How to Write an Apology Letter

Jan 21, 2011Updated 8 months ago

So you messed up royally, huh? Well, we all do. J.R. Bailey’s “Everybody Plays the Fool” line rings true for all of us at some point. But often we try and do what’s right and write a heartfelt letter of apology to the person that we’ve offended. Here are some tips for writing a genuine apology letter.

Informal Letter Format

First you’ll want to consider what type of stationary on which to write your apology. If you’re writing an apology letter to a friend, acquaintance or even a co-worker, there’s nothing wrong with the warm approach. For example, you can pick out a very nice card and write in it with a decent pen. Alternatively, you can choose some exceptional paper that it colored or flowery and to do the same.

At the letter’s outset, cut right to the chase. Tell them that the letter is to express an apology for a particular action. Once you’ve done that, identify the action that has caused offense. Accept full responsibility for the offensive action. Do not blame anyone else and do not sugarcoat it or justify it by other circumstances in your life. In the end, you can invite them to call or meet with you if they would like to discuss the situation further.

Formal Letter Format

Business apologies can take several forms. In this case, you need to be formal. Yours should be a proper business letter, computer-typed, printed on letterhead (most likely) and signed at the bottom. Because this is for business purposes, you should be as professional as possible.

Writing a Letter of Apology to Your Boss

Let’s say you’re writing an apology to your boss. You’ve missed a deadline. You can begin your letter in a similar fashion to the personal apology by stating your apologetic intentions from the outset. Take a moment to explain why and how the problem occurred. Then explain how you plan to rectify the problem.

Conclude this letter by stating that you will take every measure not to let the occurrence happen again. At the end, you can write something like ‘sincerely’, ‘regards’ or ‘all best’ to finish your letter. Sign your name at the bottom with a blue pen.

The same principle will apply when you are writing a company letter to apologize for poor service or a defective product. In this case, try and add a personal touch so it doesn’t sound like a form letter. Identify not only that there was a defective product or poor service rendered, but be very specific about the problem was. This will show that you know exactly what the problem was.