of a teacher apologizing to parents is: 

Subject: Apologizing for my Negligence as a Fellow Classmate.

Dear Sir,

My name is Aman Shah, and I am in the same class as your son Aaron studying in class 2-A at St. Peters. I am writing this letter to you to apologize regarding the incident on the 10th of January. My negligence led to your son consuming a peanut chocolate bar and having an allergic reaction.

A school is supposed to be a safe place, and your parents entrust your young children with the teachers and students for up to six hours daily. You expect us to help and take care of each other the same way you take care and watch out for your son throughout these years. It is a tremendous responsibility that I ignored and took care of. Despite you telling me about your son Aaron’s peanut allergy since the first day of class, I allowed him to take a bite from my candy bar knowing about his allergy. I did not think that a small bite would be enough to trigger his allergic reaction and send him into shock. I cannot imagine what you must have gone through and the hell that Aaron must have faced on the way to the emergency room. I am deeply sorry for all the trouble I have caused and want to offer you my sincerest apologies regarding this incident. I am humiliated that I let this happen, and I want to assure you that nothing of this nature will ever happen again. Today, the teachers have started keeping children’s snack boxes in cabinets that are only opened at the designated lunchtime. I will personally ensure that all the other kids know about his allergy and ensure that nothing that can harm Aaron is ever consumed by him again. We have also had education sessions with other students reminding them about his peanut allergy and telling them to be cautious of the same and stop anyone who is not aware of it from giving him a peanut-based snack.  Our parents have received memos and tell them to stick a note on their kid’s lunchboxes if the lunch contains peanuts in it.

In the above example, you can see how the student starts off the body by saying how sorry he is regarding the incident that took place at the school. He then also walks the parents through the events leading up to the allergy attack, letting them know that he has since taken stock of the situation and has figured out how the reaction happened. He then takes responsibility and also acknowledges the importance of the role he played in the incident. The body then explains some new measures that their teacher, the school, and he has taken to ensure that this does not happen again, not only to Aaron but also to any other child who might be allergic to any food substance.

Conclusion:

The last part of the letter is the conclusion. This is where the writer concludes the letter by stating the subject matter once more followed by a line hoping to hear back from them and hearing their thoughts as well. The conclusion is followed by an end salutation which states the writer’s name. When writing informal letters various different salutations can be used but when it comes to formal letters the salutation must be formal as well. Using salutations such as Sincerely Yours, or Respectfully Yours, show respect for the reader and helps courteously end the letter. An example of a conclusion when apologizing to parents for the allergy attack is:

Subject: Apologizing for my Negligence as a Fellow Classmate.

Dear Sir,

My name is Aman Shah, and I am in the same class as your son Aaron studying in class 2-A at St. Peters. I am writing this letter to you to apologize regarding the incident on the 10th of January. My negligence led to your son consuming a peanut chocolate bar and having an allergic reaction.

A school is supposed to be a safe place, and your parents entrust your young children with the teachers and students for up to six hours daily. You expect us to help and take care of each other the same way you take care and watch out for your son throughout these years. It is a tremendous responsibility that I ignored and took care of. Despite you telling me about your son Aaron’s peanut allergy since the first day of class, I allowed him to take a bite from my candy bar knowing about his allergy. I did not think that a small bite would be enough to trigger his allergic reaction and send him into shock. I cannot imagine what you must have gone through and the hell that Aaron must have faced on the way to the emergency room. I am deeply sorry for all the trouble I have caused and want to offer you my sincerest apologies regarding this incident. I am humiliated that I let this happen, and I want to assure you that nothing of this nature will ever happen again. Today, the teachers have started keeping children’s snack boxes in cabinets that are only opened at the designated lunchtime. I will personally ensure that all the other kids know about his allergy and ensure that nothing that can harm Aaron is ever consumed by him again. We have also had education sessions with other students reminding them about his peanut allergy and telling them to be cautious of the same and stop anyone who is not aware of it from giving him a peanut-based snack.  Our parents have received memos and tell them to stick a note on their kid’s lunchboxes if the lunch contains peanuts in it.

I am really grateful that you chose to send Aaron to our school, and I have become good friends with him since he first joined as a transfer student. However, this incident is a mistake on my part, and I terribly wished that this would never happen in the first place. I am glad to hear that Aaron is doing well, and I hope I can see him soon and apologize to him in person. You trust me as his classmate to take care of Aaron, and I promise to do a better job at it. Please accept my sincerest apologies for everything that happened, and I hope I get the chance to meet you soon and apologize to you in person. I look forward to hearing from you, and do, please let me know if there is anything I can do to make Aaron’s transition back to school life easier. 

Sincerely Yours,

Aman Shah

In the above example, we can see how the writer apologizes for the incident and takes responsibility. The writer also lets the parents know that he is glad the child is now fine, letting them know that he has kept tabs on his situation and has stayed up to date, showing that parents his resolve not to let this incident repeat. He also affirms the parents of his commitment not to repeat his mistakes. The conclusion ends with him saying he hopes to see them soon and apologize in person. He also offers Aaron and his return to school, extending an olive branch and hoping the parents can forgive him. The letter then ends with a salutation showing his sincerity while writing the letter, and lastly, the writer signs his name at the bottom, showing that the letter really is from the student himself. 

This concludes the guide on how to write a formal apology letter to one’s parents. While the example used here is specific, this same format can be applied to any formal letter since the format, and the requirements would be the same only the content would change.

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Apology Letter Format – Formal Letter Examples

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